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Crosscurrents in Adventist Christology

by Claude Webster


IV. Evaluation and Critique of Heppenstall's Christology

In this section we wish to make an evaluation of Heppenstall's Christology. In order to do this effectively it will be necessary to bear in mind the interplay between the man, his method and the content of his work. It will also be important to discern the mutual influence of Heppenstall's Christology and Adventist theological thought during the latter part of the twentieth century. Therefore, we will firstly attempt a general evaluation of Heppenstall's contribution to Adventist thought on Christology. Secondly, we will discuss specific contributions in the area of the person and work of Christ. Lastly, we will suggest some problem areas in his Christology that await further thought and discussion.

A. General Evaluation of Heppenstall's Contribution to Adventist Thought on Christology

Under this general evaluation we will review Heppenstall's contribution as a teacher; we will consider his underlying desire to synthesize Adventist and mainstream Christian thought; and finally, we will evaluate his attempt to systematize Adventist thought around Christ.

l. Major contribution as a teacher

Perhaps Heppenstall's greatest contribution to Adventism has been made in the College and Seminary lecture-room as a teacher rather than as a theological writer. Occupying this arena for three decades from 1940 to 1970, he had a moulding influence upon a generation of Adventist pastors, writers and Bible teachers.234  It should be remembered that his three major books only appeared during the seventies to crown as it were his teaching career. Whereas Waggoner's main contribution from his earliest years was in the field of writing, Heppenstall's mark was made in the classroom.

Heppenstall had the mental equipment necessary to make a real contribution as a theologian in the lecture theatre. His openness to truth, his ability to ask probing questions, to challenge concepts, to stimulate thought and discussion, to engage self-confident students in dialogue and to inspire his listeners to explore new vistas of reality has been significant. In addition, a survey of his course syllabi reveals a broad and deep presentation of Biblical truths,235  bound to challenge the thinking of students. His ability to exegete the Scriptures and to use the tools of the original languages all added to his influence.236 

Aside from his method, the consistent Christian life of Heppenstall has added weight to his message. His loving concern for his students and his apparent clear commitment to Christ has influenced the credibility of his theological convictions. Moreover, the fruit of his teaching has been seen in the lives of thousands of his students who have imbibed his love for Christ. Those who have followed Heppenstall have made Jesus Christ central, have maintained the primacy of the atonement on the cross, have revealed a faith relationship with Christ and have held a view of the inadequacy of man which has kept them from the paths of perfectionism at times traversed within Adventism.

2. Synthesis of Adventist and mainstream Christian thought

To a large extent Heppenstall was in sympathy with the growing trend within Adventism emerging from the 1930's237  to clarify the issues which were open to misunderstanding by the wider Christian world. This trend reached a decisive point in 1957 with the publication of Questions on Doctrine238  in which Heppenstall himself played a part. This would be particularly so with the section on Christology. Heppenstall shared the desire to synthesize Seventh-day Adventist thought on Christology with mainstream Christian beliefs. Some might look upon this attempt with suspicion, but Heppenstall shared the basic concepts of Froom that Adventism was not some new and novel sectarian digression, but was rather a renewed emphasis of forgotten truths and that the whole movement should stand in the main stream of Reformation theology while focusing on neglected aspects of eternal truth.239  Heppenstall was indeed thinking in terms of the wider Christian tradition and, no doubt, wished to present his view of Christology in this broader spectrum while at the same time being true to those Adventist traditions which he regarded as Biblically sound.240 

3. Attempt to systematize Adventist theology around Christ

There is no doubt that Heppenstall's desire was to build his theology around Christ and to make it truly Christocentric. Whether teaching 'righteousness by faith' or a course on grace and law, or on the Sabbath, the atonement or the sanctuary, for Heppenstall all roads led to Christ. This was made clear by his method as well as by the content of his courses.241 

This is of particular importance as we have seen Heppenstall endeavoring to integrate the unique Adventist eschatological views of the judgment with Christology.242  The atoning work of Christ in connection with the cross was made foundational to Christ's further ministry in the heavenly sanctuary whether this was seen as intercession or as judgment. The historical Christ of the Incarnation, who in His life, death and resurrection made atonement for sin, was the same ascended Christ who by His heavenly ministry applied the benefits of the atonement to mankind.243  Even the Adventist concept of the special judgment phase ministry of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary was not seen by Heppenstall as a super gospel overshadowing Calvary.244  The Christ of the cross was the same Christ of the judgment and only by His merits could sinners be right before God.245  On the basis of this Christocentric view of eschatology Heppenstall interpreted the judgment of Daniel 7 and 8 ("judgment was given to the saints" Dan. 7:22) as judgment in favor and on behalf of the saints.246 In this way Heppenstall wedded Christology to the Adventist interpretation of the sanctuary message.

A further evidence of Heppenstall's attempt to systematize Adventist theology around Christ is seen by his trilogy on the Person and work of Christ. His first major work, Our High Priest, appearing in 1972, gave emphasis to the eschatological work of Christ centering in the heavenly sanctuary. His second work, Salvation Unlimited, produced in 1974, focused attention on the historical work of Christ in relation to man's salvation. The third book, The Man Who is God, coming off the press in 1977, concentrated on the historical Person of Christ.247  These three books rightfully illustrate the Christocentric nature of Heppenstall's theology and place Christ in His correct position. True Adventism has often emphasized the need to place Christ central in practice and theory and Heppenstall has ably made a concrete contribution to this ideal.

B. Specific Contributions to the Doctrine of the Person and Work of Christ

In dealing with the specific contributions of Heppenstall's Christology, we wish to evaluate his approach from the perspective of the Person of Christ, his emphasis on the historical and objective nature of Christ's Person and work, his view of the use of Christ's divinity, his concept of the sinless nature of Christ, his contrast between the perfection of Christ and man, and finally, his understanding of the uniform method of salvation.

l. His approach to Christology was from the perspective of the Person of Christ

Although in terms of sequence Heppenstall's major works first dealt with the work of Christ, it is important to note that his thinking was always from the perspective of the divine-human nature of Christ.248  For him the Person of Christ was foundational to His work. Because of who He was, great significance could be attached to what He did. We might also say that Heppenstall saw ontology with reference to Christ as the basis for His function as Saviour. Because Christ was the second Person of the Godhead and possessed deity at the centre of His being it was God who became man to accomplish salvation. For Heppenstall the conception by the Holy Spirit, the wonder of the Incarnation and the virgin birth, the manifestation of deity, the uniqueness of Christ, the sinless human nature and the resurrection, constitute the basis for the assertion that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.249 

This emphasis on the Person of Christ as the basis for His work has not always been adopted by Adventist scholars. Some who have given primary emphasis to the work of Christ over against His Person have demonstrated certain characteristic tendencies in their theology. Their thinking has been influenced by perfectionistic trends, by an undue emphasis on the example of Christ and by subjective theories of the atonement.250  Heppenstall has rather followed in the tradition of writers such as H. M. S. Richards, W. E. Read, L. E. Froom and R. A. Anderson.251  With these latter authors the clear concept of the Person of Christ has prevented the work of Christ from being viewed mainly as a stimulus and example for man.

Even though Heppenstall has emphasized the true humanity of the Person of Christ, he has maintained the distinct uniqueness of Christ and, therefore, focused attention on the once-for-all, historic work of Christ in His life, death and resurrection. For Heppenstall man may be inspired by the example of Christ but he is never saved by it.252  Because of the uniqueness of the Person of Christ He has accomplished a full salvation for sinners which can never be reduplicated.

2. His emphasis on the historical Person of Christ and the objective nature of His work

While Heppenstall definitely believed in the experiential union of the saint with Christ, his stress on the priority of the historical Person of Christ prevented him from going to extremes on the former. Likewise, his emphasis on the objective aspect of the work of Christ resulted in the subjective aspect taking its rightful place.253  The experiential and subjective work of Christ in man was rather consequential to the historical and objective nature of Christ's Person and work.

Often in Adventist theology the tendency has been to focus attention on man and his subjective response to Christ to the neglect of the objective realities of the gospel. We have seen this tendency with Waggoner when the subjective and experiential work of Christ became so dominant that even the distinction between the saint and the Saviour becomes blurred. Likewise, Christ became so identified with all flesh that even the identity between Christ and the unsaved was lost. These are some of the dangers that threaten when the historical and objective aspects of Christ lose their primacy.

The sheet-anchor of the historical and objective nature of Christ and His work helped Heppenstall to keep a clear distinction between Christ and man. This position also accentuated the once-for-all nature of the life, death and resurrection of Christ. It emphasized the objective nature of the atonement made on the cross.254  It ensured that Heppenstall did not succumb to the pitfall of emotionalism and subjectivism. Likewise, salvation by grace on the basis of the merits of Christ was safeguarded from dilution with salvation by works and man's participation. It, no doubt, also contributed to Heppenstall's aversion to perfectionism in man.

3. His view that in the Incarnation we have, not the laying aside of deity, but a different mode of that divine existence

Fundamental to Heppenstall's whole theology is the acceptance of the genuine divinity of Jesus Christ during the Incarnation. This is in contrast to the usual kenotic theories where we find that Christ has been stripped of His essential deity in order to maintain His humanity. Instead of veiling His divinity with humanity, these theories bring us closer to a laying aside of the divine attributes when Christ becomes man.

The danger is that in such theories we lose the idea of God becoming man for our salvation. Rather, we have the concept that He who was God has been changed into a man, a metamorphosis instead of an incarnation. We lose the clear concept that God is the One who is vitally concerned with man and comes to be our Substitute and Surety.

In contrast to this, while Heppenstall does hold to some form of kenosis, it is clear that he does not wish to lose any of the divine attributes of Christ in the Incarnation. Although manifested as a true man with a human consciousness, Heppenstall holds that at the center of His being is deity and for him this meant that Christ remains essentially God and does not lay aside any attribute of His divinity. It is only the use of His divine attributes that has been surrendered to the control of the Father. Heppenstall maintains that Christ's divinity has been revealed in another mode of existence, namely, as a slave. Christ has appeared in another dimension while retaining His deity. This approach has the advantage that while still holding to the essence of Christ's deity he can avoid any form of docetism. Christ reveals Himself as a real ad true man. His humanity is genuine and not phantasmal. This view is likely to be quite acceptable to modern man who finds it hard to accept the co-existence of an active deity and humanity or of the infinite and the finite in one person. Heppenstall, without stating in so many words, no doubt, believes that modern man can better grasp the concept of a single consciousness in Christ's humanity, than a mysterious combination of a divine and human mind. And Heppenstall would also say that in taking this approach he can do full justice to the genuine humanity of Christ as revealed in the Gospels. He would also, no doubt, claim that this view is more consistent, philosophically, than the involved speculation regarding the exact extent and locus of each of the two natures. And yet, maintaining that Christ is divine in essence, and has merely revealed His deity another mode, Heppenstall believes that he has held to the full deity of Christ. Whether he has fully succeeded in this will be discussed in the next main section.

4. His view on the radical nature of sin in man's fallen nature as opposed to the sinless nature of Christ

We have seen that Heppenstall viewed sin in a radical light. Sin has infected the whole nature of an and goes much deeper than merely acts of transgression. For Heppenstall all men are born into a state of sin, implying the need for salvation even prior to overt acts of transgression of the law of God. This state of sin means that all men are born separate from God as a result of Adam's sin. In this state man finds himself dominated by self-centeredness and in need of salvation from outside himself. His irresistible bias and tendency is towards evil and he needs the implanting of a new nature. While for Heppenstall all men possess a sinful human nature, he believed firmly that with respect to this deeper aspect of sin, Christ was different from man and possessed a sinless human nature.255

What have been the implications for Adventism as a result of this position taken by Heppenstall? Firstly, this has brought the concept of some form of 'original sin' under the searchlight of Adventist theological discussion. Adventist theologians and informed laymen realize that one's attitude towards 'original sin' will determine which theological road one will take and will decide on one's destination. Those Adventist theologians following Heppenstall would place greater emphasis on the primacy of justification by faith than those rejecting this concept.256 

Secondly, Heppenstall's contribution in this respect has had the effect of broadening the issue of sin. Because sin is not merely acts of transgression the nature of the law of God has been seen in far greater depths.257  Sin is not something which can be handled by even converted man in his stride. Because of man's sinful nature and the depth of sin even the obedience of the child of God requires the added merit of the righteousness of Christ to make it entirely acceptable to God.258  As a result of Heppenstall's view of man's sinful nature and his understanding that this will only be eradicated at the second advent, he would view the ongoing struggle of Romans 7 as applicable to the converted man.259 

Thirdly, Heppenstall's firm stand on the sinless human nature of Christ has for him created a clear gulf between Christ and sinful man. While Christ came in true human nature, He was unique with respect to sin. Has Heppenstall been true to the Scriptural picture of the humanity of Christ? For those who understand the Scriptures as equating Christ in all respects with man the answer would be 'no.'260  For those who see Christ's equality in all respects except sin the answer would be 'yes.'261 

Fourthly, one's position on soteriology is affected by one's stand on sin and Christ. For those who accept a similar line to Heppenstall on the radical nature of sin and the sinless nature of Christ the unique work of Christ as Substitute and Surety will be primary.262  On the other hand, those who equate Christ and man with respect to the sinful nature would lay greater stress on Christ as example.263  Great emphasis will be laid upon complete sanctification and perfection for man. What Christ did man can do by God's help. The final vindication of God does not lie in Calvary or in Christ's life, work and death, but in man's demonstration of the Christ-life.

Finally, Heppenstall's stand has laid greater stress on salvation by grace apart from the merits of sinful man. Let it be noted that while Heppenstall has spelt out his position with respect to the radical nature of sin, other Adventist theologians prior to him have taken a similar line.264  Because of his prominence, the wide dissemination of his views and the theological climate of Adventism in the latter half of the twentieth century, Heppenstall's contribution on 'original sin' and the nature of Christ has added fuel to the crackling fires of Adventist theological dialogue.265 

5. His contrast between the nature of Christ's perfection and man's perfection

It is in the light of Heppenstall's radical view of human sin and Christ's relation thereto, that his concept of perfection must be seen. Heppenstall does propound a doctrine of Christian perfection but it is influenced by his Biblical concept of maturity rather than sinlessness.

We have already noticed the two different basic approaches adopted on perfection in a discussion by four Adventist scholars.266  Heppenstall would see man's perfection as relative while Christ's perfection was absolute.267  For man perfection would always be seen as progressive and never as static.268  Christ's perfection was, for Heppenstall, one by nature, whereas man's perfection was by grace.269  Christ was inherently righteous whereas sinful man is only righteous in relationship with Christ. The moment the relationship is broken man loses his righteousness and perfection totally.

This whole emphasis has led to a number of results in Heppenstall’s theology. Firstly, one will discover that for Heppenstall, relationship is of greater importance than an emphasis on ethics. Instead of concentrating on ethics, Heppenstall would focus on the importance of a living relationship with Christ resulting in an ethical life. His view of perfection would never lead to a primary and dominant concentration on ethics. Relationship, first and foremost; ethics secondly, and consequentially.

Secondly, Heppenstall's view on perfection has tended to lead to a Christocentric emphasis rather than to an anthropocentric one. Those who look upon human perfection in terms of reaching a condition of sinless living tend to concentrate on man and his progress. On the other hand, Heppenstall's approach appears to lead one to remove the gaze from man and to focus attention on Christ. Strangely enough, it is often the Christocentric stance that in the end has an even more radical influence on man than does the anthropocentric one. Heppenstall's teaching on perfection has given Adventism a Christocentric impetus.

Finally, Heppenstall's view on human perfection has influenced Adventism to find security of salvation in God's grace and initiative rather than in man's works or even co-operation. Man's salvation is based on God's initiative in and through Christ.270  Man's response, no matter how 'perfect,' can only accept salvation but never deserve or earn it.

6. On the conditions and mode of salvation

With his presentation of the unitary nature of the one everlasting covenant of grace Heppenstall effectively lent his weight to a uniform concept of the work of Christ. While most Adventist scholars have accepted intercession and judgment as depicting Christ's two-phase heavenly ministry, some have tended to see Christ as offering a higher form of grace during the judgment phase than during the first phase.271  A few have even maintained that Christ administered sanctification prior to 1844, relative perfection after 1844 and absolute perfection during the short period between the close of probation and the second advent.272 

While Heppenstall has upheld the basic Adventist sanctuary doctrine in his work, Our High Priest, he has never succumbed to a dispensational view of Christ's work. For him the everlasting gospel is the same in all ages and the saving power of Christ has been available on the same basis during all time.273  Men have not been able to live holier lives in some particular time period because of extra grace made available from Christ.

When Ellen White uses the term 'final atonement' in referring to the judgment aspect of Christ's heavenly ministry, some have seen in this an indication that Christ is able to mediate more enabling power for holy living than during any earlier period.274  They would, therefore, look for a greater demonstration of holiness in the saints than in preceding generations.275  The motif of the 144,000 of Revelation 7 is seen as adding weight to this line of interpretation. Heppenstall, in the other hand, while accepting the special judgment concept of Christ's eschatological heavenly ministry, would not accept that this would add any grace or power not available to all saints on the basis of the cross of Calvary.276  Heppenstall's unitary concept of the covenant and of the everlasting gospel forbids him to see the work of Christ in dispensational terms.

C. Specific Problems in Heppenstall's Christology

There are two problem areas in Heppenstall's Christology which we wish to mention. One has to do with the relation of the divinity of Christ to the question of His human consciousness, and the other is in connection with Heppenstall's opposition to the term 'fallen nature' with respect to Christ.

1. The relation of the Divinity of Christ to the question of His human consciousness

We have noted Heppenstall's clear enunciation of the humanity of Christ. For him it is the human nature of Christ which has functioned during the Incarnation. This function has been revealed in a single human consciousness rather than in a double consciousness.277  Furthermore, Heppenstall sees Christ performing His miracles and mighty deeds in His humanity, through the power of the Holy Spirit, rather than through the power of His own divinity.278  Heppenstall did not want a functioning divinity in Christ to negate His genuine humanity.

While we have seen that Heppenstall strongly maintains the retention of Christ's divine attributes and only calls for the surrender of their use into the Father's hands, the insistence on a single consciousness, and that a human one, does raise a question as to the reality of Christ's divinity during the Incarnation. What evidence does Heppenstall give for the assertion that deity is at the very center of His being? If there is no divine mind or intelligence in the earthly Christ to what extent does He still possess divine attributes? Granted, it is difficult for us to understand infinite knowledge and limited understanding in one person, but is this not the very same problem in the traditional two natures-in-one-Person doctrine? Whereas Heppenstall accepts the two nature doctrine of Christ279  should he not be willing to then accept that Christ was truly fully God and truly fully man during the Incarnation? To be fully man one should at least have a human mind. Would it not be logical to suppose that to be fully God one should at least have an infinite mind?

It is one thing to say that Christ possessed all divine attributes and only surrendered their use to the Father. However, is it not a different matter to have Christ not only surrender the use of these attributes but to actually find that He does not possess any other attributes but the human ones?280  It would seem that if Heppenstall wishes to retain the concept that Christ had two natures during the Incarnation, he should be willing to give greater scope to the divine nature even if its use was surrendered into the Father's hands. Would it not even be better to see Christ only surrendering the independent use of His divinity or to have exercised His divinity on behalf of others but not for His own benefit?

It should be borne in mind that Heppenstall's clear enunciation of a single consciousness in Christ only appeared in 1977 in his work, The Man Who is God. This was long after his active teaching career in the classroom. We have also noted a change in Heppenstall's position in 1977 from his La Sierra days (1940-1955) when he indicated that when the Holy Spirit allowed Him to function in His divinity, Christ did so on the basis of His own inherent attributes.281  Furthermore, the strong Christocentric stand of Heppenstall and his insistence on a Christ without a sinful nature has so dominated his theology that the question of the consciousness of Christ in 1977 has not affected his total impact.

2. Does Heppenstall's opposition to the term 'fallen nature' with respect to Christ not clash with Seventh-day Adventist tradition?

When considering the Christology of our first representative we noticed a paradoxical element in her exposition of the human nature of Christ. She maintained that Christ did not come in the pre-fall nature of Adam but rather in human nature as affected by the fall. There are those statements indicating that Christ 'took' fallen human nature and others stating that we can be assured that Christ possessed a sinless human nature. We endeavored to find some harmony between these paradoxical pictures of Christ. When it comes to Heppenstall it appears as if he wishes to dispense with any paradox and come out boldly on the side against any 'fallen' or 'sinful' nature for Christ.

In the case of Waggoner we also noticed that he leaned heavily towards the idea of Christ coming in 'sinful' human nature. This is not always an easy concept to handle and it was, no doubt, a mishandling of Waggoner's concepts that brought Baker into trouble and evoked a letter of warning from Ellen White. We have seen that other Adventist authors such as M. L. Andreasen, R. J. Wieland, K. Wood, M. Maxwell and T. Davis, to name a few, have followed Waggoner in this concept of the 'fallen' human nature of Christ. For those who have no doctrine of 'original sin' the idea of Christ appearing in 'sinful' human nature might only mean that Christ came in a nature that was able to sin. However, for those like Heppenstall who subscribe to a more radical view of sin and accept some form of 'original sin' the idea of Christ having a sinful human nature is anathema. Whether there is a difference between stating that Christ ‘took’ man's sinful nature or that he 'possessed' a sinful nature is open to discussion.

Heppenstall only allows for a weakened physical constitution in Christ but otherwise chooses to advocate the sinless human nature of Christ. We have seen that he is clearly more comfortable with men like L. E. Froom, W. E. Read, R. A. Anderson, B. Seton, D. Ford and R. J. Spangler in regard to the human nature of Christ. The question may be asked as to whether there is not an intermediary position between the two extreme Adventist positions in this regard. Would it not be possible for both groups to move to this position where Christ could be considered to have taken fallen human nature but to clearly possess a sinless human nature without the tendencies or propensities to evil? Is there not a way of holding the two paradoxical elements together in tension and still coming out with a radical concept of sin and also a Christ who was inherently sinless in every respect? suggest that this aspect of Christ 'taking' upon Himself man's ‘fallen’ nature requires more attention in Heppenstall's Christology in the light of the total Adventist tradition.

D. Conclusion

Edward Heppenstall has made a mark on Adventist theology which will be difficult to erase, Coming onto the scene as a trained theologian with a background345 of logic and philosophy he applied these assets faithfully to his task. With his strong faith in the reliability of Biblical revelation he was preserved from wandering into attractive philosophical bypaths. Blessed with the Englishman's doggedness and determination, he was not afraid to state his case even though it meant that he might become the target of controversy.

Heppenstall has had the ability to see issues in their totality rather than in isolation.282  This is always the hallmark of a systematic theologian and many attempts have been made by Heppenstall to bring Adventist theology into a single framework. He, himself, has realized the desperate need to write a systematic theology from an Adventist perspective. Heppenstall has shown the way by setting forth his Christological views in his trilogy, but he would be the first to admit that the challenge of preparing an Adventist systematic theology still remains to entice the mental and spiritual energies and prowess of men still in their prime.

Heppenstall finds himself today at the end of his career in an unusual position. He stands very nearly in the center of Adventism. Those in the extreme right wing of traditional Adventism still view Heppenstall with some suspicion mainly because of his views on the nature of Christ and of sin and perfection. Those in the extreme left led by Ford, feel they have bypassed Heppenstall in their concepts of justification by faith and the finished work of Christ on the cross with a depreciation of the Adventist concept of an investigative judgment in 1844. Standing in the middle, Heppenstall has place to maneuver because while holding to the basic sanctuary message of Adventism, he himself believes that it needs adjustment and refinement in its presentation to ensure its sound Biblical base. Whether the final forward thrust in Adventism will come from the right or the left or the centre remains to be seen.


234 Notice the comments made in The Stature of Christ, published at Loma Linda, California, in 1970, to honor Edward Heppenstall at the time of his retirement. Vern Carner and Gary Stanhiser, compilers of the essays, stated in the preface: "His teaching of Righteousness by Faith and Covenant Theology has influenced profoundly the character and direction of Adventist theology, and has shaped and compelled men in their preaching" (Ibid., p. ix); W. G. C. Murdoch, then at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Andrews University, stated: "His academic stature, his broad vision, his tenacity of purpose, and his total commitment to the ministry of the Word in the classroom and on the platform cannot be measured" (Ibid., p. l); Norval F Pease, then of Loma Linda University, wrote: "In my opinion, his greatest contribution was his unwavering insistence on conservative evangelical theology" (Ibid., p.5); Paul C. Heubach, also then of Loma Linda University, while stating that he and Heppenstall had not always agreed on some theological and philosophical areas, said: "During a man's lifetime there are always a few men whose lives have had a profound influence on him. For me you have been one who stands high on the list" (Ibid., p.10) [back].

235 See for example, Heppenstall, Syllabus for the Epistles of Paul, La Sierra College, Arlington, California: August 1946, (A syllabus showing careful and thorough work); Syllabus for Bible Doctrines, Vol. 11, La Sierra College 1955, (revealing a broad grasp of truth); Syllabus for Doctrine of the Sanctuary, Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, January 1958. [back]

236 Study, for example, Heppenstall's Syllabus for Grace and Law, Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, July 1957, for his ability to exegete the Scriptures. For his ability to use the Greek of the New Testament in his courses see Syllabus for the Epistles of Paul, La Sierra, 1946 (this usage appears so frequently that it is not necessary to indicate pages or examples). [back]

237 Froom delineates this development in his work Movement of Destiny. He commences with the adoption of a statement of "Fundamental Beliefs" which first appeared in the Yearbook in 1931 and later was incorporated in the Church Manual in 1933. In 1941 a uniform "Baptismal Covenant" and "Vow" based on the "Fundamental Beliefs" was adopted. In 1944 the revision of Uriah Smith's Daniel and Revelation was undertaken. In 1949 a note in Bible Readings for the Home Circle stating that Christ "partook of our sinful, fallen nature" (p.174), first written by W. A. Colcord in 1914, was eliminated from the book. There definitely was a desire during these years to change the image of Adventism before the world at large. Note should also be taken of the appearance of major apologetic works by Francis D. Nichol such as The Midnight Cry (1944), Ellen G. White and her Critics (1951) and Answers to Objections (1952 revised and enlarged) Froom rehearses the events leading up to the preparation of the important work Questions on Doctrine (1957). Froom's own work in the production of The Prophetic Faith of our Fathers (four volumes, 1946-54), and The Conditionalist Faith of our Fathers (two volumes, 1965-6) was further evidence of this trend. See L. E. Froom, Movement of Destiny, pp. 409-492 [back]

238 We remind readers of events surrounding a series of eighteen conferences held between Seventh-day Adventist and Evangelical representatives during 1955 and 1956 in the U.S.A., resulting in the production of Seventh-day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine (1957). For the full details see L E Froom, Movement of Destiny, pp. 476-492; also footnotes 69 and 104 in Chapter one. [back]

239 We mean by this that Adventism stands on the foundation of the best in the Protestant Reformation, such as, the authority of the Word, the primacy of justification by faith, the centrality of Jesus Christ and the sovereignty of the grace of God. The neglected aspects of truth were, for example, the Law of God as a standard, the seventh-day Sabbath, the prophetic books of Daniel and Revelation, the three angels' message of Rev. 14:6-12 and the imminence of Christ's second advent. [back]

240 Some traditions might not have proved to be too sound. In his work, Movement of Destiny, Froom discusses the history of what he calls "variant views" within Adventism. These refer particularly to aspects of doctrine in connection with the nature of Christ and the doctrine of the atonement. Note especially, Froom, Movement of Destiny, pp. 148-187. [back]

241 This This is possibly Heppenstall's greatest contribution to Adventist theology. Christ permeates all his thinking and his subjects. Note, for example, in Syllabus for Bible Doctrines, Vol. 11, 1955, when he deals with the earthly sanctuary and the law. Note, the very titles of some chapters: "Christ in the Earthly Sanctuary"; "Christ in the Ceremonial Law and Jewish Ritual" (pp.4-13). See the entire Salvation Unlimited (1974) [back].

242 Heppenstall does not see a tension between the Christ of the New Testament who offered present salvation, gave His life as an atoning sacrifice on Calvary, and the doctrine of the Pre-Advent Judgment in the heavenly sanctuary prior to the Second Advent. He has the judgment linked to the cross, the merits of Jesus Christ and the Person of Christ in such a way that any tension is removed. See, for example, "The Pre-Advent Judgment," Our High Priest, pp.107-129. [back]

243 Heppenstall says: "Revelation is fundamentally historical in the Person and nature of Jesus Christ" (The Man Who is God, p.8). Furthermore: "The key event is the incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ" (Ibid.). For Heppenstall there is no break in this Christ and the Christ he reveals in Our High Priest. [back]

244 See the chapter, "The Hour of God's Judgment," in Our High Priest, pp.187-217, and it will become clear that Heppenstall does not teach that there is a basic change in the "everlasting gospel" during the judgment phase of Christ's ministry. [back]

245 In Heppenstall's teaching sanctification, while in one sense complete in Christ, is in another sense never final and complete. There is the need for the merit of Jesus Christ to be added to the Christian who wishes to stand in the judgment. (See Salvation Unlimited, pp.144-174). Also because of Heppenstall's view of the radical nature of sin and of man's relative perfection in the light of Christ's absolute perfection, there will always be the need for the merit of Christ to be the sole righteousness of the saint (see Perfection, pp. 61-88). [back]

246 See footnote 227. At times Adventism has given the impression that the 'investigative judgment' is particularly against the saints, in that the rigorous examination of character would be such that only those who have reached 'perfection' as weighed against the law would pass the test. See P. Gerard Damsteegt, Foundations of the Seventh-day Adventist Message and Mission, Grand Rapids, Michigan: W. B. Eerdmans,1977, pp.165-176; see also Stephen N. Haskell, The Cross and its Shadow, South Lancaster, Massachusetts: The Bible Training School, 1914, pp. 220-238. Even Ellen White's chapter, "The Investigative Judgment," The Great Controversy, pp.479-491, can be read in this light. However, when balanced against her complete writings, the picture of Christ's righteousness and merits added to the saint even in the judgment emerges. See Testimonies to the Church, Vol. 5, pp.467-476. [back]

247 It is interesting to note the order in which he dealt with these Christological themes. The usual approach is to start with the Person of Christ, proceed to His reconciling work on the cross, and then finally, to add almost a postscript on His heavenly ministry. Heppenstall proceeds from Christ's heavenly ministry, via His historical work, and concludes with the nature of Christ. Furthermore, this should also be seen as an attempt to deal with eschatology as a whole from the perspective of Christ first, then to proceed to soteriology again viewed Christocentrically, and finally dealing specifically with Christology. The motive for this approach is not wholly clear but contextual factors, no doubt, played a major role. [back]

248 See, for example, in his early days at La Sierra, where he begins with the solid foundation of Christ's Person as eternal and as possessing full deity. This can be seen in Syllabus for Bible Doctrines, Vol. 1, pp. 19-21; 25-28, where he deals with the eternity and deity of Christ and with the Incarnation. It is the Person of Christ who also forms the basis and back-ground for God's righteousness in Heppenstall's course on 'righteousness by faith.' See Syllabus for Righteousness by Faith, Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, August 1959 [back].

249 See Heppenstall, The Man Who is God, p.129; 173-188. [back]

250 As an illustration of perfectionistic trends and undue emphasis on the example of Jesus see Thomas A. Davis, Was Jesus Really Like Us? Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1979. For a similar trend see Robert J. Wieland, "Sinless Living: Possible or Not?" The 1888 Message: An Introduction, pp. 92-118. [back]

251 For H. M. S. Richards note sample sermons from the thousands he has broadcast over the years: "Our Divine Saviour," February 11, 1945; "The Great I AM," September 2, 1945; "The Virgin Birth," July 1, 1951; "The Divinity of Christ," July 6, 1952; "The Deity of Christ," January 23, 1955; "The Lord our Righteousness," July 12, 1964. Each year's sermons are bound and are available at the Voice of Prophecy, California. In connection with L. E. Froom, see "Deity and Atonement Attain Destined Place," Movement of Destiny, pp.493-517. W E Read produced a considerable amount of material on the deity of Christ. As a sampling see "Christ the "Logos" - The Word of God," The Ministry, August 1958. "Christ Our Lord," Parts l,2,3,4,5, The Ministry, August, September, October, November, December, 1963. As an illustration of R. A. Anderson's thought, see Faith that Conquers Fear, Nashville, Tennessee: Southern Publishing Association, 1967, pp. 19-27, 59-75. [back]

252 Heppenstall writes: "There is no salvation in the life example of Jesus, the Carpenter of Nazareth, if that is all there is" (The Man Who is God, p.37). Redemption rather lies in the righteousness of Christ "and His sacrificial death, appropriated and received by faith" (Salvation Unlimited, p.238). [back]

253 0n the importance of the historical Person of Jesus Christ and the objective nature of Christ's life, death and resurrection, see: Heppenstall, "Christ in Human History," The Man Who is God, pp. 7-19; "Led by the Spirit," Salvation Unlimited, pp. 175-209. [back]

254 See the very important article by Heppenstall entitled, "Subjective and Objective Aspects of the Atonement," in The Sanctuary and the Atonement, pp. 667-693. While stating that the atonement is both subjective and objective, he argues for the priority and importance of a correct, Biblical understanding and appreciation of the objective nature of the atonement. [back]

255 See Heppenstall, "Christ and Sin," and "The Sinlessness of Christ," in The Man Who is God, pp.107- 150; "Let Us Go on to Perfection," Perfection, pp. 61-88. [back]

256 As examples of Adventist theologians who see the primacy of justification by faith see Raoul Dederen, "What Does God's Grace Do?" The Ministry, March 1978, pp.5-7; see also Hans K. LaRondelle, Syllabus for Righteousness by Faith, Theological Seminary, Andrews University, 1973. [back]

257 See Heppenstall, Syllabus for Bible Doctrines, Vol. l, pp.68-77; Syllabus for Grace and Law, July 1957, pp.1-6; "The Law in Christian Doctrine and Experience," Our Firm Foundation, Vol. l, pp.458-492; "The Law in Adventist Theology and Christian Experience," Doctrinal Discussions, pp.11-26. [back]

258 Heppenstall writes: "Even the best Christians reveal their limitations by their increased need of the appropriation of divine redemption and Christ's righteousness" (Perfection, p.79); "Saving grace summons us to confess our sinful state until we see Christ face to face" (Ibid., p.82). [back]

259 This would be reflected in Heppenstall's article, "Is Perfection Possible?" The Signs of the Times, December 1963, pp.10, 11, 30. Here he states that in this earthly life "there is always a conflict between the flesh and the Spirit" (Ibid., p.11); also the "sinful nature is not eradicated until the day of the resurrection" (v.); even the "Christian knows that there still remains in him a fountain of evil, a depraved nature" (v., p.30). See also "Relative Perfection," Perfection, pp.76-81. [back]

260 For example, Robert J. Wieland would say 'no.' See his chapter "Christ Tempted as We Are," in The 1888 Message: An Introduction, pp.41-51, where he identifies himself with E. J. Waggoner who said the flesh of Christ had "the same evil tendencies to contend with that ours does" (General Conference Bulletin, 1901, p.403), quoted in The 1888 Message, p.43. [back]

261 As an illustration of those who would say 'yes,' consult Bernard Seton, "Nature of Christ," on Aspire Tape-of-the-month, February 1978. Obtainable from the General Conference Ministerial Association, Washington, D.C. [back]

262 This would be the primary emphasis of a man like Desmond Ford. Illustrative of his thought see: “The Relationship Between the Incarnation and Righteousness by Faith” in Documents from the Palmdale Conference on Righteousness by Faith, 1976, pp.25-41. [back]

263 See again Thomas A. Davis, Was Jesus Really Like Us? [back]

264 See, for example, W. H. Branson, The Way to Christ, Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1948: "Through sin, man's nature has been so debased that he does not have the resisting power to ward off its repeated attacks" (p.25). Francis D. Nichol rejects the idea that man "is inherently good or at least that he has infinite potentialities of goodness" (Reasons for our Faith, Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1947, p.178). [back]

265 Reference could be made to the Brinsmead sanctuary awakening message of the 195's and 1960's. This message with its emphasis on the sinful nature of Christ, the distinction between sanctification and perfection in the saints and the eradication of the sinful nature from the saints in the 'judgment of the living,' found numerous responsive hearts within the fold of Adventism. Because of its divisive nature and some theological dangers, the church opposed the movement and looked to men like Heppenstall in America and Desmond Ford in Australia to meet the threat theologically. Both men were equipped to meet the challenge, largely because of their view on the sinlessness of the human nature of Christ, the radical nature of human sin with a concept of original sin, their anti-perfectionistic stance and belief that the sinful nature of man would only be eradicated at the second advent. Once this aspect of the 8rinsmead agitation had subsided, the Review and Herald during the 1970's changed gears to support some of the earlier emphases of the Brinsmead message. Heppenstall now found himself uncomfortable with the Review and Herald's leaning towards the sinful human nature of Christ, the absence of original sin in fallen man and the emphasis on total sanctification and perfection. We have already referred to Ralph Larson's opposition to Heppenstall's views as reflected in his typed document, "In Sorrow, Not in Anger" (see footnote 69). During the 1970's and the beginning of the 1980's Heppenstall still found himself in the whirlpool of theological discussion within Adventism. The controversies involved 'righteousness by faith' and the sanctuary doctrine. In the vanguard of the discussions has been Desmond Ford, Heppenstall's former ally and student. While in basic agreement with Ford on the nature of Christ and the radical nature of sin, Heppenstall was not happy with Ford's apparent separation of sanctification from the gospel, nor with his interpretation of Biblical prophecy or his treatment of the sanctuary and the judgment. At Glacier View, August 11-14, 1980, called to consider Ford's position on the sanctuary, Heppenstall made an effort to appeal to Ford to soften his position. Reluctantly, Heppenstall was eventually forced to oppose Ford on a number of his major premises. [back]

266 In the work Perfection, the Impossible Possibility, Heppenstall and LaRondelle have taken what they consider to be the Biblical view of perfection as signifying maturity and a living relationship with Christ. Influencing both men would be their view on 'original sin.' On the other hand, Douglass and Maxwell, being against the concept of 'original sin,' see human perfection in terms of man reaching a condition of living without sin. See footnote 218 in Chapter two. [back]

267 See Heppenstall's whole treatment, "Let us go on to Perfection," Perfection, the Impossible Possibility, pp.61-88. [back]

268 Notice Heppenstall's thought: "The perfecting and maturing process continues as long as life itself" (Perfection, p.67); "But there is no finality in perfection in this life" (Ibid.); "If we could arrive at sinless perfection in this life, the groanings that come from the depths of our hearts would cease" (Ibid., p.71); note also: "In the Scriptures sanctification is both a completed and a continuing work" (Salvation Unlimited, p.153). [back]

269 Regarding Jesus Christ, Heppenstall can say: "Absolute perfection is that all-inclusive, all-comprehending finality of righteousness which we see in Jesus Christ" (Perfection, p.76); "Christ does not have a sinful nature like our own" (The Man Who is God, p.137; see the entire chapter, pp.129-150). On the other hand, as far as man is concerned, his perfection is by grace: "The Christian with a 'perfect heart' lives in a state of grace even unto the coming of our Lord," and "We are perfect to the degree that we live in Him and never in ourselves" (Heppenstall, Perfection, p.83). And, of course, Heppenstall says of grace: "Grace is the eternal and free favor of God, manifested toward the weak, the guilty, and the unworthy" (Ibid., p.81). [back]

270 God takes the initiative in Jesus Christ. Heppenstall comments: "God's invasion into our world on a rescue mission occurred in the Person of God's Son, Jesus Christ" (Salvation Unlimited, p.21); "Man is blind to his lost condition unless he is enlightened by God and by His Word" (Ibid., p.25). See the entire chapter, "Saving Righteousness Revealed," Salvation Unlimited, pp.26-43. [back]

271 Robert J. Wieland sees this as a special work of grace. In this second phase of Christ's ministry since 1844, "Christ is to accomplish a work unique in human history, since sin began" (The 1888 Message, p.93). Speaking of overcoming all sin, he speaks of Christ's ministry in the most holy apartment achieving such results. [back]

272 See the earlier presentation of Robert Brinsmead in his God's Eternal Purpose, Conway, Missouri: Ministry of Healing Health Centers, 1959, where he propounds this view. This dispensational idea of the bestowal of grace upon the believer does influence the thinking of some within the Adventist community. [back]

273 3Heppenstall sees the work of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary since 1844 as involving the "vindication of God, His government and His character" (Our High Priest, p.98), rather than dispensing special grace to the Christian not available at other times. [back]

274 This would be the basic position of C Mervyn Maxwell, chairman of the Department of Church History at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Andrews University. See his "Ready for His Appearing," Perfection, pp.141-200. [back]

275 This is the thrust of 1888 Re-examined, Baker, Oregon: The Adventist Forum Association. Here authors Robert J. Wieland and Donald K. Short state: "The primary end and purpose of the Advent movement in world history was the attainment by a remnant church to a perfect character which would completely vindicate the sacrifice at Calvary. No other community of 'saints' in all history had attained to such a maturity of experience" (pp.9,10). The authors state that this community would "overcome all the mistakes of all previous generations of the professed people of God" (Ibid.). [back]

276 The whole thrust of Heppenstall's chapter "Christ Our High Priest," in Our High Priest, pp.33-76 is that through Christ's one sacrifice on the cross, grace and power and all the benefits of the atonement are made available to men during the entire period of Christ's heavenly ministry whether the focus be on intercession or judgment. [back]

277 See Heppenstall, "The Center of Christ's Consciousness," The Man Who is God, pp.84-106. [back]

278  Ibid., p.96. [back]

279 See Heppenstall, The Man Who is God, pp.22, 84. [back]

280 This is evidently how the author of the cover jacket of Heppenstall's book, The Man Who is God, understood him, for he writes how Heppenstall shares with his readers "insights into the place of Christ in human history, the wonder of the Incarnation, the mystery of Jesus laying aside many of the attributes of deity to become a man." While Heppenstall denies that Christ laid aside any of His divine attributes, has his concept of the single consciousness of Christ not virtually indicated that Christ has laid aside some divine attributes? [back]

281 See footnote132 in this chapter. [back]

282 This is true whether Heppenstall approaches the concepts of the law and the covenant, or the whole question of salvation as seen in his Salvation Unlimited or the total truth of the atonement at the cross and administered from the heavenly sanctuary (Our High Priest). [back]

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