Our aim for this hour:
- Survey Adventist understanding of the nature of Christ from beginnings to the 1950s;
- Review best practices for interpreting Ellen White's writings;
- Review the Bible teaching on the nature of Christ;
- Consider Ellen White's main published statements on the nature of Christ; and,
- Investigate her chief "unpublished" writing: the Baker letter.
This approach should help us more clearly understand Ellen White's view on the nature of Christ. We're addressing her "Christology": what inspired writings tell us about Jesus and His Divinity and humanity in combination.
Adventists and the Nature of Christ Until the 1950s
From the earliest published statements of Seventh-day Adventists until the publication of Ellen White's private 1895 letter to William L.H. Baker in 1957, the Church presented a unified understanding of the nature of Christ. (Two volumes providing exhaustive historical coverage are Ralph Larson, The Word Was Made Flesh, Cherrystone Press, 366 pp., and J.R. Zurcher, Touched With Our Feelings, Review and Herald, 1999, 308 pp.)
Until the publication of the Baker letter, the Adventist approach was to teach about the nature of Christ from Bible passages in Romans, Philippians, and Hebrews. None posed one set of Ellen White quotations against another. The widely accepted view in the Seventh-day Adventist Church was that Jesus took an after-the-Fall kind of humanity, a fallen nature like yours and mine.
But in 1957, excerpts from White's private 1895 letter to William Baker were included in QOD's Appendix B, "Christ's Nature during the Incarnation." This Appendix was a compilation of Ellen White quotations arranged in a misleading way.
Headings were provided. Some of these exactly contradicted what she had written. Key statements were kept out of the compilation. Those statements provided were italicised to guide the reader toward a preferred emphasis. Ellipses--you know, those three and four dot bullet-holes where information contradicting a preferred idea is removed--were extensively used. Material from the Baker letter was repeated several times from back pages of The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, as though the selected snippets represented separate documents. These quotations, presented in this circus setting, were made the basis for a modification of the Adventist view of Jesus' humanity.
Seventh-day Adventists are committed to the truth of God. No matter what that truth is, no matter where we find it, no matter how we might have to change our understanding to remain faithful to God, Adventists are committed to following truth. If we find we've been wrong, we want to change wholeheartedly to a corrected viewpoint. But if investigation confirms our viewpoint, we are just as strongly committed to sustaining it. Whatever the truth is about the nature of Christ, we want it.
Hermeneutics and the Nature of Christ
How do we understand what an inspired writer is saying? We apply hermeneutics, that is, principles of interpretation.
Let's review six Bible rules of interpretation:
Gather up all the inspired data on a question, then consider weight of evidence. Most passages are not difficult to understand, but portions will occasionally seem puzzling. They may even appear to contradict other statements. A careful study of the few apparently contradictory statements most often shows them to be in harmony with the larger set of texts.
Determine the meaning of sentences and short quotations by carefully considering them in their context in the paragraphs and longer passages where the author presents them.
Let clearer passages guide in the interpretation of less-clear passages.
Discovering the author's intended meaning is the starting point. Generally speaking, we should be careful of novel interpretations which occur to us which never would have occurred to the original authors in their setting.
The "chair" passages should lead in explanation. "Chair" comes from the idea of a teacher instructing students in his classroom. These are those passages which offer the most concentrated instruction on a given teaching. The chair passage on the millennium is Revelation 20. The chair passage for the third angel's message is Revelation 14. A chair passage on God's law is Exodus 20. A chair passage on creation is Genesis chapter one.
- Consider genre. Different kinds of inspired writing function differently. "Narrative," like Genesis, should be interpreted very literally. The earth was created in six literal 24 hour days and then God rested on the seventh. But when we come to the "Apocalyptic" genre, as found in Daniel and Revelation, much is figurative. A day may represent a year, a star a church, a beast a kingdom. To rightly divide the Word includes interpreting it according to the characteristics of the genre in which the inspired author provided it.
I send a text message from my phone to my wife as I am leaving the church board meeting. She texts back asking me to stop at the store and pick up bananas. She does not include the address where I am to deliver the groceries. We both know where we live and we both understand that I'm on my way home. The kind of communication we are engaged in determines what is assumed and which details are included in the message.
The same principle is operative when we come to the Bible. An epistle like 1 Corinthians is more like a circular letter than a personal one. It has been carefully written to be read by multiple audiences. The personal letter is a different genre. Then the author and recipient share in the context of the particular points addressed. The author of a personal letter (like 3 John or Philemon) often leaves out material which would have been clarifying to others. The fact that the writer and the recipient share information in common with each other enables the writer to omit the information.
The letter that Ellen White wrote to William Baker (which we'll be looking at in a few minutes) is part of this personal letter genre. Baker would immediately understand White's references to "propensities" and to the writings of the early "Fathers" more than someone listening in from outside their interaction. Without a doubt, White and Baker both understood what was meant by White's statement that "The exact time when humanity blended with divinity, it is not necessary for us to know" (21.1).
While Ellen White was alive, some were gathering up rumors about what she allegedly had said. Because of confusion this caused, she counselled: "If you desire to know what the Lord has revealed through her [Sister White], read her published works" (1888 Materials, p. 329). Her "published works" were widely available and verifiable. Her published writings were carefully prepared to be understood by the intended audience. Her writings assumed only the understanding of Christianity common to the people in her time and place. This is fundamental to published writings. Another basic premise we hold is that the content of White's writings in her private correspondence will be consistent with the content seen in her published writings. Inspired writings agree with inspired writings.
The Bible Teaching on the Nature of Christ
Before considering the Baker letter itself, let's reprise how Scripture speaks of the humanity of Jesus. The Bible is abundant with information both implicit and explicit about Jesus in His humility and close identification with fallen humanity.
In Exodus 3:2 Jesus presents Himself in a lowly burning bush. In Exodus 21:8 He is prefigured by a serpent on a pole. At Deuteronomy 18:15 Moses prophesies of Jesus as a prophet like himself who will rise from among human brothers. Psalm eight describes man in his creation dignity, crowned by his Creator with glory and honor. Hebrews two shows the deeper reference to Jesus crowned with glory and honor, a suffering and sympathizing man. In Isaiah 53:2 Jesus is prophesied to come as a root out of dry ground. In the same chapter, verses four and eleven, He's wounded with our stripes, carries our griefs, sorrows and sicknesses, and the punishment He receives provides our healing.
In the gospels, Jesus is referred to as "the Son of Man" more than 80 times. And what kind of man would that be? All the sons of men who have ever been have had fallen natures. Romans 1:3 tells us that Jesus was the Seed of David, and in chapter eight, that Jesus came in the likeness of sinful flesh.
At Philippians 2:5-13 Paul pleads for believers to have the mind of Christ. He points to Jesus' emptying Himself, coming in the likeness of men, and obeying the will of the Father while in human flesh. In Hebrews 2:5-18 as the Seed of Abraham Jesus emphatically takes the same kind of humanity as all other fallen men, and is made like His brethren in all things. In Hebrews 4:14-16 Jesus is described by the inspired writer as tempted in all things as we are. The Bible evidence is substantial, emphatic, and clear.
A Study in Hebrews Two
Let's sample one such Scripture passage in more detail: Hebrews two. The first seven chapters of Hebrews present Jesus as the ultimate revelation of God. The atonement is discussed. Jesus is compared to angels, to Moses, and to the Levitical priesthood. Jesus' humanity is connected with atonement and overcoming.
Look at chapter two starting at verse five. Jesus' mission of atonement is described. Paul is writing about the world to come, earth in the future. This planet was placed in subjection to humans. The eighth Psalm is cited, describing the creation dignity of humans. Only a little lower than the angels, man is placed over the creation and crowned with glory and honor.
But all things are not yet subject to him. Our writer is referencing the sin problem, the rebellion of Lucifer, his enticement of man and man's subsequent fall. When Adam sinned death was introduced. To restore His creation, Jesus comes in the same kind of damaged humanity and tastes death for every man. He makes atonement. The humanity of those who need redemption, and the humanity of the One who would Redeem them, is explicitly linked throughout the passage. See it in 2:7 and 2:9.
Next are verses 10-13. It is fitting for the Father, in bringing many sons to glory, to send Jesus to experience with humans the travails of humanity. "For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all from one." From one what? One common humanity. Jesus is not ashamed to call us fallen humans His brethren.
Next, the author of Hebrews cites Psalm 22. This Scripture foretells Jesus' sufferings and His death on the cross. But the psalm has two sections: In the latter the writer rejoices that his sacrifice has been accepted! The Bible particulars for sacrifice are carefully specified. The sacrifice must be innocent, and must be appropriate for the person offering. As the sacrifice for fallen humans, Jesus must bear our flesh in common with us. At the same time, He cannot sin. This exactly describes the sacrifice of Jesus.
The next passage quoted in Hebrews two is drawn from Isaiah's chapter eight description of his own mission where he says that he and his children were set to be signs and wonders from God in Israel. God gave them names prophetic in their significance. The author of Hebrews uses this connection of Isaiah and his children with Israel as a parallel for Jesus' connection with Israel. Jesus' work is to intimately link God and humanity.
At verse 14 we see the necessity of Jesus our high priest sharing our kind of humanity. The Bible writer says, "Since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same." It was necessary for Jesus to die in order to neutralize the power of Satan, and to free us slaves from death. Here is parallel to Egypt, Moses, and Passover. Jesus is like Moses, delivering the people. At the same time He is like the passover sacrifice.
But Jesus doesn't help angels; His humiliation takes Him even lower. He helps the seed of Abraham! The inspired writer emphasizes the necessity of Jesus being made like His brethren in all things. We need a merciful and faithful High Priest; we need propitiation for sins. So, in 18, "For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted!" And in 4:15 Jesus is able to sympathize with our weaknesses for the very reason that He has been tempted in all things like as we are.
What then can we say? Hebrews two certainly is a "seat of doctrine." This passage reveals much concerning Jesus' humanity in relation to His making atonement for His people. And this was a short sample. Jesus our great High Priest took a humanity like ours because that was the kind of humanity that needed redeeming. Our kind of humanity--exactly our kind--was the kind for which Jesus' example of overcoming is the most essential. Our Father gave Him to us, as the ultimate template Example. Do you want to know how to live for God? Look to Jesus. How to overcome? Look to Jesus. How to advance in your walk with God? Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our faith.
Ellen G. White on the Nature of Christ
Ellen White's view of the nature of Christ--as that of early Adventists--was fundamentally determined by the Bible teaching. The passages informing her were the same (Romans 8; Philippians 2; Hebrews 2 and 4). If we want to get Ellen White's understanding on the topic, we need to follow the same hermeneutical plan we use for Scripture. That is, we consider all she wrote touching the topic. As in Scripture, it is given in various ways.
She prepares some material for wide publication and a general readership. Other times, she is writing a private letter to an individual. Then she deals with particular points especially known to her and the reader of her letter, but not necessarily known to us. Remember, we read from outside that information and context. All of her writings we consider inspired. At the same time, we have one group we call her published writings, and another set she wrote in the form of private, unpublished letters.
Ellen G. White Published Statements
We find Ellen White's primary published content addressing the nature of Christ in her book The Desire of Ages. Consider these examples:
It would have been an almost infinite humiliation for the Son of God to take man's nature, even when Adam stood in his innocence in Eden. But Jesus accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin. Like every child of Adam He accepted the results of the working of the great law of heredity. What these results were is shown in the history of His earthly ancestors. He came with such a heredity to share our sorrows and temptations, and to give us the example of a sinless life. . . . into the world where Satan claimed dominion God permitted His Son to come, a helpless babe, subject to the weakness of humanity. He permitted Him to meet life's perils in common with every human soul, to fight the battle as every child of humanity must fight it, at the risk of failure and eternal loss (p. 49).
Satan had pointed to Adam's sin as proof that God's law was unjust, and could not be obeyed. In our humanity, Christ was to redeem Adam's failure. But when Adam was assailed by the tempter, none of the effects of sin were upon him. He stood in the strength of perfect manhood, possessing the full vigor of mind and body. He was surrounded with the glories of Eden, and was in daily communion with heavenly beings. It was not thus with Jesus when He entered the wilderness to cope with Satan. For four thousand years the race had been decreasing in physical strength, in mental power, and in moral worth; and Christ took upon Him the infirmities of degenerate humanity. Only thus could He rescue man from the lowest depths of his degradation.
Many claim that it was impossible for Christ to be overcome by temptation. Then He could not have been placed in Adam's position; He could not have gained the victory that Adam failed to gain. If we have in any sense a more trying conflict than had Christ, then He would not be able to succour us. But our Saviour took humanity, with all its liabilities. He took the nature of man, with the possibility of yielding to temptation. We have nothing to bear that He has not endured. . . . Just where the ruin began, the work of our redemption must begin. As by the indulgence of appetite Adam fell, so by the denial of appetite Christ must overcome. . . . From the time of Adam to that of Christ, self-indulgence had increased the power of the appetites and passions, until they had almost unlimited control. Thus men had become debased and diseased, and of themselves it was impossible for them to overcome. In man's behalf, Christ conquered by enduring the severest test. For our sake He exercised a self control stronger than hunger or death (p. 117).
When Jesus was awakened to meet the storm, He was in perfect peace. There was no trace of fear in word or look, for no fear was in His heart. But He rested not in possession of almighty power. It was not as 'Master of earth and sea and sky' that He reposed in quiet. That power He had laid down, and He says 'I can of Mine own self do nothing.' John 5:30. He trusted in the Father's might. It was in faith--faith in God's love and care--that Jesus rested, and the power of that word which stilled the storm was the power of God. . . . (p. 336).
These paragraphs distill the essence of Ellen White's inspired, intended-for-all-readers, published presentation of her nature of Christ understanding. Clearer passages guide in the interpretation of less clear.
Notice, Jesus accepted humanity after the race had been weakened for thousands of years. He fought the battle "as every child of humanity must fight it." You and I are included in "every child of humanity." How must you fight the battle? In undamaged or damaged flesh? In what kind of humanity was Jesus to redeem Adam's failure? Ellen White says, "in our humanity." Jesus took on Him that kind of humanity in which He could save man from "the lowest depths of degradation." "Our Saviour took humanity with all its liabilities." "We have nothing to bear that He has not endured." Christ conquered by enduring "the severest test." Any one of these statements tells us exactly what kind of humanity Jesus took. These are her published statements, her most careful, for-broad-readership-presented material.
Ellen G. White Unpublished Statements
BAKER LETTER SECTION
Let's look at a letter Mrs. White sent to William Baker. We have made this document available to you, both in its entirety and also with certain paragraphs detailed on a color-highlighted two page handout. The numbering we're using is from the paging and paragraphing in White Estate document Manuscript Release 1002. For example 18.1 means page 18, first full paragraph.
Who was Baker?
Who was William L.H. Baker? A church worker, in America, then Australia, New Zealand, and back to America. His career, in order, included Adventist printing and publishing, then evangelist, administrator, college Bible teacher, lastly chaplain. From Ellen White's 1895 letter to him we may infer he was on the bookish side (20.2, 3; 22.3; 23.0; 28.3), more the reader than the preacher (16.2, 3; 17.1; 23.3; 28.3), he had personal tendencies toward melancholy and discouragement (14.1), and, at least in his earlier years, was more inclined to follow than to lead (17.2; 23.3; 28.2).
What does the Baker Letter Say?
Ellen White saw the Bakers were struggling and sought to bring encouragement (14.1). William was more versed in press work than evangelistic field work, and preferred the study of books to arguing theology. His melancholy personality made these difficult years.
Much of White's letter prompts him to more aggressive personal labor and preaching. She also admonishes him not to devote overmuch attention to the writings of The Fathers, speculative questions, or traditions of men. Engage in more personal evangelistic labor, she tells him, and depend less on counsel from distant leaders about how to work.
We focus attention now on five key paragraphs: 18.1, 2; 19.1-3. Ellen White is emphatic and warns Baker about his teaching concerning the humanity of Christ. Yet notice, aside from these sentences of warning, in the main content in these paragraphs, she places emphasis not on the humanity but the Deity of Jesus!
Look at the color highlighted version of the key paragraphs in the Baker document. You'll see a great deal of yellow, the color we have used to highlight humanity. Notice the several lines highlighted in green, pointing to divinity and humanity in combination. Orange background has been put on the phrases concerning propensities in 18.1. Blue background represents action of the will. Bold print highlights temptation. These will help you quickly find the distinct emphases in this part of the letter.
If you have read the Baker letter in full you will notice that at 22.3, Mrs. White admonishes him not to dwell upon the opinions of The Fathers. She tells him the opinions of "The Fathers" will not help his case. This seems to be a reference to a group of writings referred to as the early Church Fathers. If you are big on tradition, you'd be very interested in the 38 volume set of books reproducing the 16 million words of The Fathers.
One of the teachings The Fathers debated is called Adoptionism. The theory comes in various flavors. The basic idea is that Jesus did not begin as God but merely as a man. He was created. But, because of His exemplary life, He was "adopted" into the Godhead. Those who taught this claimed that there was a time when Jesus did not exist. Jesus was a mere man who became God.
Realize, inescapably, the main issue in such a teaching is the "when" question. If you paid attention while reading White's letter, she pleads with Baker in 19.1, "The exact time when humanity blended with divinity, it is not necessary for us to know." This doesn't mean that there was a time when Jesus was adopted and humanity blended with divinity, but she is telling Baker that this is not a profitable question to dwell upon.
Arian teaching had an adoptionistic line, making Jesus the first being created, not having existed with the Father through eternity. While Arians make Him to be God, He remains forever a God-junior.
If Baker was dabbling in teachings about Adoptionism, Sister White's concerns fall easily into place. In some versions of Adoptionism, Jesus could have sinned in an earlier part of His life before becoming a complete overcomer and being "adopted" into the Godhead. Pastor Ralph Larson was the first to propose that Baker had been dabbling with Adoptionism and that this was one point she was responding to in her letter to him. If you read "adoptionist" writings you will find that the theological errors in that teaching exactly fit the concerns expressed in White's letter to Baker. Baker's speculative interest in such ideas stirred up Ellen White's practical, soul-winning emphasis. And so, she writes kindly but firmly in her usual practical way, and urges him to stop messing with The Fathers and get back to work saving souls!
While she warns Baker concerning claims about the humanity of Jesus, her main emphasis in this letter is on Jesus' Deity. Jesus is God. She tells Baker repeatedly that Jesus' humanity and divinity were combined, and emphasizes repeatedly that Jesus never chose to sin. She is adamant that Jesus never "yielded," never "responded," never "stepped" on Satan's ground.
Was Baker teaching that Jesus was a mere man who became God? If so, White's writing to Baker emphasizing divinity and humanity combined in Jesus, and her warning not to try to investigate exactly when some alleged "transition of being" from man to God occurred, make sense. Her emphasis that Jesus never chose to sin is logical.
But let's turn to another question. What of Ellen White's use of the word "propensities" in paragraph 18.1? She writes to Baker that Jesus is not to be set before the people as "a man with the propensities of sin." Because of Adam's sin, his descendants, she says, are "born with inherent propensities of disobedience." And, Jesus could have sinned, but not for one moment was there in Him "an evil propensity."
Be careful with this. "Propensities" are simply "tendencies"; this is what the word means. Did Jesus have anything in Himself arising from sin? No, for He never sinned, and there could be in Him nothing following from, developing from, nothing rooted in, personal sin. And there could not be "an evil propensity" in Jesus, for He had never chosen evil and thus never developed in Himself any propensity that could be called "evil." Jesus never "owned" any such propensity; He was never mastered by any "inherent propensity."
Have you noticed Ellen White compares Adam and Christ not once but twice in the Baker letter? In 18.1 Adam is described as pure and as being tempted in Eden. In contrast, Jesus is tempted in the wilderness. White further contrasts that Adam chose sin and Jesus did not choose sin. She even makes the comparison again in 19.3. She reminds us that Adam fell, but that Jesus endured "under the most trying circumstances." That was written in 1895. Just a few years later, in The Desire of Ages, she writes that Jesus "endured all that it is possible for us to bear" (p. 123). She is emphatic, affirming that Jesus overcame in a damaged nature like ours and overcame as we also must overcome.
The crucial point is that sin is never an inherited state, but always arises from a personally chosen act. In 18.1 she writes Adam "could fall, and he did fall through transgressing." In 19.1 White is very definite with Baker, asking that he never leave people with the impression that Jesus "in any way yielded to corruption." In 19.3 where she highlights Jesus' having nothing in Him that was attracted to Satan's temptations, she says Jesus would not respond to temptation. Not "once did Christ step on Satan's ground." To sin is to choose to transgress. Jesus never chose to transgress. All of which makes sense when we let Mrs. White's writings guide us in the interpretation of her own writings. And remember, she used the word "propensity" to mean something the Christian need not retain. In Review and Herald, April 24, 1900 she wrote, "We need not retain one sinful propensity."
Consider an illuminating parallel. The Baker letter was written in 1895. The book The Desire of Ages went to press in 1898. When Ellen White's book was released, on pages 122 and 123 she seems to have expanded on her previous discussion in this private 1895 letter to Baker. In The Desire of Ages, she returns again (as she did in the letter to Baker) to Jesus' struggle with temptation in the wilderness. And, just as she quoted and commented on John 14:30 in the 1895 letter, in 1898 The Desire of Ages, she expands on that very text:
'The prince of this world cometh,' said Jesus, 'and hath nothing in Me.' John 14:30. There was in Him nothing that responded to Satan's sophistry. He did not consent to sin. Not even by a thought did He yield to temptation. So it may be with us. Christ's humanity was united with divinity; He was fitted for the conflict by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
"Nothing" in Jesus, meant nothing in Him to respond to sin. She writes that "He did not consent to sin." Ellen White is consistent. Readers of The Desire of Ages would not be dabbling with the opinions of the early Church Fathers, so she didn't discuss adoptionism there. But she did write of Jesus that "in Him is life, original, unborrowed, underived" (p. 520), a clear, anti-adoptionist position. Notice, she writes in 1898 after Baker's dallying over the Church Fathers. The Desire of Ages indisputably is her manifesto on the humanity of Jesus. We can safely say it constitutes her primary and published teaching on the topic.
Think about this. Here are all the Bible writings on Jesus' humanity. Then here are all of Ellen White's published writings. In those we have this single letter, this one exception, a certain interpretation of the unpublished Baker letter interpreted in QOD in favor of a "Jesus was exempt" thesis. It is not sound interpretation to make so much rely on such a speculative base.
Unlike the Baker letter, where we have but little information about the details, we do have The Desire of Ages, the crown jewel of her published writings about Jesus. If we want to know Ellen White's inspired view concerning the humanity of Christ, The Desire of Ages is her clearest, most intentional material. Like published writings in general, the informational gaps between writer and reader are much smaller because the author provides the reader carefully prepared material. In contrast, the Baker letter was a quickly written, private letter. Equally inspired, it was written against the backdrop of mutually shared assumptions. The author and the recipient could short-cut with each other just as you shortcut with a friend or family member because you both know what you are referring to. The Bible and the published writings of Ellen White offer a very clear view that Jesus took the nature of Adam after the Fall.
Some might ask why in this talk we spend so much valuable time recounting the Bible passages and Ellen White's The Desire of Ages statements? Why didn't I micro-analyze the word propensities?
Remember our fundamental premise: inspired writings agree with inspired writings. Ellen White's writings agree with Ellen White's writings. More clear passages, for the very reason of their clarity, guide us when we are seeking to understand kinds of writing that are less clear to us. Published writings are carefully written so that the author provides very intentionally to the reader the contextual help needed for understanding. Private letters are different. They too are a particular genre, a distinct type of writing. The author and the reader can take shortcuts in communication. Readers outside that circle lack some of this information. We can step back, look more broadly at the facts, see the agreement between the Bible and other writings of Ellen White, and realize that weight of evidence prompts us to reevaluate interpretations which place one set of EGW statements in competition with another.
In conclusion, in 1957 the promoters of the new theology taught in Questions on Doctrine set forth certain excerpts from a private letter that had lain silent in the files for 72 years. They made a particular interpretation of White's letter to William Baker determinative for a new way of thinking about the nature of Christ in the Church. This was bad hermeneutics. The change could only be accomplished at the cost of ignoring, not only the straightforward testimony of Scripture, but also a century of Seventh-day Adventist teaching that Jesus had taken fallen human nature, and by ignoring some and radically reinterpreting other of Ellen White's statements.
When we consider the teaching of Adventism on the nature of Christ until the 1950s, and when we review White's published writings on the topic, the answers are clear. A careful reading of the private Baker letter, honoring its place side-by-side with her published writings, shows the Baker letter to be in harmony with the other material. It was not obscurity on White's part that led to confusion; it was hermeneutical malpractice by the authors of Questions on Doctrine. The authors of QOD violated each of the six hermeneutical principles we reviewed at the beginning of this study. Seventh-day Adventists stand free today to lay aside QOD's slanted interpretation of the Baker letter and understand it in a way that lines up easily with the weight of evidence in the Bible and the published writings of Ellen G. White. Care in interpretation helps God's Church and demystifies Ellen White's Christology.
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