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How the Spirit of Prophecy Met a Crisis:
Memories and Notes of the "Living Temple" Controversy
by W. A. Spicer


Counsels of Safety

The message, "Decided Action to be Taken Now" came to the Washington Autumn Council of 1903. One of our veteran ministers and teachers was present. (A. T. J.) He had planned to spend sometime at our oldest health institution to give the large family of workers there help that he felt he could give. He had been in cooperative sympathy with the promoters of the new teaching, but did not realize that this meant any change in his relation to the Advent Message. When the message of the Spirit of prophecy, "Decided Action to be Taken Now," was read in the M-Street church that day in Washington, he spoke a few words of acceptance of the instruction.

His plans however were to go on to the old center as he had arranged. But later messages from Mrs. White urged that he should not do this, that he and others should keep away from contact with this propaganda that was at work. I recall how strong he felt, how well able he appeared to take care of himself. He said to us in effect"

"I am going to the sanitarium, and I am going to preach the third angel's message to the workers there just as I have always preached it."

So he went. But so far as the third angel's message was concerned he surely lost touch with it, measured by standards that represented its place in building up this movement, form the days of 1844. It was not long before his influence was merged with the work of those who had forsaken the old paths. Under date of August 1, the next year (1904) Mrs. White had a message for a little group, including our former strong teacher, telling what her Instructor had said concerning their danger:

"To Brother A.T.J. He said, 'Why have you permitted your mind to be worked as it had been? I warned you not to permit this.'"

To another of the group it had been said that a hypnotic influence was upon him, and he was exhorted, for Christ's sake, to break the spell. The teaching 


that was abroad was of a spiritualistic nature. It was a supreme effort of the great deceiver to get into the movement. No man's strength is sufficient to stand against spiritualistic philosophy if he puts himself in friendly contact with it. His only safety is in the attitude of constant mental and spiritual opposition to it. "Men in positions of responsibility, " we were told at that time, "are in danger of changing leaders." (Series B No. 2, p. 48.) There was a hypnotic power in the teaching, as some of us knew, and it was not to be curiously looked at or studied to see what it was composed of. It is like a "live" wire. The very power of death is in it. The atmosphere of its promotion was deadly, and only by open hostility to it in the name of the Lord, could one safely have anything to do with it. In a message of 1904, entitled, "the Great Controversy," we were told:

"Those who feel so very peaceable in regard to the works of the men who are spoiling the faith of the people of God, are guided by a delusive sentiment.

"There is to be a constant conflict between good and evil.... If this matter were rightly understood and closely guarded, God's servants would feel a continual burden of responsibility to counterwork the efforts of the men who do not know what they are about, because they are enchanted by the delusive allurements of Satan." Series B No. 2 p. 11.

The formerly strong leader thought he could go safely with these influences. "I am going there, " he told us; "and I am going to preach the third angel's message just as I have always preached it." But it was not long until, without knowing it , he was opposing things that in all our history had built up this movement. He had early persuaded one of our younger ministers, (C. L. Taylor) a very kind and conscientious man, to come and help the spiritual interests in the great institution. This brother knew little of what had been going on. His six months' effort, and his statement as he tendered his resignation, show how truly the Spirit of prophecy counseled in representing the impossibility of serving the cause of truth in cooperative association with a propaganda of error and opposition to the denominational organization. In his parting letter of May 31, 1906, a copy of which he sent me, this younger minister said to the management of the institution:


"In my letter to Elder (A.T.J.), stating the conditions under which I could come, I announced that I would not come to take part in any partisan effort....In coming to Battle Creek and joining in the work here, I did not believe it necessary, much less plan, to be any less Seventh-day Adventist in my views and methods and practices."

He tells how Elder (J) had assured him the plan was to ignore controversy, and seek to place the work on such a basis that our people would have to acknowledge it as the work of God and give it cooperation as aforetime. But, he said, all were "painfully conscious" that it did not work out. He felt to acknowledge that he himself was drawn into attitudes that did not "encourage respect for the Spirit of prophecy." The College there had been reopened, and the Spirit of prophecy had counseled that the environments were such that the old headquarters was not the place for our young people to get their education for this cause. Our brother says he had planned to take up revival work for the young people from the first. But he was asked to promote the school matter first. He wrote about it:

"But from the day that I undertook the circulation of the schools calendar my influence with the young people was canceled. (Most of the workers were Adventists, and they evidently expected to see their ministerial leaders stand for the Adventist faith.) I did not know the real status of the family, or I should certainly have utterly refused to take any part in pushing the school work; and you did not know the conditions, else you would never have allowed me to do what you asked. From inquiries made, I gathered that the helpers, in spirit and in practice, were in sympathy with the management; but such was not the case.... They were looking to see whether I would at once begin to help improve existing conditions or whether I would join in what appeared to them as a work contrary to the Spirit of prophecy. Looking back upon those days I wonder that the young people were as patient with some of us as they were....

"I wanted at the very first to have a study of the Testimonies; but I found no one else having a burden in that direction, and my efforts proved fruitless. But suppose at the beginning we had all done that very thing—had studied the instruction, had seen clearly our need of divine help, and had made suitable acknowledgment of our sins, and together had mutually and determinedly kept at the work; would we not have seen different results? And should we wonder that the helpers, so many of them, after waiting in vain for that very thing, left for other parts?"

The brother had had no contact with the situation that enabled him to understand that it was impossible to bring about spiritual conditions while keeping in harmonious touch with elements promoting positive error. The 


helpers evidently knew the issue better than their teachers. Many of them passed on. Others remained but took a positive stand against error and held firmly to the church of their faith.

Our brother who was drawn in to help, saw how impossible was his position, and the story of his six months' effort and withdrawal shows how truly the Spirit of prophecy had spoken in warning the older worker that he could not safely undertake his purpose. As it was, ere long our former veteran brother was an open critic of the denominational organization and a scornful critic even of the gift that had formerly held his loyalty. There is no way of neutrality or of keeping peace with both sides, When the issue of truth and error comes to the dividing point. In those days the Spirit of prophecy said:

"When God's people are fully awake to the danger of the hour, and work fully on Christ's side, there will be seen a sharp contrast between their course and that of those who are saying, ' Good Lord and good devil,' and we shall see much firmer and more decided work done to counterwork the schemes of Satanic agencies."—Series B, No. 2, p. 11, 1904.

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