A Catholic's Response to When We Get It Wrong

You’ve demonstrated how people who don’t defer to a Pope elevate themselves to that same office. In any event the General Conference, is, essentially, at the end of the day - a Magisterium is it not? Christianity [& prior to it, Judaism] IS all about absolute certainty. According to the Old Testament Scriptures it was absolutely certain “God” would come and save us. It was absolutely certain that the Christ would not fail, that He would have to die and rise again the 3rd day. It was absolutely certain Christ would be born from a virgin, location of His birth, etc., etc, etc. All these things were absolute certainties.

Acts 15, 28 ties the determination of the matter [salvation issue] by the Church WITH God. This means that Acts 15, 28 is infallible. How did God prevent the Apostles from teaching error when it came to the Acts 15 question? I can’t tell you how God works in this way - I can only tell you that Scripture says that God does have this ability. Do you believe that Moses’ representation of God’s complete law after Deuteronomy 5, 30 was infallible? I take it as a matter of faith that Moses didn’t get anything “wrong” ( and that was a whole lot of writing there ). In the same way I take it as a matter of faith that if a question comes up that effects the body of Christ that warrants clarification or laying down the law Christ’s church has this authority the same as the Church did in Acts 15.

It’s true is it not that the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists voted to approve the replication of the book “Daniel & the Revelation” for it’s extensive circulation circa 1882? This book was extremely anti-Trinitarian therefore it would be fair to question the pronouncements of the General Conference when it comes time for it’s Doctrines being protected from error. I’m not be argumentative, just illustrating a fact that the General Conference voted to mass produce a book that said Christ was a creature. I’m wondering if anyone could produce evidence that the Catholic Church, at any time, taught anything along those lines?

I know the SDA Church is a “Big Tent” that allows a broad range of beliefs, I’m focusing on the beliefs here that are said to be “foundational” or “critical” whereas salvation is concerned. I would think the Trinity is one such belief.

Gregory was correct in that my concerns with SDA teaching are fairly narrow and primarily relate to the Trinity Doctrine. I have no problem whatsoever with SDA devotion to the Sabbath. My only issue is that there is a significant element within the SDA Church that attributes Christian gathering together on Sunday - to Lucifer. I now understand that not all SDA’s subscribe to this concept but there are enough that did and evidently still do to give birth to the stereotype.

Yes, right! But, and this is very important, the seventh day Adventist message to the fallen world will surely be considered hate-speech by the majority. Like Noah’s message; it was considered hate speech by his contemporaries, and Luthers message in the 1500s was also considered hate speech, fake news, and intolerance towards people. The three angels message is also a message of love but will also be considered as hate speech. And Jesus was a brilliant example of someone loving everyone even the Jews who killed him because his speech was not inclusive in their eyes. So “love” in the eyes of the world is something completely different than it is in a biblical setting.

There is a fundamental difference between the pope and Ellen White: the pope is constructing strange doctrines based on all kinds of human philosophy derived far away from a biblical foundation whereas Ellen White relies on purely biblical principles as a basis for prophetic counseling and warnings. :slightly_smiling_face:

So, are you confirming my assertion that many Adventists see White as infallible, but rationalizing it differently?

Ed, many SDAs act like Ellen White was infallible in doctrine and in understanding the teachings of the Bible. This is in contradiction of both what she taught and of the evidence of her life that shows doctrinal changes in her understandings of the Biblical teachings over the span of her life.

It should be noted that Ellen White often tailored her advice to individual circumstances. So, to one person (A) she might tell that person not to do X, while to another person (B) she might tell that person to do X. Sometimes individual SDAs will “cherry pick” her advice, and take the advice she gave to A and state that it should apply to everyone, while totally ignoring the advice that she gave to B.

I’d argue that you have that backwards. The Catholic Church isn’t the one who asserted that Christ wasn’t God Almighty, it was Ellen White who said that.

This “oneness” Ellen describes is identical to how the Mormon Church describes it. Three separate Persons, EACH of which equate to a “PART” of God. This is where the oneness starts and stops. Observe below how this is articulated by Mrs. White.

You notice that, right? Jesus, according to Mrs. White, was ONE with God in the same way that the Apostles were one with Christ. Were the Apostles Christ? Below is some official statements from the Mormon Church.

Again, I’m not presenting these as rocks to be thrown, just sharing them to give you a better perspective of where we are coming from as we continue to learn things about each others Faith.

It is hard to check the accuracy of the references that Gustave has made to what EGW actually said about Christ due to the fact that he fails to provide an exact reference.

  • There are two editions of the SDA Bible Commentary. the second one is dated 1980 and the first is dated 1950. Gustave does not tell us which one he has cited.
  • In addition, Guistave fails to tell us the Biblical passage that upon which EGW commented when she made her statement.
  • I am going to assuem that the Biblical reference is to the first chapter of John. But, I do not know as Gustave has not told uls.
  • In the 2nd edition of the commentary, and commenting on the 13th & 14th verses (page 1126) EGW clearly states: [quote]He was God while upon earth, . . …[/quote] Yes, she goes on to state that Christ took on the form of a man. ]
  • Multiple times she states that Christ on Earth was God.

NOTE: I have never claimed that EGW was correct in all of her doctrinal understandings. She was not. She was not always correct in her understanding of the Trinity. She never claimed to always be 100% correct.

Thanks, @Gustave.

Thank you for the Ellen G. White quotes you’ve cited in your post, above.

The Seventh-day Adventist church does not have a doctrine on these ideas. Essentially, this means that they are not a codified part of what it means to be a Seventh-day Adventist, or what one is generally expected to know, believe, or be able to discuss, as part of being one.

The Incarnation is a profound mystery in the narrative of salvation, because it affirms, and we believe by faith, that through it, God, in the form of Jesus Christ, “cloaked Himself” in humanity. To use a modern term, He became a hybrid being; “fully human, fully Divine.”

However, we have no idea how such a thing was done.

The Bible addresses the origins of this event in the dialogue between Mary and the angelic messenger, depicted in Matthew 1:20, but most expansively in Luke 1:34, 35. After telling Mary of the honor she is about to inherit as Christ’s mother,

Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

This is as close as the Bible gets to discussing the mechanics of the Incarnation. Almost all of its implications, subsequently, we derive from the biblical observation of Christ’s behavior, and the statements He made there about Himself.

In other words, we know Christ was God because of His Incarnation. But we also know He was human because of it. Further, we know he was human because He was born (Luke 2:7), ate (Matthew 12:1; 26:26), grew (Luke 2:52), wept (John 11:35), got tired (John 4:6), slept (Matt 8:24), bled (Luke 22:44), and died (Luke 23:46; John 19:30), as all humans do.

Yet, after His resurrection, Christ appeared to two believers on the road to Emmaus. When they got there, not realizing who He is, they asked him to have a meal with them.

And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. (Luke 24:30, 31)

Realizing now that it is Jesus,

They rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, (Luke 24:33)

The disciples and others were talking about Peter’s having seen the risen Christ. The two believers then told what happened to them that day.

And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.

And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.

And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them. (Luke 24:36-43)

So, Christ, resurrected, disappears from in front of people in one place, reappears in front of people in another place, declares Himself to have flesh and bones, lets His followers examine His pierced hands and feet, and eats fish. (Of course, we haven’t even touched on Christ’s many miracles during His ministry.)

Are these the behaviors of God, a human being, or both?

Christians say, or at least Seventh-day Adventists do, that these are the actions of an endowed and risen Lord.

To your statement:

I’m sure the word “licensed” is your own. However, in the Gospels, what we do see, especially in John’s text, is Christ invoking an unusually close relationship with, and reliance on, His Father:

Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father : if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also. (John 8:19)

Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. (John 8:28)

Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. (John 10:25)

I and my Father are one. (John 10:30)

If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. (John 12:26)

If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. (John 14:7)

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:23)

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. (John 15:1)

Of course, in Christ’s beautiful pre-Passion prayer to His Father, for His disciples and all future believers, in John 17, this declaration of His connection to God the Father reaches its apotheosis. Every Christian should read it regularly.

It bears repeating: Though, Himself, God, Jesus prayed to His Father and depended on Him. In John 6:12, on the eve of selecting His disciples,

And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.

He prayed when He was baptized:

Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. (Luke 3:21, 22)

He prayed passionately in the Garden of Gethsemane, before His betrayal:

Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. (Matthew 26:36)

And, of course, on the Cross, Christ prayed three times:

“Father forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34)

“My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46, Mark 15:34)

“Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46)

My point is that, though we cannot fully understand the Incarnation as a phenomenon, Jesus Christ demonstrated behaviors that were both human and Godlike, which gives the fact of the Incarnation credibility. Further, as a divine Being, and part of a divine Trinity, He frequently testified to a deep connection with and reliance on His Father, and acted on the same.

As I have stated, it is not clear what the full, material implications are of these facts.

Could Christ have sinned? When He was tempted by Satan, for example, in Matthew 4, could Satan have won?

I’ve always held that the devil only appeared when Christ had been completely starved and weakened because this is the only way it could have been an equal and fair fight; Jesus at full strength would have left the devil, like Roberto Durán, screaming, “No Mas!” Yet, even in an utterly famished state, Jesus meets Satan’s temptations with an unwavering, laser-like certainty.

Even more — and this is highly speculative — I’ve long thought if Christ could have sinned, this would have relayed an endemic flaw in God’s moral imagination, down to the very structure of reality.

I don’t have any biblical basis for this idea, and I may not be clear. But what I mean, in simplest terms, is perhaps a God who, in human form, could be beset by sin, would have no right to rule, or make moral demands of human beings.

But if this were the case, such a God would “self-annihilate,” down to “the foundation of the world.” That is, He would have never been able to be God. So, in a way, you could say that God being God means that Christ could not have fallen.

Again, this is a hypothesis. As well, I think that Christ as our sacrifice, may be fit, not because He could have fallen, but because He took our sins on Himself, blamelessly, and suffered separation from God, in death, for them.

In any event, and in summary:

• I’m generally familiar with these statements by White; that she made statements of this kind, though, admittedly, I’ve not read them in years.

• I’m not sure if these statements are accurate, biblically. They’re not a major part, at all, of how SDAs talk about Christ’s life on Earth, though, as you intimate, Adventism is a wide tent, with numerous strands and manners of doctrinal emphasis.

I think what I mean to say is, I can’t recall the last time I heard an SDA pastor stress these points, or saw them in a bible study. Yet, still, there are lingering effects of them. One of the open questions of the Incarnation, for example, seems to be, “What is Christ’s corporal nature, now, and what will it be throughout eternity?”

In last week’s Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide, Thursday, June 10, this statement appeared:

"The crucial point to remember in all this (though there are many) is that there is now a Man, a Human Being, who can relate to all our trials, pains, and temptations (Heb. 4:14, 15), representing us before the Father.”

Is Christ a human being? Is this a statement that we can make about Jesus, this plainly, now? Based on what data?

I can’t recall having seen such a claim in SDA literature, so baldly put. It startled me. Then the lesson repeated it:

Pray and meditate over the idea of a human being, Someone who has experienced temptation to sin, standing before God in heaven.

As I said, I don’t see us having a clear, biblical directive on the current physical nature of Christ.

• The Councils are not determinative for Seventh-day Adventists. We never talk or think about them. If you speak of “the councils” to most SDAs, they might think you meant the one in Jerusalem, in Acts 15, but would be lost after that.

• Ellen White’s testimony and work forms a complex part of SDA history; one that is not yet fully resolved.

It’s fairly clear that she had a huge role to play in getting Seventh-day Adventism started, and her influence strongly persists. What it means now, however, is something every SDA has to confront for themselves.

I say this, both, because faith is always a personal matter, and because, I believe, collectively, the church-at-large is totally incapable of addressing this issue; they have too much at stake in the outcome.


I don’t seem to be able to copy links to my sources in my posts, I get a message that says it’s not allowed. With that said I’ll try to shore up my prior citations.

Affirming Christ wasn’t God Almighty.

Speaking as to the “Oneness” of God if one spends about 30 minutes using google and searching for Mormonism and Trinity difference you will find material like is quoted below.

Because the anti-Trinitarian SDA Pioneers rejected the Council of Nicaea they held, like the Mormons, that Father God had a tangible body of flesh, bones and organs. I won’t belabor the point here but there are scores of statements from the Pioneers bolstered by visions from Ellen White that because of the hominid flesh body of Father God, Michael and Lucifer the arch angels the concept of ONENESS was restricted to “purpose”, “mind”, etc. The below phrase will likely be familiar to readers here:

To say it another way multiple God’s are viewed as ONE in the same way that a family is viewed as ONE FAMILY. The Father, Mother & Children each have separate “PERSONALITIES” [hominid flesh bodies] and therefore just because it’s ONE FAMILY this doesn’t mean the oneness destroys “the hominid flesh body” of any person IN THE FAMILY.

The teaching that Father, Christ [prior to the Incarnation] & Lucifer had hominid flesh bodies with bones and organs was required belief, this was a fundamental belief prior to Mrs. White’s death.

Above, Ellen White is admonishing the faithful that they are to reject anything that destroys “The Personality of God”. This means anything that says The Father hasn’t always had a hominid flesh body. This admonishing that Ellen issued was already nearly 50 years old as one can see below.

This doctrine, as the article said, was what the SDA Church was founded upon. Mrs. White is also clear as to where the Personality of God doctrine was on the pecking order.

Mrs. White also made provisions for the time when people would challenge this pillar of SDA faith.

Thanks to what I’ve learned on the SDA forum I have come to entertain the notion that the Pioneers were confused about theological terms and may have, due to this confusion, made some very incorrect theological assertions - assertions which Ellen White confirmed in some visions. That said, is it possible that the large and influential group of Seventh-day Adventists that hold Ellen White as a Prophet in the same manner as the Prophets of the Bible are a hinderance to the SDA’s that are, for lack of a better word, more orthodox in their view of the Trinity?

If the “Personality of God” was defined by Ellen White as a Pillar of SDA Faith and essentially what the SDA Church was founded upon how can the teaching that Father God has a hominid flesh body complete with organs, bones and every part of a perfect man not be in the fundamental beliefs listing?

The Mormons are very frank and upfront about why they don’t believe it and I’m seeing not just similar but exactly the same arguments used by SDA’s during the time Mrs. White was alive and nearly 25 years after - then it’s suddenly stopped being talked about? If someone can explain that to me I’d like to know the reasoning behind it.

Mr. Martignoni, I too appreciate your willingness to respond, here. However, if your redefining of what constitutes papal infallibility is intended to set Adventist and other Protestant minds at ease, I would gently suggest that there is substantially more work yet to be done.

For instance, it is not when or under what circumstances the pope speaks with infallibility that concerns most Protestants. It is the claim that the pope can speak with infallibility at all that concerns them.

Furthermore, your reference to Catholicism’s belief that papal infallibility applies “only” to “faith and morals, as necessary for belief by all the faithful” is profoundly disconcerting–after all, faith and morals are the very essence of Christian belief, are they not? Papal infallibility is therefore by definition aimed squarely at the Protestant jugular; it addresses that which is core to us, not that which is tangential.

Add to this your assertion that infallible teaching from a pope regarding faith and morals is to be soteriologically binding on “all the faithful,” and you can hardly blame some of us Protestants for being less than elated at this clarification of how “limited” papal infallibility is.

While I don’t claim to be an expert, over the years I have spent long hours reading the catechism and material from the ecumenical counsels, that I might better understand, from primary sources, what Catholicism teaches. And from that study, I concur that, according to Catholic belief, you have rightly defined papal infallibility–and that indeed, many Adventists get it wrong.

But while I admit the error of those particular Adventists, I can readily sympathize with their (and countless other Protestants through the centuries) temptation to exaggerate papal infallibility. The very idea is so fantastical that it invites amplification. To most Protestants, the notion that a sinful human being; who is elected by a gathering of other sinful human beings; can at the time of their choosing guarantee, beyond any doubt, that what he says is absolutely true; and that what he says must be absolutely obeyed by all the faithful, globally, on condition of their salvation; is a notion that is at best biblically untenable and at worst grounds for horrific abuse.

In my view, therefore, Catholicism’s task is not to correctly limit papal infallibility, but rather, to find biblical justification for it at all. Speaking of which…

Regardless of how some Seventh-day Adventists regard her, Ellen White herself stated that, “In regard to infallibility, I never claimed it; God alone is infallible.” 1SM37.

I would feel much better about your commentary and the Catholic Church in general, Mr. Martignoni, if the popes were to say the same.

Thanks again for taking the time to post your thoughts. May God guide both of us as we seek Him and His truth.

Shane Anderson

I have a pretty good idea how this works but my explanation wouldn’t insist that the OT god or Jesus has anything to do with it. Nor would my exegesis rely on anything other than objectivity, subjectivity and logic. Instead, the way I deal with the essential question of how the Bible is inspired is to accept that it is no more so than any other book ever written and that the miracles described in it are no more mysterious than when David Copperfield made The Statue of Liberty disappear. Not only because this makes more sense to me, reasonably, but this also feels better emotionally.

But most so called “Christians” aren’t interested in any such pedestrian explanations and would prefer to go on believing in magic, faith and dumb luck given that it’s only their “good fortune”—rather than mindfulness and reason—that caused them (some of whom you disagree vehemently with each other as has been demonstrated in this forum, BTW) to be born into, and still believe, their self-proclaimed “holy” religion, rather than place their faith in a theology that bible believers deem to be pagan.

In other words, if I started with the assumption that I must have faith or believe in something, rather than a position of skepticism and doubt, I could just as easily be persuaded to accept the teachings of EGW, the pope or Hitler as all three would say, along with Moe Howard, “Who ya gonna believe? Me or your own eyes?” The primary factor in my decision as to whom I should trust hinging only on which one was lucky enough to get to me first.:rofl:

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I don’t live near any SDA ghetto so I socialize with people from all walks of life so I have had these conversations. I would have liked the response to talk about the Mary issue which I consider more damaging. While I believe the faithful of each church can better understand one another how can the two denominations even be compared when one is also a state. The catholic institution can now claim 3/4 of the US government. If the supreme court doesn’t scare you, it should. And now the pressure on Biden when the church knows full well there is a double standard between western vs 3rd world obedience to it’s dictates. The most important thing is for the SDA church to clean up it’s act and be true to the Word.

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Jesus’ commanded His Apostles to spread the Gospel by “TEACHING”. Giving that you’ve spent long hours reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Ecumenical Councils you would certainly know this is level 101 Catholicism. Here are two Biblical examples for the teaching authority both the Catechism & Ecumenical Councils mention.

Jesus didn’t mince words here, He was explicit about what kind of authority His Apostles would have.

Here is some Biblical “amplification”.

Start by reading Numbers 16

Moses didn’t “exalt” himself above the congregation, God did that and the line of transmission was affirmed by none other than Christ Himself when He most clearly told both His Disciples and others following Him to:

That’s almost 1500 years of documented religious authority transference right there. I’m sure you would agree that Christ clearly told the throngs of people as well as His own Apostles that they needed to OBEY the religious instruction from the Scribes and Pharisees BECAUSE those Scribes and Pharisees were in actual succession from Moses. That should close that case out for you but if doesn’t feel free to look me up over at a well known SDA forum and we could discuss it further.

Many marked things happened at the Death & Resurrection of Jesus and one thing pertinent to this topic is the radical distinction between Matthew 23 & Matthew 28, 16. In case you missed it , Jesus said the time of the Scribes and Pharisees holding religious authority was OVER and now He (Christ) had this religious power and was delegating it to the foundation of the Church He would build.

Its either that or Christ meant each man only needed a copy of the Scriptures (which were not even written at that time and once a person had a copy of the Bible the Holy Spirit would simply guide each individual person into the truth). That rubric simply hasn’t worked - it was an alien of a concept in the Old Testament as much as it was in the New.

Call it a jugular or soft white underbelly - the fact is when EVERYONE has authority NO ONE HAS IT. The Eastern Orthodox reject Papal Infallibility and several other teachings that are mandatory for Catholics. Compare your Liturgical practices with theirs and see how close Greek Orthodox teaching aligns with that of your own. As you know, especially if you’re an Adventist (SDA, JW, Christadelphian or WWCOG) its going to be miles apart.

I’m certain that subsequent to the Council of Jerusalem there were groups of people that differed with “the law laid down” in Acts 15, 23 - 29 & went off and started their own new Church claiming that God had His hand in reforming Babylon!

Its true is it not that Ellen White equated the rejection of her writings with rejecting God?

And the following demonstrates that Ellen White claimed the charism of being able to define truth from error whereas Doctrines were concerned.

She just said that hordes of devoted men and women came together presumably with their Bibles and the Holy Spirit didn’t cut the mustard for those hordes of “devoted men and women”. Looks like God selected a “religious authority” in Ellen White and SHE “DEFINED” what was truth and what was error - Ellen White claims that how ALL the distinctive SDA Doctrines were sorted out. I’m sorry but that equates to far more than the Pope claims to be.

The point I’m making here is that Mrs. White has eviscerated your argument against Catholicism in that the admission has been made that it takes more than dedication, a Bible, prayer and even an education to DEFINE DOCTRINES.

These beliefs are incompatible with the Doctrine of the Trinity and frankly incompatible with Scripture. According to Scripture there was ZERO possibility of Christ sinning. In the theology of Arius, and thus the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christadelphians, WWCOG and SDA’s what was Biblically possible becomes possible to protect the teaching that Christ wasn’t God in the same sense the Father is God.

Every distinctive doctrine of the SDA Church required it’s supernatural confirmation via Ellen White. Ellen was explicit this was the case and described in detail how the mechanism worked. This effectively terminated any argument that SDA’s are “Bible Only” and also disqualifies SDA’s in complaining about Papal Infallibility as its proven they claim the same charism.

It’s been nice discussing these things with all you folks but they close this thread down in a few minutes so I’ll just wish all of you well AND say a big thanks to Spectrum for allowing a couple of odd men out to sound off.

Best wishes and God Bless all.