Good News for Seventh-Day Adventists

Ellet Joseph Waggoner:
The Myth and the Man

David P. McMahon

Waggoner's 1888 Message

Waggoner's name will always be associated with justification by faith and the Minneapolis conference of 1888. Mrs. White declared it was the beginning of the light which was to propel the little Advent body into the latter rain and loud cry. If accepted, the 1888 message would have brought the speedy finishing of God's work on earth. If Mrs. White is to be believed, the appallingly simple fact is that Minneapolis itself explains why Christ has not come. The issue of that conference has returned to the Seventh-day Adventist church with new urgency. The burning question is, What did Waggoner actually present in 1888? We have no record of Waggoner and Jones' actual presentations. Uriah Smith, however, briefly summarized the first three of Waggoner's eleven studies. Here is his report as it appeared in the General Conference Daily Bulletin:

Wednesday, October 17, 1888

    At 2:30 p.m. Elder E. J. Waggoner discussed the question of the law of God and its relation to the Gospel of Christ. The discussion was based principally on the Epistle to the Romans. (1)
Thursday, October 18, 1888
    At 9 a.m. Elder E. J. Waggoner gave another lesson on the law and gospel. In this lesson the first and second chapters of Galatians, in connection with Acts 15, were partially presented by him to show that the same harmony existed there as elsewhere; that the key to the book was "justification by faith in Christ," with the emphasis on the latter word; that liberty in Christ was always freedom from sin, and that separation from Christ to some other means of justification always brought bondage. He stated incidentally that "the law of Moses" and "the law of God" were not distinctive terms as applied to the ceremonial and moral laws, and cited Num. xv., 22-24, and Luke ii., 23-24, as proof. He closed at 10:15 by asking those present to compare Acts xv., 7-11, with Rom. ii., 20-25. Appeals were made by Brother Waggoner and Sister White to the brethren, old and young, to seek God, put away all spirit of prejudice and opposition, and strive to come into the unity of faith in the bonds of brotherly love. (2)
Friday, October 19, 1888
    At 9 a.m. Elder Waggoner continued his lessons on the law and gospel. The Scriptures considered were the fifteenth chapter of Acts and the second and third of Galatians, compared with Romans iv. and other passages in Romans. His purpose was to show that the real point of controversy was justification by faith in Christ, which faith is reckoned to us as to Abraham, for righteousness. The covenant and promises to Abraham are the covenant and promises to us. (3)
Waggoner's series continued until Thursday, October 25. Uriah Smith then wrote this summarizing comment:
    A series of instructive lectures has been given on "Justification by faith" by Eld. E. J. Waggoner. The closing one was given this morning. With the foundation principles all are agreed, but there are some differences in regard to the interpretation of several passages. The lectures have tended to a more thorough investigation of the truth, and it is hoped that the unity of the faith will be reached on this important question. (4)
Of considerable interest is Waggoner's synopsis of both Jones' and his own lectures in the November 2, 1888, issue of the Signs of the Times.
    The principal subjects of Bible study were the ten kingdoms into which, according to the prophecy, the Roman Empire was divided, the establishment of the Papacy, and of its counterpart, the proposed National Reform Government; and the law and the gospel in their various relations, coming under the general head of justification by faith. These subjects have aroused a deep interest in the minds of all present; and thus far during the Conference one hour a day has been devoted to a continuance of their study. (5)
However, the lack of a complete record of Waggoner's presentation has made it easy for some to read their own particular views on righteousness by faith into the 1888 conference.

Robert J. Wieland has a special affection for The Glad Tidings, Waggoner's commentary on Paul's Epistle to the Galatians. This was first published in the Signs of the Times in 1898-1899 as a series entitled "Studies in Galatians." It was repeated in the Review and finally published as a book in 1900. In 1972 it was reprinted by the Pacific Press Publishing Association after Wieland had editorially removed some pantheistic statements.

The myth that The Glad Tidings of 1900 represents the 1888 message has been promoted by the advertising on the back cover of the 1972 reprint. Here Waggoner's 1888 lectures on Galatians are virtually identified with his 1900 commentary revised by Wieland. This myth seems to suggest, "Do you want to know all about the 1888 message? Then read The Glad Tidings!"

Froom fostered a similar myth when he proposed that some of the works published after 1888 presented the light that began to break at the conference. Froom, of course, did not originate this myth. A. G. Daniells apparently felt that Waggoner's 1891 studies on Romans, (6) or even his pantheistic book, The Everlasting Covenant, were the light of 1888. (7)

These myths are based on a common fallacy. They look to Waggoner's subsequent works for evidence of what he taught in 1888. Some clues can be found in these works. But Waggoner's writings prior to 1888, and especially his articles written on the verge of the conference, basically represent his presentations at that time.

Before 1888 Waggoner had been writing extensively on the law in Galatians and its connection with justification by faith. As mentioned earlier, a controversy on the law in Galatians had flared between him and George Butler. Butler had written a book to refute Waggoner. (8) And Waggoner had replied in a seventy-one page open letter dated February 10, 1887. (9) He released this for publication one month after the Minneapolis conference, presumably because Mrs. White had decided that the controversy over the law in Galatians should be settled by fair and open discussion. (10)

Uriah Smith's report on Waggoner's presentation at the conference confirms that his subject was the law in Galatians in connection with justification by faith. (11) This agrees with Mrs. White's recollection of Dr. Waggoner's studies.
    "The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith" (Gal. 3:24). In this scripture, the Holy Spirit through the apostle is speaking especially of the moral law. The law reveals sin to us, and causes us to feel our need of Christ and to flee unto Him for pardon and peace by exercising repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
    An unwillingness to yield up preconceived opinions, and to accept this truth, lay at the foundation of a large share of the opposition manifested at Minneapolis against the Lord's message through Brethren [E. J. Waggoner and A. T. Jones.] (12)

    I see the beauty of truth in the presentation of the righteousness of Christ in relation to the law as the doctor has placed it before us. You say, many of you, it is light and truth. Yet you have not presented it in this light heretofore. Is it not possible that through earnest, prayerful searching of the Scriptures he has seen still greater light on some points? That which has been presented harmonizes perfectly with the light which God has been pleased to give me during all the years of my experience. If our ministering brethren would accept the doctrine which has been presented so clearly—the righteousness of Christ in connection with the law—and I know they need to accept this, their prejudices would not have a controlling power, and the people would be fed with their portion of meat in due season. (13)
It is obvious that what had preoccupied a man up to the time of the conference and what he himself had published one month after the conference would provide the clue to what he presented at the conference.

Just before the conference of 1888 Waggoner clearly taught a purely forensic justification. In the year of that conference he wrote two articles in the Signs which demonstrate his reliance on Luther and show that he was moving toward the recovery of the Reformation doctrine of justification by faith. These two articles, we believe, hold the key to the light of 1888.

Two Kinds of Righteousness

On February 24, 1888, Waggoner published an article entitled "Different Kinds of Righteousness.,, (14) He obviously received his inspiration for this article from Luther. In fact, he quoted rather extensively from Luther's Commentary on Galatians.

Waggoner's basic thesis was that there are two kinds of righteousness—Christ's righteousness, also called the righteousness of faith, and our righteousness, which is the righteousness of the law. The connection between this theme and Luther will be obvious to those acquainted with the birth of the Protestant Reformation.

According to Luther's own testimony, it was in 1519 that he came to a Reformational understanding of "the righteousness of God" and justification by faith. (15) Early in that year Luther wrote his pathfinding sermon on Two Kinds of Righteousness. (16) One righteousness was the infinite righteousness of Christ, His suffering and dying for us. The other righteousness was the godly life of the believer. Luther was not yet able to articulate his doctrine of righteousness by faith in terms of imputed or forensic righteousness. And not everything in his sermon represents the clear Protestant doctrine. But as John Dillenberger's selections from Martin Luther's writings demonstrate, this sermon on Two Kinds of Righteousness was the basic structure on which Luther built his Reformation theology. (17) Luther's great Commentary on Galatians shows that he built everything around this basic distinction between gospel righteousness and law righteousness. (18)

In his Galatians commentary Luther called the first righteousness "passive righteousness," "gospel righteousness," "the righteousness of faith," "imputed righteousness." The second he called "active righteousness," "good works" and "the righteousness of the law." The first righteousness is not a quality in the heart, for the heart possesses it only in faith. But the second is a quality, for it consists in love and good works by the power of the Holy Spirit.
This clear distinction—but not separation—between gospel and law, justification and sanctification, was the Magna Charta of the Reformation. As Dr. Lowell C. Green demonstrates, this was the great hermeneutic principle of the Reformation. (19) Luther declared that whoever blurs or destroys that distinction blurs or destroys the light of the Reformation.

Waggoner had been moving toward the recovery of Reformation theology since 1884. But his article on "Different Kinds of Righteousness" shows he had not fully penetrated the Reformation position. Waggoner apparently thought the righteousness of the law refers only to efforts to keep the law by unaided human effort. He failed to see that "the righteousness of the law" (Rom. 8:4) also refers to genuine sanctification, which the Bible does call "our righteousness" (Deut. 6:25), "his [the believer's] righteousness" (Ezek. 3:20), "your good works" (Matt. 5:16), "mine own righteousness" (Phil. 3:9) and "your work of faith" and "labour of love" (1 Thess. 1:3). (20) In other words, what Luther called "active righteousness" refers to the sanctified living of the believer. This must not be confused with passive righteousness—the righteousness of faith.

Although Waggoner distinguished "our righteousness" "of the law" from the righteousness of faith, his distinction did not go far enough. He failed to see that works done after grace as well as before grace must be excluded from the article of the saving righteousness of faith. Otherwise sanctification can be included in the righteousness of faith. Salvation is then based partly on what Christ has done and partly on what the believer does. (21)

Waggoner's February 24 article on "Different Kinds of Righteousness," however, gave conclusive evidence that he was struggling to grasp the light which broke mightily on the world in the sixteenth century. (22) This, of course, belies the claim that Waggoner was far in advance of the Reformation.

In July, 1888, three months before the Minneapolis conference, Waggoner gave further evidence that he was struggling to recover the light given to Luther. He wrote a significant article, entitled "Lawful Use of the Law," in which he extensively reflected Luther. (23) This article provides greater insight into Waggoner's contribution to the doctrine of justification by faith than anything else he wrote.

In order to understand the significance of Waggoner's use of Luther, we need to reflect on the law in Reformation history. Melanchthon was the first Reformation theologian to define what became known as the three uses of the law:

1. In the social use the knowledge of the law acts as a restraint on sin and for the promotion of right doing in society.

2. In the pedagogic use the law brings man under the conviction of sin, makes him conscious of his inability to meet the demands of the law, works wrath and acts as a tutor to bring him to Christ.

3. In the didactic or normative use, also called the tertius usus legis or third use of the law, the law becomes a rule of life for the believer after he is justified. It reminds him of his duty and leads him in the way of life and salvation.

In teaching the gospel and justification unto life eternal, the law is used as the "schoolmaster" (Gal. 3:24) to drive us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. But it is the third use of the law that teaches the true way of sanctification.

The church before the Reformation was much like the Adventist community before 1888. All the emphasis was placed on the third use of the law. Men tried to obtain life by keeping the law—with God's help of course! They thought they could finally stand in the judgment if they kept the law well enough or if Christ kept it in them— really the same in principle. But no one could be sure of salvation or acceptance in the final judgment, for no one could be sure he was keeping the law to the full satisfaction of divine justice.

Luther's great emphasis was the second use of the law, especially in his Commentary on Galatians. (24) With powerful assaults on the legalism of the church, Luther showed it was vain to expect life from the law "before grace or after grace." The law works wrath (Rom. 4:15). Its office for fallen man is not to give life but to terrify, to kill and to hammer all human righteousness into powder. Luther's emphasis on this use of the law was so great that his lectures on Galatians seem to have a negative attitude to the law. In the same way, the careless reader might also think Paul speaks against the law in passages like Romans 7 and Galatians 3.

In Adventism nearly all the emphasis was placed on the third use of the law. This is not surprising since the Adventist mission was to urge obedience to all the Ten Commandments. Many apparently took considerable satisfaction in the thought that they alone were God's favored "remnant" because they kept all God's commandments. Even men like Smith, Butler and, yes, Waggoner, rested in the hope that successful lawkeeping would enable men to finally stand in judgment and win the verdict of eternal life. Even what Mrs. White had said before 1888 was insufficient to expose this vain Laodicean hope. (25)

Waggoner came to this law-loving, law-boasting community like a Martin Luther. He unveiled the fierce face of the law in its terrible greatness, its wrath against imperfection and its righteousness that can only condemn and never justify the sinner. Adventists had evaded the force of Galatians 3 by saying Paul was only discussing the ritual law. They could not bear the fierce face of the moral law, which tore their Laodicean righteousness to shreds. To Smith and Butler it seemed that Waggoner's position on the law in Galatians would pull down the pillars of the Advent faith and weaken its stand on the Ten Commandments. Before leaving for Minneapolis Waggoner fired Martin Luther's words on the use of the law at his would-be opposition. (26)

Again, this resort to Luther explodes the myth that Waggoner was far in advance of the sixteenth-century Reformation. The facts of history reveal that the little Adventist community were reliving the controversy of the sixteenth century. They had the opportunity to rediscover what the Reformers had said long before them. When Luther began preaching justification by faith, his Roman Catholic opponents argued that Paul's disparaging remarks on the law as a method of salvation referred to the ceremonial law rather than the moral law. The Adventist understanding of the law before 1888 was like the church's view of the law before the Reformation.

Waggoner's discovery that the moral law was the particular issue in Romans and Galatians 3 was part of the heritage of the Protestant Reformation. There is no evidence, however, that he ever fully recovered that heritage. What might have been the blessing if his brethren had heartily joined him in a corporate recovery of the gospel—a recovery far exceeding the light of the Reformation! But this was not to be. Waggoner was part of his community. He could not transcend its limitations. Did he try to press on alone, only to stumble and fall?

We have shown why we believe that Waggoner's pre-1888 material best represents his mind at the conference. All the available evidence confirms this. The great issue at the conference was the law in Galatians. It involved Waggoner's recovery of the Reformation heritage on the second use of the law. The light was unwelcome.

Wieland's suggestion that the central issue at Minneapolis was justification by faith and that the argument on the law in Galatians was only a distraction is another myth. (27) Just as Luther's use of law was an integral part of his message on justification, so the use of the law was an essential part of Waggoner's message on justification. Luther's message was law and gospel. And from 1884 to 1888 law and gospel was Waggoner's constant theme.

Ellen G. White understood that Waggoner's light at Minneapolis was light on the relation of the law to the gospel. She commented that this light was to lighten the earth with the glory of God (Rev. 18:1). (28) Mrs. White was impressed with Waggoner's message on the law and the gospel when she first heard him at Minneapolis. She responded with her whole being (29) — even though there were some points on which she thought Waggoner may have been wrong. (30) Significantly, after 1888 she made the second use of the law more prominent. (31)

The Uriah Smith-Ellen G. White Misunderstanding

Uriah Smith was distressed when this "mother in Israel" took E. J. Waggoner's position on the law in Galatians. He had expected her to take the same position she did in the similar controversy with Waggoner's father in 1856. Her apparent about-face astonished him. What is more, Mrs. White had sent a testimony telling J. H. Waggoner he was wrong.

There is another interesting aspect to this matter. In her February 18, 1887, letter to Waggoner and Jones, written from Basel, Switzerland, Mrs. White said the dispute over the law in Galatians was an unimportant side issue which should not disturb the unity of the church. But when she actually heard Waggoner on this disputed matter in 1888, she thought it was worth risking a denominational revolution.

A little over a year after Minneapolis, Uriah Smith wrote a letter to Mrs. White on the issue of the law in Galatians. He expressed considerable surprise at the change in her position. He reminded her of the 1856 debate over J. H. Waggoner's position, of her part in silencing him and of her testimony to J. H. Waggoner stating he was wrong. Smith stated that E. J. Waggoner's articles in the Signs of 1886 had seemed to him then, as well as at the time of writing in February, 1890, to directly contradict Mrs. White's counsel to J. H. Waggoner.

According to Smith some had tried to make it appear that Mrs. White did not have J. H. Waggoner's stand on the law in Galatians in mind when she said his position was wrong. Smith was adamant, however, that the only issue involved in 1856 was whether the law which Paul said was "added" was the moral law. (32)
Mrs. White, however, was not as clear on the subject as Smith appeared to be. In her February, 1887, letter to Waggoner and Jones, she said:
    I have been looking in vain as yet for an article that was written nearly twenty years ago [1867] in reference to the "added law." I read this to Elder [J. H.] Waggoner. I stated then to him that I had been shown that his position in regard to the law was incorrect, and from the statement I made to him he has been silent upon the subject for many years....

    I have sent repeatedly for my writings on the law, but that special article has not yet appeared. There is such an article in Healdsburg, I am well aware, but it has not come as yet. I have much writing many years old on the law, but the special article I read to Elder Waggoner has not come to me....

    I have wanted to get out articles in regard to the law, but I have been moving about so much, my writings are where I can not have advantage of them.... But I did see years ago that Elder Waggoner's views were not correct, and read to him matter which I had written. (33)
About seven weeks later Mrs. White wrote Butler and Smith, reiterating her deep concern over the loss of the article she had read to J. H. Waggoner. She said:
    I am troubled; for the life of me, I cannot remember that which I have been shown in reference to the two laws. I cannot remember what the caution and warning referred to were, that were given to Elder Waggoner. It may be it was a caution not to make his ideas prominent at that time, for there was great danger of disunion. (34)
Mrs. White's ambivalent recollections on this matter make us wonder whether she told J. H. Waggoner that his views were wrong or whether she was only trying to caution him against agitating differences among the brethren. Smith, however, wrote to Mrs. White, saying:
    My recollection on that is quite distinct, and if I was on oath at a court of justice, I should be obliged to testify that to the best of my knowledge and belief, that was the only point then at issue [whether the law in Galatians 3 was the Ten Commandments or the Mosaic law system]; and on that you [Ellen G. White] said that Brother Waggoner was wrong. (35)
In a letter written in response to Mrs. White's rebuke for his Signs articles of 1886, E. J. Waggoner added to the apparent confusion when he said:
    I will say also that I had never heard of your having read a testimony to my father in regard to the law. I did not know that you had ever spoken on the subject. If I had known that, the case would have been different.

He then added: "I may state, however, that the view which I have taught is quite materially different from that which father held. I do not know whether or not he now holds the same view." (36) However, an examination of J. H. Waggoner's book, The Law of God: An Examination of the Testimony of Both Testaments, shows that he and his son took substantially the same position on the law in Galatians 3. (37) Why then did E. J. Waggoner plead that his position differed from his father's? Was it to protect himself from the charge of guilt by association? Or was it a wish to be judged on his own merits? Furthermore, what happened to the testimony Mrs. White wrote to father J. H. Waggoner, saying he was wrong? No one seems to know.

Some conservatives will think it irreverent to raise these problems. But with their rigid view of "spiritual gifts," some have virtually dehumanized Mrs. White. Is there not a danger in assuming personal infallibility in all she did? Regardless of the answers to these questions, Mrs. White emerges in our research as more human and more resourceful than many have thought. She was one of the few who enlarged their theological boundaries after the age of sixty.
As for Waggoner, he had already done the work for which he was born. We will see that his star never rose any higher.


1. Uriah Smith, "First Day's Proceedings," General Conference Daily Bulletin 2, no. 1 (19 Oct. 1888): 2.
2. Uriah Smith, "Second Day's Proceedings," General Conference Daily Bulletin 2, no. 1 (19 Oct. 1888): 2.
3. Uriah Smith, "Third Day's Proceedings," General Conference Daily Bulletin 2, no. 2 (21 Oct. 1888): 1.
4. Uriah Smith, "Eighth Day's Proceedings," General Conference Daily Bulletin 2, no. 7 (26 Oct. 1888): 3.
5. E. J. Waggoner, "Editorial Correspondence," Signs of the Times, 2 Nov.1888, p. 662.
6. Arthur G. Daniells, in General Conference Bulletin, 1901, p. 272; cited in LeRoy E. Froom, Movement of Destiny, p. 263.
7. A. V. Olson, Through Crisis to Victory: 1888-1901, p. 231. The Everlasting Covenant was written by E. J. Waggoner and not by J. H. Waggoner as Olson suggests.
8. George I. Butler, The Law in the Book of Galatians: Is It the Moral Law or Does It Refer to that System of Laws Peculiarly Jewish?
9. E. J. Waggoner, The Gospel in the Book of Galatians: A Review.
10. Writing to Butler and Smith, Mrs. White declared:

"I tell you brethren I am troubled, when I see you take positions that you forbid others to take and that you would condemn in others. I do not think this is the right way to deal with one another. I want to see no pharisaism among us. The matter now has been brought so fully before the people by yourself as well as Dr. Waggoner, that it must be met fairly and squarely in open discussion. I see no other way and if this cannot be done without a spirit of pharisaism then let us stop publishing these matters and learn more fully lessons in the school of Christ. I believe now that nothing can be done but open discussion. You circulated your pamphlet, now it is only fair that Dr. Waggoner should have just as fair a chance as you have had. I think the whole thing is not in God's order. But brethren we must have no unfairness. We must work as Christians. If we have any point that is not fully, clearly defined and can bear the test of criticism don't be afraid or too proud to yield it' (White to Butler and Smith, 5 Apr. 1887).

11. See notes 1-4.
12. Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, 1:234.
13. Ellen G. White, Manuscript 15, 1888; cited in Olson, Crisis to Victory, p. 295.
14. E. J. Waggoner, "Different Kinds of Righteousness," Signs of the Times, 24 Feb. 1888, p. 119.
15. Martin Luther, Luther's Works, 34:334-37. A confederacy of liberal, ecumenical and Roman Catholic Luther scholars have tried to prove that Luther came to the Reformation understanding much earlier. Recently, however, the best Luther scholarship has vindicated Luther's own testimony on the dating of his breakthrough into the Reformation light. See esp. Lowell C. Green, "Faith, Righteousness and Justification: New Light on Their Development under Luther and Melanchthon," Sixteenth Century Journal 4, no. 1 (Apr. 1973): 65-86. Also of value is Green's article, "Luther Research in English-Speaking Countries Since 1971," Lutherjahrbuch 44 (1977), esp. pp. 110-12. See also William C. Robinson, The Reformation: A Rediscovery of Grace, pp. 89-90.
16. John Dillenberger, ed., Martin Luther: Selections from His Writings, pp. 86-96.
17. Ibid., pp. xvii-xix.
18. Martin Luther, A Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians. First published in 1535, these lectures perhaps show Luther at his best. One of the works of Luther to be translated into English during the sixteenth century, it appeared in 1575 and again in 1578. This translation has been reissued in about thirty various editions. The most recent and perhaps the most satisfying was prepared by Philip Watson in 1953. See also Luther, Luther's Works, 26-27. In his Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, John Bunyan (1628-1688), who was languishing in jail, told how a long time before this "the God in whose hands are all our days and ways, did cast into my hand, one day, a book of Martin Luther's. It was his comment on the Galatians ... [the] which, when I had but a little way perused, I found my condition in his experience, so largely and profoundly handled as if his book had been written out of my heart. — . . I do prefer this book of Martin Luther's upon the Galatians (excepting the Holy Bible) before all the books that ever I have seen, as most fit for a wounded conscience."
19. Green, "Faith, Righteousness and Justification."
20. Speaking of the righteousness of the law, the Lutheran Reformer, Martin Chemnitz, wrote:
'For the righteousness of the Law is that a man does the things that are written in the Law; but the righteousness of faith is by believing to appropriate to oneself what Christ has done for us. Therefore the works by which the regenerate do those things which are written in the Law, either before or after their renewal, belong to the righteousness of the Law, though some in one way, others in another. . —
"The obedience of Christ is imputed to us for righteousness. That glory cannot be taken away from Christ and transferred to either our renewal or our obedience without blasphemy" (Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, Part 1, pp. 490-9 1).
21. Just by saying that Christ does the lawkeeping in the believer is not a magic wand to relieve the problem, because the believer does have a part in living the Christian life. In fact, saying that Christ does the obeying in the believer compounds the error because it blurs the distinction between the Creator and the creature in sanctification. This is really, as we will demonstrate later, a pantheistic principle.
22. As did his letter to Butler, February 10, 1887, published as The Gospel in the Book of Galatians: A Review, probably in December, 1888.
23. E. J. Waggoner, "Lawful Use of the Law," Signs of the Times, 13 July 1888, p. 422.
24. Luther often referred to St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians as "my Katie von Bora," for he treasured this book of the Bible with special affection.
25. The inspiration that God gives to a charismatic leader must be viewed as progressive. God accommodates this gift to the situation of His people. Ellen G. White shows evidence that she progressed into an ever clearer grasp of the gospel. Her earlier statements on justification by faith are not nearly as clear as her post-1888 articles.
26. He was obviously carrying on his argument with Butler and Smith in the columns of the Signs of the Times.
27. See A. L. Hudson, ed., A Warning and Its Reception, p. 71.
28. Let the reader consider carefully the evidence of the following remarks of Ellen G. White:

"The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith" (Gal. 3:24). In this scripture, the Holy Spirit through the apostle is speaking especially of the moral law. The law reveals sin to us, and causes us to feel our need of Christ and to flee unto Him for pardon and peace by exercising repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

"An unwillingness to yield up preconceived opinions, and to accept this truth, lay at the foundation of a large share of the opposition manifested at Minneapolis against the Lord's message through Brethren [E. J. Waggoner and A. T. Jones.] By exciting that opposition Satan succeeded in shutting away from our people, in a great measure, the special power of the Holy Spirit that God longed to impart to them. The enemy prevented them from obtaining that efficiency which might have been theirs in carrying the truth to the world, as the apostles proclaimed it after the day of Pentecost. The light that is to lighten the whole earth with its glory was resisted, and by the action of our own brethren has been in a great degree kept away from the world" (White, Selected Messages, 1:234-35).

29. "Dr. Waggoner.., has presented his views in a plain, straightforward manner, as a Christian should....

"I have no reason to think that he is not as much esteemed of God as are any of my brethren....

"I know it would be dangerous to denounce Dr. Waggoner's position as wholly erroneous. . . . I see the beauty of truth in the presentation of the righteousness of Christ in relation to the law as the doctor has placed it before us.... That which has been presented harmonizes perfectly with the light which God has been pleased to give me during all the years of my experience. If our ministering brethren would accept the doctrine which has been presented so clearly—the righteousness of Christ in connection with the law—and I know they need to accept this... "(White, Manuscript 15, 1888; cited in Olson, Crisis to Victory, pp. 294-95).

"When I stated before my brethren that I had heard for the first time the views of Elder E. J. Waggoner, some did not believe me. I stated that I had heard precious truths uttered that I could respond to with all my heart, for had not these great and glorious truths, the righteousness of Christ and the entire sacrifice made in behalf of man, been imprinted indelibly upon my mind by the Spirit of God?... When the Lord had given to my brethren [Waggoner and Jones] the burden to proclaim this message I felt inexpressibly grateful to God, for I knew it was a message for this time" (Ellen G. White, Manuscript 24, 1888).

30. In her closing address at Minneapolis, Ellen G. White stated: "Some interpretations of Scripture given by Dr. Waggoner I do not regard as correct" (White, Manuscript 15, 1888; cited in Olson, Crisis to Victory, p. 294). One example that she probably had in mind was Waggoner's interpretation of the phrase in Galatians 3:19, "till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made." Waggoner believed that this referred to the second advent of Christ.
31. White, Selected Messages, 1:233-41, 341, 367.
32. Smith to White, 17 Feb. 1890; Smith to W. A. McCutchen, 8 Aug. 1901.
33. Ellen G. White, Letter 37, 1887.
34. White to Butler and Smith, 5 Apr. 1887.
35. Smith to White, 17 Feb. 1890.
36. Our attempts to locate the original of this letter have failed. The only remaining evidence for its existence is found in a letter from Dores E. Robinson to W. H. Branson, dated May 8, 1935. On pages 3 and 4 of this letter Robinson quotes from E. J. Waggoner's letter, adding the following comment: "I have copied this from the original which we have on our correspondence file at the office." At the time of writing the letter, Robinson was on the staff of the Ellen G. White Estate in Washington, D.C.
37. Some representative statements from J. H. Waggoner's book, The Law of God: An Examination of the Testimony of Both Testaments (1854), are as follows.

Regarding the circumstances under which the Apostle Paul wrote the Epistle to the Galatians, J. H. Waggoner stated:

"His declaration of what he said to Peter at Antioch, some six years before, shows that they had been troubled with judaizing teachers, who did not understand that justification was obtained wholly through Christ 'without the law.' Rom. iii, 19-23. This is also shown in Gal. iv, 21; v, 1-4, but this does not prove that they were Jews to whom he wrote, or that judaism was the only error with which they were in danger of being affected" (p. 74).

On Galatians 3:2-5:

"It might be inferred from Gal. iii, 2-5, that he is no longer speaking of the moral law; but we must remember that justification cannot be obtained by a law, however holy and just it may be, after it is transgressed; and those who receive the Spirit, or work miracles, must necessarily do so by faith, and not by the works of the law" (p. 76).

On Galatians 3:24:

"When we inquire into the nature and office of the law that was added, there will be no difficulty in viewing it as the same that was transgressed. The law was added to serve as a school-master to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified through faith: justification by the law being impossible by reason of transgression. Here it is evident that he refers to the moral law; for none but a moral law could bring us to Christ. He is the only Saviour from sin; and as the sick need a physician, so the sinful need a Saviour. But in order that the sinner come to Christ, he must be made sensible of his sinful condition; this can be done only by the law; for 'by the law is the knowledge of sin.' So 'the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;' perfect as a standard of right, convincing of sin, and thus bringing us to Christ, the way of salvation. Such conversion is genuine and complete. Thus it is evident that the law spoken of in Gal. iii, 19, 24, is a moral law, one that will detect and convince of sin" (p. 51).

On the phrase, "under the law":

"All will admit that the Galatians had been affected with Judaizing notions of self-righteousness; yet we trust it has been made plain that other errors were obtaining among them, having no reference to the customs of the Jews. If they 'turned back' to their former practices they would again become heathen idolaters; but if under the influence of other teachers they resorted to circumcision, and looked to the law for justification, they were also under condemnation, being proved sinners by their own rule of justification, and this is the signification of the phrase, 'under the law,' as used in the letters to the Romans and Galatians.... This, we think, plainly shows that the Apostle was convincing them of sin by the moral law" (p. 86).
Only the moral law is a rule of justification:

"Was any one, under any circumstances, justified by the law of Moses, or was justification ever coupled with that law? We think not. Nothing but a moral law can be a rule of justification; and the law of Moses consisted only in shadows, which were remembrancers of sin, but could never take away sin. They were not instituted as a means of acceptance with God, [see Ps. xl, 6-8; 1, 8-12; Isa. ii, 10-20; Jer. vi, 20; Amos v, 21-24; 1 Sam. xv, 21, 22; Heb. viii, 5; ix, 9; x, 1-4,] and were not included in man's whole duty to him; [Jer. vii, 22, 23; Eccl. xii, 13;]" (p. 111).

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