One of the aspects of SDA theology that reveals their Arian Roots is the belief that Michael the Archangel is actually Jesus Christ before the incarnation. This was a predominant view in the early years of Adventism, a point which isn’t even contested by the SDA today. The internal and external conflict that comes out of this has to do with their fundamental beliefs, one the one hand they confess the Deity of Christ, and on the other they confess the “Prophetic Authority” of Ellen White.
“The Scriptures testify that one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and we believe it was manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White. Her writings speak with prophetic authority and provide comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction to the church…” 18th Fundamental Belief
“God the eternal Son became incarnate in Jesus Christ. Through Him all things were created, the character of God is revealed, the salvation of humanity is accomplished, and the world is judged. Forever truly God, He became also truly human, Jesus the Christ. …” – 4th Fundamental Belief
My contention is that SDA are going to have to hold the above two beliefs to such a degree of tension that no conservative Adventist could possibly believe both fully. They couldn’t even confess a belief in both, one of these beliefs is going to have to bend to the other. Why is that? The answer is simple, Ellen White was very clear that Jesus was a created being.
“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 man Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty” (Letter 32, 1899, quoted in the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1129).
“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
How do SDA try to get around this glaring disparity of teaching that they themselves confess in their fundamental beliefs? Many years after Ellen White it became common to try to iron these out by claiming that Michael the Archangel is an Old Testament Theophany. To justify this claim below is a quote of an article put out by Amazing Facts, I am only quoting the conclusion as they wrap up their argument rather succinctly there.
“In conclusion, we see this majestic and mysterious being, sometimes called Michael, sometimes the angel of the Lord, sometimes the commander of the Lord’s army, veiling His divinity and appearing in the form of a humble angel. Yet this same enigmatic being has the power, authority and attributes that belong only to God. He evicts the devil from heaven; He resurrects the dead; He intercedes for the saints; He judges and then stands, launching the great time of trouble. He redeems the saints and receives their worship. He offers us a new name. ” – Amazing Facts
If you want to give the article a read through. Some of it is true. There is nothing wrong in my view with speculating that Michael the Archangel might be an Old Testament theophany. So please don’t think I am objecting to that. I would object to someone concluding with absolute certainty that Michael is a Theophany. There isn’t enough clear scripture to assert with certainty and there isn’t enough clear scripture to rule it out. I regard it as an interesting theory and leave it at that. Some things the Scripture simply doesn’t reveal and in those cases we should admit this and move on.
What is Theophany?
The doctrine of Theophany in and of itself is an interesting one. And it is important that we make the distinction that Theophany as a thing is true. There are manifestations of Christ in the Old Testament. A fair proof-text for this is in Jude, where Jesus is named as the one who led Israel out of Egypt
Something that needs to be said though, is that a Theophany isn’t a created being. It is simply an act of God in the Old Testament where the person of Christ is seen prior to the incarnation. So this doesn’t really work for SDA either, because Ellen White was clear that Jesus was “made” by the Father and exalted to equality at some point after that but before creation.
The obvious problem here is that the enormous disparity between fundamental belief #4 and #18 cannot be resolved by Theophany. So even if SDA are correct on Michael the Archangel today, they are still contradicting themselves by holding to these two fundamental beliefs. Their theologians have to know this, they have to be aware that Ellen White isn’t consistent with herself or with the scripture. They are educated men and women.
Instead of coming clean though they lie to the public and to themselves about what they believe by claiming Theophany and calling it done. I contend that the doctrine of the Deity of Christ is not something one should hold in tension with a false Prophet. They should simply reject fundamental belief #18 altogether. Instead of doing that though, they present a carefully crafted statement of belief that is not all that dissimilar to a platform agenda drafted by a political party. One that tries to sound appealing to any and all who read it.
An organization that calls itself Christian, and ascribes to itself the title of remnant faith needs to meet a higher standard than that of a politcal party. They should have the integrity to speak what they actually believe from the heart and insist the public either follow them or not.
In my opinion, the reason SDA leaders do this is because their concern is not confessing their faith honestly. Instead they are concerned with presenting whatever keeps the most amount of people paying tithes and offerings. To do that you are gong to need the conservatives and the liberals, and truth is going to have to take a back seat.
Why would you want to be a part of a political entity propped up to keep paychecks and retirements flowing rather than a Church? If the root is rotten to the core why would you trust the fruit that comes from it? Something to think and pray about.