Letter 1903-10-29 – AG Daniells to W.C.-White
Letter-1903-10-29-AG-Daniells-to-W.C.-White October 29, 1903
Dear Brother White
Ever since the council closed I have felt that I should write you confidentially regarding Dr. Kellog’s plans for revising and republishing “The Living Temple.” But I have allowed the pressure of work to prevent me from doing so. Last evening we received a letter from the Doctor which makes me feel that I must not delay any longer to write to you about this matter.
In one of the Doctor’s statements made to the brethren while in council, he referred to “The Living Temple,” and gave us to understand that it would be entirely withdrawn from the market, and its career brought to an end; at least this was the idea I received from what he said. But the say the council closed, I had a long conversation with him about the book. He then told me that he did not think that after all there was a very great difference of opinion between us regarding the subject dealt with. He said that some days before coming to the council, he had been thinking the matter over, and began to see that he had made a slight mistake in expressing his views. He said that all the way along he had been troubled to know how to state the character of God and his relation to his created works. He felt sure that he believed just what the Testimonies teach, and what Dr. Waggoner and Elder Jones have taught for years; but he had come to believe that none of them had expressed the matter in correct form. He then stated that his former views regarding the trinity had stood in his way of making a clear and absolutely correct statement; but that within a short time he had come to believe in the trinity, and could now see pretty clearly where all the difficulty was, and believed that he could clear the matter up satisfactorily. He told me that he now believed in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost; that filled all space, and every living thing. He said that if he had believed this before writing the book, he could have expressed his views without giving the wrong impression the book now gives.
I placed before him the objections I found in the teaching, and tried to show him that the teaching was so utterly contrary to the gospel that I did not see how it could be revised by changing a few expressions. We argued the matter ay some length in a friendly way; but I felt sure that when we parted, the Doctor did not understand himself, nor the character of his teaching. And I could not see how it would be possible for him to flop over, and in the course of a few days fix the book up so that it would be all right,
After talking with me, he had a long interview with Prof. Prescott, in which he tried to get Brother Prescott to help him correct the statements that were misleading. But Brother Prescott would not consent to undertake the revision of that book in that manner. Then the doctor decided to leave a copy in his hands, with the request that he go through it, and cut out all that he believed misleading and erroneous. He stated that he would take a copy to Elder Haskell at South Lancaster, and ask him to do the same. Brother Prescott consented to give the book a careful examination, and write the Doctor his decision.
After spending a whole day going through the book from the first part to the last, Brother Prescott became thoroughly convinced that it would be impossible to revise that part of the book dealing with theology, and he wrote to the Doctor to that effect. I will enclose a copy of his letter.
Before the Doctor received this letter, he wrote to Prof. Prescott, requesting him to insert a notice in the REVIEW stating that “The Living Temple” would be revised, and ready for sale in about three weeks. Brother Prescott has written to him that he can not insert such a notice. He will send a copy of this letter, that you may see it for yourself.
Now you will see that we are facing what may prove to be another serious difference and struggle. We are simply amazed at the course the Doctor is taking regarding this book. In the first place, we have believed most sincerely for a year that the teaching of the book is subversive of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You will remember that a year ago, Professor Prescott pointed out three fundamental errors which strike at the very foundation of the gospel: One is a clear-cut denial of the personality of God as set forth in the Scriptures; another is the utter ignoring of the atonement, and the thirst the removal of the bridge or the gulf that separates the sinner from the man who is saved by the grace of God. As you know, some of us have seen these errors so plainly, and have felt them so keenly, that we have been greatly troubled during the entire year as to what course to take to prevent them from leavening your young people.
Now the Spirit of Prophecy comes forward and denounces these errors in unmistakable language. The teaching of the book is called mysticism, subtle sophistries, Satan’s delusions, etc. You have read the communications, and know their fearful import. Up to the time the Spirit of Prophecy spoke, the Doctor and those who believed with Him, took an unyielding position, and treated those who differed with them, as enemies who were creating dissensions and strife. They gave us fair warning that this battle would be fought out to the bitter end, and that the old traditional theories would be rolled under.
On October 7 Dr. Kellog wrote a letter regarding this matter. He stated that he had received a letter from a personal friend in Healdsburg, telling that Sister White had spoken to the students in Healdsburg College against the teaching of “The Living Temple.” He then made the following statement:–
“This, of course, is very different from what she wrote some years ago. W.C and others have made her believe we are teaching a pernicious doctrine; so it must be downed. This is the stand she takes. She will certainly take a stand against the book, and against us all.”
From my conversation with the Doctor ten days after this letter was written, I felt fully satisfied that he had not changed his views in any essential particular. I believed that he saw that the book in its present form was doomed, and that he must now surrender, and make the best he possibly could of a bad case. His whole attitude gave me this impression. During his conversation with me, he several times gave me to understand that if he could get Prof. Prescott and me to pronounce the book orthodox, it would be all right. And he stated two or three times that he thought he would better, after getting it revised according to our views, send the manuscript to Sister White to be O.K’d by her. I told him it was ridiculous for him to talk like that. He knew very well that she never examined MSS for any such purpose, and that if he send his MS to her, he might have to wait a long time before it would be returned with her O.K. upon it. He said he could not see but what he would have to send every article he wrote to her, after this. If she was going to take the position of pronouncing on the orthodoxy or error of a book, as she had of “The Living Temple,” there was no other way than for him to place all his MSS and his articles for GOOD HEALTH in her hands for censorship. I was disgusted with his talk about this. I told him that he know as well as any one that she did not take up articles and arguments regarding doctrines, nor anything else, and give them a careful, analytical study as men do, but that she waits until the Lord gives her a clear outline, and then she tells plainly what God reveals to her.
When he found that I was firm and determined on this point, he said, oh yes, he knew the principles Sister White set forth were correct and true, and would stand forever. But there seemed a lack of sincerity and humble, earnest inquiry after the right way that made me feel that it would be impossible for the doctor to put this book in shape to make it safe and valuable for our people or any one else to read. I do not know what counsel Dr. Waggoner and Elder Jones will give him. But there is one thing certain: I shall not lend my influence to a hasty revision of the theological teaching of that book.
If I were to tell you all that has come to me regarding what seems to me to be unholy scheming, I would state that a person overheard the Doctor and several of his associates talking about how it would be possible to get the stamp of orthodoxy upon the book. During this conversation, it was suggested that the first step to take was to get Daniells and Prescott to fix it up, and place their endorsement upon it. They thought that this would remove suspicion, and create confidence enough to give the book a standing. Now I do not know that this is just the language that was used but it is what came to me from a party who heard the conversation. And I must say that the course pursued all the way through by the Doctor is in striking harmony with the representations made to me.
Brother Prescott and I feel that we must be exceedingly careful regarding this matter. We have read the various statements Sister White has made in there different communications about the teaching of this book and the frightful results that will come from its acceptance, and we feel that it is a serious thing that can not be trifled with in the least degree. We propose to stand squarely upon every detail of the light given in the Testimonies as well as the teaching of the Scriptures. We are obliged to refuse to surrender a single inch of the ground or to compromise a single point of the truth God has given us. Really I feel that our situation is more dangerous this hour than at any previous time.
We are aware that the Sanitarium is in a bad way financially, and that they would like very much to sell the book to get relief. We know, too, that the Doctor sees that he can not whip this denomination into submission, and that the best course for him to take is that of conciliation. We would like more than we can express to join him on terms possible. But here is where there is great danger. As you read the history of God’s people from their first lapses into idolatry, after leaving Egypt until Zedekiah was taken to Babylon, you will see that it was compromise on the part of the leaders that brought such dreadful evils upon the people of God. This compromising attitude began with Aaron, and was exhibited by one leader after another, until the nation fell under Zedekiah. The uncompromising position of such men as Ezra, Nehemiah, Hezekiah, Jehosaphat, Daniel, and others, brought the greatest blessings to God’s cause, and redeemed them over and over again from the idolatry and wickedness into which they were sold by their compromising leaders.
I do not wish you to understand that we pose as great leaders or anything of the kind; but here we are, standing in thins responsible place without our own choice. We are poor, weak mortals; we are nothing but dust; but notwithstanding this, God has placed grave responsibilities upon us. We have accepted them in accepting the offices we hold. And now there is nothing for us to do but to be absolutely firm and unyielding in the right as the Lord has given us to understand what is right. If we fail to discern the truth, if we miss the way, to such an extent that we shall oppose light and truth as they are unfolded by the onward march of God’s work, then our brethren must set us aside and select men who are in touch with God, and who can discern when good comes.
I must assure you, Brother White, that we feel exceedingly serious over the present situation. We do not want to gird on the sword and fight our brethren. The struggles through which we have passed during the last year, have almost wrecked us physically. We are sick and tired of them. If we could be excused, we would gladly retire from the arena, and go where we could teach and preach the simple message of the third angel to sinners who are longing for light and salvation. But as tired as we are of this terrible strain, we dare not either run from our post, nor take a soft, compromising course that would land this cause in a far worse condition that it is at the present time.
As stated at the beginning, I have felt impressed for days that I ought to write you confidentially regarding this matter. I know not what representations may be made to you by the Doctor and those who sympathize with him. It may be that they will not write anything to you. But if another serious rupture should break out between Doctor and Brother Prescott and me, I would want you know just where we stand. What I have said, with the communications I enclose, will help you see our present situation. Do not forget to pray for us, and give us any council you may have for us.
Yours in the bonds of Christian Love,
PS.—The following is a statement just received from one of the brethren in the field. It expresses the feelings of scores of our ministers. Speaking to Brother Prescotts’s uncompromising opposition to the teaching of “The Living Temple,” the writer says:–
“I do not wonder that this is so. There are some strange things in it. I have noted three great evils in it— evils that the enemy is teaching now everywhere that he can: First, setting aside the personality of God; second, ignoring the atonement; third, teaching that all are the temple of God, and that therefore there is practically no difference between saint and sinner, and that the unconverted are also the children of God. Of course, in a sense God is in every man; but that any one who is acquitted with the truth can fail to see the mighty, impassable gulf that lies between the sinner and the child of God, is something more than passing strange. It shows the necessity, first of all, of being converted to God, so that we will know in ourselves that there is a difference between merely ourselves of ourselves, and ourselves when dwelt in spiritually by the Holy One. And It also shows that our people need educating, especially in the truths that Satan is thus seeking to pervert. And this is what I wish especially to say to you at this time.
“I believe in the third angel’s message, and that in its pure simplicity it holds all the truth and help men need these days. But the moment teaching enters into the field, of either science or philosophy, many of our people, and not a few of our ministers, seem unable to know the true from the false.”
I think this brother has given this new teaching a very fair analysis. A good many of our ministers have done this, but some, and I fear quite a good many, are confused and deceived