This is my second post in a series on the lies of Seventh Day Adventism. These are lies that the SDA Church tells both to their own members and to the public about what they believe. This week I am going to present the SDA doctrine of the Trinity.
Though Seventh Day Adventists claim to believe in the Trinity, this isn’t actually true. They do take the word but the redefine it into something else. Why the dishonestly? If you don’t believe in it just say so. To prove my case I am going to first present the Seventh Day Adventist confession of the doctrine they call the Trinity.
“There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three coeternal Persons. God is immortal, all-powerful, all-knowing, above all, and ever present. He is infinite and beyond human comprehension, yet known through His self-revelation. God, who is love, is forever worthy of worship, adoration, and service by the whole creation.” – SDA Fundamental Beliefs
The word Trinity isn’t actually found in the Bible. It is a name used to confess the Biblical teaching of three clear theses about the nature of God.
- One Being
- Three Persons
- Same Substance
All three of these are critical and can be found in an confession of the Holy Trinity. This is a definitional aspect of the doctrine, if you remove that you don’t have the doctrine anymore. The teaching of the Trinity can be found in the earliest of Church Fathers as well as in the pages of the Bible. To demonstrate this I am going to post a few Christian confessions of the Holy Trinity so that you can plainly see the difference I am talking about.
The most clear confession of the Trinity though ever was formulated in the Athanasian Creed to fight arianism in the fourth century.
“we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one: the glory equal, the majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three Eternals, but one Eternal. As there are not three Uncreated nor three Incomprehensibles, but one Uncreated and one Incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Ghost almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords, but one Lord” – Excerpt from the Athanasian Creed
Follow the link above to read the whole creed if you like. I think the reason most are so confused by the doctrine of the Trinity is that they don’t take the time to look at a solid Biblical confession of it. It is a confession derived from accepting all scriptures as true. You can find a Biblical presentation I have done in the past on this doctrine HERE.
Below is another confession of the Trinity put together by the Synod that I attend. See for yourself, I will highlight where the three theses come out.
“On the basis of the Holy Scriptures we teach the sublime article of the Holy Trinity; that is, we teach that the one true God, Deut. 6:4; 1 Cor. 8:4, is the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, three distinct persons, but of one and the same divine essence, equal in power, equal in eternity, equal in majesty, because each person possesses the one divine essence entire, Col. 2:9, Matt. 28:19. We hold that all teachers and communions that deny the doctrine of the Holy Trinity are outside the pale of the Christian Church. The Triune God is the God who is gracious to man, John 3:16-18, 1 Cor. 12:3. Since the Fall, no man can believe in the “fatherhood” of God except he believe in the eternal Son of God, who became man and reconciled us to God by His vicarious satisfaction, 1 John 2:23; John 14:6. Hence we warn against Unitarianism, which in our country has to a great extent impenetrated the sects and is being spread particularly also through the influence of the lodges.” LCMS (Lutheran)
And below is another clear confession of the Holy Trinity put out by the Southern Baptist Convention.
“There is one and only one living and true God. …The eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.” Southern Baptist Convention
I could go on, look up formal orthodox confessions of the Holy Trinity yourself on other non-SDA churches and you will see that the only ones close to the SDA belief are Mormons , Oneness Pentacostals, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. This is because anti-trinitarian groups do not hold to the three theses I mentioned above. They typically select one that they favor and abrogate the others with it.
Why do SDA Deny the Trinity?
I don’t think simply saying you believe in the Trinity cuts it. You have to confess it in line with the actual definition of the doctrine. If you tried to do this in medicine it would be the same thing as prescribing a heart surgery and performing a knee replacement. Why would SDA do this? Why is it hard for them to confess all three theses in a clear fashion? Each of them is clearly taught in the Bible, and SDA want to be accepted by the evangelical community. So why hold out on this?
The reason is that Ellen White and many of the the early SDA pioneers were not Trinitarian at all. They openly confessed Arianism. Below are some brief excerpts from the writings of Ellen White that demonstrate my point:
“The Eternal Father, the unchangeable one, gave his only begotten Son, tore from his bosom Him who was made in the express image of his person, and sent him down to earth to reveal how greatly he loved mankind.” EGW, Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, 07-09-1895, “The Duty of the Minister and the People,” Par. 14.
“The exaltation of the Son of God as equal with the Father was represented as an injustice to Lucifer, who, it was claimed, was also entitled to reverence and honor.” EGW, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 37
This doesn’t even address the most obvious Trinity denial in Ellen White, and that is the heavenly narratives she writes in her books. Anyone who has read them knows that she has Jesus and the Father walking around heaven in separate bodies, conversing with angels, and interacting with the course of events like characters in a play. This is very similar to the Arian accounts given by Joseph Smith and other false prophets.
Since SDA hold to the “prophetic Authority” of Ellen White they have to hold to her teachings. Quotes like the ones I presented above are of course conveniently re-interpreted. But since the narratives of her books cannot be re-interpreted to incorporate things like “same substance” SDA preachers will frequently argue for a God who is one in purpose through love, like a marriage. Because of this, it would be more accurate to say SDA believe in Tritheism.
Don’t kid yourself, SDA theologians are educated men. They have read the Bible and they have read the ancient creedal definitions of the Trinity. If they honestly just don’t agree with the interpretation and want to confess a different belief, then why use the word “Trinity”? It’s a free country, other groups such as Mormons, Oneness Pentacostals, and Jehovah’s Witnesses openly deny the Trinity.
Seventh-Day Adventist’s on the other hand have chosen to use the word “Trinity” but define it in a fundamentally different way. That is dishonest to themselves and to the public, this much is fact. Why the deception?
In my opinion, the reason they do this is because they want to be viewed as evangelical by the Body of Christ. Such a distinction opens their playing field and makes it easier to bring in new converts. Also, they don’t want SDA laity to know their Church denies the Trinity otherwise many would analyze the Churches teachings with greater scrutiny. When a core confession of the Church on the very nature of God is nothing more than a political statement what does that reveal about the deeper issues of deception at play? If the root of belief itself is rotten how can the fruit be wholesome?