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Crosscurrents in Adventist Christology

by Claude Webster


II. Three Salient Aspects of Heppenstall's General Theology

In order to understand Heppenstall's theological frame of reference and in turn to appreciate more fully his Christological position, we wish to present three main aspects of his theological emphasis. These three areas are Revelation and Authority; Law and Covenant; and Righteousness and Grace.

A. Revelation and Authority

We will proceed to describe Heppenstall's stand on Revelation and Authority in four parts. These will be the nature of Revelation, the avenues of Revelation, faith and reason and objective or subjective authority.

l. The Nature of Revelation

Heppenstall accepts the first basic presupposition to be the existence of God. The second presupposition is that this God has revealed Himself somewhere and to someone. Heppenstall sees revelation as the manifestation of something or Someone that was previously concealed, an understanding of knowledge which cannot be achieved by man on his own.9 Hence it is a way of acquiring knowledge that is essentially opposite to the usual method of acquiring knowledge through observation, research and thought. Heppenstall sees in revelation a supernatural element.

Man does not discover God for He is absolute mystery until He reveals Himself. Without revelation man would always be in some form of darkness or bondage. Heppenstall sees sin as that factor which causes man to be in darkness and which necessitates a divine revelation. Natural acquisition of secular knowledge makes us masters of that which we know. In revelation the tables are turned and God becomes Lord and Master of man. And in this very Lordship man becomes free.

Heppenstall sees the purpose of revelation as God's desire to lay hold on man and to draw him once more to Himself in order to set Him within the kingdom of His dear Son. The nature of revelation is for Heppenstall both a disclosure of facts, events, information, prepositional truths as well as of God Himself above all in the person of Jesus Christ.10

2. The Avenues of Revelation

Heppenstall would see the principal avenues of God's revelation as being the Scriptures11 with Jesus Christ Himself as the fullest revelation of the Father.12 God has revealed Himself to the prophets in the Scriptures in a way in which He has not revealed Himself to others. This required special revelation and if it were not for the Scriptures man would not know God's truth. In the Scriptures God reveals both content and propositions as well as Himself. The Holy Spirit is needed to rightly understand and accept God's revelation in the Word of God.13 In Heppenstall's high regard for the revelation in Scripture he does not take a fundamentalist or a narrow evangelical position on verbal inspiration. In fact, he does not believe that this is required to maintain Scripture as revelation from God.14 While not arguing for inerrancy, Heppenstall does accept the Scriptures as the infallible Word of God and the historicity of the events of Scripture in typical conservative fashion.15

In regard to special and general revelation, Heppenstall believes that prior to the fall, general revelation could reveal God to man, but subsequent to the fall man's mind has been so darkened by sin that he needs special revelation to accept the true God.16 This special revelation comes primarily through the Scriptures and Jesus Christ. Heppenstall believes that salvation can only be found in Jesus Christ as revealed in the Word of God and cannot be found through other persons or through a natural theology.17

3. Faith and Reason

Heppenstall sees faith as vital in accepting God's revelation in Christ and in His Word. This faith is a reliance upon, a trust in and a commitment to a person, Jesus Christ. It has no merit in itself and earns nothing, for it is a gift of God. Faith demands a personal involvement with Jesus Christ who is the object of faith. Never should we focus upon the excellence of our faith but rather upon the excellence of the object of faith. Our faith must be grounded in Christ and should never be concentrated upon ourselves. Faith is not simply a passive virtue but demands an active participation and involvement on the part of the subject towards the object of faith, Jesus Christ.18

Heppenstall sees reason as the channel of knowledge which is to lead ultimately to faith and acknowledgement. God makes His revelation in such a way that it can reach the mind and the reason of man and not simply his emotions.19 However, for Heppenstall, reason is strictly limited.20 Unless it is guided by the Holy Spirit and yielded to Christ in faith it will not avail to fully understand spiritual truth. An unbeliever could pass a stiff theological examination and prove intellectually that he understands New Testament theology and yet, in the sense of spiritual understanding based on real faith, he has understood nothing.21

4. Objective and Subjective Authority

When it comes to the question of authority, Heppenstall believes that authority in spiritual matters lies outside of man in the objective revelation of Jesus Christ and the Scriptures. While Jesus Christ is the ultimate authority, for man in this world of sin God has given the objective authority of Scripture which is to be our primary authority in this world.22 Heppenstall sees an appeal to the authority of man himself as a false concept of true authority. It is for this reason that Heppenstall cautions against certain aspects of existentialism.23 He believes that this philosophy can focus attention on the authority of man's being and existence over against the objective authority of God's written and revealed Word, the Scriptures.

B. Law and Covenant

In this section we plan to briefly present Heppenstall's ideas regarding the nature of the Law, the purpose of the Law and thirdly, his changing concepts regarding the Covenant.

1. The Nature of the Law

When we realize that Heppenstall's course on grace and the law or on the law and the covenant covers a quarter or a semester, we recognize that our summary will only be a synopsis. Heppenstall sees the term "Law" in broad perspective and scope. In one sense it is a division of the Old Testament (Luke 24:44); in another it means the moral law of Ten Commandments (Deut. 4:12,13); and yet again the Shema (Deut. 6:4-9) or the ceremonial law (Heb. 9:9,10); and there is also the law of sin (Rom. 7:23) and the law of the spirit of life (Rom. 8:2).24 Heppenstall sees the law of Moses as incorporating both the temporary ceremonial laws and the permanent moral law.25

Heppenstall sees the nature of the law of God as being characterized by love.26 As such the principles of the moral law are eternal and were in existence prior to the creation of man.27 These principles were worded to meet man in his fallen condition.28 While the moral law of Ten Commandments only entered in a codified form at Sinai these basic principles defined sin from the time of Adam.29 At the time of Christ the Pharisees had lost sight of the true nature of the law and Christ Himself became the embodiment of the principles of the decalogue.30 Jesus revealed the depths of the requirement of the law and exposed the evil of man's heart in relation to God's requirement. He also showed the basic nature of the law in His declaration of its essence being love to God and love to man.31

2. The Purpose of the Law

Heppenstall sees the law serving its true function or being used as a method of bondage or of salvation.

a. The Law as a Standard

Heppenstall's view of the law prior to sin, is that it was ordained to life (Rom. 7:10).32 But subsequent to the fall of man life cannot be obtained through obedience to the law.33 The true function of the law is to serve as a standard of right and wrong and of God's righteousness,34 and to lead the sinner to Christ.35 This standard is necessary to reveal sin and should be used along with the gospel in revealing man's sinful condition.36 Heppenstall believes that Christ must always be presented in the law and it is this combination of the law and the gospel which can bring the sinner to conviction.37In this sense as a standard of righteousness the moral law remains in force this side of the cross.

b. The Law as a Custodian

In another sense the entire law as entrusted to Israel at Sinai in its moral, ceremonial and civil nature was imposed upon the nation to serve as a custodian to guard them and lead them until the Seed should come (Gal. 3:19-24).38 Heppenstall sees this as a historical development and states that when Jesus Christ came and faith was revealed this aspect of the guardianship of the whole Jewish legal system came to an end.39 In this sense God's people were "under the law" until the historical achievement of Christ was fulfilled. In this jurisdictional sense the purpose of the legal system was first, to give sin the character of transgression (Gal. 3:19) and secondly, to show man his constant need of a Redeemer in point of time.40

c. The Law as Bondage

Heppenstall also sees another meaning to the term 'under the law.' This is a life lived under the domination and driving power and motive of the law.41 This is on the experiential plane and is opposite to a life dominated and motivated by grace. The carnal nature and the life in the flesh is lived 'under the law' and is also characterized by a slavish attachment to the 'letter' of the law which kills.42

d. The Law as a Method of Salvation

Heppenstall makes much of the difference between the law as a standard and as a method.43 When the law of God is considered as a method of salvation then Heppenstall sees a perversion of the true function of the law.44 This false function of the law accounts for Paul's apparent animosity towards the law.45 The law has no power to forgive the sinner or to bestow righteousness upon him. Therefore, to use the law as a method of obtaining righteousness can only lead one into the barren wastelands of legalism and Phariseeism.46 Heppenstall sees "Christ as the end of the law for righteousness" (Rom. 10:4) and by this he, understands Christ to be the purpose of the law and also the end of any method of trying to obtain righteousness by means of the law.47

e. A new relationship to the Law

Once the sinner has found a new life in Christ and obtained the righteousness of the law through faith, Heppenstall sees a new relationship between the saint and the law.48 Now the law is written in the heart of the believer and obedience to the law becomes the fruit of salvation rather than a method of salvation. Heppenstall does not accept the idea that obedience to the law of God in the new life is legalism.49 Legalism is an effort to earn merit and acceptance with God through obedience but when obedience springs from a grateful heart in love to God and in thankfulness for salvation, legalism is not involved. When we receive the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ we come into a new relationship to the law of God, which is one of loving obedience.50

3. Changing Concepts of the Covenant

Prior to 1952 Heppenstall was teaching basically that there are two covenants which God presented to man.51 One was the everlasting covenant formulated from the days of eternity and offered to man when he fell into sin (Gen. 3:15). This was the covenant of grace extended to the patriarchs including Abraham. Circumcision initially was a sign of this covenant of grace. While it was thus operative from the beginning of the world it was only ratified by the death of Christ on the cross. This covenant was renewed by Christ and is the new covenant spoken of by the writer of the Hebrews (Heb. 8:8-10). The other covenant, according to Heppenstall, was the old covenant which God offered to the children of Israel at Sinai when His people rejected the everlasting covenant through self-confidence.

At the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Conference in 1952, Heppenstall presented his new position on the question of the covenants.52 He now suggested that essentially God has only one everlasting covenant which He not only offered to the patriarchs and Abraham, but also to His special people at Sinai. God was not offering the Israelites an inferior covenant or a second-rate plan of salvation. Heppenstall stated that if God was really offering the old covenant or a covenant of works then He could hardly castigate the Jewish people for turning the system into a programme of works. If this is what God offered them then they were highly successful in accomplishing His purposes.

No, Heppenstall indicated that God was offering Israel the same eternal covenant of grace only in different trappings. God's purpose and approach to Israel at Sinai was one of love and grace. The testimony of the writers of the Old Testament is that Sinai was a glorious demonstration of the love of God.53 God offered them the same covenant that He had made with Abraham (Ex. 2: 24).54 God was pleased with the response that Israel made at Sinai (Ex. 24:7; Deut. 5:27,28).55 Heppenstall stated, furthermore, that the covenant which God sought to make with Israel at Sinai was based upon righteousness by faith (Deut. 30:11-14).56 Moreover, Heppenstall sees the numerous appeals by leaders and prophets to return to God's covenant as highly significant for the spirituality of the original covenant He made at Sinai.57

While Heppenstall advocates one essential covenant, he recognizes that from the manward side the Sinaitic covenant became a symbol of man's will to own his own life and to live by works instead of grace.58 The spirit of pride, independence, and self-effort toward the law was the outstanding sin of Israel and turned God's covenant of grace experientially into an old covenant' of works. By the time of Paul the history of Israel had become synonymous with salvation by works and Sinai is, therefore, looked upon as an epitome of bondage (Gal. 4:22-25).59 While God only had one covenant, Paul now speaks of a covenant that gendereth to bondage and another which is free. The Sinaitic covenant had become perverted by man's sin and rebellion and the New Testament era became a point in time for Christ to offer the everlasting covenant of race in His own precious blood.

C. Righteousness and Grace

In this section we will give attention to what Heppenstall often calls "righteousness by faith." This incorporates all aspects of the process whereby the sinner receives the righteousness of God and finds himself accepted by heaven. We will limit our attention to four areas of this problem as handled by Heppenstall. These are the radical nature of man's sin; justification by faith; sanctification; and Christian perfection.

1. The Radical Nature of Man's sin

Heppenstall has consistently taught that human sin is radical by nature.60

He has never taught a superficial view of sin. In his early teaching career he taught that sin includes both conduct and a state or inner condition. The essential principle of this state of man's sin is selfishness.61 This principle of sin consists of self-sufficiency instead of faith, self-will instead of submission, self-seeking instead of benevolence and self-righteousness instead of humility.62 Heppenstall has spoken of the effects of Adam's sin on his posterity in terms of the depravity of man.63

For Heppenstall original sin is wrong being rather than wrong doing.64 He does not see God punishing all men for Adam's sin; rather the result of one man's sin is that all men are born in a state of separation from God.65 In this state of separation man finds himself in a broken relationship with God and in a state of self-centeredness.66 Heppenstall sees original sin as a spiritual problem rather than a deficiency in the genes.67 He does not see sin as transmitted genetically from parent to child. Each child born into this broken spiritual relationship confirms Adam's sin by committing acts of sin.68 Heppenstall has pioneered the way in the Adventist theological world with reference to the doctrine of original sin often amidst mixed reaction.69

Because Heppenstall views man's sinful condition as deep and radical, he makes Jesus Christ and His salvation all the more necessary and vital. He says: "The right view of sin and death demands the right view of the divine remedy."70 There is no doubt that Heppenstall's concept of the depravity of man and his lost condition has led him to emphasize the necessity of salvation outside of man in Jesus Christ.

2. Justification by Faith

Heppenstall sees justification by faith in Jesus Christ as the answer to the dilemma of sin.71 Because man is unrighteous, God must provide righteousness from some other source. This source is none other than Jesus Christ who came to this world, lived a fully righteous life of obedience, died a substitutionary death upon the cross and bore the penalty for all sin.72 It is on the grounds of Christ's obedience and death that God can be just and can justify the ungodly.73

In justification Heppenstall sees God declaring the believing sinner righteous rather than making him righteous.74 This declaration that the sinner is no longer exposed to the penalty of the law is made not on the basis of the righteous acts or the personal character of the sinner, but solely on the grounds of the righteous life and atoning death of Jesus Christ.75 While Heppenstall maintains the declarative nature of justification he also sees justification by faith as not only deliverance from punishment but also as restoration to favor.76

3. Sanctification by the Holy Spirit

While Heppenstall holds to a distinction between justification and sanctification he believes that these two conditions can never be separated.77 Christ provides justification for past sins and for the present and immediately becomes the sinner's source of sanctification.78 Heppenstall sees the work of sanctification as a continuous one which lasts as long as life lasts. Sanctification is never complete and finalized in this life.79

Because Heppenstall sees man as possessing two natures, the sinful nature with which he is born and the new nature from above, sanctification is always necessary.80 The sinful nature is not eradicated at conversion nor at any subsequent time before the second coming of Christ.81 Therefore, it is necessary to receive the imparted righteousness of Christ to neutralize the sinful nature. In the process of sanctification the sinful nature must also be crucified daily and one must reckon oneself dead to sin.82

Although Heppenstall sees sanctification as a continuous work the child of God does not need to live in uncertainty and insecurity. Christ is given wholly to the saint in sanctification and the child of God can, therefore, be ready for eternal life at every moment of his life.83 Even though he still has weaknesses and defects Christ is a total Saviour and in justification and sanctification comes to the life as a complete Saviour. On the grounds of Christ's imputed righteousness and His imparted righteousness the growing saint can be accounted fully righteous and ready for heaven.84

4. Christian Perfection

Because of Heppenstall's radical view of man's sin and because of his view that the sinful nature of man remains until glorification, Heppenstall cannot teach a doctrine of sinless perfection.85 He has rather taught Christian perfection in the Biblical terms of maturity and full dedication to Christ resulting in relative perfection rather than absolute perfection.86

While Heppenstall does believe that the Holy Spirit can give glorious victory over sin in the life, he believes that the law is so broad and deep and the nature of man so sinful that the state of sin remains with the saint, making the total eradication of sin impossible.87 He believes that the struggle between the flesh and the spirit will continue as long as life lasts.88 There will always be more love that can be shown, greater heights of self-sacrifice, higher levels of spiritual attainment to be reached. Heppenstall believes that the saint will always need to pray the Lord's Prayer and will have to ask for the forgiveness of sin.89 The closer the saint comes to Christ the more clearly will he see his sinful condition and state and will cry out for a closer relationship with Christ.90

Because of man's sinful nature Heppenstall sees a gulf between the sinlessness of Christ and the life of the best saint.91 Jesus Christ is the only one who ever lived a life of sinless perfection and no man has ever been able to do this.92 Salvation does not depend on man's trying to reach sinless perfection but is dependent upon a loving and trusting relationship with Jesus Christ which will provide the state of perfection necessary to be saved in God's kingdom.93

Having given attention to these three background areas of Heppenstall's theology we have already become aware of the centrality of Jesus Christ in his thinking. When it comes to Revelation and Authority, we have noted that for Heppenstall Jesus Christ is the supreme revelation of God and is also the ultimate point of reference and authority in our lives. As far as the Law and the Covenant is concerned, Heppenstall finds that the entire Jewish legal system pointed to Christ, and the moral law or decalogue only has real significance when presented in Christ. Likewise, the one everlasting covenant has its ground and basis in the righteousness of Christ. When it comes to Righteousness and Grace, Jesus Christ is the One who provides all of the benefits of justification and sanctification and is the total answer to the problem of sin and the challenge of Christian perfection. Heppenstall has a Christocentric approach to his theology.


9 Heppenstall treats the subject of Revelation and Inspiration in his Syllabus for Bible Doctrines, Volume I, which he prepared for the Theology Department of La Sierra College, California. He was teaching there between 1940 and 19S5. The first volume is undated but our issue of Volume II bears the date 195S.We can be sure that Volume I does reflect Heppenstall's views during his period at La Sierra. For the thought that God must reveal Himself to man in order for man to know God, see page 3 of Volume I where Heppenstall handles the nature of Revelation. On the fact that God has revealed Himself "through His Son and through His chosen servants the prophets in a way that is wholly distinct from the way God speaks to us today" see Heppenstall, "Constructing a Sound Theology," The Ministry, April 1957, p.19 (the entire article pp.18-22). Note also Heppenstall's unpublished manuscript, "The Nature of Revelation," where he sides with evangelical theology by insisting that all we can know of God is by revelation. This knowledge is not the product of human searching. "Revelation is no mere human achievement. Were it not for God's revelation, God would remain a stranger to man; so would His workings in history; so would the truths and doctrines found in His Word" (page l; this manuscript available from Norval F Pease, Loma Linda University). In 1970 Heppenstall reaffirmed his view that in order for sinners to know and understand God, He must reveal Himself to man. See his articles "The Doctrine of Revelation and Inspiration, Parts I and II," The Ministry, Vol. 44, Nos. 7,8, July 1970, pp. 16-19; August 1970, pp.28-31.[back]

10 Notice these two emphases when Heppenstall writes: "Revelation is communication from God, either by the disclosure of Himself, by events in history, or by the spoken and written Word" (unpublished manuscript, "The Nature of Revelation," p. l.). During his La Sierra period (1940-1955), Heppenstall appeared to be stronger on the concept of revelation being a personal communication than in his later period. Note his comment: "The real content of revelation in the Bible is not 'something'; it is not 'creed' but God Himself" (Syllabus for 8ible Doctrines, Vol. I, p.3). In speaking about the response of faith to divine revelation this concept of a relationship to a Person rather than simply to doctrine is apparent: "This faith is not a revelation to just a set of ideas, certain dogmatic truths and doctrines; it is wholly a personal relationship; my trustful obedience to Him who has revealed Himself" (Ibid., p.5). Heppenstall usually addressed himself to problems facing the Adventist community and could it be that during the 1940's Heppenstall felt that Adventists faced the danger of regarding revelation coldly in the form of 'doctrines,' 'truths' and 'facts'? Later as Heppenstall believed that the church was facing the opposite danger of some aspects of existentialism in placing man's personal encounter above objective truth he gave another emphasis. See his article "The Doctrine of Revelation and Inspiration," The Ministry, July 1970. Here he argues for the rational and propositional aspect of Revelation: "These messages constitute the rational content of the revelation, identified with the words of Scripture" (page 17). He says that in this existential interpretation "Revelation mediates God's presence, not doctrine, not verbal rational truths" (Ibid.). He says that the formula for the new view is that God communicates Himself, not truths or doctrines about Himself. Heppenstall makes his appeal: "What is needed today is to unmask a false doctrine of revelation that by-passes the revealed Word of God given in propositional terms" (Ibid., p.18). Evidently, Heppenstall believes that the danger in the 1970's is that theologians will veer away from objective revealed truths to a reliance on a subjective experience of encounter. [back]

11 There is no question but that Heppenstall sees the Scriptures as foundational for any acceptable theology. See his article, "Constructing a Sound Theology," The Ministry, April 1957, pp.18-22. He says that man has been confronted with divine revelation in God's activity through Jesus Christ and through His Word. The true theologian first believes the Scriptures to be the Word of God. The Word of God existed prior to the church and brought the church into existence. "The books of the Bible were inspired long before the church councils made any declaration concerning them" (Ibid., p.20). In 1970 in the article, "The Doctrine of Revelation and Inspiration," The Ministry, July 1970, Heppenstall seems to favor the traditional view that revelation is "inscripturated in the Bible" (p.16) over against a modern view that emphasizes man's personal encounter with God outside of Scripture. For other references on the importance of the revelation of Scripture see Heppenstall, "Why You Need the Bible Now," The Signs of the Times, March 1970, pp.6,7; "Let the Bible be Studied," These Times, December 1975, pp.24-26.[back]

12 For Heppenstall Jesus Christ is the ultimate revelation of God. In 19S7 he wrote: "We do not worship the 8ible, but Him of whom the Scriptures bear witness - the true and living God and His Son, Jesus Christ" ("Constructing a Sound Theology," The Ministry, April 1957, p.21). At La Sierra he was saying that all "the doctrines and truths in the Bible point to nothing else than that God Himself addresses us in order that we ourselves may answer Him in faith" and then says significantly: "That is the significance of Jesus being the Word - John l:l-3" (Syllabus for Bible Doctrines, Vol. I, p.5). While he says that, "The 8ible is the Word of God, the primary authority in all spiritual matters," he stated in the same source: "Christ's coming, his incarnation, his work of atonement is the full revelation of God that actually and potentially affects every man in the world" (Heppenstall, Access to God Through Special or Natural Revelation, Loma Linda, California: Division of Religion, Loma Linda University, 1974, pp.9,11).See also "The Final Authority," These Times, June 1967, pp.4-7, where he couples Christ and His Word but appears to give ultimate authority to Christ. He writes about committing ourselves "to Christ and to the will of God as He has stated it in Holy Scripture" (Ibid., p.6), and furthermore: "Our ultimate frame of reference is still Jesus Christ" (Ibid.). No doubt Heppenstall would say that in the absence of Jesus Christ the Bible is the primary authority pointing to the ultimate authority who is Jesus Christ the image of God. [back]

13 The role of the Holy Spirit is vital in the doctrine of revelation and inspiration. Firstly, Heppenstall sees the function of the Holy Spirit with regard to inspiration in ensuring the accuracy of that which is revealed to the prophet and recorded by him (see Heppenstall, "The Nature of Revelation," p. l; see also "The Doctrine of Revelation and Inspiration," The Ministry, August 1970, p.28). Secondly, he sees the important role of the Holy Spirit in enabling us to understand revelation. (See Syllabus for Bible Doctrines, Vol. l, p.6. where Heppenstall brings revelation, reason and faith together under the blessing of the Holy Spirit.) See also "Constructing a Sound Theology," The Ministry, April 1957, p.21.[back]

14 See Heppenstall, "The Doctrine of Revelation and Inspiration," The Ministry, August 1970, pp.28-31.[back]

15 Heppenstall refers to Christ's acceptance of many of the events of the Old Testament as actual and historical. See Ibid. [back]

16 We refer the reader to Heppenstall's discussion of special and natural revelation in his work, Access to God (1974), where he shows the inadequacy of natural revelation for salvation and the vital role of special revelation through Jesus Christ and the Scriptures. [back]

17 Heppenstall takes a Christocentric stand on the question of salvation. Note his words: "God has provided reconciliation in Christ and in the gospel and nowhere else," Access to God (1974), p.8. Further: "There are not two ways of salvation. All salvation stems from Christ and His work on the cross" (Ibid.). He states clearly: "It is essential that no shadow be cast over the supreme revelation in Christ and the need for man's conscious, intelligent commitment to Christ and to His Word" (Ibid., pp.7,8).[back]

18 For Heppenstall's discussion of faith see his work, Salvation Unlimited, 1974, pp.64-96; also Syllabus for Righteousness by Faith, Seventh-day Adventist Seminary, August 1959, pp.3,4. While this element of relationship has always been important in Heppenstall's concept of faith, it appeared strong as ever during his La Sierra days when he couched his idea of faith in almost neo-Orthodox language: "But faith is more than intellectual assent. It is obedience and surrender to the divine revelation...8ut faith is not the acceptance of the statement of a reliable authority; it is the relation of trust in another person; it is a personal relation between two human beings...True faith is the work of grace which changes the sinful, independent self into a self that depends utterly upon God" (Syllabus for Bible Doctrines, Vol. l, p.5).[back]

19 Notice his words: "But belief and faith cannot be made nonintellectual. True faith is based on true knowledge (Rom. 10:17)" ("Constructing a Sound Theology," The Ministry, April 1957, p.19). Moreover: "The demand today is to build our theologies on critical scholarship. God does not put a premium on ignorance" (Ibid., p.21). He acknowledges that revelation has a rational and a propositional nature (see Heppenstall, "The Doctrine of Revelation and Inspiration," The Ministry, July 1970, p.17).[back]

20 See Heppenstall, Syllabus for Bible Doctrines, Vol. I, La Sierra, p.6. He says that we must recognize "the limitations and incompetence of human reason" in determining what is truth and that reason can only be fruitful when directed by the Holy Spirit (see "Constructing a Sound Theology," The Ministry, April 1957, p.21). Furthermore, the mind of man "partakes of that depravity under which he is now held in bondage and from which he has no escape except through special revelation" (Access to God, p.5).[back]

21 See Heppenstall, Syllabus for Bible Doctrines, Vol. I, p.6.[back]

22 See Heppenstall, "The Foundation of the Adventist Faith," The Ministry, Vol. 38, No. 8, August 1965, pp.3-6, 13. Here he states that revelation is given historically in Christ when on earth and in the Scriptures. He cautions against subjective experience without the objective authority of the Word. See also Heppenstall, "Creed, Authority and Freedom," The Ministry, April 1979, pp.13-14.[back]

23 See Heppenstall, "The Dangers of Existentialism," Part I and II, The Ministry, October 1968, pp.13,14,42; November 1968, pp.28-30. While he states that a trustworthy approach to the truth is both objective and subjective he does raise his voice in warning: "Existentialism shatters faith in objective truth, moral absolutes, and eternal principles revealed in the Holy Scriptures" (The Ministry, October 1968, p.14). He sees in existentialism a danger in rejecting the objective nature of revelation thus removing the criteria for distinguishing between truth and error (see The Ministry, November 1968, p.29).[back]

24 See Heppenstall, Syllabus for Grace and Law, Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, July 1957, p. l; see also Syllabus for Grace and Law, January 1958 and July 1961, which are both identical with the Syllabus of 1957. See also Syllabus for Bible Doctrines, Vol. l, La Sierra, pp.68-74.[back]

25 Heppenstall, Syllabus for Grace and Law, p. l. [back]

26  Ibid.,p.2. See also Doctrinal Discussions, pp.20-24.[back]

27 Heppenstall, Syllabus for Grace and Law, p.3.[back]

28 We note that Heppenstall finds this thought in Ellen White, The Signs of the Times, April 15, 1875 (see Syllabus for Grace and Law, p.2).[back]

29 Heppenstall, Syllabus for Grace and Law, p.2.[back]

30  Ibid., pp.2,3.[back]

31 See Heppenstall, "The Law in Adventist Theology and Christian Experience," Doctrinal Discussions, Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, [1962?), pp.20-24.[back]

32 Heppenstall says: "So far as the purpose of God is concerned, the Ten Commandments are perfectly adapted to fill the soul with peace and purity provided everything in man had remained as it had been created" (Our Firm Foundation, Vol. 1, Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1953, p.462).[back]

33 Notice Heppenstall's thought: "But original conditions no longer prevail. Man must continue to accept the law of God as a standard of righteousness, but he can no longer use the law as a method of becoming righteous" (Ibid., p.463).[back]

34 Heppenstall writes: "First, law is God's standard of what is right and true; it is the standard of obedience to the will of God" (Ibid., p.461).[back]

35 Note again: "On the positive side Galatians 3: 19-26 shows that the law leads us to Christ, by shutting us up to one method of salvation, faith in Christ" (Ibid., p.468).[back]

36 See Heppenstall, "Does Gospel Nullify Law?" The Signs of the Times, August 1967, pp.12-14. See also "The Law and the Gospel United for Christ's Righteousness," Our Firm Foundation, Vol. 1, pp.475-487.[back]

37 Heppenstall writes: "To see Christ in the law leads to repentance and salvation, because it leads to trust and faith" (Our Firm Foundation, Vol. 1, p.470).[back]

38 See Heppenstall's treatment of this in "The Law in Adventist Theology and Christian Experience," Doctrinal Discussions, pp.12-16.[back]

39 This is clearly Heppenstall's concept in Doctrinal Discussions pp.12-16. The article appearing in this source was first printed in The Ministry, June 1960, pp.4-11 in response to Walter R Martin's book, The Truth about Seventh-day Adventists, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1960.In 1960 Heppenstall took the position that "There is a time element involved, where one is said to be 'no longer under law'...One cannot dismiss the time factor by saying that this applies merely to one's personal experience" (Doctrinal Discussions, pp.12,13). Interestingly enough, Heppenstall seemed to take a slightly different approach in his treatment of Gal. 3:19-25 at the 1952 Bible Conference. Then he said: "Paul is not speaking of a fixed, definite point of time when faith came" (Our Firm Foundation, Vol. 1, p.473; see the whole treatment, pp. 468-474). We feel that the 1960 position as found in Doctrinal Discussions is an improvement on the 1952 explanation. [back]

40 See Heppenstall, Doctrinal Discussions, p.1S.[back]

41 In this condition the condemning power of the law over the carnal nature is apparent. See Ibid.,pp.16-18. See also Heppenstall, Our Firm Foundation, Vol. 1, p.466.[back]

42 See Heppenstall, Syllabus for Grace and Law, 1957, pp.S,6, where he discusses the problem of 'letter' versus 'spirit' as found in 2 Cor. 3.[back]

43 See Heppenstall, Our Firm Foundation, Vol. 1, p.464: "The Seventh-day Adventist position is simply this: that the law of God is unchangeable and immovable as a standard. In order to attain to that standard, law as a method must be forever rejected, and man must live by grace alone, by faith that works by love." See pp.461-474.[back]

44 ibidback]

45  Ibid., p.460.[back]>

46 See Heppenstall, Syllabus for Grace and Law, 1957, pp.2,3.[back]

47 Note Heppenstall's words in commenting on Romans 10:4: "Hence Christ is the end of the law as a method of salvation to everyone that believeth" (Our Firm Foundation, Vol. l, p.466).[back]

48 Heppenstall says that the Christian is now "in law" to Christ and not "under law" in a sense of bondage and dominion. See Doctrinal Discussions, pp.19,20.[back]

49 See Heppenstall, "Should Christians Obey the Law of God?" These Times, March 1969, pp.10-13; also "Should Christians Keep the Ten Commandments?" Part 1 and 2, The Signs of the Times, September 1962, pp.21-23; October 1962, pp.20,21; see also "Why Don't We Delight in God's Law?" These Times, September 1965, pp.24-26.[back]

50 See Heppenstall, "The Relationship of Love and Law," Doctrinal Discussions, pp.20-24.[back]

51 For Heppenstall's treatment of the two covenants, namely, the old covenant offered at Sinai and the everlasting covenant, see his Syllabus for Bible Doctrines, Vol. 1, La Sierra, pp. 80-85. This presented his pre-1952 position. [back]

52 For this new concept see Heppenstall, Our Firm Foundation, Vol. 1, pp.437-457. See also Heppenstall, Syllabus for Grace and Law, 1957, pp.6-31 for a full treatment of the idea of essentially one covenant offered by God. Heppenstall's presentation on the covenant at the 1952 Seventh-day Adventist Bible Conference was greeted with mixed reaction. In a letter from A. O. Coetzee to E. C. Webster (dated July 27, 1982), Coetzee reports on a long personal conversation with Heppenstall in July 1982. Heppenstall mentioned that R. R. Figuhr, resident of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists at the time, congratulated him on his presentation. He did not remember much opposition although he did make mention (not by name) of one Bible teacher on the West Coast of the U.S.A. who was opposed to his ideas. The writer of this dissertation recollects remarks by Edward Heppenstall in classes during Seminary days in 1957/8 that indicated a little wider opposition to his presentation than his 1982 conversation with Coetzee reveals. McMahon makes the observation that Waggoner's concepts of the unity of God's covenant "did not forcefully appear again until Dr Edward Heppenstall's work on the one everlasting covenant in the 195's" (Ellet Joseph Waggoner: The Myth and the Man, p.179). However, Heppenstall did not simply take over Waggoner's ideas. Heppenstall reported in one of his classes how he locked himself away for several weeks with his Bible and studied and wrestled out his concepts. [back]

53 See Heppenstall, Our Firm Foundation, Vol. 1, p.444.[back]

54  Ibid., p.441, 442.[back]

55  Ibid., pp. 442, 443.[back]

56  Ibid., p.445[back]

57 See Heppenstall, Our Firm Foundation, Vol. l, p.445-449.[back]

58  Ibid., pp. 449-455.[back]

59  Ibid., pp.45S-457.[back]

60 We notice this concept of the radical nature of man's sin in Heppenstall's Syllabus for Bible Doctrines, Vol. l, pp.18,19, which represented his early views during the La Sierra era from 1940-1955. He spoke of sin as relating not only to conduct but also to state. Note his view on the effects of Adam's sin: "God imputes the sin of Adam immediately to all his posterity, in virtue of that organic unity of mankind by which the whole race at the time of Adam's transgression existed, not individually, but seminally, in him as its head" (Ibid., p.18). Note also page 35 where he says that "these representations of sin as an inner principle or state of the life are much deeper than sin as a mere act." See similar sentiments in 1959 where sin is seen as corruption of the very centre of human nature and is not simply a matter of evil deeds (see Syllabus for Righteousness by Faith, Theological Seminary, 1959, p.5). See the same teaching on the radical nature of sin in Heppenstall's chapter, "Man the Problem: Who is He?" Salvation Unlimited, 1974, pp.7-25. See "Let Us Go on to Perfection," Perfection, Nashville, Tennessee: Southern Publishing Association, 1975, pp.61-88;see also his treatment of original sin in The Man Who is God, 1977, pp.107-125. See also "Creed, Authority and Freedom," The Ministry, April 1979, p.14.[back]

61 Heppenstall: "The Essential Principle of Sin is Selfishness" (Syllabus for Bible Doctrines, Vol. l, La Sierra, p.17).[back]

62  Ibid., p.18.[back]>

63  Ibid. See also Heppenstall, Salvation Unlimited, p.216; In Touch with God, p.91.[back]

64 Heppenstall says: "Original sin is not per se wrong doing, but wrong being" (The Man Who is God, p.122).[back]

65 "The children inherited the results of the parents' sin, separation from God" (Ibid., p.121). See also: "Consequently, all of Adam's descendants born thereafter have inherited the result and the consequences of Adam's sin: separation from God" (Salvation Unlimited, p.12).[back]

66 Heppenstall writes: "Every child is born with an impossible self-centeredness" (The Man Who is God, p.121).[back]

67 He speaks about sin causing a broken relationship between man and God resulting in a life apart from God. "The issue is a spiritual one and not something in a gene" (Ibid., p.122).[back]

68  Ibid., p.123.[back]

69 Note, for example, the typed document by Ralph Larson entitled, "In Sorrow, Not in Anger" (77 pages, undated, in the possession of the writer of this dissertation). Ralph Larson has recently been a Seventh-day Adventist pastor in California and at the time of writing is a theology lecturer at the Adventist Seminary in the Philippines. Larson takes special exception to at least two of Heppenstall's theses which he defines as "the impossibility of total sanctification and the existence of original sin as a state or condition into which man is born, and which is entirely separate and distinct from acts of sin [Larson's emphasis]" ("In Sorrow, Not in Anger' p.5, see Larson's whole line of argument from pp. 4-22). Quite clearly Larson is not happy with the concept of original sin being a state separate from acts of sin. [back]

70 Heppenstall, Salvation Unlimited, p.25.[back]

71 See Heppenstall's Syllabus for 8ible Doctrines, Vol. 1, La Sierra, pp.35-38 where he handles "Justification." See also Syllabus for Righteousness by Faith, 1959, pp.6-10, where he treats Justification in three aspects, namely, as forensic, as experiential and as eschatological. See also the chapter, "God 'Acquits the Guilty’" in Salvation Unlimited, pp.44-63.[back]

72 Heppenstall, Salvation Unlimited, pp.52-54.[back]

73 Heppenstall: "What is central is the worth of Christ's obedience and sacrifice. By the merits of Christ the believer's status and life are changed" (Ibid., p.57).[back]

74 Note Heppenstall's words: "In these scriptures the emphasis is on God's declaring a man just, the passing of a favorable verdict. Obviously the believer is not made righteous in the sense that he is no more a sinner" (Salvation Unlimited, pp.55,S6). Note also the declarative nature of justification in Syllabus for Bible Doctrines, Vol. l, La Sierra, pp.36,37.[back]

75 Heppenstall: "This has its ground, not in the sinner's personal character or conduct, but solely in the obedience and righteousness of Christ, to whom the sinner is united by faith" (Syllabus for Bible Doctrines, Vol. 1, p.37). See also Syllabus for Righteousness by Faith, 1959, p.6.[back]

76 Regarding restoration to favor, Heppenstall says: "besides deliverance from punishment, justification implies God's treatment of the sinner as if he were, and had been, personally righteous" (Syllabus for Bible Doctrines, Vol. 1, p.37). Also: "So justification means both to declare right and to be set right" (Salvation Unlimited, p.60).[back]

77 Heppenstall says: "But no man is ever justified who is not now being sanctified" (Salvation Unlimited, p.63). Furthermore: "Justification and sanctification belong together" (Ibid., p.145).[back]

78 Note his words: "A perfect righteousness has been provided by God in one Man, Jesus Christ. He is the God who shares Himself with men" (Salvation Unlimited, p.144). It should also be observed that Heppenstall does not believe that justification only deals with the past, leaving the sinner to struggle on by himself in sanctification. The sinner who truly believes in Christ is in a present state of security and can even face the judgment of works on the basis of justification by faith (see Syllabus for Righteousness by Faith, 1959, p.6).

79 He says: "We are continually being saved. Salvation is not something that occurs once and for all... In the Scriptures sanctification is both a completed and a continuing work....There is no finality in sanctification in this life" (Salvation Unlimited, pp.147,153,154).[back]
80 Therefore the Christian must always trust in Christ. "Never in this life will he arrive at the place where he can dispense with the counteracting power of Christ against the sinful tendency in his life" (Heppenstall, "Is Perfection Possible?" The Signs of the Times, December 1963, p.11).[back]

81 Heppenstall: "The sinful nature is not eradicated until the day of the resurrection, until 'this mortal shall have put on immortality" ("Is Perfection Possible?" The Signs of the Times, December 1963, p.11). Note also in Perfection, p.63, that Heppenstall says that the full moral and spiritual ideal in Christ will only be realized fully with the return of Christ and not before. [back]

82 Heppenstall says: "Sin does not reign, but it does remain" (Perfection, p.69) and this makes it necessary to die daily to sin and the sinful nature. See also p.80. See also Salvation Unlimited, p.161.[back]

83 Heppenstall says: "So long as we are in Christ, we can have certainty of a present salvation" (Salvation Unlimited, p.147).[back]

84 Note: "The Christian is not sinless; but he is brought into that full and efficient adequacy whereby God can use him in His service to the glory of God" (Perfection, p.69). See also Salvation Unlimited, pp.167-170.[back]

85 See his treatment of this subject in "Let us go on to Perfection," Perfection the Impossible Possibility, pp.61-88; also "Is Perfection Possible?" The Signs of the Times, December 1963, pp.10,11,30.[back]

86 He says: "Perfection is relative to man's capacity and ability, relative to his consciousness, and his knowing, relative to the state in which he was born" (Perfection, p.63).Instead of seeing perfection in terms of sinlessness, Heppenstall sees it as Christian maturity and dedication to Christ (Ibid., p.65).[back]

87 Note his words: "If Christian perfection means restoration here and now to Adam's sinless state and complete harmony with God, so that a man need no longer be classed as a sinner, then the Bible knows nothing of it" (Perfection, p.61).[back]

88 In this earthly life there is always a conflict between the flesh and the Spirit" (Heppenstall, "Is Perfection Possible?" The Signs of the Times, December 1963, p.11).[back]

89 Heppenstall: "There will never come a time when we do not need to repeat the Lord's prayer...As long as we live in this sinful world, we shall never reach a place where our moral and spiritual discernment cannot be increased" (Perfection, p.77).[back]

90 The closer we come to Christ, the more clearly we see our distance from the absolute perfection of God" (Ibid.).[back]

91 As we come closer to Christ, we sense the hidden motives and self-centered intentions that have marked so much of our religious response" (Ibid., p.81)[back]

92 On earth Jesus Christ lived in complete oneness with His Father. His sinless state and life was the expression of this absolute harmony...This points to a moral and spiritual harmony and elevation of character unknown in our human experience" (Heppenstall, Perfection, p.64).[back]

93 Heppenstall says: "To live by love means that a man is saved, not by the right creed in either the Old Testament or the New, not by the right law, but saved when his heart is right, when he has come into the love relationship with God" (Doctrinal Discussions, p.24).[back]

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