206. His Providential Care
Today’s reading: “The Ministry of Healing” pp. 417b–419c.
God is active. He is surrounded by millions of angels who act as messengers to all parts of the universe. Yet in the midst of all this, God remains calm and undistracted. Through His Spirit, He is present everywhere. Through both angels and His Spirit, He ministers to humans.
Our response is to trust Him. He has the concern and power to safely, and lovingly, lead us through life. The plentiful good things of nature shows that God can care for us.
All created things testify to His power, His wisdom, His love.
But nature can’t show us God as a person. He is more than just a power, or even a spirit. That is why Jesus came as a human, so that humans can “become acquainted with their Creator” as a person.
In Christ we have on display as much of the “nature and attributes of the invisible God” as we can, and need to, know.
Ellen is using the old definition of “personality” here, “The quality or fact of being a person as distinct from a thing or animal,” because at the time she wrote this book there was a quite an argument over what God was. The main protagonist for a “spiritual” view of God, over God as a “person”, was Dr J.H. Kellogg, a medical doctor, and that is why this chapter and the next have ended up in a book that medical people would read.
Basically Ellen is defending the belief that God the Father and Christ the Son are separate “persons”. They have all the qualities that make a human a “person”. Kellogg followed a trinitarian branch that believes that the Godhead is impersonal, a belief still widely held by some denominations today.
A good place to get a fuller view of the issue is Jerry Moon’s article (read the section from “The Kellogg Crisis and the Capstone Statements”). You can read more of the article if you must but it will drop you into an ugly argument currently running hot here in Australia, the trinitarians vs. the nontrinitarians. Arguments in this area since before 325 AD traditionally involve a lot of opinion and evil surmising from both sides. The reason for the present argument in the Adventist church is that Adventists were nontrinitarian until “the Kellogg crisis.” After Ellen died, the church gradually changed its beliefs, becoming trinitarian in the 1940s.
Both sides today believe in the “personality” of God and agree on most things except that:
- Adventist trinitarians believe that Christ is the figurative Son of God, Adventist nontrinitarians believe Christ to be the literal Son of God.
- Adventist trinitarians believe that the Holy Spirit is a literal person while Adventist nontrinitarians believe the Holy Spirit to be figurative person.
There is no difference between these beliefs on the practical level and Ellen wisely stayed aloof from these arguments while at the same time strongly tackling the “spiritualising,” anti-personality, doctrines Kellogg was promoting, as we will see in the next chapter. There she is quite emphatic about discussions on the Godhead beyond “personality”,
The highest intellect may tax itself until it is wearied out in conjectures regarding the nature of God, but the effort will be fruitless. This problem has not been given us to solve. No human mind can comprehend God. None are to indulge in speculation regarding His nature. Here silence is eloquence. The Omniscient One is above discussion. p.429
As I look at the state of the present arguments, I try to stay close to Ellen’s advice, and maintain “healthy interests”. I think both sides are summed up,
They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions. 1 Timothy 6:4 (NIV)