Notes on the Development of the Doctrine of the Trinity Among Seventh-day Adventists


Notes on the Development of the Doctrine of the Trinity Among Seventh-day Adventists

by Jaymark Molo

Discussion About the Trinity in Church History

Athenagoras (c. 177) stressed the divinity of the Logos and the triadic nature of God. He defended the doctrine as an essential part of church faith.

Irenaeus (flourished c. 175-195) spoke of the “economy of salvation” in which each member of the Godhead has a distinct yet related role.

Tertullian (c. 160/170-215/220) is largely responsible for the method and vocabulary about the Trinity which Western tradition now uses. He argued that there was one God, in whom could be found three persons. One “substance” but three “persons.” This is what distinguishes the members of the Godhead. “The three persons of the Trinity distinct, yet not divided, different yet not separate or independent of each other,” etc.

The Council of Nicea in A.D. 325 rejected Arius’ subordinationist view of Christ.

The Niceo-Constantinopolitan creed from A.D. 381 affirms the unity of God, proclaims that Christ was “begotten from the Father before all time,” and declares that Christ is “of the same essence (homoousios) as the Father.” Thus the Son is God in every respect. The Creed also upheld the divinity of the Holy Spirit.

“We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, … We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. … We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified.”

Augustin (354-430) grounded his theology of the Trinity on the concept of relationship and on the bond of love between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He rejected any form of subordinationism that treated the Son and the Holy Spirit as inferior to the Father within the Godhead.

The three Eastern Cappadocian Fathers (Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa) expanded on the thoughts that there is one God in three persons. They spoke about one “substance” (ousia) in three “persons” (hypostases).

NOTE: We must remember that Seventh-day Adventist Church did no grow in a vacuum. Situation in the North America in the 19th century was diverse. We are children of its time! Our pioneers came out from different churches and denominations. We were strongly marked by this development from the very birth of our existence.

For example: (1) James White and Joseph Bates came from the Christian Connection Church. (2) Ellen Gould White was a member of the Methodist Church. (3) William Miller was a deist.

Anti-Creed Feelings and Convictions

“The Bible is our Creed. We reject everything in the form of a human creed” (James White, Review and Herald, Oct 8, 1861, 148).

Photograph of John Loughborough

Photograph of John Loughborough (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

John Loughborough claimed: “The first step of apostasy is to get up a creed, telling us what we shall believe. The second is to make that creed a test of fellowship. The third is to try members by that creed. The fourth to denounce as heretics those who do not believe that creed. And, fifth, to commence persecution against such.” (RH, Oct 8, 1861, 148.)

NOTE: Our pioneers had an overwhelming fear of accepting a creed, because they thought that in this way doctrine would be fixed, put in stone, and over time become very sterile, and finally no one would be able to change it!

The Basic PrerequisiteReformation Principle

What do you (we) build your (our) faith and doctrines on?

  • Ecclesia reformata et semper reformanda (church reformed and always reforming!)
  • How?
  • Reformed by the Word of God, by the Holy Scriptures!
  • Our faith cannot stand on the faith of our fathers, pioneers, church tradition, or church statements, creeds, or dogmas, but only upon the firm biblical foundation! The Bible must have the final authority. One can accept all that is in harmony with the biblical understanding of Truth. A true doctrine cannot contradict the Bible!
  • We need to take the faith of our forefathers seriously, but it must have only INFORMATIVE, and not FORMATIVE character. Only the faith of Jesus Christ (together with prophets and apostles) must have the DECISIVE and FINAL word!
  • This is why it is necessary to redefine and state over and over again what we believe (Revelation 14:12).

Reformation Principle Applied

The Preamble to “The Seventh-day Adventist 28 Fundamental Beliefs” states clearly this principle: “Seventh-day Adventists accept the Bible as their only creed and hold certain fundamental beliefs to be the teaching of the Holy Scriptures. These beliefs, as set forth here, constitute the church’s understanding and expression of the teaching of Scripture. Revision of these statements may be expected at a General Conference session when the church is led by the Holy Spirit to a fuller understanding of Bible truth or finds better language in which to express the teaching of God’s Holy Word.”

NOTE: A “fertile” space for “historical” Adventists, for many opponents and critics… No wonder that some “teachers” used that situation and tried to disturb people, rationalize, accuse, conspire, etc.… (like Smyrna Ministry; “Midnight Cry” from Kaliningrad, Russia; etc.) The whole package of 1888: Justification by faith (perfect Gospel!) which often includes together with it the following: Jesus is not God in a full sense, and a sinful nature of Christ. This was especially J. H. Waggoner’s view.

Chronology in Stages

1. Up to 1888  — Anti-Trinitarian period

2. 1888–1900  — Emergence and Formation of the Trinitarian Thinking/Sentiment

3. 1900–1931 (the SDA Yearbook statement of Faith) — Transition and Conflict

4. 1931–1957 (the publication of Questions on Doctrine) — Acceptance of the Trinitarian View

5. 1957–today — Settling of the IssueConsensus: (1) The 1980 Dallas Statement of Fundamental Beliefs; renewed questions of historic Adventism

 The First Stage

 Approximately up to 1888 — Anti-Trinitarian Period (formative phase)

James WhiteJoseph Bates, and Joshua V. Himes had their roots in the Christian Connection church, i.e., in the denomination which stood against the Trinitarian Doctrine. This had a strong influence on our leaders. James White was an ordained minister of that church.

The First Phase 

James White, consider carefully his statements from the following years:

1846: He dismissed the traditional doctrine of the Trinity as “the old unscriptural Trinitarian creed” and pointed to the danger of spiritualizing God. He made a difference between the Father and the Son, and clearly states that they are “two distinct, literal, tangible persons.” (The DayStar, January 24, 1846, 25).

English: James and Ellen White, taken from htt...

1849: He compiled the first hymnbook, which contains the Doxology, “Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” (Hymns for God’s Peculiar People, That Keep the Commandments of God, and the Faith of Jesus [Oswego, NY: Richard Oliphant, 1849], 47).

1852: He labeled the Doctrine of the Trinity as “the old trinitarian absurdity,” by which he meant that “Jesus Christ is the very and Eternal God,” thus wrongly assuming that according to the Trinitarian teaching, Jesus is identical as a person with the Father  (RH, August 5, 1852, 52).

Consider carefully his statements from the following years:

1855: In reference to “fables” of 2 Tim 4:4 that people will “turn their ears from the truth, and be turned aside to fables,” he wrote: “Here we might mention the Trinity, which does away [with] the personality of God and His Son Jesus Christ” (RH, December 11, 1855, 85).

NOTE: It is noteworthy to stress that James White here confuses modalism or sabelianism with the Trinitarian teaching.

1876: He wrote that “S. D. Adventists hold the divinity of Christ so nearly with the Trinitarians, that we apprehend no trial [conflict] here” (RH, October 12, 1876, 116).

1877: The inexplicable trinity that makes the godhead three in one and one in three, is bad enough; but the ultra Unitarianism that makes Christ inferior to the Father is worse” (RH, November 29, 1877, 72).

NOTE: James White believed that “Christ was equal with God” (ibid.), the Father and stood against the opinion that He was “inferior” to the Father.

Joseph Bates

In 1868 wrote: “Respecting the trinity, I concluded that it was impossible for me to believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, was also the Almighty God, the Father, one and the same being” (The Autobiography of Elder Joseph Bates [Battle Creek, MI: Steam Press of Seventh-day Adventist Publication Association, 1868], 205).  Bates then supposed as James White that the belief in the Trinity takes away the distinction between the divine persons, namely, that the Father and the Son are only one and the same being. This modalistic understanding of the Trinity he correctly rejected.

Joseph Bates, vegetarian and one of the founde...

Joseph Bates, vegetarian and one of the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NOTE: It is not enough to know that our pioneers condemned the Trinitarian doctrine. It is of utmost importance to understand why they were doing it. It is crucial to recognize that James White and Joseph Bates were against the speculative philosophical teaching on the Trinity. Their explanations and remarks reveal that they opposed the so-called modalism of the Trinitarian doctrine, and they were not expressing any dismissal of formulations which are in harmony with biblical teaching!

D. M. Canright: “How the doctrine of the trinity of three Gods, can be reconciled with these positive statements [1 Tim 2:15; Deut 6:4] I do not know”).— RH, August 29, 1878, 218

NOTE: D. M. Canright even thought that the Trinitarian doctrine speaks about the existence of three Gods!

J. N. Loughborough had the same understanding: “If Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are each God, it would be three Gods; for three times one is not one, but three. There is a sense in which they are one. But not one person, as claimed by Trinitarians” (J. N. Loughborough, “Questions to Bro. Loughborough,” RH, November 5, 1861, 184).

Uriah Smith

In the 60th years of the 19th century (1860s) he claimed that Christ was the first created being, dating his existence far back before any other created being or thing, next to the self-existent and eternal God“ (Thoughts, Critical and Practical, on the Book of Revelation [Battle Creek, MI: Seventh-day Adventist Publishing, 1865], p. 59).

In 1881 he softened his formulation. Jesus was “begotten” but not “created” being (ibid., 1881 Edition, p. 74). Five years before his death he explained it in the book Looking unto Jesus or Christ in Type and Antitype (Battle Creek, MI: Review and Herald Publishing Company, 1898) on the page 10 in the following way: God alone is without beginning. At the earliest epoch when a beginning could be, — a period so remote that to finite minds it is essentially eternity, – appeared the Word.”

Seventh-day Adventist Church Pioneers

Seventh-day Adventist Church Pioneers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Uriah Smith never denounced his semi-Arian views. This non-biblical opinion was taken out from the new edition of his book The Prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation (published after his death) in the year 1944 (Nashville, TN: Southern Publishing, p. 391).

E. J. Wagoner interpreted similarly Jesus’ beginning in Christ and His Righteousness published in 1890 (Oakland, CA: Pacific Press, pp. 21-22).

Also J. N.  Andrews thought that Jesus Christ was born in some point in eternity. He wrote: “And as to the Son of God, he would be excluded also [in reference to the phrase ‘having neither beginning of days’ of Hebrews 7:3], for he had God for his Father, and did, at some point in the eternity of the past, have a beginning of days” (RH, September 7, 1869, p. 84).

Other pioneers also expressed their anti-Trinitarian standpoints: J. B. Frisbie (1854); J. N. Loughbourgh (1861); R. F. Cottrell (1869); J. N. Andrews (1869); D. M. Canright (1878); a J. H. Waggoner (1884; 1890).

W. A. Spicer at one point told A. W. Spalding that his father, after becoming a Seventh-day Adventist (he was formerly a Seventh-day Baptist minister), “grew so offended at the anti-Trinitarian atmosphere in Battle Creek that he ceased preaching” (A. W. Spalding to H. C. Lacey, June 2, 1947).

J. N. Loughbourgh wrote that there are many objections against the Doctrine of the Trinity. He limited his arguments to the three reasons: 1. It is contrary to common sense. 2. It is contrary to scripture. 3. Its origin is Pagan and fabulous (RH, November 5, 1861, p. 184).

R. F. Cottrell in an article on the Trinity stated: “To hold the doctrine of the Trinity is not so much an evidence of evil intention as of intoxication from that wine of which all the nations have drunk. The fact that this was one of the leading doctrines, if not the very chief, upon which the bishop of Rome was exalted to the popedom, does not say much in its favor“ (RH, July 6, 1869, p. 11).

Our Pioneers on the Holy Spirit

D. M. Canright wrote in 1878: “The Holy Spirit is not a person… [He is] a divine influence proceeding from the Father and also from the Son, as their power, energy, etc.” (“The Holy Spirit Not a Person, but an Influence Proceeding from God,” The Signs of the Times, July 25, 1878, p. 218).

Uriah Smith stated in 1890: “The Bible uses expressions which cannot be harmonized with the idea that it is a person like the Father and the Son. Rather it is shown to be a divine influence from them both, the medium which represents their presence and by which they have knowledge and power through all the universe, when not personally present” (RH, October 28, 1890, p. 664).

NOTE: In this time period there is only one notable exception — Ellen G. White (we know nothing about others, because they did not publish their views; they were intimidated).

For example, she wrote already in the year 1869 that Jesus Christ in His preexistence was “equal with God” (2T 200); in the year 1878 designated Christ as “eternal Son of God” (RH, August 8, p. 49-50); and in the year 1888 stressed Christ’s divinity (GC 524).

NOTE: General Conference in Minneapolis in the year 1888 reshaped the understanding of key themes: (1) Justification Through Faith; (2) Salvation Only in Christ; (3) Plan of Salvation. This triggered a new discussion about Christ, namely His full divinity, His equality with the Father, and His role in salvation. Thus the way was opened for the formation and acceptance of the Trinitarian Doctrine.

The Second Stage (THE PARADIGM SHIFT)

1888–1900 — Emergence and Formation of the Trinitarian sentiment/thinking:

In Minneapolis soteriological questions were discussed.

Result: Christ is our Savor! If it is so, then it leads to the logical conclusions: Jesus Christ must be God, because it is not possible to worship a created being. If He is God, then He had to exist from eternity, etc.

Samuel Spear: The first positive reference to the Trinity in Adventist literature appeared in the Bible Student’s Library (Series No. 90, entitled “The Bible Doctrine of the Trinity,”1892; reprint from New York Independent, Nov 14, 1889) where he argued that there is one God in three persons. However, he also taught the eternal subordination of Christ (EGW already in 1869 otherwise!).

NOTE: Spear was not a Seventh-day Adventist.

A. T. Jones: He taught that Jesus was eternal on the basis of Col 2:9 (see, General Conference Bulletin, Feb 25, 1895, 332, and Feb 27, 1895, 382).

In 1899 he wrote a nearly Trinitarian statement: “God is one. Jesus Christ is one. The Holy Spirit is one. And these three are one: there is no dissent nor division among them” (A.T. Jones, editorial, Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Jan 10, 1899, 24 ).

Key role of Ellen G. White (not sporadic but systematic explanation!)

1897: “In Him was life, original, unborrowed, underived” (ST, April 8, 1897, 6–7).  “He [Christ] was equal with God, infinite and omnipotent.… He is the eternal, self-existent Son” (“The True High Priest,” Manuscript 101, 9).

1898: “In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived” (DA 530). “He announced Himself to be the self-existent One” (DA 470). “[Holy Spirit is] the Third Person of the Godhead” (DA 671). 

NOTE: It was so radical that M. L. Andreasen needed to see the original to be sure that it was written by her own hand and not by her literary helper, secretary, or editor! During 1909 he spent three months at Elmshaven, CA, where Ellen White lived at that time, and confirmed the originality of these key sentences.

Here is his testimony in his own words: “In her own handwriting I saw the statements which I was sure she had not written—could not have written. Especially was I struck with the now familiar quotation in Desire of Ages, page 530: ‘In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived.’ This statement at that time was revolutionary and compelled a complete revision of my former view—and that of the denomination—on the deity of Christ” (Testimony of M. L. Andreasen, October 15, 1953, White Estate Document File 961).

1900: “There never was a time when He [Christ] was not in close fellowship with the eternal God” (ST, August 29, 2–3).

1905: “There are three living persons of the heavenly trio; … three great powers—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (Special Testimonies, Series B, no. 7, 63; published in Evangelism 615).

1905: “From all eternity Christ was united with the Father” (ST, Aug 2, 1905; reprinted in 1 SM 228).

1906: “Christ was God essentially, and in the highest sense. He was God from all eternity…” (Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, April 5, 1906, 8; reprinted in 1 SM 247).

NOTE: These clear statements prove her belief in the Trinity, even though she never used the term “Trinity.” She presents God in unity, yet in the plurality of eternally, co-existing three persons. Three different Persons are one in their nature, character, and purpose. See Ministry of Healing, 421–422.

The Third Stage

1900–1931 (the SDA Yearbook statement of Faith):

Transition and Conflict (Debate)

W. W. Prescott, editor of the Review and Herald in 1902wrote three articles on the equality and eternal nature of God the Father and God the Son (Sept–Dec) in which he promoted the equality, personhood, and eternal nature of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

He had thus changed his position regarding the beginning of Jesus from what he had held in 1896: “As Christ was twice born, once in eternity, the only begotten of the Father, and again in the flesh, thus uniting the divine with the human in that second birth, so we, who have been born once already in the flesh, are to have the second birth, being born again in the Spirit” (see RH, April 14, 1896, 232).

1919, July 1–19: Bible Conference in Tacoma Park, Washington, DC.

Prescott asked: “Can we believe in the Deity of Christ without believing in the eternity of Christ?” (Report of the 1919 Bible Conference, July 6, 1919, 57).

He plainly stated: “You cannot read the Scripture and have the idea of deity without eternity” (Report of the 1919 Bible Conference, July 6, 1919, 62).

Impulse from Africa

The strong impulse for it (a statement of belief) came from African missionaries who needed to define pragmatically for believers and church members what we as the church believed.

In response to an appeal from church leaders in Africa for “a statement [that] would help government officials and others to a better understanding of our work,” a committee of four, including the president of the General Conference, prepared a statement encompassing “the principle features” of belief as they “may be summarized.”

1931: “Unofficial” statement of “Fundamental Beliefs” was included in the Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook.

One of the 22 statements speaks about the Trinity.

F. M. Wilcox, the editor of the Review, was principally responsible for the statement (a committee of four worked on the document —M. E. Kern, E. R. Palmer, C. H. Watson, F. M. Wilcox).

1931 (1946) Statement

“That the Godhead, or the Trinity, consists of the Eternal Father, a personal, spiritual Being, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, infinite in wisdom and love; the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal Father, through whom all things were created and through whom the salvation of the redeemed hosts will be accomplished; the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead, the great regenerating power of redemption. Matt 28:19.

“That Jesus Christ is very Godbeing of the same nature and essence as the Eternal FatherWhile retaining His divine nature He took upon Himself the nature of the human family, lived on the earth as a man, exemplified in His life as our Example the principles of righteousness, attested His relationship to God by many mighty miracles, died for our sins on the cross, was raised from the dead, and ascended to the Father where He ever lives to make intercession for us. John 1:1, 14; Heb 2:9–18; 8:1, 2; 4:14–16; 7:25.” From the Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, DC: Review and Herald, 1931, 377).

The Fourth Stage

1931–1957: The publication Questions on Doctrine culminated this period of the acceptance of the Trinitarian view.

F. M. Wilcox and L. E. Froom were central figures in this phase of development.

1946: 1931 Statement was accepted as the first official position of the church.

1949: L. E. Froom published important book on the Holy Spirit: The Coming of the Comforter (Washington, DC: Review and Herald, 1949).

1957: Questions on Doctrine was published (editors: L. E. Froom, W. E. Read, and R. A. Anderson).

The Fifth Stage

1957 till today — Settling of the issue (consensus):

The 1980 Dallas Statement of Fundamental Beliefs; renewed questions of historic Adventism (only lay activity—like Smyrna Gospel Ministry, Bruno Fisher, David Klejton, Wolfgang Schneider, etc., who speak about the Omega apostasy of the church, because we have accepted the Trinitarian teaching).

1970: Raoul Dederen published his article in “Reflections on the Doctrine of the Trinity,” Andrews University Seminary Studies 8, no. 1 (January 1970): 1–22.

1971: LeRoy Edwin Froom, Movement of Destiny (Washington, DC: Review and Herald, 1971).

1980: The Fundamental Beliefs were officially voted in Dallas (the second official Doctrinal Statement of the Church) which contained the Trinitarian formulation.

2000: Fernando Canale wrote an article on the “Doctrine of God” in The Handbook of Seventh-day Adventist Theology (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald, 2000).

2002: Woodrow Whidden, Jerry Moon, and John W. Reeve, eds., The Trinity: Understanding God’s Love, His Plan of Salvation, and Christian Relationships (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald, 2002). The first Adventist publication dedicated to the topic of the Trinity!

2006: Bible Conference was organized and sponsored by the Adventist Theological Society at Southern Adventist University with around 30 Bible scholars and theologians who presented different aspects on the Doctrine of the Trinity.

One whole issue of the Journal of Adventist Theological Society (17, no. 1 [Spring 2006]) was devoted to the Trinitarian questions.

1980 Dallas Statement

  • “27 Fundamental Beliefs” were officially voted by the church at the General Conference in Dallas, Texas.
  • In 2005 one article of faith was added to the 27 statements at the General Conference meetings in St. Louis, Missouri. Thus, we have now “28 Fundamental Beliefs.”

The second statement of faith entitled “The Godhead” states:

“God is one: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal 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. He is forever worthy of worship, adoration, and service by the whole creation.

The third article of faith under the title “God the Father” proclaims:

“God the eternal Father is the Creator, Source, Sustainer, and Sovereign of all creation. He is just and holy, merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. The qualities and powers exhibited in the Son and the Holy Spirit are also revelations of the Father.

The fourth faith statement entitled “God the Son” reads:

“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 man, Jesus the Christ. He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He lived and experienced temptation as a human being, but perfectly exemplified the righteousness and love of God. By His miracles He manifested God’s power and was attested as God’s promised Messiah. He suffered and died voluntarily on the cross for our sins and in our place, was raised from the dead, and ascended to minister in the heavenly sanctuary in our behalf. He will come again in glory for the final deliverance of His people and restoration of all things.”

The fifth article of faith entitled “God the Holy Spirit” declares:

“God the eternal Spirit was active with the Father and the Son in Creation, incarnation, and redemption. He inspired the writers of Scripture. He filled Christ’s life with power. He draws and convicts human beings; and those who respond He renews and transforms into the image of God. Send by the Father and the Son to be always with His children, He extends spiritual gifts to the church, empowers it to bear witness to Christ, and in harmony with the Scriptures leads it into all truth.”

Excursus: History of the SDA “Fundamental Beliefs”

First was the refusal to accept any Creed—“The (whole) Bible is our Creed”—desire not to fall into the trap of our Protestant brothers.

1. 1872: Uriah Smith authored and the Adventist press at battle Creek, MI, published A Declaration of the Fundamental Principles Taught and Practiced by the Seventh-day Adventists (first unofficial expression of church synopses of faith in 25 propositions. It does not contain any paragraph on the Trinity doctrine; there is no reference to the term Trinity there. On the other hand, it does not contain any anti-Trinitarian element. There is no polemic there against a Trinitarian position.

2. 1889: Uriah Smith rewrote, slightly revised, and expanded the faith synopses to 28 sections of “Fundamental Principles” that the church unanimously believed. Also in this declaration there is no statement about the Trinity. It was inserted in the Yearbook in 1905 and continued to appear through 1914.

3. 1931: Wilcox and three others expressed 22 doctrinal statements. One of them presents faith in the Trinity.

4. 1946: The first officially voted document on the Church’s doctrines and beliefs (formulated in 1931).

5. 1980: The second official statement of faith voted at the General Conference in Dallas, TX—“27 Fundamental Beliefs.” Articles 2–5 explain faith in the Triune God:  the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

6. 2005: A new article was added about “Growing in Christ” at the General Conference session in St. Louis, Missouri, now making “28 Fundamental Beliefs.”  No faith statements were changed including the statement on the Trinity.

Summary: (1) We must acknowledge that the development of Adventist Biblical theology has been progressive and corrective. (2) The gift of prophecy (Ellen G. White’s writings) played the key role in this unprecedented (incredible, exceptional, unparalleled, and extraordinary) doctrinal change in our church. (3) The Trinity Doctrine in our SDA Church, that one God is manifested in three persons, is indeed found in Scripture; i.e., it is a biblical doctrine, therefore one can accept it and believe it. We believe in the Trinity doctrine, because it is built on the solid biblical material. It was the Bible that led Seventh-day Adventists to accept their position on the Godhead. It was the firm foundation of the Bible which led Seventh-day Adventists to accept the doctrine of the Triune God. This doctrine is rooted in the faith of Jesus Christ, prophets, and apostles (Eph 2:20; 1 Cor 3:11; 1 Pet 2:4–8). (4) Faith cannot be built on the faith, convictions, opinions of our pioneers or church tradition. (5) The Trinity doctrine is a tool given to us so that we can cultivate a meaningful relationship with God and with each other. Our God is We, He is the Fellowship, the Community. We were created to His image, therefore we need also to cultivate multidimensional relationships, first vertical and then horizontal ones.

Conclusion: The Trinity is a mystery, and no mortal person will ever be able to understand it fully.  The Scriptural evidence clearly indicates the equality and eternal co-existence of the three persons in the Godhead. While human reason may not understand it, by faith we can believe it. Let’s bow down before our wonderful God, before this Miracle.

References:

  • Burt, Merlin D.  “History of the Seventh-day Adventist View on the Trinity.” Journal of the Adventist Theological Society 17, no. 1 (Spring 2006): 125–139.
  • Damsteedt, P. Gerard.  Foundations of the Seventh-day Adventist Message and Mission.  Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 1977.
  • Journal of the Adventist Theological Society 17, no. 1 (Spring 2006).
  • Knight, George R.  A Search for Identity: The Development of Seventh-day Adventist beliefs. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald, 2000.
  • Moon, Jerry.  “The Adventist Trinity Debate, Part 1: Historical Overview.”  Andrews University Seminary Studies 41, no. 1 (Spring 2003): 113–129.
  • Moon, Jerry. “The Adventist Trinity Debate, Part 2: The Role of Ellen G. White.” Andrews University Seminary Studies, vol. 41, no. 2 (Autumn 2003): 275–292.
  • Moon, Jerry. “The Quest for a Biblical Trinity: Ellen White’s ‘Heavenly Trio’ Compared to the Traditional Doctrine.”  Journal of the Adventist Theological Society 17, no. 1 (Spring 2006): 140–159.
  • Pfandl, Gerhard.  “The Doctrine of the Trinity among Seventh-day Adventists.” Journal of the Adventist Theological Society 17, no. 1 (Spring 2006): 160–179.
  • Pöhler, Rolf J.  “Change in Seventh-day Adventist Theology: A Study of the Problem of Doctrinal Development.”  Ph.D. diss., Andrews University, 1995.
  • Whidden, Woodrow, Jerry Moon, John W. Reeve, eds.  The Trinity: Understanding God’s Love, His Plan of Salvation, and Christian Relationships.  Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald, 2002.
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