Before accepting any doctrine or precept
we should demand a plain “thus saith the Lord” in its support.
The Great Controversy, p. 595
Study to shew thyself approved unto God,
a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,
rightly dividing the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15
"The ultimate measure of truth and error is found in such Bible verses as the following:
To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them (Isa. 8:20).
These (the Bereans) were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11).Sincerity, no matter how devout, is no indicator of spiritual truthfulness. The Bible tells us that “there is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:11). Merely because people argue on different sides of a doctrinal or moral viewpoint with what appears to be equal sincerity, proves nothing so far as truth and error are concerned.
1. Appeals to uninspired sources of authority. In nearly all theological, moral, and ecclesiastical controversies in contemporary Adventism, one side of the controversy appeals solely to the self-interpreting counsel of Scripture and the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy, while one or more contrary perspectives appeal to uninspired human sources as a means of approaching and settling
issues or understanding inspired counsel.
2. Appeals to human experience. A popular path to error in the continuing controversy among some Adventists over the doctrine of salvation is the argument that goes, regarding an opposing viewpoint: “I tried that theology, but it didn’t work for me.”
The reason such testimonies are so unhelpful is because none of us knows the heart of another (I Kings 8:39). The negative experiences and false perceptions that can obstruct one’s awareness of a particular Bible truth.
3. The “guilt by association” argument. In recent decades this argument has often been used to discredit the call to revival and reformation sounded by many theological conservatives in the church. Some, for example, have sought to marginalize the summons to greater doctrinal integrity and higher standards of worship and lifestyle because certain ones issuing this call have indulged what many believe to be a harsh, negative spirit regarding the church and its leaders.
We also hear the guilt-by-association argument from advocates of such teachings as anti-Trinitarianism. The claim is made that because Roman Catholics and other non-Adventist Christians presumably hold to the Trinity doctrine, that it must be wrong. (Roman Catholics also believe in the virgin birth and bodily resurrection of Christ, and in the wrongness of adultery, fornication, and homosexual practice.)
A doctrine is neither true nor false because of the flaws or virtues in its advocates or in other positions they make take. Only the written counsel of God defines the difference between spiritual truth and spiritual falsehood.
4. Making Biblical metaphors stretch too far. Adventists who support the pre-Fall view of Christ’s human nature often fall into this trap, when they claim that because Christ is identified in the inspired writings as the Second Adam, that this means He must have inherited a human nature identical to that of the sinless Adam, as distinct from the fallen nature inherited by Adam’s descendants.
Anti-Trinitarians fall into this trap as well. They don’t seem to realize that human metaphors regarding the Godhead such as “Father” and “Son” can’t be understood in human terms. The word "son“ may imply a beginning for human beings thus identified, but the inspired pen does not allow such a perspective regarding the Second Person of the Godhead. To insist that the title “Son of God” means Jesus had a beginning at some point in eternity past is no more credible than the claim of Robert Brinsmead some years ago, when he stated regarding classic Christian theism: “God does not have a son any more than He has a wife”.
5. False dilemmas. Recent arguments by anti-Trinitarians have insisted that because the writings of Ellen White identify the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Christ and of the Father in some statements, that the Holy Spirit therefore can’t be a distinct, separate Person within the Godhead. But Ellen White also states, regarding the Holy Spirit:
The Holy Spirit is the Comforter, in Christ’s name. He personifies Christ, yet is a distinct personality. Manuscript Releases, vol. 20, p. 324 E.G.W.What some fail to consider is that the Holy Spirit can in fact be both the Spirit of Christ and the Father, as well as being a distinct divine Person. It isn’t a question of either/or, in other words, both of both/and.
6. Reliance on unproved, often outlandish theories. Conspiracy speculation can be found on both ends of the ideological spectrum, whether in the sacred or the secular realm.
Certain promoters of anti-Trinitarianism have cited as support for their case the allegation that Trinitarian theology entered the Seventh-day Adventist Church through LeRoy Froom. One such individual recently claimed in an online discussion that “the trinity first appeared [in Adventism] in
1931”. But the one making this claim appeared quite surprised when it was demonstrated that Francis M. Wilcox, in the Review and Herald, had listed belief “in the divine Trinity” as first among Seventh-day Adventist Fundamental Beliefs as early as 1913.
7. Bending beliefs and standards for the purpose of outreach. The adjustment of doctrinal or lifestyle imperatives by the church as a means of reaching one or another group outside or on the edge of the church, has been around for some time. Many who have promoted contemporary methods of music and worship have done so with the intent of reaching the unchurched or reclaiming former members. Still others have insisted at times that unless Adventists either change or marginalize such teachings as the sanctuary, the Spirit of Prophecy, or the need for a perfected final generation of believers in preparation for Christ’s return, that certain segments of the Christian world will call us a cult.
Remarkably perhaps, we even see this approach at times on the opposite end of the Adventist spectrum. Certain anti-Trinitarian Adventists have claimed that the Trinity doctrine places a major impediment in the way of evangelizing Jews and Muslims, and thus urge an adjustment of our doctrinal position as a denomination on this point. But even such commendable reasons as the desire to reach the lost cannot justify the twisting or denial of inspired statements on any subject."