of Babylon and Egypt
the General Conference Bulletin, March 15, 1897, pp. 365374,
there is an article about a serious controversial question which
was already making inroads among the Advent people"Should
SDAs take part in politics and war?" Under the title,
Out of Babylon and Egypt (No. 7), A.T. Jones discusses the
issue. Hereunder we reproduce the highlights of his article. We
recommend, however, that you read the whole article in the
General Conference Bulletin.
A. T. Jones
is right in the third angels message, that by it, and through
it, God proposes to "establish Christianity upon an eternal
basis." Then, as surely as in the third angels message,
God establishes Christianity upon an eternal basis, it will be
a Christianity that will not be connected with anything upon this
earth. It will be connected only with God; only with His eternal
word; enlightened by His eternal Spirit; taught by Him whose goings
forth have been from the days of eternity; and thus be led to
the eternal God, that He may rule, and underneath shall be the
I know, and you know, that there are some of the brethren that
do not think that this is straight. Two years ago it was preached,
and was published in the Bulletin. By many it was not accepted.
By some it is not accepted yet. It is thought to be altogether
wrong. But in the late General Conference, two testimonies were
read to uswritten especially for this Conference, and one
of them, I find, is printed in Bulletin No. 4; the next
one is not printed yet, but will be, I suppose, shortlyreproving
Seventh-day Adventists for engaging in political matters. I read
a passage here that will show you the idea of it:
Lord Jesus is disappointed in His people. He is the Captain;
they are to file under His banner. They have no time, wisdom,
or strength to spend in taking sides with political parties.
Men are being stirred with an intense activity from beneath,
and the sons and daughters of God are not to give their influence
to this political strife. But what kind of spirit takes hold
upon our people, when those who believe we are now under the
third angels message, the last message of mercy to the
world, brothers in the same faith, appear wearing the badges
of opposing political parties, proclaiming opposite sentiments
and declaring their divided opinions.
I ask this question in the form of a proposition: If that which
was preached two years ago on this subject of government and the
church had been accepted and followed by all Seventh-day Adventists,
could there possibly have arisen any place for that testimony?Plainly,
no. Then did those lessons call for the wrong thing, when they
called Gods people to a position where it would be impossible
for Him to find fault with them? I mean in this particular point.
I mean that when a line of truth is presented from the word of
God, which, if His people would accept it before God and the world,
would set them in such an attitude that it would be impossible
for the Lord to find fault with them in things related to that
line of truth, is it not safe to accept that as the truth? How
could it possibly be wrong? . . .
do not ask now that anybody shall accept that because it is there.
I ask that they shall accept it, study into it, pray over it,
look at it, and accept it because it is the truth, and will deliver
the people of God from the possibility of His ever being called
upon to reprove or correct them upon any such point as that. Yet
I know that there are brethren who still think that it is all
wrong; and say that it called for our people to take an extreme
position, and that it was taking an extreme position. Can that
be an extreme position which puts Gods people where He wants
them to stand, so they will be utterly free from all these confused
things that confuse the world? . . .
is another thing that we need to consider. If we take part in
political affairs and political discussions, different sides will
be taken by different individuals, in opposing political parties,
proclaiming opposite sentiments and declaring their divided opinions,
while professing to be brethren. What is the last step
in political working?War, of course. Then what is in it,
at the beginning?Simply what is in it at the endwar.
It is that spirit from beginning to end. Can brethren in
Christ, who are one in Christ, engage in anything that will cause
them to be divided in the spirit of antagonism? Can they?No!
not and remain one in Christ. . . .
this is not all. If we as Seventh-day Adventists are to preach
those principles, and are to hold to them, there is an important
step that must be taken, in justice to the United States government,
in justice to the state of Michigan, and several other states,
that we may appear in the right light.
say it again, so that you may understand what I am talking about.
If it is to be so that we shall accept the principle that Christians
may fight, may lift their right arm to defend country and government
and all that, then the denomination, in justice to itself, and
especially in justice to the government of the United States and
to several of the states, must publicly proclaim it, and repudiate
and reverse the course that was once taken by the denomination
have here two little documents printed in 1865, but what is written
in them occurred in 1864. One of them is entitled "Views
of Seventh-day Adventists Relative to Bearing Arms, as Brought
before the Governors of Several States and the Provo-Marshall
General [that is, of the United States], with a Portion of the
that time Seventh-day Adventists, by the General Conference Committee,
represented to the government of the United States, to the government
of the state of Illinois, of Michigan, of Pennsylvania, of Wisconsin,
and another state or two, that Seventh-day Adventists, as Christians,
and because they were Christians, could not allow that Christians
could under any circumstances bear arms or fight. The other document
is extracted from the writings and publications of Seventh-day
Adventists, to justify the government in accepting from the denomination,
that plea as genuine.
if that order is to be reversed, and we are to accept the view
that Christians may fight under any circumstances at all, for
government or whatever it may be, then we owe it to the government
of the United States to have the General Conference Committee,
representing the denomination, go to the government of the United
States and tell them that we have changed our views; and go to
the governors of these states and tell them that we have changed
our views; so that the records will stand according to our new
and revised views upon that subject. . . .
I will read to you some of the extracts that were then printed
from documents, publications, and papers of Seventh-day Adventists,
as evidence to the United States government, and as evidence to
the governors of the states, that that position taken by the General
Conference Committee of the denomination, was their understood
position, and not one made up for the occasion, to escape the
draft, or to escape the results that were coming upon the country
because of the war. . . .
is an extract from something written in the Signs of the Times,
by Elder James White, in 1853:
professed church of Christ has left the arm of her true husband,
and now leans on the strong arm of the law. She seeks protection,
and to be nourished by the corrupt governments of the world,
and is properly represented by the harlot daughters of the old
mother, she being a symbol of the Catholic Church. As the woman
should cleave to her husband, so should the church cleave to
Christ, and instead of seeking protection from the arm of the
law, lean only on the potent arm of her Beloved. The church
is unlawfully wedded to the world. This may be seen in the various
departments of civil government. Even in the war department,
the professed minister of Jesus Christ is seen mocking the God
of peace with his prayers for success in battle.
an extract quoted from the Review and Herald of May 9,
these things are at hand or not [it is about the coming of the
Lord], the fact remains: a war spirit is abroad, a spirit of
hatred and delusion. It is its contaminating influence that
we fearit is the demoralizing influence of familiarity
with the ideas of war and bloodshed; it is the unhealthy excitement,
the bitter party spirit, that is evil and causes evil to spread.
it not be said there is no danger to Christs disciples
from these causes. There is danger; because "when iniquity
shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." Such are
the mysterious and inexplicable sympathies which bind man to
man, which forbid a separate and isolated interest, that we
catch unconsciously the prevalent tone, and we know not till
the mind is warped and unsettled; and thus being in an unhealthy
state it is ready to receive and to conceive evil. The moral
scourge is more destructive even than the pestilence. . . .
now read another extract, reprinted from the Review, dated
Aug. 14, 1856:
the gospel of Jesus granted you the right to use the sword,
to arm you with carnal weapons, to take the sword to "provide
for your own household," to deliver the oppressed out of
the power of the oppressor, by breaking the sixth commandment
of God, "Thou shalt not kill"? Jesus says, "Love
you think that you, as a Christian living under the gospel,
have a Bible permission to mingle in political strife in any
way whatever? either in legislating, or executing the laws of
human government? If so, I think you are greatly mistaken.
is what the denomination said in 1864. They presented that to
the government of the United States as evidence that they did
not believe in war, and that they could not engage in bearing
arms, and that if they were drafted, they could not be expected
to fight. And the government of the United States listened to
their representations, and made provision that they should attend
the hospitals where they could do the work of ministers of the
gospel, and care for the sick, and bring salvation to the dying.
Now if that is to be reversed, we should stand fairly before the
government and state that it has been reversed.