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Crosscurrents in Adventist Christology

by Claude Webster


E. Christ and Eschatology

Having commenced the section on the Christology of Ellen White with a presentation of her view regarding the preexistence of Christ, it is only fitting that we close this descriptive phase with a picture of her concepts concerning Christ and the future. Biblical eschatology really commences with the events surrounding Christ's humiliation and ascension (see Heb. 1:2; 1 Cor. 10:11; Acts 2:17) and, therefore, it is from this point in time that we will consider Ellen White's view of Christ. To this task we now turn our thoughts.

1. The Ascended Christ

Ellen White presents a very high view of the importance of Christ's adoption of human nature. Having fulfilled the conditions of the atonement and wrested the kingdom from Satan, thus becoming the heir of all things,186 Christ ascended to His Father. In doing this, Christ did not discard His humanity like a worn-out garment and enter the ethereal realm. On the contrary, Ellen White maintains that "God has adopted human nature in the person of His Son, and has carried the same into the highest heaven."187 Even though Christ will be exalted to the glory which He had with His Father from the beginning, He will ever "retain His human nature."188

Upon the ascension of Christ to the right-hand of His Father, certain significant events took place, according to Ellen White. Christ "was enthroned amidst the adoration of the angels."189 Not only was He enthroned, but He was also glorified with the glory which He had with the Father from all eternity. Once this inauguration had been accomplished and the ceremony was complete, the Holy Spirit descended in rich currents and in power upon the waiting disciples in Jerusalem. This was the signal on earth that in heaven Christ had been enthroned as both Priest and King.

2. The Priestly Ministry of Christ

In His office as Priest and King, Christ is graphically pictures by Ellen White as seated on the right hand of the Father, ministering in the heavenly sanctuary as our merciful High Priest. She sees Christ serving as both Advocate and Judge throughout the Christian dispensation. Christ introduces His earthly children to His Father as His friends through the merits of His blood. From the heavenly sanctuary Christ bestows upon His followers the "benefits of His atonement."190

In apparently dialectical fashion Ellen White presents two concepts of Christ's heavenly ministry. On the one hand, she has Christ fulfilling the type of both the daily and the yearly Levitical priestly ministration in two great consecutive periods from His inauguration until the consummation of all things.191 In this view Christ's dominant role in the first period is of intercession and in the second period of judgment. On the other hand, Ellen White also presents the concept that Christ's entire humiliation and total ministry in the heavenly sanctuary throughout the Christian era fulfils only the day of atonement symbolism.192 Perhaps for her, the antitype is too rich and full to find fulfillment in only one view of the shadow.

3. Christ and the Eschaton

Ellen White's treatment of the cessation of Christ's heavenly ministry and His return to this earth as King of kings and Lord of lords is an important segment of her eschatology.193 Christ's second advent with all the angelic beings will be glorious and it will inaugurate the resurrection of the righteous, the glorification and translation of all the saints and the temporary destruction of the wicked and the binding of Satan. Ellen White accepts the concept of the millennium during which time this earth will be desolate and Christ and the saints will be reigning in heaven engaged in a further aspect of the judgment with particular reference to the unsaved.194

At the close of the millennium, Ellen White pictures Christ returning to this planet with the redeemed of all ages and in the glorious New Jerusalem, the city come down from God. Then will be fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah that His feet shall once again stand on Mount Olives (see Zech. 14:4,5,9).195 Christ now calls forth the wicked in the second resurrection and they come up with the same characteristics of rebellion with which they closed their earthly lives. Satan is pictured as leading the hosts of the wicked in one final attempt to overthrow Christ and the government of God.196

And now Ellen White pictures the glory of Christ as He is seated on a throne high above the city. She sees the redeemed saints surrounding Christ and states that no language can describe and no pen can portray the power and majesty of Christ. "The glory of the Eternal Father is enshrouding His Son. The brightness of His presence fills the city of God, and flows out beyond the gates, flooding the whole earth with its radiance."197

It is in such a setting that the final coronation of Christ takes place. At His first ascension He had been enthroned and inaugurated as Priest and King; now all events move to the consummation. Note Ellen White's description:

"In the presence of the assembled inhabitants of earth and heaven the final coronation of the Son of God takes place. And now, invested with supreme majesty and power, the King of kings pronounces sentence upon the rebels against His government, and executes justice upon those who have transgressed His law and oppressed His people."198

Ellen White closes her description of these final events in sweeping strokes. The wicked stand before Christ in His glory and majesty and in a panoramic fashion see the events of salvation history.199 Finally, the wicked are destroyed, sin is eradicated, the earth is cleansed and becomes the eternal home of the redeemed. This world which went astray will be honored above all other worlds in the universe and will become the centre of the activity of the Father and the Son.200 And as the years of eternity roll there will be fresh manifestations of the glory and the power and the majesty of Christ and the love of God will be remembered in its highest revelation - Emmanuel, "God with us."

We have now completed our descriptive presentation of Ellen White's Christology. We have covered the areas of the pre-existence of Christ, Incarnation and nature, Incarnation and sin, Incarnation and grace, and finally Christ and eschatology. Now we will turn our attention to analysis and evaluation.


186 Note Ellen White's words: "Christ's sacrifice in behalf of man was full and complete. The condition of the atonement had been fulfilled. The work for which He had come to this world had been accomplished. He had won the kingdom. He had wrested it from Satan, and had become heir of all things" (The Acts of the Apostles, Mountain View, California: Pacific Press, 1911, p.29). See also Letter 136, 1902, in Questions on Doctrine, p.670; The Youth's Instructor, April 16, 1903, in Questions on Doctrine, p.680. [back]

187 E. G. White, The Desire of Ages, p.25. [back]

188  Ibid. Thus, Ellen White sees human nature as a part of the exalted, eternal Christ. Note: "In taking our nature, the Saviour has bound Himself to humanity by a tie that is never to be broken" (Ibid.); further: "Heaven is enshrined in humanity, and humanity is enfolded in the bosom of Infinite Love" (Ibid., p.26). See also The Great Controversy, p.674. [back]

189 For this quote and the thoughts of the entire paragraph see E. G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 38,39: "He was enthroned amidst the adoration of the angels...The Pentecostal outpouring was Heaven's communication that the Redeemer's inauguration was accomplished...that He had, as priest and king, received all authority in heaven and on earth,..." See also The Signs of the Times, August 16, 1899, in Questions on Doctrine, p.664. [back]

190 Ellen White says: "The intercession of Christ in man's behalf in the sanctuary above is as essential to the plan of salvation as was His death upon the cross" (The Great Controversy, p.489). She states that Christ entered the heavenly sanctuary "to shed upon His disciples the benefits of His atonement" (Early Writings, p.260). For a picture of Ellen White's view on Christ as Mediator, Advocate, Intercessor and Judge see Questions on Doctrine, pp.661-692. [back]

191 In this more generally accepted view of Ellen White she sees Christ as fulfilling the first apartment phase of the earthly sanctuary shadow from His ascension to 1844 particularly as intercession, and His fulfilling the second apartment phase from 1844 to the close of human probation with special emphasis on judgment. See E G White, The Great Controversy, pp.409-432; Patriarchs and Prophets, pp.343-358. [back]

192 Note Ellen White's emphasis in this direction: "As in the typical service the high priest laid aside his pontifical robes, and officiated in the white linen dress of an ordinary priest; so Christ laid aside His royal robes, and garbed Himself with humanity, and offered sacrifice, Himself the priest, Himself the victim. As the high priest, after performing his service in the holy of holies, came forth to the waiting congregation in his pontifical robes; so Christ will come the second time, clothed in garments of whitest white, 'so as no fuller on earth can white them'" (The Acts of the Apostles, p.33). For further references see The Desire of Ages, p.24; The Signs of the Times, April 19, 1905; The Desire of Ages, p.757; Letter 230, 1907, in Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 5, p.1109; Christ's Object Lessons, p.386; The Youth's Instructor, June 21, 1900, in Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 5, p.1109. For a discussion of these see Desmond Ford, Daniel 8:14, The Day of Atonement and the Investigative Judgment, Casselberry, Florida: Evangelion Press, 1980, pp.346-350. [back]

193 For a brief summary of her views regarding this see E G White, The Great Controversy, pp.613-652. For easy access to material on this subject see the recent compilation on last-day events and eschatology, E. G. White, Maranatha, the Lord is Coming., Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald, 1976.[back]

194 See E. G. White, The Great Controversy, pp.653-661; Maranatha, the Lord is Coming, pp.313-342. [back]

195 E. G. White, The Great Controversy, p.663 .[back]

196  Ibid., pp.663-665. [back]

197  Ibid., p.665.[back]

198 E. G. White, The Great Controversy., p.666 [back]

199  Ibid., pp.666-672.[back]

200 See E. G. White, The Desire of Ages, p.26.[back]

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