At the time of the following publication, the Seventh-day Adventist church was non-Trinitarian while the Seventh-day Baptist church was Trinitarian. While non-Trinitarian herself, and commonly regarded as a prophet akin to Elijah, Mrs. White did not refer to Trinitarians as violators of the first commandment, nor worshippers of a false God, as many assert today.
Rather she wrote that the Trinitarian Seventh-day Baptists were “in defense of the law of God,” and a people with whom non-Trinitarian Adventists could “become one without compromising any principle of truth.” These are not the sentiments of a prophet of God towards “pagans” to say the least, and represent a serious dilemma:
Was Mrs. White a last day messenger, or is belief in the Trinity a rejection of the “commandments of God and the faith of Jesus?” It cannot be both, unless it can be satisfactorily explained how a prophet mistook those rejecting her God and her message for those defending them. Read for yourself and decide:
“Our Sabbath-schools are nothing less than Bible societies, and they may embrace far more than they have hitherto done in the sacred work. They possess a power, if rightly managed, and are capable of doing a good and great work; but they are not what they may be and what they should be. If properly conducted, the influence growing out of the Sabbath-school will improve and enlarge the church, instead of diverting the interest from the church, and concentrating it in the school. There is a most precious missionary field in the Sabbath-school. If now there are omens of good, they are only the beginning of what may be. The great work of opening God’s word to the people by the means of Bible readings from house to house, gives character and importance to the Sabbath-school. It proves that the teachers should be really converted men and women, who understand the Scriptures, and can adapt their teaching to the various grades in the school. The idea of Bible readings is Heaven-born. It may put hundreds into the field to do an important work that otherwise would remain undone. The Bible is unchained. It may be carried to every man’s door, and its truth presented to every man’s conscience, and as a result, many will, like the Bereans, search the Scriptures, to see what is truth. Christ has said, “Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they that testify of me.” Jesus, the world’s Redeemer, bids men not only to read, but to search the Scriptures.
This is a great and important work, and in doing it will be found a great reward, for obedience to Christ’s injunction will not go unrewarded. He will crown with special tokens of his favor this act of obedience and loyalty in following the light revealed in his word. As soon as men and women will open the Bible, and look upon the utterances of God with reverence, and with an earnest desire to know what saith the Lord, light and grace will be given them, and they will see wondrous things out of God’s law. They will not see it as a yoke of bondage, but as God’s utterances, given for them to obey,—wise, just, and good. These great truths, which have been neglected, unheeded, and unappreciated for ages, the Spirit of God will flash into the understanding, and every page will be illuminated with the light of life. The book is not sealed, but the wonderful truths are revealed. The living oracles are heard by wondering ears, and the consciences of men are aroused to action.
Gather all into your Sabbath-schools and Sunday schools, from the lisping infant to those of gray hairs, and set them to the task of solving mysteries which have not been comprehended by men of giant minds. Let not narrow ideas circumscribe and bind about your labors. “The field is the world.” The doctrines lie plainly revealed on every page of the Bible, and yet the enemy will blind minds so that they cannot discern the plainest truths. Then let the truth be taught the dear children, and let them become acquainted with the revealings of God’s word, and let them tell what is written. Let the minister from the desk, with lips touched by a living coal from off the altar of God, speak words that will burn into the hearts and souls of these, although the wise have not comprehended the truth. We must second the command of God, “Go forward.” There should be no standing still. We make improvements because God and his providence lead us on in the path of obedience. The truth has a sanctifying power.
Why should not the Seventh-day Adventist and Seventh-day Baptist harmonize? Why not co-operate? Why not unite in the work and become one without compromising any principle of truth, and without damage to any interest worth preserving? Both are in defense of the law of God. The Bible and the Bible alone is to be the rule of our faith, the sole bond of our union, and they who evade the truth of the Bible will not desire more intimate relationship. But if these two bodies would unite in the Sabbath-school interest, in the effort to open the word of God to the people, a work would be done that would not please the artful foe at all. One grand lesson should be taught to our children, and that is, freedom from every particle of egotism and bigotry. They should be taught that other souls outside of our faith are precious, and that jesting, sneering, sarcasm, or contempt for those outside of our faith will be an offense to God. Such a course will wound the soul, hinder the prayers, and enfeeble the spiritual growth of those who indulge in them. We should educate the children not to be narrow, but broad; and an agony of desire and a wrestling faith should be encouraged, that God will give them the ability to win souls.
One thing is certain, the spirit of love is wanting in the church and in the Sabbath-school. The workers and the learners remain on too low a level. All need to be enlarged, to have holier aspirations, to inhale a purer atmosphere. Young men are to come forth from our Sabbath-schools and from our colleges to become missionaries. They need the best kind of instruction. They need to have the virtue added to faith which comes alone from God, which will qualify them for most trying, responsible positions. The growth of the mind, of the intellect, the spiritual growth, should correspond with the growth of the body. Workers of experience should not be contended to do all the work themselves, but let the burden fall upon younger shoulders. The young men should feel it their duty to become intellectual as well as spiritual workers. Many fail, not because they lack ability, but they lack in a determined effort. They do not apply themselves, and while the experienced should unload some of the burden, placing it upon them, the inexperienced should be making the very best of their time and opportunity, learning and practicing caretaking, that they may be able to take the burdens put upon them. This is a great and important missionary effort,—the training and disciplining workers to go forth into all the world to preach the gospel to every creature.”Ellen G. White, SSW October 1, 1886
Note: In addition to the above publication from Mrs. White, a collection of statements from other pioneers regarding unity with Seventh-day Baptists despite theological disagreements is available here.
Comment on “Harmonizing with Trinitarians? – Sabbath School Worker, October 1886: “The Sabbath School as a Missionary Field” by E.G. White”
I was raised in a Baptist church. I’m sure most Baptists don’t realize what the trinity means, just as I’m sure most SDA don’t know that the doctrine of the trinity denies that Jesus is the literal Son of God. I had never heard such a teaching until I read A Question of Sonship written by Angel Rodriguez. Only when truth is presented to you do you have to make decisions to accept or truth.