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


Forewarned Was Forearmed

In those years of crisis there was one point of danger that I think none of the brethren had foreseen. I do not recall a suggestion of it round our new General Conference headquarters in Washington. Then came from California messages by the Spirit of prophecy saying that effort would be made by some not in sympathy with the General Conference to get control of our old Battle Creek Tabernacle.

In documents passed to us in those times was the following message to a veteran of the publishing work from the days of the first printing office, in Rochester, New York, to the later times of the old Review and Herald Office—our aged Brother G. W. Amadon. For some years he had been senior elder in the Battle Creek church, giving his time to church work. The message read:

"I wish to say to you and to the leading men in the church, and to the trustees of the Tabernacle, that light has been given to me very distinctly that Elder (A.T.J.) has taken a position that divorces him from the privileges of the use of the Tabernacle. He does not know what spirit is leading him. Efforts are being made to get possession of the Tabernacle. Brethren, be on guard. Keep burnished for action the weapon of your warfare, which is the Word of God. Pray, believe, and walk humbly with God; and let your prayers be without ceasing, that God shall be glorified. Make a most earnest effort to call to Battle Creek the very best ministerial talent, men of experience in the early days of the message, men who will give the trumpet a certain sound. Hold the fort. Do not let it be taken by those who have placed themselves decidedly in a position of opposition to the truth which God has given us for these last days.

"Our call is, Come out from among them, and be ye separate; and the Tabernacle should be set apart decidedly to those who are true and loyal.

"Those who have denied the faith, and who should tear down that which in past years they have labored to build up, should understand that they have no let nor part in the faith that has firmly held the people of God in unity. You do not know how earnestly they will work to get possession of the Tabernacle. But this must not be permitted. In no case should a decidedly opposing element be permitted to hold forth in the Tabernacle."

It was certainly a sounding of the trumpet, calling the brethren of the old Tabernacle to be on guard. And, sure enough, the time came quickly when they 


needed to be on guard. In those days Elder M. N. Campbell was called to the pastorate in this, our largest church. He saw the danger come, of which the brethren had been forewarned. I heard him tell the story briefly at a union conference session. It was this, as told in his own words:

In the year 1907 a strong feeling prevailed in the Battle Creek church that a certain group of men representing an institution which at that time was at outs with the movement, was trying to get a controlling voice in the Tabernacle affairs. On various occasion they had made it quite clear that they would be glad to see the property so held as to enable the representatives of the institution to use it whenever they saw fit.

"I was pastor of the church at that time and felt that steps should be taken to safeguard the property. A legal meeting had been appointed for a certain evening to re-incorporate the legal body which held the church property. It appears that in Michigan corporations can continue for only thirty years. The corporation which held the Tabernacle property had lapsed, and it was necessary to re-incorporate. At this meeting the representatives referred to were there in full force. They were accompanied by an attorney who had been a judge as well as a lawyer.

"Just before the meeting I had called the church elders together for counsel. A feeling of depression had taken possession of their hearts when they learned the strength of the forces we would have to meet in the meeting about to follow. They felt that our case was hopeless. One dear old brother kept groaning: 'O, if only Sister White were here!' It was our veteran Brother Amadon, who had seen Mrs. White bearing testimony in the early days, leading through crises of opposition. I endeavored to awaken faith and confidence in the hearts of the brethren. I knew that if we went into the legal meeting with our men in a discouraged state to begin with, it would be practically impossible to bring anything to pass. I was praying very earnestly for the Lord to bring courage and deliverance to us in some fashion.

"About five minutes before we were to walk into the larger meeting, a telegram came from Mrs. White in which were the words: "Philippians one, twenty-seven, twenty-eight." We opened our Bibles and found these verses reading as follows:

"'Only let you conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; and in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation and that of God.'

"As these words were read the brethren realized that the Lord was present, and that He would work in our behalf. Courage and confidence came. And we walked into that legal meeting with victory in our hearts. In spite of the opposition that was met with, a complete victory was won. The tabernacle administration was re-incorporated and the property deeded over to the West Michigan Conference to make sure it was for ever to be under the control of the denominational organization that had built it, for the preaching of the advent message."

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