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Crosscurrents in Adventist Christology

by Claude Webster


B. The Second Period: 1888-1892

We have chosen to use the historic Minneapolis Conference session of October 17-November 4, 1888, as a useful point of time to introduce the second period of our concentration. Here it was that E J Waggoner, along with A T Jones, were principal speakers at this session which resulted in bringing Waggoner into greater prominence than ever before. From this high point we will view his Christology until his departure to England in 1892.

No official record was kept of the Waggoner-Jones messages given at the 1888 session. It is not our task in this dissertation to try and solve the problem as to the exact message.
56 It could well afford a single field of study for another dissertation. For our Christology of Waggoner during this period we will concentrate on three main sources, namely, Waggoner's periodical articles during this period; Waggoner's book on Christology published in 1890, Christ and His Righteousness; and Waggoner's sixteen studies on the book of Romans given at the 1891 General Conference Session. Using these sources we will now seek to describe Waggoner's Christology during this period under different themes.

1. The Divinity of Christ

In 1889 Waggoner wrote a series of six articles on the divinity of Christ which first appeared in The Signs of the Times and were then repeated in the Australian Bible Echo and Signs of the Times later in the same year.57

Using a textual method Waggoner adduces the divinity of Christ from such texts as John 1:1; Isa. 9:6; John 14:8,9; Heb. 1:4-8; Ps. 50:1-6; Flab. 3:3-6; and Isa. 6:1-5. He makes a strong point of the dialogue between Christ and the rich young ruler in Matthew 19. Instead of finding a problem in Christ's words "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is God," Waggoner finds this very strong evidence that Christ who is wholly good was here asserting His oneness with God.58

Waggoner next presents the works of Christ to prove His divine nature. Because Christ is Creator, Lawgiver and Redeemer, He partakes of the nature of God. Once again he gives textual evidence that Christ is the Creator of all things. Waggoner says that some have drawn a hasty conclusion from the expression 'first-born of every creature' (Colossians 1:15), as indicating that Christ is also a created being. He gives arguments to show that Christ cannot be a created being as all things were created by Him. The expression 'first-born of all creatures' shows the pre-eminence of Christ rather than His being the first one to be born. Waggoner states: "No language could more perfectly show the pre-existence and the creative power of Christ than does the language of Col. 1:15-17."59

Waggoner is clear on the pre-existence of Christ and states that Christ partakes of the nature of God. He has life within Himself and is able to perpetuate His own existence. The fact that Christ receives worship is further evidence of His oneness with God. When Christ came to the earth He did not lay aside His divinity, but only His glory, and He veiled His divinity with humanity. While Waggoner believed that Christ was not created he does understand the term 'only-begotten' as indicating that there was a time when the Son was not and when the Father brought Him forth. Note his words:

"In arguing the perfect equality of the Father and the Son, and the fact that Christ is in very nature God, we do not design to be understood as teaching that the Father was not before the Son...While both are of the same nature, the Father is first in point of time. He is also greater in that He had no beginning, while Christ's personality had a beginning."60

In this series on the divinity of Christ Waggoner discusses Christ as the Lawgiver. He gives proof from 1 Cor. 10 and Heb. 3:5-11 that Christ was in fact the leader of the children of Israel in Old Testament times. The Angel of the Lord who appeared as the 'I AM' is none other than Christ. The voice that spoke the law from Sinai is the divine Word and it is this same Word that will shake the world at the end of time according to 1 Thess. 4:16; John 5:28,29 and Rev. 19:15.

Waggoner indicates that the Sabbath is tied to Christ as Creator, Lawgiver and Redeemer. The One who created all things is Christ and, therefore, Christ made the Sabbath and it is thus the Lord's day. Christ gave the Law, including the Sabbath command, on Sinai and He is the One who effected redemption through His death on Calvary. Someone may cavil that an innocent man cannot die for the guilty, but Waggoner says "when that Innocent One is the Lawgiver Himself, there is no injustice."61

Waggoner's book, Christ and His Righteousness,62 (1890), basically reflects views which he had already expressed in editorials in The Signs of the Times prior to this date. For example, the section in the book dealing with the divinity of Christ parallels to a large extent the series of five articles entitled, "The Divinity of Christ," appearing in The Signs of the Times from March to May, 1889,63 which we have just considered.

He commences the book by giving reasons why it is important to consider Jesus Christ. Because in Him "are hid all treasures of wisdom and knowledge" and because Christ is the source of all righteousness we are to lift Him up. We are invited to give the same honor to Christ as to the Father. Waggoner has a high view of the deity of Christ. He gives scriptural evidence of the fact that Christ is God. "As the Son of the self-existent God, He has by nature all the attributes of Deity."64 Christ has not been elevated to this position, but it is one which He has by right.65 Waggoner is clear that Christ was truly God even when here among men.66 In one section of the book Waggoner shows Christ's divinity by all the scriptural indications that He is Creator.67 In another section he uses the evidence of Christ as the Lawgiver to illustrate the actuality of Christ's divinity and of His equality with the Father.68

For Waggoner Christ was not a created being but was begotten of the Father. He makes a clear distinction between being created and being begotten.69 He shows that it is through misconceptions that such verses as Rev. 3:14 and Col. 1:15 are applied to try to teach that Christ was created.70 He indicates that Christ is of the "very substance and nature of God" and that "He possesses immortality in His own right, and can confer immortality upon others."71 It is interesting to note that Waggoner hints at the extra-Calvanisticum attributed to the Reformer when he writes:

"Note the expression, 'the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father.' He has His abode there, and He is there as a part of the Godhead, as surely when on earth as when in heaven."72

With regard to the question of the 'begetting' of Christ, we have already noted that Waggoner expressed himself strongly that Christ was not created. But he does have the conception that the Father was prior to Christ. While not as extremely stated as in his Signs articles,73 he nevertheless, still expresses this concept concerning the priority of the Father:

"We know that Christ 'proceeded forth and came from God' (John 8:42), but it was so far back in the ages of eternity as to be far beyond the grasp of the mind of man."74

2. The Humanity of Christ and Sinful Nature

In a very important article entitled "God Manifest in the Flesh" in The Signs of the Times of January 21, 1889,75 Waggoner enunciates his convictions relative to the nature of Christ in the Incarnation. While on earth Christ was both God and man. At first only divine, He took upon Himself human nature and passed through this life as a common mortal except at those times when His divinity flashed through His humanity. In elucidating Romans 8:3,4, Waggoner once again states his conviction that Christ was not only accounted a sinner, but took upon Himself sinful nature. He appears to go even further in this article than he did in his letter to Butler of February 10, 1887. Waggoner says that if Christ was made in the likeness of men then "it must have been sinful man that He was made like, for it is only sin that causes death."76 Not only was the iniquity of us all laid upon Him, but "the flesh which He assumed had all the weaknesses and sinful tendencies to which fallen human nature is subject."77

If there was any ambiguity in the previous period as to whether Christ actually possessed sinful human nature like other people or was only made a sinner in an accounted sense, Waggoner has now come out clearly that Christ in His humanity was like all other descendants of Adam in possessing not only weaknesses, but also sinful tendencies of the flesh. Waggoner continues to press the point as he says: "If He was made in all things like unto His brethren, then He must have suffered all the infirmities and passions of His brethren."78 As he discusses the question of Christ being made sin for us, he writes: "Sinless, yet not only counted as a sinner, but actually taking upon Himself sinful nature."79 Waggoner proceeds to show that while children come into the world not directly condemned by the law, for in infancy they have no knowledge of right and wrong and are incapable of doing either, nevertheless "they are born with sinful tendencies, owing to the sins of their ancestors. And when Christ came into the world, He came subject to all the conditions to which other children are subject."80

In this article one senses that Waggoner has done more than emphasize the reality of the humanity of Christ. Not only has he indicated that Christ was accounted a sinner and that He accepted humanity with its weaknesses and liabilities, but he has blurred the fine line between the sinfulness and sinlessness of Christ. He has pictured Christ as assuming the sinful tendencies of human nature, as suffering the passions of His brethren, as taking upon Himself sinful nature and as being born with sinful tendencies as other children are.81

In the book, Christ and His Righteousness (1890), Waggoner presents a section on the humanity of Christ, entitled "God Manifest in the Flesh, "82 which is virtually a repetition of the article which appeared in The Signs of the Times, (1889) under the same title.83 There is thus no basic change in the position which Waggoner takes in 1890 over against the stance of 1889. Christ still comes in the likeness of sinful flesh, was made like sinful man, assumed all the sinful tendencies to which fallen human nature is subject, and actually takes upon Himself sinful nature.84 While Waggoner's stand on the human nature of Christ is still the same in 1890, there are some slight nuances which make the book presentation a little less outspoken than the article.85 We would assert that Waggoner's position on the sinful human nature of Christ in 1890 confirmed his stand of 1889.86

3. Christ could not sin

In continuing the theme "God Manifest in the Flesh" in both the Signs article and in the book, Christ and His Righteousness, Waggoner makes it clear that for him there is no danger in bringing Christ's humanity to the level of all other sinners, for in actuality Christ could not sin because of the presence of His divine nature. Because He was God in the flesh He could not sin. It was really His divine nature that was acting under the garb of humanity and, therefore, however strong the tendencies of sin in the flesh He would triumph.87

Waggoner believed that the fact that Christ could not sin because of His inherent divine nature should not discourage us. We too can benefit by having Christ, in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwells, abide in us and by faith in Him we can conquer as well. "All the power which Christ had dwelling in Him by nature, we may have dwelling in us by grace, for He freely bestows it upon us."88 There is no doubt that Waggoner felt that in bringing Christ to the level of the sinner and showing that Christ was able to resist temptation successfully, men and women could have hope and confidence to do the same. This would be accomplished by allowing Christ to dwell in the heart and thus He in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily would achieve victory for the sinner.89

While ideally Waggoner has Christ and the sinner on the same level as to their human state it is important to note that Waggoner gives this important place to the functioning of Christ's Divine nature during the Incarnation. In practical terms this meant for Waggoner, as we have seen, that Christ could not sin. Quite evidently, Waggoner did not subscribe to a 'dormant' divinity in Christ during His earthly life.90

4. The Work of Christ

Waggoner was one of the main speakers at the 1891 General Conference Session held at Battle Creek, Michigan. During this session Waggoner presented sixteen lectures on the book of Romans.91 The main themes which Waggoner presents have to do with the law, sin, righteousness, justification, the gospel and Jesus Christ. The emphasis is on soteriology and the work of Jesus Christ in relation to the sinner saved by the grace of God.92 The Christology which does appear has greater relevance to the work of Christ than to His person.

For Waggoner the central doctrine in the book of Romans is the gospel of Christ.93 The law requires a perfect righteousness from man which as a sinner he cannot give. No one has ever lived the perfect life as Christ did and all men are guilty. Waggoner states that through one man's fall all his children are born into the same condition. Instead of trying to figure out the justice or injustice of this let us rather devote ourselves to accepting the proffered salvation. What would we think of a drowning man who would not accept the extended rope unless he knew that it was his own fault that he was drowning? Waggoner presents a picture of the reality of the condition of original sin and its effects upon all men.94

Because all men are in a condition of sin by birth and are sinners by action, Waggoner states that righteousness, which is harmony with God's moral law and character, can never come through the law.95 Jesus Christ is the only One who can provide righteousness for He is righteous and without sin.96 Thus, righteousness may only be obtained by faith in Jesus Christ who is equal with the Father and part of the Godhead.97

Seeing that man is unrighteous and righteousness is only found in Christ, the only way for man to obtain this righteousness is as a gift through justification by faith.98 While Waggoner does have Christ imputing His righteousness to the sinner in justification,99 the Weight of his teaching at this time is towards an effective justification which makes the sinner righteous and does not only declare him righteous.100 Christ brings the righteousness of the law into the heart of the sinner and transforms his life. For Waggoner the distinction between justification and sanctification is blurred and justification appears to encompass not only a declarative act covering the past but a transforming and empowering experience of the indwelling Christ.

This idea of the present Christ living in the Christian and abiding in the heart is a strong one for Waggoner. He even speaks of the mystery of the Incarnation appearing again.101 With this strong idea of Christ in the flesh of the Christian Waggoner advocates that the true Christian becomes an instrument in the hands of Christ who obeys the law in us.102 The obedience of the historic Christ is not sufficient in that Christ's obedience must be made manifest in the life of the Christian.103 Because Waggoner sees Christ dwelling in the heart of the believer and obeying the law he does not see Romans 7 as applying to the true Christian life.104 Waggoner sees Christ fully victorious in yielded flesh and instead of a struggle continuing he hints at the removal of the sinful nature from the true Christian.105 Because this Christ was sinless, He will live out a sinless life within the yielded Christian.106 Sinless living is quite possible because there is the infinite power of Christ working in the life.107

In Waggoner's thinking, Jesus Christ made a dispensational view of salvation impossible. Men do not look forward or back to Christ, but Christ has always been a Saviour and in fact has ever been a present Saviour.108 For Waggoner the message of the third angel of Revelation 14:9-12 in the last days is no different from the message of Paul in the first century. It is not an advance on Paul's message of justification by faith.109 Waggoner thus shows a consistency in his Christological and soteriological convictions.

Finally, Waggoner's concept of the everlasting gospel of the first angel of Revelation 14 is broad enough to incorporate all of the second and third angels' messages. The everlasting gospel is justification by faith, and Christ and Him crucified covers every true doctrine. A true understanding of Christ and Him crucified will see the link between Christ and all doctrines such as the law, the Sabbath, the saints' inheritance, the immortality of the soul and spiritualism.110

We have looked at Waggoner's Christology in the period 1888-1892 under four headings, namely, the divinity of Christ, the humanity of Christ and sinful nature, Christ's divine power over sin and the work of Christ. We have discovered that Waggoner held a high view of Christ's divinity, ascribing to Him the same nature and substance as the Father, with the one suggestion of a coming forth at some point in the days of eternity. We also noticed that Waggoner came out clearly in 1889 to the effect that Christ possessed a sinful human nature with the same evil tendencies as all other men. And yet, Waggoner maintained in 1889 that because of the presence of His divine nature it was not possible for Christ to sin. Lastly, we focused attention on the work of Christ, noting Waggoner's emphasis on justification by faith on the basis of Christ's righteousness. This justification by faith was for Waggoner, not only a declarative act but an effective justification which brought God's righteousness into the heart of the Christian.


56 To show the diversity of thought regarding the actual message note the following: The General Conference Daily Bulletins for October 1888 state briefly that Waggoner discussed the question of the law of God and its relation to the gospel of Christ. According to this source he appears to have based his messages on the books of Galatians and Romans. Uriah Smith stated that Waggoner gave an instructive series of lectures on 'Justification by faith' (see General Conference Daily Bulletin for October 19, 21 and 26, 1888). Waggoner himself reported on Jones' and his own lectures in the November 2, 1888 issue of The Signs of the Times and stated that one of the subjects had reference to the law and the gospel in their various relations, coming under the general head of justification by faith. On the other hand, Leroy Edwin Froom believes that Waggoner's 1888 presentations were taken down in shorthand by his wife, Jessie F. Moser-Waggoner, and then edited by Waggoner to appear later in book form as Christ and His Righteousness (1890); The Gospel in Creation (1894) and The Glad Tidings (1900). (See Froom, Movement of Destiny, p.189). While it could well be that the first book of 1890 reflected some of Waggoner's presentations at the 1888 session, one questions to what extent this is true of the latter two books, except that his 1888 presentation of Galatians coincided with the subject matter of the book, The Glad Tidings (1900). Robert J. Wieland follows Froom's thought when he wrote in the foreword to his edited version of The Glad Tidings which appeared in 1972: "I discovered that the message of this book was in reality a transcript of studies that Dr. Waggoner gave personally to a gathering of ministers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the fall of 1888" (p.6). Wieland also says in his The1888 Message: An Introduction, (1980) that: "The very heart of the 1888 message was a clear revival of New Testament justification by faith" (P.35). Elsewhere he says that the message can be summed up in one word - "Christ" (see p.34). In contrast to Froom and Wieland, Dr. Donald Yost, Archivist of the General Conference in Washington, stated in October 1980, in private conversation, that there was no evidence that the nature of Christ was the content of the 1888 presentations. David P. McMahon is convinced that the human nature of Christ was not the content of Waggoner's message. He writes: "There is no evidence that Waggoner's teaching on the humanity of Christ was part of his message in 1888. This is one of the Waggoner myths demolished by an investigation of the original sources" (Ellet Joseph Waggoner, p.104). Ellen G. White makes many allusions to the message of 1888. In Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 91,92 she indicates that God sent a precious message through Jones and Waggoner. The message was to bring before the world the uplifted Savior. It presented justification through faith in the Surety and invited people to accept the righteousness of Christ made manifest in obedience to God's commandments. They needed to see Christ's divine person, His merits and His love. Christ had all power to impart the gift of His righteousness to the human agent. This was the third angel's message to be given in a loud voice. Furthermore, Ellen White also says that it was an unwillingness to accept Waggoner's exposition of the moral law in Galatians which caused the opposition to his messages (see Letter 96, 1896 and Manuscript 15, 1888, in A. V. Olson, Through Crisis to Victory, pp.52-55). Among the significant items that have been discovered recently are the W. C. White handwritten notes from the Minneapolis meetings. These were uncovered at the White Estate in Washington, D.C. In the light of these notes and other discoveries, Bert Haloviak, assistant director of the Archives (General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists), wrote as follows: "You can see from the handwritten W. C. White notes and also know from thousands of documents recently studied pertaining to the 1888 period that Christology was not the point of friction in 1888. The theology of the law in Galatians and of the covenants and the question of the role of the Spirit of Prophecy were the basic points of contention" (Letter from Bert Haloviak to E. C. Webster, August 3, 1982) [back]

57 Waggoner, "The Divinity of Christ," The Signs of the Times, March 25, April 1, 8, 15 and 22, May 6, 1889. Also Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, September 1, 16, October 1, 15, November 1, 1889. The original six articles in The Signs of the Times appeared in five articles in the Australian Bible Echo. [back]

58 Here Waggoner is using the same argument for the divinity of Christ based on Matt. 19 as he did in 1884 (see The Signs of the Times, June 19, 1884, footnote 20 in this chapter). His position on the divinity of Christ has not changed. [back]

59 E. J. Waggoner, "The Divinity of Christ," Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, Vol. 4, No. 18, September 16, 1889, p.281.  [back]

60  Ibid., October 1, 1889, p.298. This indicates that Waggoner in 1889 did not believe in the full eternity of Christ. Wieland is not entirely correct when he writes: "The Jones-Waggoner idea of the divine, eternally pre-existent Christ coming to rescue man where he is..." (R. J. Wieland, The 1888 Message an Introduction, pp.41,42). For Waggoner Christ was divine and pre-existent, but, at least according to his views in 1889, not fully eternal. In this one connection Waggoner shows affinity with the semi-Arian position. [back

61 Waggoner, "The Divinity of Christ," Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, Vol. 4, No. 21, November 1, 1889, p.330. [back

62 For full details on this book see footnote 1 in this chapter. [back

63 For details see footnote 57 in this chapter. [back

64 Waggoner, Christ and His Righteousness, Oakland, California: Pacific Press Publishing Company, 1890, p.12.  [back

65  Ibid. [back

66  Ibid., p.14. [back

67  Ibid., pp.16-19.  [back

68  Ibid., pp.39-46. [back

69  Ibid., p.21.  [back

70  Ibid., pp.20,21 [back] .

71  Ibid., p.22. [back

72  Ibid., p.15. Did Waggoner study John Calvin's works and obtain these ideas from him or did he arrive at this conclusion from his own independent study of Scripture? Waggoner did quote extensively from Luther's Commentary on Galatians. See "Different Kinds of Righteousness," and "Lawful Use of the Law," The Signs of the Times, February 24, 1888, p.119; July 13, 1888, p.422. [back] .

73 Waggoner, "The Divinity of Christ," The Signs of the Times, April 8, 1889: "While both are of the same nature, the Father is first in point of time."  [back] .

74 Waggoner, Christ and His Righteousness, p.9. See also pp.19,22. [back] .

75 Waggoner, "God Manifest in the Flesh," The Signs of the Times, Vol. 15, No. 3, January 21, 1889, pp.38,39. [back] .

76 Waggoner, "God Manifest in the Flesh," The Signs of the Times, Vol. 15, No. 3, January 21, 1889, p.39. 9 7  [back] .

77  Ibid. [back] .

78  Ibid. [back] .

79  Ibid.  [back] .

80  Ibid. [back] .

81 While Ellen White also maintained the reality of the humanity of Christ and the fact that He took upon His sinless nature our sinful nature, she was far more careful than Waggoner in stating her case relative to sin. Well before this time she had written concerning Christ: "He is a brother in our infirmities, but not in possessing like passions. As the sinless One, His nature recoiled from evil" (Testimonies, Vol. 2, pp.201,202). When Lyell Vernon Heise discusses Ellen White's letter of 1895 to Baker in Australia (already referred to in previous chapter. See footnote 232, chapter 2), he suggests that Baker was an admirer of E. J. Waggoner and was, no doubt, influenced by his theology. It would be quite easy for one not skilled in theological niceties to play with Waggoner's concepts on the humanity of Christ and suddenly to find himself in deep water. Ellen White warned Baker of the danger in setting forth the humanity of Christ: "Be careful, exceedingly careful, as to how you dwell upon the human nature of Christ...Avoid every question in relation to the humanity of Christ which is liable to be misunderstood...That which is revealed, is for us and for our children, but let every human being be warned from the ground of making Christ altogether human, such an one as ourselves; for it cannot be" (E. G. White, Letter 8, 1895). Even in this article of Waggoner in 1889 he came very close to making Christ 'such an one as ourselves'. [back] . 

82 See Waggoner, Christ and His Righteousness, pp.24-31. [back] .

83 For details on this article also entitled, "God Manifest in the Flesh, "see footnote 75 of this chapter.  [back] .

84 See Waggoner, Christ and His Righteousness, pp.24-31. [back] . 

85 We note that two sections appearing in the 1889 Signs article do not appear in the book. One consists of a paragraph on the ancestry and posterity of David showing the line from which Christ sprang which would be such "as would tend to concentrate in him all the weaknesses of humanity" ("God Manifest in the Flesh," The Signs of the Times, January 21, 1889, p.39). The other section consists of basically two paragraphs regarding the fact that just as all other children are born with sinful tendencies, owing to the sins of their ancestors, Christ entered the world subject to these same conditions (see Ibid.). Although these two sections were left out of Christ and His Righteousness, we believe that the material which remains expresses the same sentiments. There is one further modification which should be noted. In referring to Christ being made like unto His brethren, while the Signs article says: "then He must have suffered all the infirmities and passions of his brethren" the book states: "then He must have suffered all the infirmities, and been subject to all the temptations, of His brethren" (Christ and His Righteousness, p.27). It could be argued that being "subject to temptations" is more mild than suffering the "passions of His brethren." [back] .

86 It is important to note the three main expositions of Waggoner relative to the humanity of Christ and the question of being made in the likeness of sinful flesh. The first is found in his February 10, 1887, letter to Butler regarding the gospel in the book of Galatians (see Waggoner, The Gospel in the Book of Galatians, pp. 60-63). The second is his January 21, 1889, Signs article entitled "God Manifest in the Flesh." The third is the section "God Manifest in the Flesh" in his 1890 book Christ and His Righteousness (pp.24-31). While all three are unified in their general thrust the 1887 letter has a stronger emphasis on Christ being accounted a sinner while the two later statements veer more strongly towards Christ actually partaking of the same sinful tendencies as all men with the 1889 Signs statement the strongest. We would pinpoint the 1889 Signs article as the occasion when Waggoner came out clearly in proposing that Christ's humanity was subject to the same sinful tendencies as all other men. [back] .

87 Note sentiments along this line from the Signs article: "'God was in Christ,' and hence he could not sin. His humanity only veiled his divine nature, which was more than able to successfully resist the sinful passions of the flesh...his divine nature never for a moment harbored an evil desire, nor did his divine power for a moment waver" (The Signs of the Times, January 21, 1889, p.39). Waggoner goes on to say that Christ could not be held in the tomb "because it had been impossible for the divine nature which dwelt in him to sin...Christ could not sin, because He was the manifestation of God" (Ibid.). The book, Christ and His Righteousness, brings out the similar thought that because of Christ's Divine nature and because of the Divine power dwelling within Him, Christ was more than able to successfully resist the weaknesses of the flesh (see Christ and His Righteousness, pp.28,29). It is true that the nuances of the Signs article are slightly stronger in favor of the impossibility of Christ's sinning than the book. If this means anything it could indicate Waggoner's possible conviction in 1888 that Christ could not sin because of the power of His divine nature. [back] .

88 E. J. Waggoner, Christ and His Righteousness, p.30. Cf. Waggoner, "God Manifest in the Flesh," The Signs of the Times, January 21, 1889, p.39, for the identical statement. [back] .

89 See the latter few paragraphs in E. J. Waggoner, Christ and His Righteousness, pp.30,31, and The Signs of the Times, January 21, 1889, p.39. [back] .

90 To illustrate the fact that Waggoner was opposed to the idea of a 'dormant' divinity in Christ we note two articles by Samuel T. Spear, D. D., which Waggoner, as editor of The Signs of the Times, placed in the issues of December 2 and 9, 1889, evidently with approval. In the section where Spear discusses Christ's functioning as God while on earth, he mentions the idea of a distinguished clergyman that Jesus simply declared His divinity as a matter of His own faith but did not, while on earth, show the fact by divine acts and hence His divinity was held in a 'dormant' and inactive state. Spear comments: "A 'dormant' divinity in Jesus, while rather a queer idea, and for the time being no divinity at' all, would practically reduce Him, while on earth, to the level of merely an inspired man, not essentially different from the position of Moses of Paul" (Samuel T. Spear, "The Personality of Christ," The Signs of the Times, Vol. 15, No. 46, December 2, 1889). This emphasis on an active divinity in Christ while on earth appears to be in harmony with Waggoner's thought in his article of 1889 entitled "God Manifest in the Flesh" which we have discussed. [back] .

91 See General Conference Bulletin of 1891 where these 16 studies are recorded. Obtainable from the Heritage Room, James White Library, Andrews University. We will be referring to a facsimile reproduction from the General Conference Bulletin (1891) lithographed by A. L. Hudson, Baker, Oregon, U.S.A., consisting of 54 pages. [back] .

92 We notice this same emphasis on soteriology in Waggoner's periodical articles during the period 1890-92. His favorite themes were the law and the gospel and how righteousness is obtained through justification by faith.  [back] .

93 E. J. Waggoner, "Letter to the Romans - No. 1," General Conference Bulletin, 1891: "There is but one doctrine we have to preach, that is the gospel of Christ" (p.1). Waggoner in this first lecture states that our task is not to preach a message comprising such subjects as the law, the Sabbath, the nature of man, the advent, etc., to which we add a little gospel. All of these Biblical doctrines are summed up in righteousness by faith, justification by faith and the gospel of Christ. See also "The Christian a Debtor," Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, June 15 and December 1, 1891. [back] .

94 Waggoner discusses the state of sin in "Letter to the Romans - No. 9." He says many will question as to why we are here in this 'sinful condition' without having had any choice in the matter. He says: "Now we know that there was one man in the beginning, and he fell. We are his children, and it is impossible for us to be born in any higher condition than he was" (p.13). While this condition is not our fault and we might not understand it, "We know that we are in a sinful condition and that this sinful condition, is a lust condition" Therefore, let us acknowledge our lost condition in Adam and take hold of salvation in Christ. "The work of Adam plunged man into sin; the work of Christ brings men out of sin" (Ibid., p.14).  [back] .

95 Waggoner believed that God's righteousness is "summed up in the ten commandments" ("Letter to the Romans - No. 1," p.1). However, no man can find harmony with the law through his works. "Whoever seeks to be justified by his works will reap only wrath" ("Letter to the Romans - No. 9," (p.13). Discussing Paul's statement that "by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous" (Rom; 5:19), Waggoner states: "That settles the whole question, as to whether you and I can do works that will make us righteous" (Ibid., p.15). [back] .

96 Note Waggoner's thought on the righteousness found in Christ: "The law requires in man the perfect righteousness manifested in the life of Christ" ("Letter to the Romans-No. 3," General Conference Bulletin, 1891, p.3); "In Christ is the perfect righteousness of the law" ("Letter to the Romans-No. 4," p.4); Christ could lay down His life and take it up again "because he was sinless" and was the only one "who was perfectly sinless" ("Letter to the Romans-No. 8," p.11); furthermore: "Sin had spent all its force on him, and had not marred him in the least...the only sinless life is the life of the Son of God" (Ibid., p.12); "There is one spotless life...He could stand before the world, and challenge any to convict him of sin" ("Letter to the Romans - No. 9," p.15); "He had no sin, consequently the law had no claim upon him" ("Letter to the Romans - No. 10, p.18). See also "The Unconquerable Life," Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, October 15, 1892, where Waggoner says: life which Christ lived was untainted by sin."  [back] .

97 See Waggoner's two articles entitled "How Righteousness is Obtained," Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, November 1, 1890; September 1, 1891. [back] .

98 Speaking on Romans 3, Waggoner refers to Christ's gift of His righteousness and says the prophets bore witness to this "for they preached justification through Christ, by faith" ("Letter to the Romans-No. 4," General Conference Bulletin, 1891, p.4). He says: "There is but one thing in this world that a man needs, and that is justification...Righteousness can only be attained through faith; consequently all things worthy to be preached, must tend to justification by faith" (Ibid.). He says that justification by faith covers the present as well as the past (Ibid.). Waggoner states that if we do not preach justification by faith we are not preaching the gospel ("Letter to the Romans - No. 5," p.6). He continues to say: "Those that are justified will be saved, and those that are not justified will be lost" ("Letter to the Romans - No. 16," p.52). Seeing that we are unprofitable servants, eternal life must be "the gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord" (see "Unprofitable Servants," Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, February 1, 1892). [back] .

99 Note Waggoner's thought: "God has promised to make us righteous, and the only way to obtain that righteousness is to believe that God is able to impute it" ("Letter to the Romans-No. 6," p.7). While Waggoner does here speak of imputation the general thrust of his 1891 Romans lectures is toward an infusion of Christ's righteousness into the heart of the believer, thus actually making him righteous. Thus actual righteousness and obedience comes through faith in Christ. When Waggoner says in "The Unconquerable Life," Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, October 15, 1892: "This endless, spotless life Christ gives to all who believe on Him" he does not clarify whether this is by imputation or by actuality in impartation. [back] . 

100 Observe Waggoner's thought: "When the Lord puts it on [robe of righteousness], it is not as an outward garment merely; but He puts it right through a man, so that he is all righteous" ("Letter to the Romans-No. 3," p.4); see also "Christ the End of the Law," Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, February 15, 1892. While Waggoner clearly has an element of declarative righteousness in his doctrine of justification by faith, which covers the sins of the past, he appears to lay stress on God's making the sinner righteous in justification. This raises the whole question of the dialogue and controversy regarding the analytical or synthetic character of justification by faith. If Waggoner is considered to espouse the view of analytical justification it should be remembered that this term has been used to describe a very broad spectrum of views. See G. C. Berkouwer, Faith and Justification, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1954, pp.91-140; Hans Küng, Justification, The Doctrine of Karl Barth and a Catholic Reflection, London: Burns and Oates, 1964; 0. J. Venter, Analities of Sinteties? Kampen: J. H. Kok, 1959. [back] .

101 Waggoner sees it as a precious thought that we can be one flesh with Christ. We see "the mystery of the Incarnation appearing again." If we can believe that God was incarnate in Christ we can believe that Christ can live in our flesh today. (See "Letter to the Romans - No. 12," p.27). [back] .

102 "Christ in us obeys, and by His obedience we are made righteous" ("Letter to the Romans - No. 10," p.17). [back] .

103 Waggoner says that if we have Christ's life His obedience works in us and that makes us righteous. We cannot say that Christ obeyed for us and therefore we can do as we please. "His obedience must be manifested in us day by day. It is not our obedience, but the obedience of Christ working in us" (See "Letter to the Romans - No. 9," p.15). While Ellen White would agree that the child of God cannot simply do as he pleases after justification she does emphasize that Christ kept the law for us: "Every soul may say: 'By His perfect obedience He has satisfied the claims of the law, and my only hope is found in looking to Him as my Substitute and Surety, who obeyed the law perfectly for me'" (E. G. White, Selected Messages, Book 1, p.396, from "The Bible Students' Library" series, April, 1893). [back] .

104 Waggoner states that Paul is not relating his own Christian experience. "He is writing the experience of those who serve, but in the oldness of the letter, and while professedly serving God, are carnal, and sold under sin" ("Letter to the Romans - No. 11," p.26). [back] .

105 Waggoner says that we are made partakers of the divine nature, thus: "He has taken away this sinful nature, - taken it upon Himself that we might be delivered from it" ("Letter to the Romans-No. 12," p.29). See also "The Issues of the Present Times," Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, March 1, 1890. [back] .

106 Waggoner writes: "If we have the life of Christ, and it is working in us, it must do for us all that it did for Him when He was in Galilee and Judea" ("Letter to the Romans - No. 10," p.19). [back] .

107 Waggoner says that we do not understand the power of justification by faith. It should be able to lead to sinless living. He reprimands the preacher for his lack of faith: "We have never dared to come to that place where we would believe that the Christian life should be a sinless life. We have not dared to believe it or preach it. But in that case we cannot preach the law of God fully" (see "Letter to the Romans - No. 10," p.19). [back] .

108 Waggoner says that sometimes we think that the patriarchs and prophets looked forward to Christ and we look back to the cross. This is not so, for Waggoner says: "We look up to Christ, and so did they. We look to Christ a loving Redeemer by our side, and so did they" (emphasis Waggoner's in "Letter to the Romans-No.8," p.9). On the same page Waggoner speaks of a "present Saviour" to both Old and New Testament times. Because of this forgiveness of sin in Old Testament times was real (see Waggoner, "Real Forgiveness," Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, June 15, 1890). [back] .

109 Note Waggoner's conviction: "Now the question arises, Was this preaching of Paul's anything like the third angel's message, or the three-fold message which is committed to us? Did his preaching differ from the preaching which we preach? If it differs, are we preaching what we ought to preach? In other words, should our preaching embrace anything more than what the apostle Paul had? If it does, then whatever it may be, we had better get rid of it as soon as we can" ("Letter to the Romans - No. 16," p.48). Contrary to Waggoner's sentiments, there is some contemporary Adventist conviction that the message given by Adventists in Rev. 14:6-12 is definitely an advance on Paul's preaching. [back] .

110 See Waggoner's entire last lecture on Romans at the General Conference Session of 1891 ("Letter to the Romans - No. 16," pp.47-54).  [back] .

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