Section VIII: Miscellaneous Questions Involving Church-Sate and Other Relationships
The Bible In The Public Schools
(Portion of a letter to A. T. Jones)
Napier, New Zealand
April 9, 1893
Elder A. T. Jones
“There is a subject which greatly troubles my mind; while I do not see the justice nor right in enforcing by law the bringing of the Bible to be read in the public schools: yet there are some things which burden my mind in regard to our people making prominent their ideas on this point. These things I am sure will place us in a wrong light before the world. Cautions were given me on this point.
“There were some things shown me in reference to the words of Christ, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21),—placing the matter where the church has no right to enforce anything of a religious character upon the world. Yet in connection with this were given words of caution. If such a law were to go into effect the Lord would overrule it for good, that an argument should be placed in the hands of those who keep the Sabbath, in their favor, to stand on the Bible foundation in reference to the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. And the book which the state and Christian world have forced upon the notice of the people to be read in the schools, Shall it not speak, and shall not the words be interpreted just as they read?
“My brother, this objecting to the passing of a law to bring the Bible into the schools will work against us, those of our faith who are making so much of the Bible. A year ago there was something presented before me in reference to these things, and we shall have to use the Bible for our evidence to show the foundation of our faith. We should be exceedingly cautious in every particular lest we shut out a single ray of light from those who are in darkness. I remember particularly this point, that anything that should give the knowledge of God, and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent, should not be obstructed at all. Some things I can not present in distinct lines, but enough is clear to me that I want you to be very careful on what ground you tread, for our enemies will make a decided argument against us if we shall give them a semblance of a chance.
“I think the law-making powers will carry their point in this particular, if not now, a short period ahead. And it is very essential that as a people, we take the greatest care that no provocation be given our enemies which they will make capital of against us as a people, in a future crisis, in the matter of opposing so good a work as the introduction of the Bible into the public schools.
I wish I could lay my hand on something I wrote on this subject at the last General Conference that I attended. But I can not bring it to light. I hope the Lord will help us to not make one wrong move; but please be cautious in this point.”—Ellen G. White Letter 44, 1893.
A. T. Jones’ Response To Testimony Contributes To The Background
August 14, 1893
“Dear Sister White:
“Your communication—the Testimony—sent in April was received. I am glad to say, I accept it fully, and am thankful that the Lord is so careful of me that He points out dangers, and warns and cautions, to keep me in the right way. . . . I accept fully all that was sent, and am thankful to God for His tender care, and caution to keep me and others from going in a course of disadvantage and danger. I have given copies to Brother Colcord and others of the brethren who are teaching in Institutes, workers meetings, and camp meetings, so that it will be spread through all the body and put us all upon the safe side.
“I well remember the statement read in the General Conference of 1891, on this subject of the Bible and the Public Schools, and ever since have made it a point to say as little as possible on that subject. I think the Sentinel has never touched it since, though it may have done so. But the position had been taken, the literature was out, and of course the influence went on in that direction.
“This Testimony now makes the matter very much plainer and shows how to turn the influence the other way. So that is what we are doing now. I sent out copies of it at once when I got it, and its word is being followed. The printing of literature will be stopped and everything will be done to turn all into the course pointed out by the Lord. Am glad to follow in the way He so kindly points out.” A. T. Jones
“The Teaching Of Religion In The Public Schools”
“Evangelists should be finding their way into all the places where the minds of men are agitated over the question of Sunday legislation and of the teaching of religion in the public schools. It is the neglect of Seventh-day Adventists to improve these providential opportunities to present the truth that burdens my heart and keeps me awake night after night.”—Review and Herald, April 20, 1905. Reprinted in Evangelism, pp. 394-395.
“In our own country there is much to be done. There are many cities to be entered and warned. Evangelists should be finding their way into all the places where the minds of men are agitated over the question of Sunday legislation and the teaching of religion in the public schools. It is the neglect of Seventh-day Adventists to improve these providential opportunities that is hindering the advancement of the cause.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 51.
School Attendance On Sabbath A Violation Of God’s Law
(Written in Europe in 1885)
“Some of our people have sent their children to school on the Sabbath. They were not compelled to do this, but the school authorities objected to receiving the children unless they should attend six days. In some of these schools, pupils are not only instructed in the usual branches of study, but are taught to do various kinds of work; and here the children of professed commandment keepers have been sent upon the Sabbath. Some parents have tried to justify their course by quoting the words of Christ, that it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath day. But the same reasoning would prove that men may labor on the Sabbath because they must earn bread for their children; and there is no limit, no boundary line, to show what should and what should not be done.
“Had these dear brethren possessed greater spirituality, had they realized the binding claim of God’s law as every one of us should, they would have known their duty, and would not have been walking in darkness. It was very hard for them to see how they could take any other course. But God does not consult our convenience in regard to His commandments. He expects us to obey them, and to teach them to our children. We have before us the example of Abraham, the father of the faithful. The God of heaven says, ‘I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord.’ Genesis 18:19. And this was why such great blessings were pronounced upon him and his posterity.
“Our brethren cannot expect the approval of God while they place their children where it is impossible for them to obey the fourth commandment. They should endeavor to make some arrangement with the authorities whereby the children shall be excused from attendance at school upon the seventh day. If this fails, then their duty is plain, to obey God’s requirements at whatever cost.
“In some places in Central Europe, persons have been fined and imprisoned for not sending their children to school on the Sabbath. In one place, after a brother had plainly stated his faith, an officer of justice came to his door, and compelled the children to go to school. The parents gave them a Bible instead of their usual textbooks, and their time was spent in studying it. But wherever it can be done, our people should establish schools of their own. Where they cannot do this, they should as soon as possible remove to some place where they can be free to keep the commandments of God.
“Some will urge that the Lord is not so particular in His requirements; that it is not their duty to keep the Sabbath strictly at so great loss, or to place themselves where they will be brought in conflict with the laws of the land. But here is just where the test is coming, whether we will honor the law of God above the requirements of men. This is what will distinguish between those who honor God and those who dishonor Him. Here is where we are to prove our loyalty. The history of God’s dealings with His people in all ages shows that He demands exact obedience.
“When the destroying angel was about to pass through the land of Egypt, and smite the first-born of both man and beast, the Israelites were directed to bring their children into the house with them, and to strike the doorpost with blood, and none were to go out of the house; for all that were found among the Egyptians would be destroyed with them. Suppose an Israelite had neglected to place the sign of blood upon his door, saying that the angel of God would be able to distinguish between the Hebrews and the Egyptians; would the heavenly sentinels have stood to guard that dwelling? We should take this lesson to ourselves.
“Again the destroying angel is to pass through the land. There is to be a mark placed upon God’s people, and that mark is the keeping of His holy Sabbath. We are not to follow our own will and judgment; and flatter ourselves that God will come to our terms. God tests our faith by giving us some part to act in connection with His interposition in our behalf. To those who comply with the conditions, His promises will be fulfilled; but all that venture to depart from His instructions, to follow a way of their own choosing, will perish with the wicked when His judgments are visited upon the earth.
“If parents allow their children to receive an education with the world, and make the Sabbath a common day, then the seal of God cannot be placed upon them. They will be destroyed with the world; and will not their blood rest upon the parents? But if we faithfully teach our children God’s commandments, bring them into subjection to parental authority, and then by faith and prayer commit them to God, He will work with our efforts; for He has promised it. And when the overflowing scourge shall pass through the land, they with us may be hidden in the secret of the Lord’s pavilion.”—Historical Sketches of S.D.A.Foreign Missions, pp. 216-217. (Republished in Testimony Treasures, Vol. 2, pp. 181-184.)
Meeting Legal Requirements In College Preparatory Courses (1903)
“All our denominational colleges and training schools should make provision to give their students the education essential for evangelists and for Christian business men. The youth and those more advanced in years who feel it their duty to fit themselves for work requiring the passing of certain legal tests should be able to secure at our Union Conference training-schools all that is essential, without having to go to Battle Creek for their preparatory education.
“Prayer will accomplish wonders for those who give themselves to prayer, watching thereunto. God desires us all to be in a waiting, hopeful position. What He has promised He will do, and if there are legal requirements making it necessary that medical students shall take a certain preparatory course of study, let our colleges teach the required additional studies in a manner consistent with Christian education. The Lord has signified His displeasure that so many of our people are drifting into Battle Creek; and since He does not want so many to go there, we should understand that He wants our schools in other places to have efficient teachers, and to do well the work that must be done. They should arrange to carry their students to the point of literary and scientific training that is necessary. Many of these requirements have been made because so much of the preparatory work done in ordinary schools is superficial. Let all our work be thorough, faithful, and true.
“In our training-schools the Bible is to be made the basis of all education. And in the required studies, it is not necessary for our teachers to bring in the objectionable books that the Lord has instructed us not to use in our schools. From the light that the Lord has given me,
I know that our training-schools in various parts of the field should be placed in the most favorable position possible for qualifying our youth to meet the tests specified by state laws regarding medical students. To this end the very best teaching talent should be secured, that our schools may be brought up to the required standard.”—Review and Herald, October 15, 1903. (Republished in Fundamentals of Christian Education, pp. 489, 490.)
Complying With Laws Establishing Requirements In Medical Training (1909)
“Some questions have been asked me regarding our relation to the laws governing medical practitioners. We need to move understandingly, for the enemy would be pleased to hedge up our work so that our physicians would have only a limited influence. Some men do not act in the fear of God, and they may seek to bring us into trouble by placing on regulations if the sacrifice of principle is involved; for this would imperil the soul’s salvation.
“But whenever we can comply with the law of the land without putting ourselves in a false position, we should do so. Wise laws have been framed in order to safeguard the people against the imposition of unqualified physicians. These laws we should respect, for we are ourselves by them protected from presumptuous pretenders. Should we manifest opposition to these requirements, it would tend to restrict the influence of our medical missionaries.
“We must carefully consider what is involved in these matters. If there are conditions to which we could not subscribe, we should endeavor to have these matters adjusted, so that there would not be strong opposition against our physicians. The Saviour bids us be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
“The Lord is our Leader and Teacher. He charges us not to connect with those who do not acknowledge God. ‘Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations.’ Connect with those who honor God by keeping His commandments. If the recommendation goes forth from our people that our workers are to seek for success by acknowledging as essential the education which the world gives, we are virtually saying that the influence the world gives is superior to that which God gives. God will be dishonored by such a course. God has full knowledge of the faith and trust and confidence that His professed people have in His providence.
“Our workers are to become intelligent in regard to Christ’s life and manner of working. The Lord will help those who desire to cooperate with Him as physicians, if they will become learners of Him how to work for the suffering. He will exercise His power through them for the healing of the sick.”—Medical Ministry, pp. 84., 85. (Portion of a letter to J. A. Burden of Loma Linda, written Nov. 5, 1909.)
Meet State Law Entrance Requirements In Pre-Medical Training (1913)
“Especially should those who are studying medicine in the schools of the world guard against contamination from the evil influence with which they are constantly surrounded. When their instructors are worldly-wise men, and their fellow students infidels who have no serious thought of God, even Christians of experience are in danger of being influenced by these irreligious associations. Nevertheless, some have gone through the medical course, and have remained true to principle. They would not continue their studies on the Sabbath; and they have proved that men may become qualified for the duties of a physician, and not disappoint the expectations of those who have encouraged them to obtain an education.
“It is because of these peculiar temptations which our youth must meet in worldly medical schools that provision should be made for preparatory and advanced medical training in our own schools, under Christian teachers. Our larger union conference training schools in various parts of the field should be placed in the most favorable position for qualifying our youth to meet the entrance requirements specified by state laws regarding medical students. The very best teaching talent should be secured, that our schools may be brought up to the proper standard. The youth, and those more advanced in years, who feel it their duty to fit themselves for work requiring the passing of certain legal tests, should be able to secure at our union conference training schools all that is essential for entrance into a medical college.”—Counsels to Parents and Teachers, p. 479 (1913).
To Meet Legal Requirements In Medical Training (1910)
(Compiler’s note: When in January 1910 at the Pacific Union Conference Session consideration was being given to the development of a medical college at Loma Linda, and there was a division of opinion as to what was called for in the writings of Ellen G. White, a letter was addressed to her by a committee of three appointed for that purpose, consisting of Elders I. H. Evans, E. E. Andross, and H. W. Cottrell. The question was worded as follows:
(“Are we to understand from what you have written concerning the establishment of a medical school at Loma Linda, that, according to the light you have received from the Lord, we are to establish a thoroughly equipped medical school, the graduates from which will be able to take State Board examinations and become registered, qualified physicians?”
(This letter of inquiry was returned Thursday, January 27, with Ellen G. White’s reply:)
“The light given me is, We must provide that which is essential to qualify our youth who desire to be physicians, so that they may intelligently fit themselves to be able to stand the examinations required to prove their efficiency as physicians. They should be taught to treat understandingly the cases of those who are diseased, so that the door will be closed for any sensible physician to imagine that we are not giving in our school the instruction necessary for properly qualifying young men and young women to do the work of a physician. Continually the students who are graduated are to advance in knowledge, for practice makes perfect.
“The medical school at Loma Linda is to be of the highest order, because those who are in that school have the privilege of maintaining a living connection with the wisest of all physicians, from whom there is communicated knowledge of a superior order. And for the special preparation of those of our youth who have clear convictions of their duty to obtain a medical education that will enable them to pass the examinations required by law of all who practice as regularly qualified physicians, we are to supply whatever may be required, so that these youth need not be compelled to go to medical schools conducted by men not of our faith. Thus we shall close a door that the enemy would be pleased to have left open; and our young men and young women, whose spiritual interests the Lord desires us to safeguard, will not feel compelled to connect with unbelievers in order to obtain a thorough training along medical lines.”—Ellen G. White Manuscript 7, 1910. (Pacific Union Recorder, Feb. 3, 1910; see also Medical Ministry, pp. 57, 58; and Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students, pp. 480, 481)
Wisdom And Discretion Needed In Declarations On Wartime Regulations
“I was shown [statement published January 1863] the excitement created among our people by the article in the Review headed, “The Nation.” Some understood it one way, and some another. The plain statements were distorted, and made to mean what the writer did not intend. He gave the best light that he then had. It was necessary that something be said. The attention of many was turned to Sabbathkeepers because they manifested no greater interest in the war and did not volunteer. In some places they were looked upon as sympathizing with the Rebellion. The time had come for our true sentiments in relation to slavery and the Rebellion to be made known. There was need of moving with wisdom to turn away the suspicions excited against Sabbathkeepers. We should act with great caution. ‘If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.’ We can obey this admonition, and not sacrifice one principle of our faith. Satan and his host are at war with commandment keepers, and will work to bring them into trying positions. They should not by lack of discretion bring themselves there.
“I was shown that some moved very indiscreetly in regard to the article mentioned. It did not in all respects accord with their views, and instead of calmly weighing the matter, and viewing it in all its bearings, they became agitated, excited, and some seized the pen and jumped hastily at conclusions which would not bear investigation. Some were inconsistent and unreasonable. They did that which Satan is ever hurrying them to do, namely, acted out out their own rebellious feelings.
“In Iowa they carried things to quite a length, and ran into fanaticism. They mistook zeal and fanaticism for conscientiousness. Instead of being guided by reason and sound judgment, they allowed their feelings to take the lead. They were ready to become martyrs for their faith. Did all this feeling lead them to God? to greater humility before Him? Did it lead them to trust in His power to deliver them from the trying position into which they might be brought? Oh, no! Instead of making their petitions to the God of heaven and relying solely upon His power, they petitioned the legislature and were refused. They showed their weakness and exposed their lack of faith. All this only served to bring that peculiar class, Sabbathkeepers, into special notice, and expose them to be crowded into difficult places by those who have no sympathy for them.”—Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1, pp. 356, 357.
Attitude Toward The Draft
“I saw that those who have been forward to talk so decidedly about refusing to obey a draft do not understand what they are talking about. Should they really be drafted and, refusing to obey, be threatened with imprisonment, torture, or death, they would shrink and then find that they had not prepared themselves for such an emergency. They would not endure the trial of their faith. What they thought to be faith was only fanatical presumption.
“Those who would be best prepared to sacrifice even life, if required, rather than place themselves in a position where they could not obey God, would have the least to say. They would make no boast. They would feel deeply and meditate much, and their earnest prayers would go up to heaven for wisdom to act and grace to endure. Those who feel that in the fear of God they cannot conscientiously engage in this war will be very quiet, and when interrogated will simply state what they are obliged to say in order to answer the inquirer, and then let it be understood that they have no sympathy with the Rebellion.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 357 (Jan. 1863)
The Situation Before Provision Was Made For Noncombatant Draftees
“I was shown that God’s people, who are His peculiar treasure, cannot engage in this perplexing war, for it is opposed to every principle of their faith. In the army they cannot obey the truth and at the same time obey the requirements of their officers. There would be a continual violation of conscience. Worldly men are governed by worldly principles. They can appreciate no other.
“Worldly policy and public opinion comprise the principle of action that governs them and leads them to practice the form of rightdoing. But God’s people cannot be governed by these motives. The words and commands of God, written in the soul, are spirit and life, and there is power in them to bring into subjection and enforce obedience. The ten precepts of Jehovah are the foundation of all righteous and good laws.
“Those who love God’s commandments will conform to every good law of the land. But if the requirements of the rulers are such as conflict with the laws of God, the only question to be settled is: Shall we obey God, or man?”—Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1, 361, 362.
Light Given Concerning The Draft
(From an E. G. White letter written Dec. 8, 1886, to G. I. Butler and S. N. Haskell)
“You inquire in regard to the course which should be pursued to secure the rights of our people to worship according to the dictates of our own conscience. This has been a burden of my soul for some time, whether it would be a denial of our faith and an evidence that our trust was not fully in God. But I call to mind many things God has shown me in the past in regard to things of a similar character, as the draft and other things. I can speak in the fear of God, it is right we should use every power we can to avert the pressure that is being brought to bear upon our people.”—Letter 55, 1886. Published in Selected Messages, Bk. 2, pp. 334, 335.
Required Military Drill
(Written in Switzerland Sept. 2, 1886)
“We have just said farewell to three of our responsible men in the office who were summoned by the government to serve for three weeks of drill. It was a very important stage of our work in the publishing house, but the government calls do not accommodate themselves to our convenience. They demand that young men whom they have accepted as soldiers shall not neglect the exercise and drill essential for soldier service. We were glad to see that these men with their regimentals had tokens of honor for faithfulness in their work. They were trustworthy young men.
“These did not go from choice, but because the laws of their nation required this. We gave them a word of encouragement to be found true soldiers of the cross of Christ. Our prayers will follow these young men, that the angels of God may go with them and guard then from every temptation.—Manuscript 33, 1886. (Published in Selected Messages, Bk. 2, p.335.)
One Law Seventh-Day Adventists Could Not Obey
“The fugitive slave law was calculated to crush out of man every noble, generous feeling of sympathy that should arise in his heart for the oppressed and suffering slave. It was in direct opposition to the teaching of Christ.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 264.
“The law of our land requiring us to deliver a slave to his master, we are not to obey; and we must abide the consequences of violating this law. The slave is not the property of any man. God is his rightful master, and man has no right to take God’s workmanship into his hands, and claim him as his own.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 202.
Involvement In Labor Unions
“The work of the people of God is to prepare for the events of the future, which will soon come upon them with blinding force. In the world gigantic monopolies will be formed. Man will bind themselves together in unions that will. wrap them in the folds of the enemy. A few men will combine to grasp all the means to be obtained in certain lines of business. Trades unions will be formed, and those who refuse to join these unions will be marked men. . . . These unions are one of the signs of the last days. Men are binding up in bundles ready to be burned. They may be church members, but while they belong to these unions, they cannot possibly keep the commandments of God; for to belong to these unions means to disregard the entire Decalogue.
“‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself’ (Luke 10:27). These words sum up the whole duty of man. They mean the consecration of the whole being, body, soul, and spirit, to God’s service. How can men obey these words, and at the same time pledge themselves to support that which deprives their neighbors of freedom of action? And how can men obey these words, and form combinations that rob the poorer classes of the advantages which justly belong to them, preventing them from buying or selling, except under certain conditions? How plainly the words of God have predicted this condition of things. John writes, ‘I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. . . And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads; and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name’ (Rev. 13:11-17).
“The forming of these unions is one of Satan’s last efforts. God calls upon His people to get out of the cities, isolating themselves from the world. The time will come when they will have to do this. God will care for those who love Him and keep His commandments.”—Letter 26, 1903. (Portion published in Selected Messages, bk. 2, pp. 142, 143.)
Deplorable State Of Society
“In all our great cities there will be a binding up in bundles by the confederacies and unions formed. Men will rule other men and demand much of them. The lives of those who refuse to unite with these unions, will be in peril. Everything is being prepared for the last great work to be done by the One mighty to save and mighty to destroy. . . .
“The condition of things before the flood has been presented to me. The same binding up in unions that exists today existed in Noah’s day. But never before have such transactions taken place as are now carried on in the selection of officers to govern the people. Those who occupy the highest positions in governments reveal how little confidence God can place in their rulership.
“This is a wonderful age in which we are living. God is beholding the deplorable state of society. He requires those who believe His gospel to come out from the world. ‘Be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing.”—Manuscript 145, 1902. (Written Sept. 2, 1902)
Influence At The Nation’s Capital
“Now is our time to press to the front in Washington. A decided testimony must be borne to the people in the national capital, and this work must not rest upon a few.
“A most important work is to be done in Washington, and I inquire whether you do not need the help of those who in years past have stood prominently for religious liberty.
“As we work with all our might, our trust must be in God. Sooner or later Sunday laws will be passed. But there is much for God’s servants to do to warn the people. This work has been greatly retarded by their having to wait and stand against the devisings of Satan, which have been striving to find a place in our work. We are years behind.
“God’s law is to be vindicated, by the obedience of heart and mind, and by strong arguments. . . .
“The time has come when the liberty of the church of Christ is endangered. Let it be a time also when true missionary work shall be done, in public ministry and in house-to-house labor. The oppression of Christ’s church would apparently be a great victory for the side of transgressors of the Sabbath, and would cause rejoicing among evil-doers. But nothing should discourage us. God has victory for His people. Let sanctified ability be brought into the work of proclaiming the truth for this time. If the forces of the enemy gain the victory now, it will be because the churches have neglected their God-given work. . . .
“Instruction has been given me that the important books containing the light that God has given regarding Satan’s apostasy in heaven should be given wide circulation just now; for through them the truth will reach many minds. Patriarchs and Prophets, Daniel and the Revelation, and Great Controversy are needed now as never before. They should be widely circulated because the truths they emphasize will open many blind eyes.
“When Patriarchs and Prophets was first issued, it was neglected for books easy to sell and more profitable to the publishers. Many of our people have been blind to the importance of the very books that were most needed. Had tact and skill then been shown in the sale of these books, the Sunday law movement would not be where it is today.
“I am glad that the Lord has at Washington able men, who can treat this Sunday movement as it should be treated. Let every minister, every evangelist, now put on the whole armor of God, and work and watch and pray. Our church members also should humble their hearts before God, and cry aloud, and spare not. O that the Lord would imbue the members of His church with a sense of the importance of the responsibility of being laborers together with Him!”—Review and Herald, February 16, 1905, p. 12
Ellen G. White Estate
General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
12501 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring, Maryland 20904
Reprinted September, 2000