In 1846 James White dismissed the doctrine of
the Trinity as "the old unscriptural trinitarian creed."
A century later, the denomination he co-founded voted its first
official endorsement of a statement of "Fundamental Beliefs"
that included reference to the Trinity.
That a major theological shift occurred is no longer subject to
debate. That most of the early leaders among Seventh-day
Adventists held an antitrinitarian theology has become standard
in the forty years since E. R. Gane wrote an M.A. thesis on the
What is now disputed in some quarters is Gane's second
hypothesis, that Adventist co-founder Ellen G. White (1827-1915)
was "a trinitarian monotheist."
Since the 1980s, that view has come under intense attack from
some writers, mostly from outside the academic community.
Nevertheless, the renewed scrutiny of the role of Ellen White in
the development of the Adventist Trinity doctrine has raised
enough questions to warrant a fresh examination of the issue.
Part 1 of this research identified six stages
in the development of the Adventist doctrine of God, from
opposition to the Trinity doctrine, to acceptance of the basic
concept of one God in three divine persons.
Part 2 will present evidence in support of a fourfold
hypothesis: (1) That Gane's characterization of Ellen White as a
"trinitarian monotheist" is accurate regarding her mature
concept of God, from 1898 onward. In the 1840s, however, she did
not yet have all the components of that view in place. Her
mature view developed through a 40-year process that can be
extensively documented. (2) That her writings describe two
contrasting forms of trinitarian belief, one of which she
consistently opposed, and one that she eventually endorsed. (3)
That Ellen White's developing understanding exerted a strong
influence on other Adventist writers, leading eventually to a
substantial degree of consensus in the denomination; and (4)
that the method by which early Adventists came to this position
was by disallowing ecclesiastical tradition from having any
normative authority and insisting on Scripture alone as the
basis for doctrine and tests of membership. This rejection of
tradition led them initially to some heterodox views that
received severe criticism from the broader Christian community.
Their dependence on Scripture, however, brought them eventually
to what they believe is a more biblical view of the Trinity.
This material will be presented under four subheadings, (1)
Evidences for Change, (2) Varieties of Trinitarianism, (3) The
Development of Ellen White's Doctrine of God and Its Influence
on Other Adventist Writers, and (4) Conclusions.
Evidences for Change
At the core of the debate is the question
regarding Ellen White's position and her role in the process of
change. Some assume that Ellen White did not change, that she
was either always trinitarian or never trinitarian.
There is ample evidence, however, that Ellen White's beliefs did
change on a number of other issues, so it is entirely plausible
that she grew in her understanding of the Godhead as well. When
she declared in 1849, "We know we have the truth,"
she was referring to the beliefs that Sabbatarian Adventists
held in distinction from other Christian groups. She did not
mean that there was no more truth to be discovered or that
Adventists would never need to change any of their views.
The argument that her views did change is
based on the recognition that at every stage of life her
knowledge of God and His will was a combination of what she had
learned through ordinary means such as parental training, church
attendance, Bible study, and personal experience, and—after
December 1844—what she received through visions. Furthermore,
she herself considered her visions as an educational process
that continued in cumulative fashion for many years.
Consequently, her personal understanding, especially in the
earlier years, contained many elements not fully consistent with
her later beliefs, because neither her personal Bible study nor
her visions had yet called her attention to those inconsistent
For instance, after her first vision in
December 1844, she continued to observe Sunday as the Sabbath
for almost three more years. She had not yet learned about the
A second example of a changed view was the discovery of the
"time to commence the Sabbath" in 1855. For nine years after
they accepted the seventh-day Sabbath, the Whites and most of
the Sabbatarian Adventists observed the Sabbath from 6:00 p.m.
Friday to 6:00 p.m. Saturday. Not until J. N. Andrews in 1855
demonstrated from Scripture
that the biblical Sabbath begins at sunset, did Ellen White very
reluctantly acknowledge that for nine years Adventists had been
ignorant of the biblical time to begin the Sabbath.
A third example is what Adventists have
historically called health reform. Until 1863, most of them,
including James and Ellen White, were heavy meat eaters, even
slaughtering their own hogs. Not until after basic
denominational organization had been achieved, was the attention
of the movement called to a broader platform of health
principles, including complete proscription of pork products and
the strong recommendation of vegetarianism.
In view of these and other areas of
conceptual development, it is not particularly surprising that
Ellen White should show both development and change in her view
of the Godhead. Her writings about the Godhead show a clear
progression, not primarily from anti- to pro-trinitarianism, but
from relative ambiguity to greater specificity. Some of her
early statements are capable of various interpretations, but her
later statements, 1898-1906, are explicit to the point of being
dogmatic. Her change of view appears clearly to have been a
matter of growth and progression, rather than reversal, because
unlike her husband and others of her associates, she never
directly attacked the view of the Trinity that she would later
Varieties of Trinitarianism
The conceptual key that unlocks the enigma of
Ellen White's developmental process regarding the Trinity is the
discovery that her writings describe at least two distinct
varieties of trinitarian belief. One of these views she
consistently opposed throughout her adult ministry, and the
other she eventually endorsed. The trinitarian concept that she
opposed was one that "spiritualized" the members of the Godhead
as distant, impersonal, mystical, and ultimately unreal. The
concept that she favored portrayed God as personal, literal, and
tangible. She did not initially recognize His trinitarian
nature, but when she did, she would describe the Father, Son,
and Holy Spirit as real individuals, emphasizing Their
"threeness" as willing, thinking, feeling, social, and
relational individuals, and explaining Their oneness in terms of
nature, character, purpose, and love, but not of person. The
basis of these differentiations will become clearer as we
examine the historical context and process of her developing
The Development of Ellen White's
Understanding of the Godhead
Three pieces of evidence are particularly
significant for reconstructing the historical context of Ellen
White's earliest references to the Godhead: (1) the role of
"spiritualizers" in post-disappointment Millerism; (2) the
polemics of James and Ellen White against those spiritualizers;
and (3) a contemporary Methodist creed that the Whites (and
other early Adventists) repeatedly cited in support of their
rejection of traditional trinitarianism.
In the post-disappointment period of 1845,
many former Millerites "spiritualized" the second coming, by
interpreting the biblical prophecies of Christ's return as
having a spiritual, not literal meaning.
Hence the spiritualizers could believe that Jesus did come on
October 22, 1844, not literally, but "spiritually." This view
led to a wide range of aberrant behavior. Among the most extreme
were the "no work" fanatics who believed that the seventh
millennium had already been inaugurated as a Sabbath of
perpetual rest, and that the way to demonstrate saving faith was
to refrain from all work. Others of the "spiritualizers" dabbled
joined the Shakers,
or even became followers of occult spiritualism.
James and Ellen White believed this teaching
was false, because it took a Bible doctrine that they believed
was clearly intended to be "literal" and made it nonliteral or
"spiritual." The core belief of Millerite Adventism was the
literal, bodily, premillennial second advent. From this
perspective, if the second advent is not a literal, bodily
return of the same divine-human Jesus who ascended, but is
rather some subjective spiritual "revelation" to the individual
heart or mind, then the teaching of His literal return has been
not just modified, but destroyed—hence the phrase "spiritualize
away." To "spiritualize away" means to take something intended
as literal, and by calling it "spiritual" to so radically change
the concept that it no longer has any real meaning.
For this reason both James and Ellen White
came early to the conviction that they must oppose this
spiritualizing as heresy. Ellen's polemics against this doctrine
and its resulting behaviors are well known.
James also wrote repeatedly in the post-Millerite Day-Star
against these spiritualizing tendencies.
One of James's polemics against the
spiritualizers included an antitrinitarian remark that implied a
commonality of belief between the spiritualizers and the
Apparently some of the "spiritualizers" were supporting their
error by reference to what James called "the old unscriptural
trinitarian creed." James charged that both the
"spiritualizers" and the traditional trinitarians
"spiritualize[d] away the existence of the Father and the Son,
as two distinct, litteral [sic], tangible persons."
In maintaining that the Father and the Son
are "real," "literal" persons, the Whites certainly didn=t doubt
that "God is spirit" (John 4:24),
but they insisted that as Spirit, God is still Someone real,
tangible, and literal; not unreal, ephemeral, or imaginary. They
felt that the terms used for Trinity in the creeds and
definitions they knew of, made God seem so abstract,
theoretical, and impersonal, that He was no longer perceived as
a real, caring, loving Being. Thus the attempt to make Him
"spiritual" rather than literal, actually "spiritualized Him
away," that is, destroyed the true concept of who He is and what
He is like.
A third piece of evidence confirms that James
was indeed linking the spiritualizers with traditional
trinitarians—a group that were in almost every other way the
theological opposites of the spiritualizers. A Methodist creed
of the same period—and the way this creed was quoted and
rebutted by other early Adventist writers—supports
the suggestion of common ground between Ellen White's earliest
statements about the person(s) of God, and the
antitrinitarianism of her husband (although she never in print
denounced trinitarianism as he did). The suggestion that there
is a dual linkage here—spiritualizers with philosophical
trinitarians, and Ellen's concept of a personal God with James's
antitrinitarianism—may sound far-fetched to many readers. But
against the background of post-Millerite spiritualizers,
consider the wording of a typical trinitarian creed of the time.
One aspect of traditional trinitarianism espoused by some
Protestant groups, but rejected by early Adventists, was the
somewhat curious statement that "There is but one living and
true God, everlasting, without body or parts."
The early Adventists vigorously refuted this, citing several
biblical passages that portrayed God as having both "body" and
This question was evidently on the mind of
Ellen White as well.
Twice in early visions of Jesus, she asked Him questions related
to the "form" and "person" of God. In one early vision, she "saw
a throne, and on it sat the Father and the Son. I gazed on
Jesus' countenance," she said, "and admired His lovely person.
The Father's person I could not behold, for a cloud of glorious
light covered Him. I asked Jesus if His Father had a form like
Himself. He said He had, but I could not behold it, for said He,
'If you should once behold the glory of His person, you would
cease to exist.'"
Also about 1850 she reported, "I have often
seen the lovely Jesus, that He is a person. I asked Him
if His Father was a person and had a form like Himself. Said
Jesus, 'I am in the express image of My Father's person.="
Thus she gained visionary confirmation of what her husband had
written in the Day-Star in 1846, that the Father and the
Son are "two distinct, literal, tangible persons."
In terms of the trinitarian question, this is ambiguous. By
itself it contains nothing contradictory to early Adventist
antitrinitarianism, though it also offers no contradiction to
her explicitly trinitarian declarations of the early 1900s.
Other hints of her early views came in 1858
with the publication of the first volume of Spiritual Gifts.
Her belief in the Holy Spirit is not in question, for she links
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in Christ's baptismal
narrative. But she does not mention the Holy Spirit in
connection with the divine councils about creation and the plan
These statements, like the 1850 statements, are also ambiguous.
They could be read without conflict by all early Adventists,
regardless of their trinitarian or antitrinitarian leanings.
Perhaps her first statement that is clearly
dissonant with her antitrinitarian colleagues comes in 1869 in a
landmark chapter, "The Sufferings of Christ," where in the
opening paragraph she asserts on the basis of Heb 1:3; Col 1:19;
and Phil 2:6 that Christ in His pre-existence was "equal with
At this point it becomes evident that if no one else was
listening, her husband was. James White's early statements on
the trinity are uniformly negative,
but in 1876 and 1877 he followed her lead. In an editorial
comparison of the beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists with Seventh
Day Baptists, he included the Trinity among the doctrines which
"neither [SDAs nor SDBs] regard as tests of Christian
character." "Adventists hold the divinity of Christ so nearly
with the trinitarian," James White observed, "that we apprehend
no trial [controversy] here."
Clearly James was moving away from his early polemics against
trinitarianism. A year later he proclaimed in the Review
that "Christ is equal with God." He was not yet a trinitarian,
but another remark in the same article shows that he was in
sympathy with certain aspects of trinitarianism. "The
inexplicable trinity that makes the godhead three in one and one
in three is bad enough," he wrote, "but ultra Unitarianism that
makes Christ inferior to the Father is worse."
In asserting Christ's equality with the Father, James was
echoing what his wife had written eight years earlier. For
another evidence of her leading her colleagues, note that her
assertions that Christ was uncreated
preceded by more than two decades Uriah Smith's published
acceptance of that concept.
Brick by conceptual brick, (perhaps without
even being aware of it herself) she was slowly but surely
dismantling the substructure of the antitrinitarian view, and
building a trinitarian view. In another clear break with the
prevailing semi-Arian consensus, she declared in 1878 that
Christ was the "eternal Son."
Ellen White did not understand his eternal Sonship to
imply derivation from the Father. Sonship in His
preexistence denoted that He was of the same nature as the
Father, in unity and close relationship with the Father, but it
did not imply that Christ had a beginning. For in taking human
flesh Christ became the Son of God "in a new sense." From the
perspective of His humanity, He for the first time had a
"beginning," and also, as a human, He began a new relationship
of dependence on the Father.
In His incarnation He gained in a new
sense the title of the Son of God. Said the angel to
Mary, 'The power of the Highest shall overshadow thee:
therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee
shall be called the Son of God.' While the Son of a human
being, He became the Son of God in a new sense. Thus
He stood in our world—the Son of God, yet allied by birth to
the human race. . . .
From all eternity Christ was united
with the Father, and when He took upon Himself human
nature, He was still one with God [emphasis supplied].
An even more fundamental departure from the
"old view" emerged in 1888, in the context of the struggle over
the law in Galatians [3:19-3:25] and a clearer view of
justification through substitutionary atonement. Ellen White and
others came to the realization that a broader concept of the
atonement and of righteousness by faith demands the full Deity
of Christ. "If men reject the testimony of the inspired
Scriptures concerning the divinity of Christ," she wrote,
"it is in vain to argue the point with them; for no argument,
however conclusive, could convince them. [1 Cor 2:14 quoted.]
None who hold this error can have a true conception of the
character or the mission of Christ, or of the great plan of God
for man's redemption" (emphasis supplied).
Christ is "one with the eternal Father,—one in nature, in
character, and in purpose," "one in power and authority,"
she proclaimed, "the only being that could enter into all the
counsels and purposes of God."
The context shows that her phrase "the only being" contrasts
Christ to the angels. Nevertheless, this statement precedes the
fuller exposition of the role of the Holy Spirit.
In 1890, she followed up her 1888 affirmation
of Christ's unity with the Father (in nature, character, and
purpose) with perhaps her last major statement that can still be
read ambiguously. "The Son of God shared the Father's throne,
and the glory of the eternal, self‑existent One encircled both."
Retrospectively, this phrase harmonizes perfectly with her later
statements (especially Desire of Ages 530) that Christ is
"self-existent" and that His Deity is not "derived" from the
Father. It is also possible, however, to read the sentence from
a binitarian or even semi-Arian perspective—that Jesus, exalted
to the Father's throne in the presence of the angels, was
"encircled" by "the glory of the eternal, self-existent One,"
i.e., the Father. Patriarchs and Prophets, where the
phrase appears, was an amplification of an earlier work,
Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1 (1870), where the corresponding
phrase says simply, "The Son was seated on the throne with the
The surrounding context in both works is similar, reflecting her
earlier perspective, while the new phrase, "the glory of the
eternal, self‑existent One encircled both," reflects her growing
understanding in 1890.
A pamphlet published in 1897 carried the next
major component in her developing doctrine of God, that the Holy
Spirit is "the third person of the Godhead."
This concept would receive wider attention and more permanent
form in The Desire of Ages (1898), where she repeated and
made emphatic the previous two points: "In Christ is life,
original, unborrowed, underived," and the Holy Spirit is the
"Third Person of the Godhead."
In 1899 she confirmed the other side of the paradox, that in
"person," Christ was "distinct" from the Father.
Here the essential trinitarian paradox of the unity of God in a
plurality of persons is clearly articulated, and her
trinitarianism is essentially complete. All that remains for her
capstone statements of 1901 and 1905 is to affirm most
explicitly that the three "eternal heavenly dignitaries," the
"three highest powers in heaven," the "three living persons of
the heavenly trio," are one in nature, character, and purpose,
but not in person.
Thus there is a clear progression from the
simple to the complex, suggesting that Ellen White's
understanding did grow and change as she received additional
light. Fernando Canale has pointed out that this progression is
similar to the one presented in the NT. In the gospels, the
first challenge was to convince the disciples that Christ was
one with the Father. Once their concept of monotheism had been
expanded to accept "one God" in two divine persons, it was
comparatively easy to lead them to recognize the Holy Spirit as
a third divine person.
The Kellogg Crisis and the Capstone
As noted above, Ellen White's writings on the
Godhead address at least two distinct varieties of trinitarian
belief—one she consistently opposed, and another she eventually
came to agree with. Her differentiation between these two views
of the Trinity became most explicit during the Kellogg crisis of
Because certain of the writings of both J. H. Kellogg and Ellen
White during this period have been seriously misunderstood in
recent years, it is necessary to consider this controversy in
Dr. J. H. Kellogg, medical superintendent of
the Battle Creek Sanitarium, was the leading person of
scientific credentials among SDAs at the turn of the twentieth
century. Possibly influenced by intellectual companions from
he eventually theorized that the life of every living
thing—whether tree, flower, animal, or human—was the very
presence of God within it. His view was a form of pantheism,
of which traces can be found in his public presentations in the
but the "crisis" did not break until 1902.
Following the Battle Creek Sanitarium fire of
February 18, 1902, Kellogg proposed a fund-raising plan to
finance the rebuilding. He would donate to the Review and Herald
Publishing Association the manuscript for a new book on health.
If the Review and Herald would donate the costs of publishing,
and if the 73,000 members that composed the Seventh-day
Adventist church in 1902 would undertake to sell 500,000 copies
at one dollar each, the proceeds would both pay off
long-standing debts and rebuild the sanitarium. This plan was
accepted. The Living Temple was primarily a handbook on
basic physiology, nutrition, preventive medicine, and home
treatments for common ailments. But the title page quoted 1 Cor
6:19 about the body being the "temple of the Holy Ghost," and
here and there Kellogg incorporated his theological views.
While preliminary readers of the manuscript
were pleased with what it said about physiology, they sharply
criticized some of its speculations about the doctrine of God.
Despite this criticism, Kellogg pressed ahead with publication.
On December 30, 1902, however, while the Review and Herald
Publishing Association was in the midst of printing the first
edition, the publishing house burned to the ground. Among other
losses were the printing plates and unfinished copies of The
Living Temple. Kellogg promptly took the manuscript to
another printer and contracted for 3,000 copies at his own
When the book was finally distributed, the
most flagrant departures from established Adventist theology
appeared in the opening chapter, "The Mystery of Life."
"God is the explanation of nature," Kellogg declared, "–not a
God outside of nature, but in nature, manifesting himself
through and in all the objects, movements, and varied phenomena
of the universe."
Evidently reacting to some of his prepublication critics,
Kellogg sought to blunt or circumvent their objections by
specific reference to the Holy Spirit. He reasoned that if the
Holy Spirit could be everywhere at once, and if the Holy Spirit
were also a Person, then no one could say that the God Kellogg
set forth as dwelling in all things was an impersonal God. "How
can power be separated from the source of power?" Kellogg asked?
"Where God's Spirit is at work, where God's power is manifested,
God himself is actually and truly present."
In claiming that God's power equals His presence, Kellogg blurs
his logic, as a brief example will show. A military commander
can issue orders to mobilize the armed forces, and through those
orders the leader's power reaches right down to the home of an
individual soldier, but that's clearly different from the
commander visiting that home in person.
Then Kellogg spins his defining metaphor—the
most quoted paragraph from The Living Temple.
"Suppose now we have a boot before
us,—not an ordinary boot, but a living boot, and as we look
at it, we see little boots crowding out at the seams,
pushing out at the toes, dropping off at the heels, and
leaping out at the top,—scores, hundreds, thousands of
boots, a swarm of boots continually issuing from our living
boot,—would we not be compelled to say, "There is a
shoemaker in the boot"? So there is present in the tree a
power which creates and maintains it, a tree-maker in the
tree, a flower-maker in the flower, . . . an infinite,
divine, though invisible Presence . . . which is ever
declaring itself by its ceaseless, beneficent activity."
Kellogg's theory was vigorously debated in
the church for several years. Since leading Adventists had
pointed out its weaknesses,
Ellen White hoped at first that it would not be necessary for
her to get involved. But by September 1903 Kellogg's views were
gaining adherents. When he claimed publicly that the teachings
of The Living Temple "regarding the personality of God"
were in accord with the writings of Ellen White, she could
remain silent no longer. "God forbid that this opinion should
prevail," she declared.
 "We need not the mysticism that is in this
book," she continued. "[T]he writer of this book is on a false
track. He has lost sight of the distinguishing truths for this
time. He knows not whither his steps are tending. The track of
truth lies close beside the track of error, and both may seem to
be one to minds which are not worked by the Holy Spirit, and
which, therefore, are not quick to discern the difference
between truth and error."
In a follow-up letter, she zeroed in on the
core issue: "The Lord Jesus . . . did not represent God as an
essence pervading nature, but as a personal being.
Christians should bear in mind that God has a personality as
verily as has Christ."
A few weeks later, in a letter to former
General Conference president G. I. Butler,
Kellogg defended his view: "As far as I can fathom the
difficulty which is found in the Living Temple [sic], the
whole thing may be simmered down to this question: Is the Holy
Ghost a person? You say No." (Butler was of the older
antitrinitarian school who held that the Holy Spirit was an
aspect or power of God, but not a person.) Kellogg continued: "I
had supposed the Bible said this for the reason that the
personal pronoun 'he' is used in speaking of the Holy Ghost.
Sister White uses the pronoun 'he' and has said in so many words
that the Holy Ghost is the third person of the God-head [sic].
How the Holy Ghost can be the third person and not be a person
at all is difficult for me to see."
Here is a fascinating example of Kellogg as a
debater. Essentially he is saying, "I have been misunderstood.
I didn't claim that the Father is in everything; it is the Holy
Spirit who is in everything. And if the Holy Spirit is a person,
then Ellen White is wrong in saying my view undermines the
personality of God." Thus he sought to outmaneuver Ellen White's
reproof and maintain the legitimacy of his own opinion.
Butler, however, was not fooled. "So far as
Sister White and you being in perfect agreement is concerned, I
shall have to leave that entirely between you and Sister White.
Sister White says there is not perfect agreement. You
claim there is . . . I must give her the credit . . . of
saying there is a difference."
Kellogg is here telling casuistic half-truths
to Butler, attempting to portray the "pantheism" of Living
Temple as simply a scientific perspective of the same
doctrine of God that Ellen White had expressed in Desire of
Ages. That is what Kellogg wanted his readers to believe,
but that does not make it true, although Ellen White herself
acknowledged that "to minds which are not worked by the Holy
Spirit" it might seem so.
As the conflict dragged on into 1905, Ellen
White wrote another document that exposed the matter to the
church in such stark lines that it could not be misunderstood.
The manuscript offers perhaps the most radical, foundational
indictment she ever wrote against a false view of the trinity,
followed by one of her most explicit descriptions of what she
considered to be the true understanding of the Godhead. In this
document, published in 1905, she labels the first view
"spiritualistic," "nothingness," "imperfect, untrue,"
"the trail of the serpent," and "the depths of Satan."
She said those who received it were "giving heed to seducing
spirits and doctrines of devils, departing from the faith which
they have held sacred for the past fifty years."
In contrast to this view which she
unsparingly denounces, she sets forth another view which she
regarded as "the right platform," in harmony with "the
simplicity of true godliness," and "the old, old times . . .
when, under the Holy Spirit's guidance, thousands were converted
in a day."
The antagonism between two opposing views could scarcely be
drawn in more stringent terms in a theological context, than a
disagreement between doctrines of "seducing spirits" and the
doctrine of "the old, old times" of the original Pentecost. She
is talking about two contrasting doctrines of the trinity. Here
is the first, attributed explicitly to "Dr. Kellogg" and his
associates in "our leading medical fraternity."
I am instructed to say, The sentiments of
those who are searching for advanced scientific ideas are
not to be trusted. Such representations as the following are
made: "The Father is as the light invisible; the Son is as
the light embodied; the Spirit is the light shed abroad."
"The Father is like the dew, invisible vapor; the Son is
like the dew gathered in beauteous form; the Spirit is like
the dew fallen to the seat of life." Another representation:
"The Father is like the invisible vapor; the Son is like the
leaden cloud; the Spirit is rain fallen and working in
All these spiritualistic representations
are simply nothingness. They are imperfect, untrue. They
weaken and diminish the Majesty which no earthly likeness
can be compared to. God can not be compared with the
things His hands have made. These are mere earthly
things, suffering under the curse of God because of the sins
of man. The Father can not be described by the things of
earth [emphasis supplied].
Then, in the very next sentence, she defines
what she understands to be the truth about the Godhead.
The Father is all the fulness of the
Godhead bodily, and is invisible to mortal sight.
The Son is all the fulness of the Godhead
manifested. The Word of God declares Him to be "the express
image of His person." "God so loved the world, that He gave
His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him
should not perish, but have everlasting life." Here is shown
the personality of the Father.
The Comforter that Christ promised to
send after He ascended to heaven, is the Spirit in all the
fulness of the Godhead, making manifest the power of divine
grace to all who receive and believe in Christ as a personal
Saviour. There are three living persons of the heavenly
trio; in the name of these three great powers—the
Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—those who receive
Christ by living faith are baptized, and these powers
will co‑operate with the obedient subjects of heaven in
their efforts to live the new life in Christ [emphasis
In charging that Kellogg, with his
"spiritualistic" trinity doctrine was "departing from the faith"
Adventists had "held sacred for the past fifty years," she
clearly refutes the assumption that all doctrines of the trinity
are the same and that objection to one demands the rejection of
She is clearly distinguishing between two varieties of
Significantly, Ellen White condemns Kellogg's
view of the Trinity in almost identical terms to those used by
her husband James in 1846 when he condemned the "old
unscriptural trinitarian creed" for "spiritualiz[ing] away
the existence of the Father and the Son, as two distinct,
literal, tangible persons." This supports the interpretation
that she was at least in partial agreement with him in 1846, and
that she later saw similarities between the creeds that claimed
God was "invisible, without body or parts" and Kellogg's
"spiritualistic representations" of God under metaphors of light
Further, Ellen White claims that in Kellogg's
heresy she "recognized the very sentiments" she had opposed
among spiritualizing ex-Millerites in 1845 and 1846.
The implication is that the spiritualizing of the
post-disappointment fanatics, the creedal teaching that God is
formless and intangible, and Kellogg's impersonal concepts of
God were all associated by James and Ellen White under the
general heading of "spiritualistic theories."
This is directly germane to the current
debate, because some have claimed that Kellogg's view which
Ellen White condemned is the same view of the trinity later
accepted by the church—a
claim that is not supported by the evidence. She clearly rejects
the view of the trinity that makes God seem distant,
untouchable, impersonal; and embraces a literal, biblical
view of the trinity, a view that shows God as including three
individual divine personalities, who in nature, character,
purpose, and love are one.
Her latest affirmations of one God in three
persons are fully in harmony with the first explicitly
trinitarian belief statement among Seventh-day Adventists,
written by F. M. Wilcox in the Review and Herald in 1913.
"Seventh-day Adventists believe,—" Wilcox explained, "1. In the
divine Trinity. This Trinity consists of the eternal Father, . .
. the Lord Jesus Christ, . . . [and] the Holy Spirit, the third
person of the Godhead"
Part 1 of this study noted that the 1946
General Conference session was the first to officially endorse
belief in the Trinity,
just 100 years after James White's strong rejection of that idea
in the 1846 Day-Star. This change was not a simple
reversal. The evidence is that Ellen White agreed with the
essential positive point of James's belief, namely that "the
Father and the Son" are "two distinct, litteral [sic],
tangible persons." Subsequent evidence shows that she also
agreed with James's negative point: that the traditional,
philosophical concepts held by many trinitarians did
"spiritualize away" the personal reality of the Father and the
Soon after this she added the conviction,
based on visions, that both Christ and the Father have tangible
forms. She progressively affirmed the eternal equality of Christ
and the Father, that Christ was not created, and by 1888, that
an adequate concept of the atonement demands the full and
eternal Deity of Christ. Only in the 1890s did she become aware
of the full individuality and personhood of the Holy Spirit, but
when she did, she referred to the Holy Spirit in literal and
tangible terms much like those she had used in 1850 to describe
the Father and the Son.
By 1905, she explicitly declared her belief in three divine
persons united in one God.
This confirms the fourfold hypothesis with
which this article opened. First, E. R. Gane's characterization
of Ellen White as a "trinitarian monotheist" is accurate
regarding her mature concept of God, from 1898 onward. She
never, however, used the term "Trinity" to describe her belief
about God. Perhaps the closest she came was her use of the
phrase "heavenly trio."
A likely reason why she consistently shunned the term "Trinity,"
even after she had embraced certain aspects of trinitarian
teaching, is the second hypothesis: that she had become aware of
two varieties of trinitarian belief, one that she embraced and
one that she vehemently rejected. An uncritical use of the term
"Trinity" might appear to endorse philosophical concepts to
which she was diametrically opposed.
This seems especially plausible in light of
the third hypothesis, that as she endorsed conceptual steps
toward a biblical trinitarianism, her developing understanding
exerted a strong influence on other Adventist writers, leading
eventually to a substantial degree of consensus in the
Fourth, the method by which the early
Adventists sought to separate the biblical elements of
trinitarianism from the elements derived from tradition, was to
completely disallow tradition as a basis for doctrine, and
struggle through the long process of constructing their beliefs
on the basis of Scripture alone. In doing so, they virtually
retraced the steps of the NT church in first accepting the
equality of Christ with the Father, and second, discovering
Their equality and unity with the Holy Spirit as well. In the
process, their theology showed temporary similarities to some of
the historical heresies, particularly Arianism. Their
repudiation of tradition as doctrinal authority was costly in
terms of the ostracism they endured as perceived "heretics," but
their dependence on Scripture brought them eventually to what
they believe is a more biblical view of the Trinity.
A controversial corollary is the conviction that the classical
formulation of the Trinity doctrine, resting as it does on Greek
philosophical presuppositions of timelessness and impassibility,
is simply incompatible with a thoroughly biblical theological
Not an objective observer, but a systematic
theologian deeply involved in the development of the Adventist
doctrine of God, Fernando Canale has written extensively on the
distinction between a theology based on Greek philosophical
presuppositions, and one based on biblical presuppositions.
He argues that
In a very real sense, Adventist emphasis
on Scriptures as the sole source of data for executing
theology has given theological reflection on God a new and
revolutionary start. Systematically distrustful and critical
of traditional theological positions, Adventists were
determined to build doctrines on the basis of Scripture
alone. The difficulties implicit in this fresh approach may
account for the scant number of Adventist statements on the
doctrine of God.
Canale makes a strong case for his contention
that because Adventists, "departed from the philosophical
conception of God as timeless" and "embraced the historical
conception of God as presented in the Bible," they were enabled
to develop a genuinely biblical view of the Trinity.
 James White, Day-Star, January 24,
 "Fifteenth Meeting," General Conference
Report No. 8, Review and Herald, June 14, 1946, 197. For
a discussion of the historical context, see Jerry Moon, "The
Adventist Trinity Debate, Part 1: Historical Overview,"
Andrews University Seminary Studies 41 (Spring 2003):
 See Russell Holt, "The Doctrine of the
Trinity in the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination: Its Rejection
and Acceptance" (Term Paper, Seventh-day Adventist Theological
Seminary, 1969); Le Roy Edwin Froom, Movement of Destiny
(Washington, DC: Review and Herald, 1971), 148-180—although
Froom's pleading on the basis of Millerite statistics that a
"majority" of the Adventist founders were trinitarian (ibid.,
147) has not been supported by the evidence; Merlin Burt,
"Demise of Semi-Arianism and Anti-Trinitarianism in Adventist
Theology, 1888-1957"(term paper, Andrews University, 1996);
Woodrow W. Whidden, "Salvation Pilgrimage: The Adventist Journey
into Justification by Faith and Trinitarianism," Ministry,
April 1998, 5-7; Fernando L. Canale, "Doctrine of God," in
Handbook of Seventh-day Adventist Theology, ed. Raoul
Dederen, Commentary Reference Series, vol. 12
(Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald, 2000): 117-150; and Woodrow
Whidden, Jerry Moon, and John W. Reeve, The Trinity:
Understanding God's Love, His Plan of Salvation, and Christian
Relationships (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald, 2002),
Erwin R. Gane, "The Arian or Anti-Trinitarian Views Presented in
Seventh-day Adventist Literature and the Ellen G. White Answer"
(M.A. thesis, Andrews University, 1963).
 See, e.g., [Fred Allaback], "The Doctrine of
the Trinity in Adventist History," Liberty Review [5250
Johnstown Road, Mt. Vernon, Ohio], October 1989, 4-5, 7-8;
Lynnford Beachy, "Adventist Review Perpetuates the
Omega," Old Paths [Smyrna Gospel Ministries, HC64, Box
128-B, Welch, WV], vol. 8, no. 7, July 1999, 1-14; David
Clayton, "The Omega of Deadly Heresies," n.p., n.d. [ca. 2000],
in my files; idem, "Some Facts Concerning the Omega Heresy;" and
Bob Diener, The Alpha and the Omega (Creal Springs, IL:
Bible Truth Productions, [ca. 1998]), videocassette.
 Moon, "Adventist
Trinity Debate, Part 1," AUSS 41 (Spring 2003):
 Canale, Handbook of Seventh-day Adventist
 For example, John Kiesz, an antitrinitarian
of the Church of God (Seventh Day), speculates that Ellen White
was a "closet trinitarian" who kept that view to herself for
half a century until in the 1890s she suddenly broke her silence
to challenge the then majority view of the Seventh-day Adventist
denomination (History of the Trinity Doctrine," Study No. 132,
, accessed January 2001).
 Ellen G. White to Brother and Sister
Hastings, March 24‑30, 1849 (Letter 5, 1849), pp. 5-6; in
Manuscript Releases, 21 vols. (Silver Spring, MD: Ellen G.
White Estate, 1981, 1987, 1990, 1993), 5:200.
 "We have many lessons to learn, and many,
many to unlearn," she wrote in 1892. "God and heaven alone are
infallible. Those who think that they will never have to give up
a cherished view, never have occasion to change an opinion, will
be disappointed. As long as we hold to our own ideas and
opinions with determined persistency, we cannot have the unity
for which Christ prayed" (E. G. White, "Search the Scriptures,"
Review and Herald, July 26, 1892, par. 7).
 "With the light communicated through the
study of His word, with the special knowledge given of
individual cases among His people under all circumstances and in
every phase of experience, can I now be in the same ignorance,
the same mental uncertainty and spiritual blindness, as at the
beginning of this experience? Will my brethren say that Sister
White has been so dull a scholar that her judgment in this
direction is no better than before she entered Christ's school,
to be trained and disciplined for a special work? . . . I would
not dishonor my Maker by admitting that all this light, all the
display of His mighty power in my work and experience, has been
valueless, that it has not educated my judgment or better fitted
me for His work" (E. G. White, Testimonies for the Church,
 It should be noted that when she and James
White did accept the Sabbath, their acceptance was based
initially on Bible study prompted by reading a tract by Joseph
Bates. Later the correctness of this view was confirmed by
vision (Arthur L. White, Ellen G. White, vol 1, The
Early Years, 1827-1862 [Washington, DC: Review and Herald,
1985], 116, 120-121.
 See, e.g., Lev 23:32 and Mark 1:32; J. N.
Andrews, "Time for Commencing the Sabbath," Review and Herald,
4 Dec. 1855, 76-78.
 A. L. White, Ellen G. White,
 Richard W. Schwarz and Floyd Greenleaf,
Light Bearers: A History of the Seventh‑day Adventist Church,
rev. ed. (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press, 2000); D. E. Robinson,
The Story of Our Health Message: The Origin, Character, and
Development of Health Education in the Seventh-day Adventist
Church 3d ed. (Nashville: Southern Publishing Association,
1965), 75, 81. Most Adventists were already opposed to the use
of alcoholic beverages.
 Schwarz and Greenleaf, Light Bearers,
53-54. For the most extensive investigation to date of
post-disappointment Millerism, its division and disintegration,
see Merlin D. Burt, "The Historical Background, Interconnected
Development, and Integration of the Doctrines of the Sanctuary,
the Sabbath, and Ellen G. White's Role in Sabbatarian Adventism
from 1844 to 1849" (Ph.D. dissertation, Andrews University,
 Burt, dissertation, 145.
 Enoch Jacobs, editor of the Day-Star
led in this move (Burt, 231-242).
 Burt, 242; George R. Knight, Millennial
Fever and the End of the World (Boise, ID: Pacific Press,
 See, e.g., E. G. White, Life Sketches,
 Burt (146-147) lists four such items, each
titled "Letter from Bro. White," in Day-Star Sept. 6,
1845, 17-18; Oct. 11, 1845, 47; Nov. 29, 1845, 35; and January
24, 1846, 25 .
 James White, Day-Star, January 24,
1846, 25; Ellen Harmon's first published writing was "A Letter
from Sister Harmon," in the same issue of the Day-Star,
January 24, 1846, 31-32.
 James White, Day-Star, January 24,
 In 1877 Ellen White quoted John 4:24 KJV :
"God is a Spirit; and they that worship him must worship him in
spirit and in truth" (E. G. White, Spirit of Prophecy
2:143). In 1904 she wrote, "God is a spirit; yet He is a
personal being, for man was made in His image" (E. G. White,
Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, CA: Pacific
Press, 1904, 1948), 8:263. James White held that God is "a
Spirit being" (idem, Personality of God [Battle Creek,
SDA Pub. Assn., (ca. 1868)], 3).
 Several Adventist writers cited almost the
same creedal phrases. D. M. Canright quotes two creeds,
Methodist and Episcopal. The Methodist creed included the phrase
"without body or parts," whereas the Episcopal creed specified
that God is "without body, parts, or passions." Canright claimed
knowledge of "other creeds" that went "still further" and said
that God is "without center or circumference" (D. M. Canright,
"The Personality of God," Review and Herald, Sept. 5,
1878, 81; cf. ibid., Sept. 19, 1878, 97; cf. J. B. Frisbie, "The
Seventh Day-Sabbath [sic] Not Abolished," Review and
Herald, March 7, 1854, 50. Cf. James White, Personality
 Doctrines and Discipline of the Methodist
Episcopal Church (New York: Carlton and Porter, 1856), 15.
 For instance, Exod 24:9-11; 33:20-23; John
1:18; Heb 1:1-3; Uriah Smith, The State of the Dead and the
Destiny of the Wicked (Battle Creek, MI: SDA Publishing
Assn., 1873), 27-30. Note Smith's polemic against any "mystical
interpretation of our current theology" (ibid., 27).
 The creed in question was a Methodist creed,
and she had been raised Methodist. Furthermore, she was closely
associated with early Adventists who cited this creedal detail
as one of the unbiblical aspects of trinitarianism.
 Ellen G. White, A Sketch of the Christian
Experience and Views [Visions] of Ellen G. White
(Saratoga Springs, NY: James White, 1851) reprinted in Early
Writings of Ellen G. White (Washington, DC: Review and
Herald, 1882, 1945), 54.
 E. G. White, Early Writings, 77,
 While there is no record of her denouncing
the "trinitarian creed" as did her husband, note the similarity
of expression between her view in 1852 and what he wrote in
1868: "The Father and the Son were one in man's creation,
and in his redemption. Said the Father to the Son, 'Let us make
man in our image.' And the triumphant song of jubilee in which
the redeemed take part, is unto 'Him that sitteth upon the
throne, and unto the Lamb, forever and ever.'"
AJesus prayed that his disciples might be one as he was
one with his Father. This prayer did not contemplate
one disciple with twelve heads, but twelve disciples, made
one in object and effort in the cause of their master.
Neither are the Father and the Son parts of the 'three-one
God.' They are two distinct beings, yet one in the design and
accomplishment of redemption. The redeemed . . . ascribe
the honor, and glory, and praise, of their salvation, to both
God and the Lamb" (James White, Life Incidents ,
343, all emphasis added).
 The title was an explicit assertion of her
claim to have received the gift of prophecy.
 Ellen G. White, Spiritual Gifts,
vols. 1, 3 (Battle Creek, MI: Steam Press of the Review and
Herald Office, 1858; Steam Press of the SDA Publishing
Association, 1864), 1:17-18, 22-28; 3:33-34.
 Ellen G. White, "Testimony 17 (1869)," in
Testimonies for the Church, 9 vols. (1855-1909; reprint
Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press, 1948), 2:200; cf. "The Son of
God was in the form of God, and he thought it not robbery to be
equal with God" (E. G. White, Spirit of Prophecy ,
 "To assert that the sayings of the Son and
his apostles are the commandments of the Father, is as wide from
the truth as the old Trinitarian absurdity that Jesus Christ is
the very and eternal God" (James White, "The Faith of Jesus,"
Review and Herald, Aug 5, 1852, p. 52).
 James White, "The Two Bodies," RH Oct. 12,
1876, 116; cf. Froom, Movement of Destiny, 178.
 James White, "Christ Equal with God,"
Review and Herald, Nov. 29, 1877, p. 72.
 Ellen G. White, "The First Advent of
Christ," Review and Herald, Dec. 17, 1872, par. 4; later
published in Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 2 (Battle Creek,
MI: SDA Publishing Association, 1877), 9-10; cf. E. G. White,
"Bible Study," Review and Herald, Jan 11, 1881, par. 3.
 Uriah Smith, Thoughts on the Revelation
(Battle Creek, MI: SDA Publishing Association, 1865), 59, calls
Christ the first created being; a view repudiated in Looking
Unto Jesus (Battle Creek, MI: Review and Herald, 1898),
 Ellen G. White, "An Appeal to the
Ministers," Review and Herald, August 8, 1878, par. 4;
Ellen G. White to E. J. Waggoner and A. T. Jones, Feb. 18, 1887
(Letter 37, 1887), in Manuscript Releases,15:25, par. 3
(also in idem, 1888 Materials, 28.3); idem, "'Search the
Scriptures.' John 5:39," in Youth's Instructor, August
31, 1887, par. 1; idem, "The Truth Revealed in Jesus," Review
and Herald, Feb. 8, 1898, par. 2.
 E. G. White, "Christ Our Only Hope, Signs
of the Times, Aug. 2, 1905, reprinted in E. G. White,
Selected Messages, 1:226-228.
 Ellen G. White, Great Controversy
(1888 ed.), 524. Cf. E. J. Waggoner's assertion that "Our object
in this investigation is to set forth Christ's rightful position
of equality with the Father, in order that His power to redeem
may be the better appreciated" (Christ and His ighteousness
[Oakland, CA: Pacific Press, 1890; facsimile reprint, Riverside,
CA: The Upward Way, 1988]; 19).
 E. G. White, Great Controversy (1888
ed.), 493, 495.
 Ellen G. White, Great Controversy
(1888 ed.), 493; idem, Patriarchs and Prophets (1890),
34.1; cf. idem, "That We Might Be Partakers of the Divine
Nature," Signs of the Times, Oct. 14, 1897, par. 3.
 Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets
 Patriarchs and Prophets (1890) was an
amplification of an earlier work, Spirit of Prophecy,
vol. 1 (1870), where the corresponding sentence says simply,
"The Son was seated on the throne with the Father, and the
heavenly throng of holy angels was gathered around them." E. G.
White, Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1 (1870), 17.
 Special Testimonies for Ministers and
Workers, No. 10 (1897).
 Ellen G. White, Desire of Ages, 530,
 "The world was made by him, 'and without him
was not anything made that was made.' If Christ made all things,
he existed before all things. The words spoken in regard to this
are so decisive that no one need be left in doubt. Christ was
God essentially, and in the highest sense. He was with God from
all eternity, God over all, blessed forevermore.
"The Lord Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God, existed
from eternity, a distinct person, yet one with the Father"
(Ellen G. White, "The Word Made Flesh," Review and Herald,
April 5, 1906, par. 6-7, italics supplied [reprinted from
Signs of the Times, April 26, 1899]).
 E. G. White, Manuscript 130, 1901, in
Manuscript Releases, 16:205, quoted in idem, Evangelism
(Washington, DC: Review and Herald, 1946), 616 (but erroneously
attributed to Ms. 145, 1901); idem, Special Testimonies,
Series B, no. 7 (1905), 51, 62-63, quoted in Evangelism,
 Fernando L. Canale, "Doctrine of God," in
Handbook of SDA Theology, ed. Raoul Dederen, 128-130.
 On the Kellogg Crisis, see R[ichard]W.
Schwarz, John Harvey Kellogg, M.D. (Nashville: Southern
Publishing, 1970; reprint, Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews
University Press, 1981), 174-192; idem, Light Bearers to the
Remnant, (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press, 1979), 282-298;
Jerry Moon, W. C. White and Ellen G. White: The Relationship
between the Prophet and Her Son (Berrien Springs, MI:
Andrews University Press, 1993), 274-320.
 Froom, Movement of Destiny, 351.
 W. A. Spicer, "Pantheism Here and in Its
Ancient Setting," in
How the Spirit of Prophecy Met a Crisis: Memories and Notes
of the "Living Temple" Controversy, , chapter 13.,
accessed September 18, 2003.
 See J. H. Kellogg, "God in Man, No. 1," "God
in Nature, No. 2," and "God in Man, No. 3," in General
Conference Daily Bulletin, 1897, 72-84.
 J. H. Kellogg, The Living Temple
(Battle Creek, MI: Good Health Pub. Co., 1903).
 Kellogg, Living Temple, 28-30.
 J. H. Kellogg, Living Temple, 28.
 Ibid., 29.
 W. A. Spicer, (n. 55 above); W. W. Prescott,
"Suggestions on Matter Found on Galleys 1-129, Inclusive, of
Matter for Dr. Kellogg's New Book, The Living Temple,"
Record Group 11, A. G. Daniells, 1901-1950, J. H. Kellogg Case
File, General Conference Archives, Silver Springs, MD.
 E. G. White to the Teachers in Emmanuel
Missionary College, Sept. 22, 1903 ("Teach the Word"), in
Spalding and Magan's Unpublished Manuscript Testimonies of Ellen
G. White, 1915-1916 (hereinafter referred to as Spalding-Magan
Collection (Payson, AZ: Leaves-Of-Autumn Books, 1985), 320.
 Ibid., 320-321.
 Ibid., 324. Kellogg hinted in Living
Temple (29-32) that the concept of a personal God was an
(ultimately unfactual) construct for the benefit of immature
minds, implying that intellectuals like himself could perceive
the reality beyond the anthropomorphic accommodation.
 George I. Butler had been president of the
General Conference (1871-1874, 1880-1888) and in 1903 was
president of the Southern Union.
 J. H. Kellogg to G. I. Butler, Oct. 28,
1903a [one of two letters from Butler to Kellogg on the same
date], Center for Adventist Research, Andrews University,
Berrien Springs, MI.
 G. I. Butler to J. H. Kellogg, April 5,
1904, emphasis supplied.
 E. G. White, "Teach the Word," Sept. 22,
1903, in Spalding-Magan Collection, 321.
 E. G. White, Special Testimonies,
Series B, no. 7 (1905), 63.
 Ibid., 62, alluding to Rev 2:24.
 Ibid., 61.
 Ibid., 63-64.
 Ibid., 62.
 Ibid., 62-63.
 See note 80 below.
 E. G. White, Selected Messages,
 Ibid., 204.
 Bob Diener, The Alpha and the Omega,
 Bible texts that Ellen White cited as
supporting various aspects of a trinitarian view include Rom
8:16 (Evangelism [Washington, DC: Review and Herald,
1946], 617); 1 Cor 2:10-14 (ibid.); John 16:7-14 (ibid., 616);
John 14:16-18, 26; 16:8, 12-14 (Desire of Ages, 669-671);
and Col. 2:9 (Evangelism, 614).
 F. M. Wilcox was editor of the Review and
Herald from 1911-1944, and one of the original five trustees
appointed by Ellen White to superintend her estate.
 [F. M. Wilcox], "The Message for Today," RH,
October 9, 1913, p. 21.
 Jerry Moon, "The
Adventist Trinity Debate, Part 1: Historical Overview,"
Andrews University Seminary Studies 41 (Spring 2003): 122.
 James White, Day-Star, January 24,
 "We need to realize that the Holy Spirit,
who is as much a person as God is a person, is walking through
these grounds, unseen by human eyes; that the Lord God is our
Keeper and Helper. He hears every word we utter and knows every
thought of the mind" (E. G. White, "Talk at Avondale School,"
March 25, 1899, in Sermons and Talks, vol. 2 [Silver
Spring, MD: E. G. White Estate, 1994], 136-137; also in
Evangelism, 616 and Manuscript Releases, vol. 7
[Silver Spring, MD: E. G. White Estate, 1990], 299).
 E. G. White, Special Testimonies,
Series B, no. 7 (1905), 62-63, quoted in Evangelism,
 Canale, Handbook of Seventh-day Adventist
 Ibid, 148-150. On a more popular level, see
Moon, "The Trinity in the Reformation Era: Four Viewpoints," in
The Trinity, by Whidden, Moon, and Reeve, 166-181.
 Fernando Luis Canale, A Criticism of
Theological Reason: Time and Timelessness as Primordial
Presuppositions, Andrews University Seminary Doctoral
Dissertation Series, vol. 10 (Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews
University Press, 1983), 359; 402, n. 1; idem, ADoctrine of
God," in Handbook of Seventh-day Adventist Theology, ed.
Raoul Dederen, 117-118, 126, 128-129, 132, 138-140, 145,
 Canale, "Doctrine of God," in Handbook of
Seventh-day Adventist Theology, 148.
 Canale elaborates (ibid., 150): "Finally,
having departed from the philosophical conception of God as
timeless and having embraced the historical conception of God as
presented in the Bible, Adventists envisage the relation between
the immanent and economic Trinity as one of identity rather than
correspondence. The works of salvation are produced in time and
history by the immanent Trinity [Fritz Guy, "What the Trinity
Means to Me," Adventist Review, Sept. 11, 1986, 13] by
way of its different Persons, conceived as centers of
consciousness and action. Consequently, the indivisibility of
God's works in history is not conceived by Adventists as being
determined by the oneness of essence—as taught in the
Augustinian classical tradition—but rather by the oneness of the
historical task of redemption [Raoul Dederen, "Reflections on
the Doctrine of the Trinity," AUSS 8 (Spring 1970): 20].
The danger of Tritheism involved in this position becomes real
when the oneness of God is reduced to a mere unity conceived in
analogy to a human society or a fellowship of action. Beyond
such a unity of action, however, it is necessary to envision God
as the one single reality which, in the very acts by which He
reveals Himself directly in history, transcends the limits of
our human reason [W. W. Prescott, The Saviour of the World
(Takoma Park, MD: Review and Herald, 1929), 17]. In no way
could human minds achieve what the classic doctrine about the
Trinity claims to perceive, namely, the description of the inner
structure of God's being. Together with the entire creation, we
must accept God's oneness by faith (James 2:19)."