Another sigh-and-cry abomination for this Sabbath afternoon’s reading.
Today i read the August 2008 Adventist World magazine. There are usually a few uplifting articles, and a few discouraging ones. Sadly enough, usually the higher the writer’s position in the SDA church, the worse they are. Today’s read was no exception.
The article is titled “Help Along the Way” by our president, Jan Paulsen.
This sabbath afternoon i read the August 2008 Adventist World magazine. There are usually a few uplifting articles, and a few discouraging ones. Sadly enough, usually the higher the writer’s position in the SDA church, the worse they are. Today’s read was no exception.
The article is titled “Help Along the Way” by our president, Jan Paulsen.
He says the usual – his mother and his elementary school teacher were among the most influential in his life, then he introduces one more person in this category. The man is none other than Edward Heppenstall! This is the man who (as documented below, said:
The old creature or the old man remains with us until the day of our death or the day of Christ’s coming; but as long as we look at Christ the author and the finisher of our faith, sin and self cannot prevail. … The Christian believes that there still remains in the regenerate man a fountain of evil, that sin always exists in the saints till they are divested of their mortal bodies.
Here is Pastor Paulsen’s personal experience with the man:
I remember going to his office one day midway through the term and saying, “Dr. Heppenstall, you have destroyed everything I have believed about the sanctuary and you’ve given me nothing in place of it.” It was probably an arrogant thing for a student to say, and yet it was provoked by honest frustration. He replied, “Jan, remember—the sign of a mature mind is waiting until all the evidence is in.” And he was right. As the term wore on, more started to fit together. Not everything he said I could accept in exactly the way he stated it. But I honor him for the fact that he took his students down difficult paths of study—paths that are necessary for those who wish to function effectively as a minister.
Here was an instructor who “destroyed everything” Jan Paulsen believed about the sanctuary, and yet these paths are “necessary for those who wish to function effectively as a minister”???? OK, but i don’t want to listen to that kind of minister, and certainly will not support them with my tithe!!!
Edward Heppenstall was a very influential man, not only with Pastor Paulsen, but with all the SDA theologians.
In a survey done in 1985 which tried to define “The Intellectual World of Adventist Theologians”, Edward Heppenstall came out #1in the category of “Most influential SDA writers” – almost double that of the runner-up Ellen White!!! None of the under-39 group considered Ellen White as an “influential writer” – so it is no wonder where we are today in 2008 – with very few pastors who really read and believe Ellen White.
As a side note, it is interesting that of the respondents who had gotten their education from within the SDA educational system – 35% considered the Great Controversy theme as a major theological contribution, while only 11%of those educated outside the SDA system said so….Please notice that Jan Paulsen got some of his education outside of the SDA system, as nearly all the top PhD educators do nowdays.
To read some more reference material about Heppenstall,
The first to openly advocate no perfection in the believer until the second advent of Christ was Dr. Edward Heppenstall. He saw perfection of the believer as inimical to salvation by grace alone. Heppenstall’s approach—no perfection until the second coming—was one that not only went against the perfectionism of the Brinsmead message, but it was contrary to the traditional Adventist teaching on perfection. It is surprising, therefore, that Heppenstall’s teaching went unchallenged (at least publicly) by the leaders of the church. It may be that the conflict with Brinsmead was so fierce that Dr. Heppenstall’s radical deviation from traditional Adventism was able to pass unchallenged.
Heppenstall unequivocally asserted the reality of remaining sin in the believer clear up until the second coming of Christ. (18) Brinsmead was in error because he advocated a perfection that would take place prior to the second advent. Said Heppenstall: “….. there will never be a point in Christian living at which the believer may know that he has finally arrived at sinlessness.” (19)
We should not fail to notice the interesting turn of events here. In the early years of the decade Brinsmead was opposed because he placed the attainment of perfection too late. He was accused of putting off until the judgment what needs to be done now. Then there was an about-face and Brinsmead was attacked for putting the attainment of complete moral perfection too soon! He was accused of putting in the judgment what would not take place until after the judgment at Christ’s return.
The Awakening supporters at that time were only too aware that such a clear break with traditional Adventism had taken place. In response to Pastor L. C. Naden’s The Perfecting of the Saints, Brinsmead issued the following challenge:
I challenge pastor Naden to produce any statement in responsible Seventh-day Adventist literature, written prior to the present Awakening message, which teaches that God’s people will not become morally perfect and sinless until Jesus comes in the clouds of heaven. That is simply not basic Adventist doctrine. (23)
It appears that this challenge was never taken up, and this is not surprising. To the knowledge of this writer, it would be impossible to find support for Heppenstall’s position in pre-1950 Adventist theology.
What is surprising is how Dr. Heppenstall could teach such a doctrine (and apparently lead others to embrace it), yet avoid the condemnation of the church’s leaders. What is even more surprising is that the official Defense Literature Committee and the highly regarded Review and Herald should espouse the same teaching and have no public answering to do. Reflection on the reception of Questions on Doctrine will reveal that it did not enjoy the same privileges as did this new teaching. Certainly Heppenstall and others were advocating no peripheral issue. The doctrine of the perfecting of the final generation stands near the heart of Adventist theology.
The only answer to the above phenomenon that we have been able to arrive at is that the untroubled reception of Heppenstall’s anti-perfectionism was an index of the degree to which Adventist leaders saw the Brinsmead challenge as undesirable.
The numbers in the above article are reference numbers. Number 18 is reproduced in its entirety here, as it directly quotes Heppenstall: “18. “The old creature or the old man remains with us until the day of our death or the day of Christ’s coming; but as long as we look at Christ the author and the finisher of our faith, sin and self cannot prevail. … The Ctthristian believes that there still remains in the regenerate man a fountain of evil, that sin always exists in the saints till they are divested of their mortal bodies. … This original sin remains in Christians and non-Christians until they die or are translated” (Edward Heppenstall, “Definition of Righteousness,” in lessons at Andrews University, pp. 18-20). “We find here [1 John 1:8-10] the most solemn warning against the doctrine of sinless perfection in this life…. The Christian knows that there still remains in him a fountain of evil, a depraved nature” (idem, “Is Perfection Possible?”). ”