Have you received this book in the mail? I first received a call from a man in our church last week asking about it and another lady this week was asking about it. It is religious and it is very dangerous. My first inclination would be to tell you not to read something like this. And for the young Christians, I would stand by that thought. It is too closely tied to Christianity, but with some significant differences that begin on very common ground. For that reason, I believe it is be very confusing and dangerous for young Christians. On the other hand, for the mature, to read it or to learn about it would be a help in attempting to answer questions for friends and family who have also received the book in the mail. My purpose is to give you information and insight so that if you prefer not to read it, you will still have information about it that you might not be deceived and that you might keep others from that same deception.
The author of The Great Controversy is E. G. White. She was a leading prophet in the Seventh Day Adventist movement in the 1800’s. The Great Controversy was first published in the form you have received around 1858. To understand the full implications of this book, we have to understand some of the history of the Seventh Day Adventist religion.
The Adventists have been controversial since their beginning. At the very beginning, they were considered a cult by most theologians. However, in the 1950’s some leading evangelical Christians began to interact with some of the main leaders of the Adventists and realized that there seemed to be a lot of similarities in doctrine. There was a huge conference and at the end of the conference, it was realized that the main leaders of the Adventists were common in their basic beliefs enough that they were deemed ‘Christian.’ However, they were not considered an orthodox religion but a heterodox religion. The result of this conference in the 1950’s left leading evangelical leaders to declare them to be ‘Christian’ however, it was also established that they had many beliefs that did not agree with accepted evangelical Christianity. However, within the Adventist community, this same conference produced division.
It became apparent that the leaders of the Adventist were closer to more mainline Christianity, but the rank and file of the Adventist faith was not. The religion split. It split into evangelical adventists which were like the Adventist leaders during this conference and traditional adventists whose beliefs were quite different from Christian beliefs. Both of these groups still exist, however, over time, the traditional adventists have claimed most leadership roles and the movement as a whole holds to ‘cultish’ beliefs. This has created confusion over the years for both evangelicals and adventists. The evangelical adventists are considered to be Christian but with some strange beliefs. The traditional adventists are considered to be a cult or at least ‘cultish.’ At this point, it is important to note that traditional adventists believe E.G. White and her writings to be equal with Scripture much like the Mormon church considers the Book of Mormon to be equal with the Bible. E.G. White would be considered to be a traditional adventists and in her book The Great Controversy, she teaches some very un-Biblical concepts.
The difference arises over a few things, but for the sake of this article, let me just touch on a few:
Sabbatarianism: The traditional adventists believe that the Sabbath, the 7th day of the week, must remain holy and that true Christians meet for worship on Saturdays. This is a key point for them for salvation. In other words, to them, a person is not truly saved unless they worship on Saturdays.
Investigative Judgment: THIS IS THE MOST DANGEROUS PART OF THE BOOK IN MY OPINION. A vey early leader of the Seventh Day Adventist taught that Christ would return in 1843 or 1844. When Christ did not return, this was explained away by E. G. White through the doctrine of Investigative Judgment. Again, I don’t want to take the time to cover all of this belief. The basic idea though is that since 1844, Christ is no long the mediator and intercessor for believers on Earth. And now, since 1844, only those who have lived a ‘perfect, sinless’ life can be saved. We, as a Holiness church, place a great deal of emphasis on holiness and resisting sin. However, we believe that we are only able to resist sin by the power of the Holy Spirit and Christ interceding for us. AND and this is a big AND, we believe you are saved by faith, not perfection. From the moment we accept Christ, there is therefore now no condemnation. Obedience and spiritual growth is a natural consequence of true faith in Christ. However, we do not believe, nor does any other mainline Christian thought, believe that a person must reach a state of sinless perfection in order to be saved.
Sunday Law: In the book The Great Controversy, E. G. White prophesies that the government of the United States will form an unholy union with the Catholic church. Though many believe the governments of the world will form an unholy union with religion, we do not know that religion to be the Catholic church as most of us understand the Catholic church and the United States in not specifically mentioned in Scripture. I am not saying this cannot happen, but I don’t believe this to be true. One of the reasons that this prophecy of E. G. White seems quite far from Scripture is that she believes this unholy union of the United States and the Catholic Church will then impose a Sunday Law. This is a law that requires worship to be on Sunday. Because of White’s belief that worship must be on Saturday, she considers this to be the great persecution of believers in the last days. This is hogwash! The persecution upon believers will have nothing to do with the day we worship, but for our faith in Jesus Christ. The end times will not bring a specific day for Christians to worship, but death and torture for any who worship Christ. This will be the great persecution.
Just to touch on the idea of the Sabbath, it was to be symbolic as much of the Old Testament law was. It was law to celebrate Passover, but it was law because it would teach the lesson of how God was faithful in sparing the Israelites from the angel of death in Egypt when He delivered them from Pharoah. It was a day of rest. When Christ came teaching that He was the Lord of the Sabbath, saying that all who are weary should come to Him to find rest, it was clear that the Old Testament law was to teach us that in Christ we find our rest, not a specific day. I teach much more about this in the Transformation Class #3.
I hope to have given you plenty of information without overwhelming you with too much information about The Great Controversy. Again, to be clear, it is filled with dangerous teachings that can be confusing. The inside cover the copy I received depicts this book as being part of Project Restore which I believe is an attempt to draw people into the traditional Seventh Day Adventist beliefs. Please contact me know if you have other questions.