The Trinity – J. S. Washburn 1939 Letter

1888 – LITTLE HISTORY
Judson Sylvaneous Washburn (1863 – 1955)

Washburn was the son of Sabbatarian Adventist pioneer Calvin Washburn who had joined the Advent movement  during  the  Millerite  movement  of  the 1840s. As a youth J. S. Washburn had many opportunities to meet the founding pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Washburn claimed a rich  SDA  heritage.  He  was  converted  by  J.  N. Andrews at 11, baptized by James White at 12 and began preaching Adventism at 21. He worked in the Iowa Conference. It was from here that  he  came  as  a delegate to  the  1888  General Conference  Session.  The  spiritual  struggles  that occurred at this meeting left him groping about his own spiritual life–a problem that he later sorted through by counseling with Ellen White. About this time he also began a correspondence with Mrs. White that lasted through the rest of her life (until her death in 1915). Rejuvenated spiritually by the message of righteousness by faith Washburn went as a missionary to England. Up until that time the work in England had been struggling, but his creative tactics for drawing crowds and holding their attention literally changed the face of the church there from a small company of believers to literally hundreds who were converted at a time.

  • There is evidence that British Adventism may not have survived but for his contribution as a powerful and creative evangelist. In addition to his intense study of the Spirit of Prophecy and desire to obtain “everything that Sister White wrote,” Washburn’s amazing memory enabled him to memorize much of the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy writings. By 1918 he claimed to have memorized Revelation, Romans, James and Second Peter. He noted that his memory improved “with the study of the Bible and spirit of prophecy.” By 1948 he claimed to have memorized the entire New Testament and was working toward committing Isaiah to memory.
  • There is a most remarkable story regarding Washburn, 1888, and Ellen White:
  • J. S. Washburn, who was a nephew of George I. Butler, was twenty-six years old in the year of 1888, the year when Brother Waggoner and Jones delivered to the Adventist Church the special message of ‘Righteousness by Faith’. When he first heard the message he rejected it, because he felt that it was contrary to the established teachings of the Adventist Church concerning the law of God; thus he sided with Brother Uriah Smith and J. H. Morrison in their disavowal of the doctrine. It was during this time that he first realized that Sister White was in full agreement with Jones and Waggoner, this knowledge led him to question Mrs. White’s position as the Lord’s special messenger. After a short time of struggle, he met with Sister White and His doubts were dissolved. He later recalled:
  • So I went to have a visit with her in her tent at the Ottawa meeting. I told her I had always thought and believed that she was a prophet. But I was disturbed by the Minneapolis episode. I had thought Uriah Smith and J. H. Morrison were right. “Do you know why J. H. Morrison left the Conference early?” she asked me. I replied, “Yes.” Then she told me just what Morrison had said to me–and the revelation of her apparently superhuman knowledge   of   that   private,   confidential   conversation frightened me. I realized that here was one who knew secrets. Sister White told me of her Guide in Europe, who had stretched His hands out, and said, “There are mistakes being made on both sides in this controversy.” Then she added that the “Law in Galatians” is not the real issue of the Conference. The real issue is Righteousness by faith! “E. J. Waggoner can teach righteousness by faith more clearly than I can,” said Sister White. “Why, Sister White,” I said, “do you mean to say that E. J. Waggoner can teach it better than you can, with all your experience?” Sister White replied, Yes, the Lord has given him special light on that question. I have been wanting to bring it out more clearly, but I could not have brought it out as clearly as he did. But when he brought it out at Minneapolis, I recognized it.” {Report of interview with Elder J. S. Washburn by R. J. Wieland June 4, 1950}
  • After this meeting, J. S. Washburn and his wife became dear friends with Ellen White. Brother Washburn was the Pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Washington. Mrs. White was a visitor in their home on occasion and the Ellen White Estate has on record several letters that Sister White wrote to the couple. “May the Lord continue to bless the church in Washington is my prayer. I know the Lord blessed me when I was with you, and He blessed His people. Much love to all in your household, and much love to those with whom we took sweet counsel together in our precious meetings. The Lord lives and reigns, praise His holy name”. {The E. G. W. 1888 Materials, p. 853, Chapter Title: To J. S. Washburn and wife}
  • It was the Conference’s rejection of the special message of ‘Righteousness by Faith’, first given in 1888 that caused the writing of several letters from Mrs. White to the Washburn’s. This rejection greatly sorrowed Sister White, and she wrote to Brother J. S. Washburn to encourage him to continue in the ‘rays of the Sun of Righteousness’, for she knew that he had now fully accepted the message. Mr. Washburn became known as a true believer in the Spirit of Prophecy, and Ellen White considered him a defender of the Faith, which was once delivered unto the saints.
  • With the knowledge that the Seventh-day Adventist Church did not begin to incorporate the trinity  doctrine  into  its  beliefs  until  1931  (after  the death  of the pioneers, including E. G. White); and with the previous information on just who J. S. Washburn was, and his relationship to Sister White, the reader will be able to better appreciate the significance of his letter.
  • The letter by Washburn
  • The doctrine of the Trinity is a cruel heathen monstrosity, removing Jesus from his true position of Divine Savior and Mediator. It is true we can not measure or define divinity. It is beyond our finite understanding, yet on this subject of the personality of God the Bible is very simple and plain. The Father, the Ancient of Days, is from eternity. Jesus was begotten of the Father. Jesus speaking through the Psalmist says: “The Lord (Jehovah) has said unto me, Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee.” – Psalm 2:7. Again in Proverbs (where Jesus is spoken of under the title of wisdom, See 1 Cor. 1:24), we read: “The Lord (Jehovah) possessed me in the beginning of his way” v. 22 “Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth.” – v. 24. The Son says he was brought forth, begotten, born of His Father (Jehovah).
  • Satan has taken some heathen conception of a three-headed monstrosity, and with deliberate intention to cast contempt upon divinity, has woven it into Romanism as our glorious God, an impossible, absurd invention. This monstrous doctrine transplanted from heathenism into  the  Roman  Papal Church is seeking to intrude its evil presence into the teachings of the Third Angel’s Message. …And the fact that Christ is not the mediator in the Roman Church demonstrates that the Trinity destroys the truth that Christ is the one, the only mediator. The so-called Christian Church, the Papacy, that originated the doctrine of the Trinity, does not recognize him as the only mediator but substitutes a multitude of ghosts of dead men and women as mediators. If you hold the Trinity doctrine, in reality, Christ is no longer your mediator. …
  • The whole Trinity doctrine is utterly foreign to all the Bible and the teachings of the Spirit  of  Prophecy.  Revelation gives not  the slightest hint of it. This monstrous heathen conception finds no place in all the free  universe  of  our  Blessed  heavenly  Father  and  His  Son,  our  Lord  and Savior, Jesus ChristThe Catholic heathen doctrine of the Sunday Sabbath is just as sacred as the Catholic pagan doctrine of the Trinity and no more so…Seventh-day Adventists claim to take the word of God as supreme authority and to have “come out of Babylon”, to have renounced forever the vain traditions of Rome. If we should go back to the immortality of the soul, purgatory, eternal torment and  the  Sunday  Sabbath,  would  that  be  anything  less  than  apostasy?  If, however, we leap over all these minor, secondary doctrines and accept and teach the very central root doctrine of Romanism, the Trinity, and teach that the son of God did not die, even though our words seem to be spiritual, is this anything else or anything less than apostasy, and the very Omega of apostasy?…
  • However kindly or beautiful or apparently profound his sermons or articles may be, when a man has arrived at the place where he teaches the heathen Catholic doctrine of the Trinity, and denies that the Son of God died for us, is he a true Seventh-day Adventist? Is he even a true preacher of the Gospel? And when many regard him as a great teacher and accept his unscriptural theories, absolutely contrary to the Spirit of Prophecy, it is time that the watchmen should sound a note of warning.{Portions of a letter written by J. S. Washburn in 1939.} (This letter was liked by a conference president so much that he distributed it to 32 of his ministers.)

Click the link below to read the whole letter

The Trinity – J. S. Washburn 1939 Letter

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