In this time of political turmoil and uncertainty, young people may at any time be forced to decide what the Lord would have them do when faced with a call to military service. Adventists have been trained from youth to look to the church for counsel and advice in Christian living, but in reference to military service the Seventh-day Adventists are not giving the trumpet a certain sound. They advise that if young people are called for military service, they should seek noncombatant service if possible, but it is up to the individual conscience to decide. The claim is often repeated that the Adventist church has always been noncombatant or taken the noncombatant position. This claim should be examined carefully because there is much evidence that challenges and refutes it. This very issue has brought divisions in the Seventh-day Adventist ranks.
During the latter part of the Civil War in the United States of America, Adventists had to face the draft for military service. There was no unanimity among the leading men until the Lord gave His servant a vision (recorded in 1T 358-368) and then, as a result, the Adventist leaders and General Conference decided that nonparticipation in acts of warfare and bloodshed was the only correct stand for God's people.
This ruling did not become an issue again until the beginning of World War I, in 1914. Then not only the young men but the church in many countries had to take a decided stand. The majority, when faced with this question in sixteen different countries, decided that under the circumstances they should act like other nominal Christian churches and accept all military duties and even on the Sabbath. A small minority could not accept these conference directives, believing the true stand was nonparticipation, so that they could honor God in keeping all the commandments, including the fourth and sixth, which cannot be done when in military service. The majority, to preserve unity, caused the minority of faithful members to be disfellowshiped.
World War II brought the test again before the church and the General Conference had to take a position. They claimed that Adventists had always been noncombatants and still repeat this claim. In this booklet evidence is produced to enable the reader to see if the majority is correct in their claim or if the smaller group stood in harmony with the law of God. All are invited to carefully and prayerfully examine the history and evidence presented, so that they may know and do the will of God. Jesus has promised that His representative, the Holy Spirit, will guide us into all truth () and that the truth will make us free ( )
God created man a free moral agent, endowed with power to understand the will of his Creator, to think for himself, and to act according to his enlightened conscience. But that condition did not last long. Man yielded to sin, and thereby lost his freedom and also his individuality, and became a slave of Satan. Finally he found himself under the boot of slave masters, in an oppressive and wicked society established and controlled by the prince of evil.
In the ancient world, society knew nothing about the sovereignty of individual moral conscience-the voice of God within the human soul enabling man to see for himself what is right and what is wrong. The individual conscience was totally absorbed by the civic conscience. The religious beliefs and ethical standards of the individual were those of the city and/or kingdom to which he belonged. And the word of the king was the highest law. For an individual to enter into conflict with the State because of his personal conscientious convictions-that was something entirely unthinkable.
"The people were supposed to exist for the benefit of the ruling classes. Influence, wealth, education, were so many means of gaining control of the masses for the use of the leaders. The higher classes were to think, decide, enjoy, and rule; the lower were to obey and serve. Religion, like all things else, was a matter of authority. The people were expected to believe and practice as their superiors directed. The right of man as man, to think and act for himself, was wholly unrecognized." DA 550.
The massacre in Bethlehem and its neighborhood-when King Herod sent his soldiers to kill all the boys in that area, to make sure that the newborn king of the Jews would be eliminated-was nothing unusual in those days. That ghastly example shows how despotic rulers looked upon the common people and how quickly soldiers executed the commands of those in authority without questioning whether it was right or wrong to obey and without using their personal moral conscience.
To counteract that masterpiece of Satan that form of mental and spiritual slavery-and to liberate, dignify, and develop the human individuality, and restore man to his original condition, God revealed to His people the eternal principles of truth and righteousness as embodied in the religion given to them.
If the soldiers in the service of King Herod had been converted to God, having their minds enlightened by those principles of truth and righteousness, their conscience would have told them that they must refuse to carry out criminal orders, such as the one just received from the monarch, because the law of God says, "Thou shalt not kill." They would have understood that a "Thus saith the Lord" is above a "Thus saith the king," and that, as morally responsible beings who will stand before the judgment seat of God, they must suffer the consequences of their criminal actions if their obedience to human rulers is contrary to the obedience required by the Almighty.
The relationship between the individual and God on the one hand, and the individual and the State on the other hand, was perfectly understood by the three young Hebrews in the court of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. In obedience to a royal decree all civil servants were gathered together on the plain of Dura for the dedication of a symbolic representation of Babylon. The whole company was commanded to bow before the golden image as a token of supreme and undivided loyalty to the Babylonian power However, those three Hebrews, who had an enlightened moral conscience, refused to obey the king's mandate, because it was in conflict with the first and second commandments of the law of Jehovah.
The three Jews, representatives of the living God, were immediately denounced to the king, who flew into a rage and ordered them to be brought before him. "Is it true," he asked, "do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?" He said he was willing to give them another chance, but at the same time, pointing to the fire, he reminded them that the fiery furnace was awaiting them in case they should persist in their disobedience to his command. And then, bidding defiance to the Almighty, he added: "And who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hand?"
The three conscientious objectors did not surrender to intimidation. Calmly facing the death sentence, they said: "O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so [if this is thy decision], our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." Dan.. Please, read the rest of the story in Daniel, chapter 3.
Israel was a theocratic nation, established and governed by the immediate direction of God. Many times the Israelites were divinely instructed to use the sword to punish wicked cities or nations by the help of the Lord. In such cases the wars of Israel were the wars of Jehovah. The Hebrew soldiers, then, were actually obeying the highest authority in heaven and on earth God. However, when the Christian dispensation was ushered in, a fundamental change took place. God ceased to recognize a poli tical nation as His theocratic nation. When Christ said to the Jews, "The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof" (Matt.), He meant that "holy nation," that "chosen generation," that "peculiar people" (l ), know as the church, which is composed of all nationalities. In this spiritual nation "there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek" (Rom. ), "for ye are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. ).
Under the new dispensation, Christ's words, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" (), define the relationship that the individual soul is to maintain with God and with the State. In this sentence Jesus made no evasive reply. "He declared that since they [the Jews] were living under the protection of the Roman power, they should render to that power the support it claimed, so long as this did not conflict with a higher duty," as specified by the law of God. The true servants of God are law-abiding citizens. "But while peaceably subject to the laws of the land, they should at all times give their first allegiance to God." DA 602.
The early Christians understood that Christ's words-"My kingdom is not of this world" (), and My followers "are not of the world" ( )-restricted their earthly citizenship and that they were not to be involved in politics. By saying, "The Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them" ( ); "Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword" (Matt. ); "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Matt. ); "Love your enemies" (Matt. ),-Jesus taught that a Christian cannot take part in acts of bloodshed. A careful study of the law of God and its connection with the battlefield, shows that those who go to war violate not only the fourth and sixth commandments, but all ten. In this field both the moral conscience of the individual and the rectitude (or just dealing) of the State are put to the test before God.
The test for the individual:
"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?" 1T 361, 362.
By the Jewish authorities the apostles had been strictly for bidden to teach in the name of Christ in Jerusalem, and they had already spent some time in prison for obeying God rather than men, when they were found doing the same things again. They could not renounce their loyalty to God. This is what worldly men, governed by worldly principles, cannot always understand. True Christians, who have the privilege of possessing an enlightened religious conscience, have no doubt that their duty before God takes precedence over man-made regulations or prohibitions. So, when the apostles were again interrogated before the Jewish Council, they said: "We ought to obey God rather than men.". Let this be a lesson to all true Seventh-day Adventists.
'We are not to inquire, What is the practice of men? or, What is the custom of the world? We are not to ask, How shall I act in order to have the approval of men? or, What will the world tolerate? The question of intense interest to every soul is, What hath God said? We are to read His Word and obey it, not swerving one jot or tittle from its requirements, but acting irrespective of human traditions and jurisdiction." 6BC 1056.
The test for the State:
"To protect liberty of conscience is the duty of the state, and this is the limit of its authority in matters of religion." GC 201.
Where there is no conflict between the word of God and the laws of the land, or where professed Christians are prepared to sell their conscience, betray their most sacred trusts in connection with the kingdom of God, and compromise with the powers of this world by obeying man rather than God, there is no persecution. In this case the principle of religious liberty or freedom of conscience does not come into question, for the simple reason that, from his standpoint, the individual has no religious controversy with the State, and the State has no controversy with the individual. Only when this controversy arises does the State have a chance to prove, for the first time, whether or not it is prepared to grant freedom of religious con science to those who find themselves involved in such an issue.
Wherever and whenever we see our right of religious freedom -which is the most important of all human rights-threatened, we must do something about it, "interposing the most effectual protest against measures to restrict liberty of conscience" (5T 452). Any move toward the suppression or restriction of this in alienable human right is an act of concession to the spirit of that oppressive religio-political power (Rev.) "which for so many ages has steadily warred against liberty of conscience" (5T 711, 712). We should all know what changes are coming:
"The authorities will make laws to restrict religious liberty. They will assume the right that is God's alone. They will think they can force the conscience, which God alone should control. Even now they are making a beginning; this work they will continue to carry forward till they reach a boundary over which they cannot step. God will interpose in behalf of His loyal, commandment-keeping people." DA 630.
The experience in connection with the fiery furnace (Daniel, chapter 3) shows that the Lord "takes His stand with the op pressed, and rebukes all earthly powers that rebel against the authority of Heaven" (PK 511, 512). Any country that does not understand its duty before God (GC 201) will be found enlarging its prisons and blemishing the pages of its history with the blood of its martyrs.
"To the loyal heart [to every one who has decided to remain true to God] the commands of sinful, finite men will sink into insignificance beside the word of the eternal God. Truth will be obeyed though the result be imprisonment or exile or death." PK 512, 513.
II-THE EARLY CHRISTIANS AND THE BEARING OF ARMS
Everybody knows that the Christians were cruelly persecuted by order of the Roman government during the first few centuries, but it is not generally known why they suffered persecution. Historians who have examined the writings of the Fathers of the Church tell us why. Among other reasons, they point out the fact that, for conscience' sake, the early followers of Christ considered taking part in warfare and in military service to be incompatible with the requirements of the holy law of God. They were conscientious objectors. Modern authors inform:
"The Christians for a long time would not go to war."-Roland H. Bainton, The Church of Our Fathers, p. 22.
"During the early times of Christianity [the conflict between the civil power and the church] assumed the form of persecution on the part of the State and of collective conscientious objection on the part of the Christians both to the bearing of arms and to the worship of the emperor."-Jean-Pierre Cattelain, A Objecao de Consciencia, p. 12.
This information, as far as we know, is based on the writings of Hippolytus, Lactantius, Tertullian, Origen, etc.
Hippolytus 1160-235 A.D.), who died a martyr under Maximin's persecution, wrote:
"If a catechumen or a faithful one wants to become a soldier, let him be disfellowshiped, because he wanted to despise God." Quoted by Jean Lasserre, Les Chretiens et la Violence, p. 230.
Lactantius (c. 260-340 A.D.), an apologist, wrote:
"When God forbids killing, He does not only prohibit hold ups, which even the public laws will not permit, but also warns us against doing certain things which are lawful in the eyes of men. Thus, a faithful believer should have no permission to serve as a soldier, because his military service would be counted as unrighteousness."-Quoted by Jean-Pierre Cattelain, A Objecao de Consciencia, pp. 13, 14.
Kenneth Scott Latourette writes:
"One of the issues on which the early Christians were at variance with the Graeco-Roman world was participation in war. For the first three centuries no Christian writing which has survived to our time condoned Christian participation in war.... Hippolytus, prominent in Rome, in putting down in writing what he believed to be the apostolic tradition and so the authentic Christian teaching, maintained that when a soldier applied for admission to the Christian fellowship he must refuse to kill men even if he were commanded by his superiors to do so and must also not take an oath, and that military commanders must resign if they were to continue as catechumens. A catechumen or baptized person, so Hippolytus said, who sought to enlist as a soldier must be cut off from the Church. Tertullian argued against Christians being members of the Roman armies on the ground that this brought one under a master other than Christ, that it entailed taking the sword, and that, even when the army was used for police purposes in peace time, it made necessary the infliction of punishment, when all revenge was forbidden to the Christian....
"So clear was the opposition of the early Christians to bearing arms that Celsus, in his famous attack on them, declared that if all were to do as did the Christians the Empire would fall victim to the wildest and most lawless barbarians. In replying, Origen did not deny that Christians were pacifists. Indeed, he said that Christians do not fight under the Emperor 'although he require it.' Instead he argued that if all were to become Christians, the barbarians would also be Christians, and that even now, when Christians were in the minority, their love, labor, and prayers were doing more than Roman arms to preserve the realm." Kenneth Scott Latourette, A History of Christianity, vol. 1, pp. 242, 243.
Conscientious objection to the bearing of arms was one of the strongest principles maintained by the early Christians, as can be seen from the fact that, amid the apostasy which was flooding the church, this principle stood for a remarkably long time, namely, until the days of Constantine I (the Great). Constantine was attracted by Christianity since his early years. Although he professed to be a Christian, he was actually a pagan in his actions, but he proved to be an able politician in so far as he succeeded in obtaining the support of both pagans and Christians.
"After Emperor Constantine adhered to the Church, the change in the position of the majority of Christians came only little by little. This leads to the conclusion that the critical attitude taken by the Christians-an attitude of non-cooperation was a manifestation of hostility, not so much toward the governors and the Emperor, but rather toward the acts of violence committed by the governors, in opposition to Christian ethics.
"As a matter of fact, when the Synod of Arles (summoned by the Emperor before his baptism), in 314 A. D., was forced by Constantine to declare its position on the question of military service, the Synod confined itself to issuing the following rule, which, at first view, came as a surprise: De his qui arma projiciunt in pace, placuit abstinere eos a communione: 'Regarding those who bear arms in time of peace: they should be suspended from the communion service.' The phrase 'in time of peace' evidently implies the idea that, although a Christian was permitted to do military service as long as he was not required to shed blood, ac cording to the tradition in force at that time, his taking part among the combatants, in time of war, was still proscribed. Thus the Synod of Arles confirmed a distinction which already existed before 314 A. D.-that, when there was no other possibility, a Christian could do military service (militare), but he was forbidden to take part in war (bellare).... One century later, a partnership was formed between the church and the State, when, by a decree of Emperor Theodosius II, 416 A. D., access to the army was limited to the Christians.
"Nevertheless, conscientious objection [among minorities] persisted after 314 and even after 416 [A. D.]. Suffice it to mention the attitude of a famous man, Saint Martin, who declared (c. 350 A. D.), 'I am a soldier of Christ,' and from then on refused to bear arms." -Jean-Pierre Cattelain, A Objecao de Consciencia, pp. 14, 15.
With reference to the apostasy in connection with the principle under discussion, we read in an Adventist book:
"When Constantine outwardly accepted Christianity, he did so as a converted pagan general. Later he persuaded Christians to fight in his army. From then on professed Christians were less and less conscientious; and the more worldly the church grew, the more willing to join the government in war did she become...." Francis McLellan Wilcox, Seventh-day Adventists in Time of War, p. 48.
When the church compromised with the State, and decreed that her members were permitted to bear arms, she committed spiritual adultery, taking an advanced step in apostasy. Once a church has gone that far on her downward path, history shows that there is no more return.
III-THE ORIGINAL POSITION OF THE SDA CHURCH
Our stand before God is determined by our obedience or dis obedience to the law of God. If we obey, we are God's people; if we do not obey, we are not God's people. We should never over look the conditions which the Lord has specified.
We are God's people if the law of God is written in our hearts:
The Lord said: "If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; then I will . . . walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people." Lev.. "Obey my voice, and do them, according to all which I command you: so shall ye be my people, and I will be your God." Jer. . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples in deed." . Read Jer. ; Heb. .
We are not God's people if our life and character are not in harmony with the law of God:
It is written: "Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you." Isa.. "I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." . Iniquity is sin (Ps. ), and sin is the transgression of the law of God ( ). (The Greek word anomia is translated as "iniquitt' in and as "transgression of the law" in .)
The fundamental distinction between the church of God and the synagogue of Satan is found in the conflicting attitude taken toward the law of Jehovah (TM 16). There is "a great gulf fixed" between those who obey and those who do not obey the law of God.
"From the very beginning of the great controversy in heaven it has been Satan's purpose to overthrow the law of God. It was to accomplish this that he entered upon his rebellion against the Creator, and though he was cast out of heaven he has continued the same warfare upon the earth. To deceive men, and thus lead them to transgress God's law, is the object which he has steadfastly pursued. Whether this be accomplished by casting aside the law altogether, or by rejecting one of its precepts, the result will be ultimately the same." GC 582.
1. God Has Called a Special People
"God has called His church in this day, as He called ancient Israel, to stand as a light in the earth. By the mighty cleaver of truth, the messages of the first, second, and third angels, He has separated them from the churches and from the world to bring them into a sacred nearness to Himself. He has made them the depositaries of His law and has committed to them the great truths of prophecy for this time." 5T 455.
"God is leading a people out from the world upon the exalted platform of eternal truth, the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." TM 29.
"At this time the church is to put on her beautiful garments 'Christ our righteousness.' There are clear, decided distinctions to be restored and exemplified to the world in holding aloft the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. The beauty of holiness is to appear in its native luster in contrast with the deformity and darkness of the disloyal, those who have revolted from the law of God. Thus we acknowledge God and recognize His law, the foundation of His government in heaven and throughout His earthly dominions. His authority should be kept distinct and plain before the world, and no laws are to be acknowledged that come in collision with the laws of Jehovah. If in defiance of God's arrangements the world be allowed to influence our decisions or our actions, the purpose of God is defeated. However specious the pretext, if the church waver here, there is written against her in the books of heaven a betrayal of the most sacred trusts, and treachery to the kingdom of Christ." TM 16, 17.
2. Covenant With God
In 1861, at the Conference at Battle Creek, Michigan, when the first Adventist Church was organized, they entered into the following covenant:
"We, the undersigned, hereby associate ourselves together as a church, taking the name of Seventh-day Adventists, covenanting to keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." The Great Advent Movement, p. 105.
3. Stand Adopted in 1864
Before the end of the Civil War, when the SDA's were facing the problem of military service and of partaking in war, they re solved that they could not transgress the commandments under any circumstances. Therefore they sent the following declaration to the authorities:
"We, the undersigned, Executive Comittee of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, respectfully beg leave to present for your consideration the following statements:
"The denomination of Christians calling themselves Seventh day Adventists, taking the Bible as their rule of faith and practice, are unanimous in their views that its teachings are contrary to the spirit and practice of war; hence, they have ever been conscientiously opposed to bearing arms. If there is any portion of the Bible which we, as a people, can point to more than another as our creed, it is the law of ten commandments, which we regard as the supreme law, and each precept of which we take in its most obvious and literal import. The fourth of these commandments requires cessation from labor on the seventh day of the week, the sixth prohibits the taking of life, neither of which, in our view, could be observed while doing military duty. Our practice has uniformly been consistent with these principles. Hence, our people have not felt free to enlist into the service. In none of our denominational publications have we advocated or encouraged the practice of bearing arms, and, when drafted, rather than violate our principles, we have been content to pay, and assist each other in paying, the $300 commutation money."-Seventh day Adventists in Time of War, p. 58.
In The Review and Herald of March 7, 1865, the position of the SDA Church was set forth as follows:
"Why Seventh-day Adventists Cannot Engage in War
"1. They could not keep the Lord's holy Sabbath. 'The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shall not do any work.' Ex.. Fighting, as military men tell us, is the hardest kind of work; and the seventh day of all days would be the least regarded in the camp and field.
"2. The sixth command of God's moral law reads, 'Thou shalt not kill.' To kill is to take life. The soldier by profession is a practical violator of this precept. But if we would enter into life we must keep the commandments.' Matt..
"3. 'God has called us to peace'; and 'the weapons of our war fare are not carnal.' 1 Cor.; 2 Cor. . The gospel permits us to use no weapons but 'the sword of the Spirit.'
"4. Our kingdom is not of this world. Said Christ to Pilate, 'If my kingdom were of this world then would my servants fight.'. This is most indisputable evidence that Christians have nothing to do with carnal instruments of war.
"5. We are commanded to love even our enemies. 'But I say unto you,' says the Saviour, 'Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you.' Matt.. Do we fulfill this command when we blow out their brains with revolvers, or sever their bodies with sabres? 'If any man have not the spirit of Christ he is none of his.' Rom. .
"6. Our work is the same as our Master's, who once said, 'The Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.'. If God's Spirit sends us to save men, does not some other spirit send us to destroy them? Let us know what manner of spirit we are of.
"7. The New Testament command is, 'Resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.' Matt.. That is, we had better turn the other cheek than to smite them back again. Could this scripture be obeyed on the battle field?
"8. Christ said to Peter, as he struck the high priest's servant, 'Put up again thy sword.' Matt.. If the Saviour commanded the apostle to 'put up' the sword, certainly his followers have no right to take it. Then let those who are of the world fight, but as for us let us pray."
The Report of the Third Annual Session of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, published in The Review and Herald of May 23, 1865, contains the following resolution:
"Resolved that we recognize civil government as ordained of God, that order, justice, and quiet may be maintained in the land; and that the people of God may lead quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty. In accordance with this fact we acknowledge the justice of rendering tribute, custom, honor, and reverence to the civil power, as enjoined in the New Testament. While we thus cheerfully render to Caesar the things which the Scriptures show to be his, we are compelled to decline all participation in acts of war and bloodshed as being inconsistent with the duties enjoined upon us by our divine Master toward our enemies and toward all mankind."
As can be seen, nonparticipation was the original stand of the early Adventists, and they acted in harmony with their faith. One of the pioneers reports:
"Another most impressive meeting as regards the war of the rebellion, was held in a grove near father's farm in Newton, Michigan. It was the last year of the war and General Grant had been appointed commander in chief of the Northern armies, and word had come that there was to be another draft. Seventy-five thousand men were needed, and it looked as though our men must go this time. Now, as never before, their principles of peace were at stake.
"Brother and Sister White called a special meeting in the grove at Newton for prayer to God that He would turn the tide. It was well attended by people from Battle Creek and the little churches around. Anxiety was on every face; a solemnity that cannot be told was present. We knelt before God on the wood land sod, and prayers by Brother and Sister White and their associates went up to God to spare His people. He answered the faith of His servants; and although it took almost another year to finish the war, yet God protected His people." NL, Miscellaneous 1,pp.2,3.
4. Endorsed by the Spirit of Prophecy
The original stand of the church was in agreement with the I will of God. The servant of the Lord wrote:
"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." 1T 361.
It is impossible to participate in war and remain loyal to God I and obedient to His law, because war is Satan's most efficient machine invented for the purpose of making void all the commandments of God's holy law. The Spirit of Prophecy says:
"The powers from beneath are stirred with deep intensity. War and bloodshed are the result. The moral atmosphere is poisoned with cruel, horrible doings." 8T 249.
"Satanic agencies have made the earth a stage for horrors, which no language can describe. War and bloodshed are carried on by nations claiming to be Christian. A disregard for the law of God has brought its sure result." 7BC 974.
If these statements are true, as we are convinced they are, then those who go to war do not identify themselves with the little "company in the narrow pathway," but with the multitude in the abyss, where war songs are heard. Read 2T 594, 595.
By getting involved in this problem the professed people of God are playing into the hands of Satan and missing the necessary preparation for the soon coming of Christ.
"Satan delights in war, for it excites the worst passions of the soul and then sweeps into eternity its victims steeped in vice and blood. It is his object to incite the nations to war against one an other, for he can thus divert the minds of the people from the work of preparation to stand in the day of God." GC 589.
IV-GREAT CHANGES IN THE CHURCH
In view of the crisis that was coming with World War I, the Lord sent the following impressive warnings to the church:
"The tempest is coming, and we must get ready for its fury by having repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord will arise to shake terribly the earth. We shall see troubles on all sides. Thousands of ships will be hurled into the depths of the sea. Navies will go down, and human lives will be sacrificed by millions." MYP 89 (890).
"Fearful tests and trials await the people of God. The spirit of war is stirring the nations from one end of the earth to the other." 9T 17 (1904).
"Soon grievous troubles will arise among the nations-troubles that will not cease until Jesus comes.... The judgments of God are in the land. The wars and rumors of wars, the destruction by fire and flood, say clearly that the time of trouble, which is to in crease until the end, is very near at hand. We have no time to lose. The world is stirred with the spirit of war." RH Nov. 24, 1904.
"There is a prospect before us of a continued struggle, at the risk of imprisonment, loss of property, and even of life itself, to de fend the law of God, which is made void by the laws of men. In this situation worldly policy will urge an outward compliance with the laws of the land, for the sake of peace and harmony. And there are some who will even urge such a course from the Scripture: 'Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. . . . The powers that be are ordained of God."' 5T 712 (l889).
"What position will the church take? Will those who in the past have had respect for the law of God, be drawn into the current of evil? Will the almost universal transgression and contempt of the law of God, darken the spiritual atmosphere of the souls of all alike? Will the disrespect of the law of God sweep away the protecting barriers? Because wickedness and lawlessness prevail, is the law of God to be less highly esteemed? Because it is made void by the great majority of those living on the earth, shall the few loyal ones become like all the disloyal, and act as the wicked act?" 3BC 1153 (l906).
"With pity and compassion, with tender yearning, the Lord is looking upon His tempted and tried people. For a time the oppressors will be permitted to triumph over those who know God's holy commandments. All are given the same opportunity that was granted to the first great rebel to demonstrate the spirit that moves them to action. It is God's purpose that everyone shall be tested and proved, to see whether he will be loyal or disloyal to the laws which govern the kingdom of heaven.... We may have to plead most earnestly before legislative councils for the right to exercise independent judgment, to worship God according to the dictates of our conscience. Thus in His providence God has designed that the claims of His holy law shall be brought before men in the highest authority.... Many are holding the truth only with the tips of their fingers. They have had great light and many privileges. Like Capernaum they have been exalted to heaven in this respect. In the time of test and trial that is approaching, they will become apostates unless they put away their pride and self-confidence, unless they have an entire transformation of character." 3SM 414, 415.
"Many who have had great light have not appreciated and improved it as it was their privilege to do. They have not practiced the truth.... And those who have been privileged with opportunities to understand the truth and who have not obeyed its principles will be swayed by Satan's temptations for self advancement. They will deny the principles of truth in practice and bring reproach upon the cause of God.
"Christ declares that He will spue these out of His mouth, and leave them to follow their own course of actions to distinguish themselves. This course of action does indeed make them prominent as men that are unfaithful householders.
"The Lord will give His message to those who have walked in accordance with the light they have had, and will recognize them as true and faithful, according to the measurement of God. These men will take the place of those who, having light and knowledge, have walked not in the way of the Lord, but in the imagination of their own unsanctified hearts." MS 97, 1898.
In 1913, when the crisis was at the door, the Lord directed His last call to the church through the living prophetess:
"Men of clear understanding are needed now. God calls upon those who are willing to be controlled by the Holy Spirit to lead out in a work of thorough reformation. I see a crisis before us, and the Lord calls for His laborers to come into line." TM 514.
If World War I would bring a crisis, then it would also bring a shaking because it is written:
"[E]very trial made by the refining, purifying process upon professed Christians proves some to be dross. The fine gold does not always appear. In every religious crisis some fall under temptation. The shaking of God blows away multitudes like dry leaves." 4T 89.
At the beginning of World War I, leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Europe issued documents encouraging its members who were eligible for the army to serve as combatants. Hereunder are a few examples:
1. Circular Letter of the Secretary of the European Division
"Hamburg, August 2nd, 1914
"To Our Dear Brethren and Sisters:
"Greetings with Psalm 23. In this difficult and serious time into which Europe has fallen, we desire to request the following of you:
"1. We as followers of Christ, through the power of God, should in these days be true, obedient, and subject to the services of our country. ll.1
"2. We should do our military duties cheerfuly whilst we are in service or being called to serve, so that the officers in charge will find in us valiant and true soldiers, who are ready to die for their homes, for our army and our Fatherland. Our destiny is in God's hand. Should we lose our life whilst in conflict, let us re member that our 'life is hid with Christ in God' (Col.).
"3. Those who are left at home should prove to their neighbors that they are noble-minded and filled with the love of Christ, ready to help in every way possible to relieve the suffering and the sick, the wounded, the poor, the widows and the orphans. We dare not lose our courage, but be patient in affliction, doing as Moses, whose song we expect to sing some day. Trust in Him 'as seeing Him who is invisible' (Heb.). Let us not forget to earnestly search the Word of God ( ). Attend our meetings regularly, and above all things, when you come before the throne of grace, do not forget to pray for our Government and our army (1 Tim. ).
"4. We must always remember our mission as messengers of Christ and, according to our strength, serve to save souls.
"Committing you all to the grace of God, I am, with heartfelt salutation,
Your Brother in the Lord,
(Sgd.) G. Dail"
This circular letter, signed by Elder G. Dail, secretary of the
European Division, was also published in Romania (August 4, 1914).
2. Declaration of the East German Union to the Ministry of War
"Charlottenburg, August 4th, 1914
"Most Honorable Lord General and Minister of War:
"Since our standpoint concerning our duties towards the Government has been considered as fanatical, and so also our position toward military duties in general, particularly our refusal to serve on Saturday (Sabbath) in times of peace, I take the liberty, Your Excellency, to present to you hereunder the stand of the German Seventh-day Adventists, especially now in the present war situation. While we stand on the fundamentals of the Holy Scriptures, we seek to fulfill the precepts of Christianity, keeping the rest day (Saturday) that God established in the beginning, by endeavouring to put aside all work on that day. Still, in times of stress, we have bound ourselves together in the defense 4 of the Fatherland, and under these circumstances we will also bear arms on Saturday (Sabbath). On this point we take our stand on the Scriptures as found in'Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake; whether it be to the king, as supreme, or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers.... Fear God, honour the king.'
"We have passed this resolution on to our members, and have asked them to organize prayer meetings and entreat God to give the victory to the German arms. Just in case some among the drafted Adventists may refuse to serve on the Sabbath, or object to the bearing of arms, we will be grateful, your Excellency, if the commanding officer is informed of our stand or resolution.
"In this connection, allow me, Your Excellency, to inform you that in Friedensau, Magdeburg, our sanitarium and our missionary school, plus 250 pitched tents, with a physician in charge and a number of trained nurses who will be able to care for about 1,400 wounded soldiers, will be placed at your disposal.
"With the desire that God may make the righteous cause victorious, I have the honour, Your Excellency, to remain (Sgd.) H. F. Schubert President, East German Union"
3. Declaration of Three Adventist Leaders
"Dresden, March 5th, 1915
"To the General Command of the 7th Army Corps in Dresden:
"With reference to Order No. 856, of February 22nd, 1915, which prohibited the holding of Adventist meetings in Dresden (Saxony), please allow the undersigned to give the following explanation:
"For several years the undersigned have clearly set forth be fore military officials, both verbally and in writing, that military service on the Sabbath (Saturday) in times of peace was a question for the individual conscience to decide.
"At the outbreak of the war, however, the leadership of the Adventist Church in Germany, of their own accord, advised all their members under military obligation, all over the country, that, in view of the present emergency situation of the Fatherland, they should fulfill their duties as citizens according to the Scriptures, also on Saturday (Sabbath), as other combatants do on Sunday.
"As evidence [of the above] please find enclosed herewith copy of the declaration addressed to the Most Honorable Minister of War, of Prussia, dated August 4th, 1914.
"This position, taken already years ago, is confirmed by the devoted signatories:
"For the European Division, headquarters at Hamburg,
(Sgd.) L. R. Conradi, President
"For the East German Union, headquarters at Berlin, Charlottenburg,
[Sgd.) HFSchubert, Presiden,
"For the Saxon Conference, headquarters at Chemnitz,
(Sgd.) P. Drinhaus, President"
4. Booklet Der Christ und der Krieg (The Christian and War)
"In all that we have said, we have shown that the Bible teaches, first: that taking part in war is not a transgression of the I sixth commandment; second: that doing military service on the Sabbath is not a transgression of the fourth commandment. He who believes otherwise, let him show one declaration of the I Scriptures or the Testimonies. If he is not able to do so, then let ] him be careful not to bring accusations and statements which he cannot prove."-Der Christ und der Krieg, p. 18 [Germany].
5. Declaration of the Romanian Union
"All is before God, and it pleases Him to see men enjoy the liberties and rights given them by the law, the most important among which is freedom of worship.... In the campaign of 1812, a | French Colonel sent a petition to Napoleon, asking him for three 1 days' leave. Napoleon replied: 'The Colonel should address his petition to the Russian Czar. If the Czar grants it, I will grant it, too.'. . .
"We have had cases in which brethren in Germany asked: 'What must we do in war?' The answer was: 'Remain faithful to God, but do what everybody else is doing.' And what happened? Where the soldiers could get permission to rest on Sunday and keep it holy, our soldiers went to their officers with the request: 'We ask you to give us Saturday off.' . . . But where nobody could think of holidays, it would only have been a queer attitude for our brethren to ask for permission to keep the Sabbath." Curierul Misionar [SDA paper in Romania], No. 3, pp. 35-37, 1916.
6. Declaration of Four European Unions
"The things that are taking place in our midst reveal to us the necessity of expressing once more our position towards military service and participation in war....
"The Almighty God has used war as an instrument of punishment at all times. See. When the Lord out lined the rules on the matter of war He gave also the correct explanation of the sixth commandment.
"We should understand even today that this commandment does not apply to war, but forbids murder, manslaughter, etc., among citizens, caused by personal hatred. This we can also see from an experience which occurred in the life of David, mentioned in.
"John the Baptist did not condemn military service, but ad vised that the duty should be fulfilled faithfully.. Nor can we here apply the words: 'For all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword,' because this prohibits the defending of religious things with the sword.
"We confess that we cannot understand the Word of God in a different way. It is clear that the authorities are ordained by God that, with the help of arms, they may keep order and truth, and maintain peace in the country; otherwise the believers would not have peace. If we entrust this burden to those only who do not believe the Word of God we turn away from God's order. If we accept the blessings of common order, should we excuse our selves from sharing the burden? This is not Christian behavior. He who wants to enjoy the privileges must be ready to fulfill the duties also. This is what Christ said when he declared: 'Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things which are God's.'
"It is self-understood that, despite this declaration made by us, we allow every one complete liberty of conscience, and we respect the conviction and position of all others, but we decidedly condemn the provocative behavior of certain agitators who force their attitude upon others, thus putting in danger not only the interests of the country but also of the cause of God.-(Sgd.) The Committees of the East and West German Unions, the Central European Union, and the Danubian Union, of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Hamburg, Nov. 15, 1917."Utolso Uzenet [SDA publication in Hungary].
A great number of Adventists in Europe followed the advice of their leaders in the crisis of World War I. Only a few heeded the warnings previously given by the Lord through the Spirit of Prophecy. And these few, whose only offense was that they wanted to keep the law of God as they had been taught from the beginning, were betrayed and persecuted by their own brethren in the leadership.
During that crisis in which the faithful ones were persecuted, the following prophecy began to have its fulfillment among the two classes of Adventists, especially in Europe:
"Whenever persecution takes place, the spectators make decisions either for or against Christ. Because of persecution, many will be offended. The principles of the truth cut directly across their practice, and they will stumble and fall, apostatizing from the faith they once advocated. Many who have professed to love the truth will then show that they have no vital union with the True Vine. They will be cut away, as branches that bear no fruit, and will be bound up with unbelievers, scoffers, and mockers.
"Those who apostatize in time of trial will bear false witness and betray their brethren, to secure their own safety. They will tell where their brethren are concealed, putting the wolves on their track. Christ has warned us of this, that we may not be surprised at the cruel, unnatural course pursued by friends and relatives." RH Dec. 20, 1898.
VI-A WAVERING GENERAL CONFERENCE RESPONSE
From the beginning of the war, the leading brethren in America were informed about the crisis that had involved the Adventist Church in Europe. Francis M. Wilcox wrote:
"Particularly should the church of God today remember our European brethren who are now suffering adversity. Some have been forced into active military service; their lives are constantly menaced, and they are exposed to hardship and danger. Families have been broken up. Those left at home are anxious with fear for those who have gone to the front. The officers of some of our conferences and churches have been compelled to forsake their charges and join the national colors." RH Aug. 27, 1914.
Another evidence that the leadership of the church in U.S. was aware of what was going on in Europe is found in W. C. White's circular letter of May 26, 1915:
"Sister White then asked: 'Has war broken out in Europe?' He answered, 'Yes.' She then inquired, 'Has the war affected our brethren?' He answered, 'Yes, many are forced to join the army, many are killed, and others are in dangerous places, and in many countries there is great suffering and tribulation. Many of our brethren in America and Europe think that those who were forced to join the army did wrong, because they obeyed the military. They think it better to refuse to bear arms, even if the result of refusal meant death.' Sister White replied: 'I do not think they ought to do that. I think they ought to stand to their duty as long as time lasts.' "
In harmony with what God had revealed to Sister White be fore (lT 361), we understand that she rebuked them for obeying men rather than God when she said: 'I do not think they ought to do that." Her appeal to the brethren that they should "stand to their duty" certainly refers to their duty before God, as she had written before:
"All will be required to render obedience to human edicts in violation of the divine law. Those who will be true to God and to duty will be menaced, denounced, and proscribed." 5T 473.
L. R. Conradi, the president of the European Division, kept the General Conference leaders informed of the situation in Europe from the very beginning of the war. He wrote:
"While the daily newspapers are read with the greatest interest because of the news which each day brings from this terrible war which affects the whole world, God's people have a still deeper interest in the question of how this war may affect the cause of God itself....
"In the Central European Union, . . . [a leading brother] re ports that in his conference about 60 of his members have been enrolled in the army.
"In the Danube Union . . . several of the directors of the mission fields and a number of the workers have been called to military service, . . .
"At Friedensau a second teacher and several of the students had to enter service, . . .
"We surely appreciate the many prayers which ascend to God in our behalf in all parts of the wide harvest field, and we know that God is answering them from the very fact that in spite of this terrible war, His cause advances triumphantly." RH Dec. 17, 1914.
More evidences would be superfluous. The General Conference brethren were informed, and they should have sent to Europe unequivocal instructions and warnings in harmony with the original stand of the church, but, instead, they only gave an uncertain trumpet sound (1 Cor.). Here are a few statements to this effect. Francis M. Wilcox wrote:
"As to just what our European brethren should do under these trying circumstances only they alone in prayer to God can decide." RH Aug. 27, 1914.
After the war was over, Elder A. G. Daniells, the General Conference president at that time, explained:
"As soon as the war began in Europe, we in America began to study this question with much care.... We found, however, that as we began to study this question with great care some among us became greatly confused.... Our position was that everyone personally would have to decide what to do in harmony with his own conviction.... Then ... we had certain brethren who were filled with a spirit of love for their country. They were willing to go to the front and to fight. Some of them came over to England and France and they went right out into the trenches, and I don't know all they did while they were there, but after they had finished they came back home when the armistice came.... We regretted that war had come, and we were against war. We must, however, permit every citizen to follow his own conscience and decide for himself what his position with reference to the government should be. We have not disfellowshiped a single one, of these members because of their different stand on this subject...."-Report of the Meeting With the Opposition Movement (July 21-23, 1920), pp. 37-39 (English translation from the archives of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists).
The president of the European Division, L. R. Conradi, made a trip to U.S.A. and explained the whole situation to the leading brethren there, in 1916. He said:
"[W]hen I met with our brethren in America in 1916 and told them of these things in a careful report which I gave them, the brethren after they had heard the whole story told us that under these difficult circumstances and conditions we must ask the Lord for light and do the best we could." Quoted from the above mentioned Report (English translation), p. 20.
The Adventist leaders in Germany reported that they were acting in harmony with instructions received from the General Conference leaders in the U.S.A. They wrote:
"The delegates of the Hessen Conference accept the Bible standpoint expressed by the leaders of our work with reference to the military service that it is purely a civil matter and that the civil authorities whom the Lord has ordained for this work have a right to demand military service according toand . This position of the conference in Hessen is in harmony with the General Conference resolution adopted in November, 1915, when certain leading brethren who are present here raised the question concerning military service, and were told that the General Conference left that question to our believers in the different countries of earth with the understanding that our believers had the fullest freedom to choose what stand they would take to such civil ordinances, and how they will adapt themselves to the circumstances."-Zions-Waechter [SDA church paper in Germany], No. 5, 1916.
This publication was one of the documents examined during the meeting in Friedensau, July 21-23, 1920, according to the above-mentioned Report, p. 11.
In the presence of these evidences, the efforts made to minimize the responsibility of the highest leadership of the church in the combatant stand taken during World War I, certainly fall to the ground.
VII-BEHIND THE SCENES
Anyone who does not dig deep enough into the facts, but contents himself with the shallow information supplied by official Adventist sources, may be led to think: "Well, three men in Europe made a mistake by issuing certain documents which did not represent the historic position of the church." The impression given is that, in spite of the mistakes made by a few European leaders, who "confessed in writing that they had been wrong," the General Conference did not support these leaders in their error. The following quotations will confirm our statement:
In the Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopaedia (Commentary Reference Series, vol. 10), p. 1183, we read:
"The military question came to the front when the conflict between Austria-Hungary and Serbia exploded into World War I in early August, 1914....
"On the German mobilization, in August, 1914, the SDA's of that country were faced with the necessity of making an immediate decision concerning their duty to God and country when called into the armed forces.... After counseling with the few SDA leaders locally available at the time, the president of the East German Union Conference informed the German War Ministry in writing, dated August 4, 1914, that conscripted SDA's would bear arms as combatants and would render service on the Sabbath in defense of their country....
"As a result of unfavorable statements against the German Government made by some of the fanatics, SDA churches in the state of Saxony were closed by the public authority. Only when three SDA leaders at Hamburg in a letter to the government in Berlin on March 4, 1915, reasserted their stand on combatancy, was the ban against SDA churches in Saxony lifted....
"Admittedly, the three SDA leaders in Germany took a stand concerning the duty of SDA's in military service that was contrary to the historic stand officially maintained by the denomination ever since the American Civil War (1861-1865)."
During the meeting in Friedensau, Germany, 1920, A. G. Daniells, then General Conference president, tried to explain away the gravity of the situation as follows:
"We regret and we do not accept certain statements that were written and sent out here. When, however, we consider the circumstances and the motive behind these writings, we have come to the conclusion that our brethren here were just as faithful in their relation to the work as we were. And why, if that be so, should the one judge the other.... We must say that everyone has the right to his own conviction and to follow his own conscience with reference to the war.... We are ready to admit that we have made mistakes, but we are not ready for a single minute to agree to the idea that we as a church have departed from the right way, and that another movement has come to take our place. We claim that we are yet on the right road and the original road of the Advent Movement."-Report of the Meeting With the Opposition Movement (July 21-23, 1920), pp. 43, 55, 56.
Elder L. H. Christian, referring to the European crisis, gave the following evasive and misleading explanation:
"Our responsible men in Europe did their utmost to hold things together, and it is a joy to remember how well they succeeded. This Advent movement owes a debt of gratitude to the loyalty and earnest zeal of our brethren in the countries at war as well as to the balanced judgment and sound counsel of our leaders in neutral lands. What might not have happened to the Advent cause in Europe during the war if these men had not stood true? . . .
"This last visit [of Elder W. A. Spicer, in 1916] was very helpful in explaining to the General Conference the loyalty of our brethren in Central Europe to the Advent message." RH June 8 1930.
In his Aftermath of Fanaticism, a vitriolic tirade against the Reform Movement, in which the truth is often grossly distorted, Elder Christian says:
"It is true that such statements were sent to the government. We have always deplored this, and we have never tried to hide the fact that this was done. We do, however, object to the false statement that this was an 'apostasy of the European Division,' since that is not in harmony with the facts, . . . There never was a European Division action taken authorizing those statements."
Elder Christian is confusing the issue and evading the point. What we emphasize is that neither the Committee of the European Division nor the General Conference of SDA's has ever remedied the situation. The apostasy has simply been left without correction. Therefore, the highest leadership must carry the responsibility.
"If the sins of the people are passed over by those in responsible positions, His [God's] frown will be upon them, and the people of God, as a body, will be held responsible for those sins." 3T 265.
The issuing of documents by European leaders who committed the membership to the war machine was only the tip of the iceberg-the beginning of the trouble. After the poisonous seeds of Satan were sown (in the form of declarations in behalf of combatancy), the fruits appeared immediately in a copious harvest which changed the character of the church. Ever since that unfortunate experience, combatancy in the Adventist Church has been tolerated by the leadership and practiced by a large pro portion of the membership.
It has been stated, repeatedly, that the European leaders confessed their mistake. We have never denied that. But we believe that genuine confession is followed by certain evidences. "Confession will not be acceptable to God without sincere repentance and reformation." SC 39. Those who are sorry for their wrongs will not repeat them. The rule for them is, "Go and sin no more" () .
The controversy in the Adventist Church, which resulted in a split, could not escape observation by outsiders. It found its way to the press, and was even commented on by Protestants and Catholics.
1. Dresden Paper, Germany (April 12, 1918)
"At the beginning of the war our church split up into two parties. Whilst 98% of our members, by studying the Bible, adopted the point of view that it was a conscientious duty to de fend the Fatherland with weapons, and that also on the Sabbath, and while this standpoint, taken by the leadership as a whole, was immediately brought to the knowledge of the Ministry of War, 2% were opposed to this decision and, finally, had to be disfellowshipped because of their unchristian conduct. These unstable elements set themselves up as preachers and, without much success, have tried to make converts to their foolish ideas. They call themselves, falsely, preachers and Adventists. But they are not; they are deceivers. If these elements receive their merited lot, we will regard that as a favor done to us. Our leadership has, up to this day, used the surplus church money in war loans, in the firm hope that, with God's help, Germany will come off victorious in this terrible struggle. Everywhere our members are giving their help in the fulfillment of their duty to provide the necessary means for the Fatherland. The Adventist men are practically all in the field or in the army service, faithfully fulfilling their duties, and, as a recognition by the Fatherland, they expect just and equitable treatment."-Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten, April 12. 1918.
2. Stuttgart Paper, Germany (September 26, 1918)
"At the beginning of the war there were some members, as there are some also in other places, who did not want to take part in war service, either for lack of unanimity or because of fanaticism. They started to spread around their ideas in the congregation orally and in writing, trying to induce others to do the same J thing. They were warned by the church, but because of their obstinacy they had to be put out, for they became a threat to internal and external peace."-Stuttgarter Neues Tageblatt, September 26, 1918. .
3. Article by Lutheran Minister
"Divisions among Adventists
"In strong opposition to the official Adventist Church, the International Missionary Society of the SDA Reform Movement was formed in 1915 with headquarters in Wuerzburg. The cause [of this separation] was a booklet entitled Der Christ und der Krieg [The Christian and War] published by the official leader ship of the Adventists during the war. This booklet was to be given only to church members and was to be concealed from the public. It explained that strict observance of the Sabbath commandment was not required during the war, and, therefore, that it was all right to fight on the Sabbath; and it also brought out that the commandment, 'Thou shalt not kill,' was not in force during the war. When one thinks how unconditional Sabbathkeeping is required at other times,-declarations by Mrs. White, who is reverenced as a 'prophetess,' and by German Adventist leader Conradi prove this sufficiently, one should be surprised at the suspension of such an important commandment. This can be explained by the fact that ruthless proceedings on the part of the State were feared. As can be seen, however, this publication caused a split. The Wuerzburg line is now using against the official Adventists the same expressions which are often used against the church (Babylon . . .). On top of that, other points also do act a part. The Wuerzburg Adventists also take a strict stand on health reform; they condemn meat eating, vaccination, and similar things. In their publication, Revival and Reformation, under the title "A Terrible Apostasy" they present more detailed accusations against the old form of Adventism. To us this controversy is instructive in so far as it shows that even Adventists have failed to stand on a legalistic and literal conception of the Bible. A strong weapon against the church has thus been snatched from their hands." -Pastor D. Steinlein, Allgemeine Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirchenzeitung, No. 37, 1925 [Ansbach, Germany].
Remark: Some of the details in this article are inaccurate. Examples: The Reform Movement was formed in 1914, not in 1915. Its headquarters were established in Wuerzburg, in 1915. The Reform Movement came into existence before the mentioned booklet (Der Christ und der Krieg) was written. Not the booklet, but the problem discussed in the booklet, caused a separation at the beginning of the great crisis. When the "German Union" of the SDA reformers was first incorporated, in 1919, "Reform Movement" was not part of the name officially adopted at that time.
4. Article in Catholic Paper
"In 1914 two percent of the members were disfellowshiped from the German Seventh-day Adventist Church, because they declared that participation in war service, and that on the Sabbath (Saturday), cannot be reconciled with the Adventist doctrine."Paulinus, March 9, 1953.
Outsiders have written about this problem among the Adventist people, not only in Germany, but also in other countries Therefore, it is not possible to pretend that everything went its normal way during World War I. The great crisis, the shaking (separation), and the new position adopted by the church (see Study 13), cannot be ignored, hushed up, or explained away. The problem is still there. And the effort to vilify the origin of the SDA Reform Movement, by associating it with some extremists and fanatics, does not do justice to the truth. Fair and unbiased references to the Reform Movement have been rare in the official publications of the Adventist Church.
Only after L. R. Conradi had left the Adventist Church was a more balanced and acceptable explanation given, in a denominational publication, as follows:
"In truth the 'reform movement' mentioned by Mr. Meier sprang into being in Germany during the World War, while Mr. Conradi was the leader of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination in the whole of Europe. The movement as it is today and has been since it came into existence, is the practical protest of a large number of Seventh-day Adventists, not against the teachings of the denomination, but against the high-handed actions of this very man Conradi and of a few others who were associated with him in his leadership of the church in Europe.... The departure of these people was not from 'a lot of gross errors and a dominating hierarchy,' but from Conradi's leadership which had committed them, without their voice or consent being given to his action, to the cannon and the bayonet of the battlefield. From the hour that he so basely betrayed them, they have had absolutely no faith in him either as a man, a minister, or a leader in the church of God."-Brown Exposes Ballenger [Southern Publishing Assn.], p. 30
IX-BETWEEN WORLD WAR I AND WORLD WAR II
The serious condition which found its way into the Adventist Church during the first world war, when combatancy was permitted or even encouraged, was regrettably left without correction. But what really complicated matters was the new denominational stand officially adopted during, and confirmed after the war-that church members are free to serve their country according to their own convictions, both in time of peace and time of war. (Read Study 13.) And, as a matter of fact, Adventists acted in harmony with this new stand, in different places, after World War I. Examples:
1. In the Soviet Union
During their fifth general assembly in Russia, the leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church declared:
"The Soviet Government is actually endeavoring to ensure our full freedom of conscience, permitting us to fulfill our duty toward the State according to our conscientious convictions before God and before the Soviet Government. The doctrine of the Seventh-day Adventists grants their members freedom of conscience in this question, and does not give them any instruction as to how they should act, inasmuch as each individual must be responsible for himself in regard to the military question, in accordance with his own conscience. The Seventh-day Adventist Conference, moreover, does not forbid its members to render military service if their conscience permits them to do so." -Report of the Fifth General Assembly of Seventh-day Adventists, Moscow, August 16-23, 1924.
The following declaration was made during the sixth general assembly of Adventists in Russia:
"1. Based on the teachings of the Holy Scriptures (Old and New Testaments: 1 Sam.; ; ; Rom. and ), which show that the authorities are ordained of God to protect the faithful and punish the wicked, and having in view the declaration of the Fifth General Assembly of Seventh-day Adventists, where our relationship to the Soviet Government was clearly outlined in 1924, this Sixth Assembly of Seventh-day Adventists, 1928, declares and decides that SDA's are required to render to Caesar that which belongs to Caesar and to God that which belongs to God. This means that they are to serve the State in the army and render all forms of service, according to the established rule for all citizens.
"This assembly regards as false teachers all those who teach contrary to this decision and who try to induce the people not to perform their duties toward the State. Those doing so act contrary to the Holy Scriptures and separate themselves from the united church of God, placing themselves outside the Seventh-day Adventist organization.
"2. We draw the attention of our members to the fact that the peril of our church does not come from other denominations or beliefs, but from an organization which has departed from us as mentioned inand . Therefore, we recommend to all our members: Separate yourselves from the false Reformers who wrongly call themselves Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement. They are led astray by wrong ideas of godliness and cause division among the fold of Christ.
"The apostle Paul advised the believers to beware of such ( Rom.; Gal. ).
"We must take this stand against such a corrupt teaching, that they may know they are not our brethren, but branches that were cut off from God's olive tree. Let us break all relationship and brotherhood with them so that they may feel ashamed (2 Thess.) and find repentance." -Report of the Sixth General Assembly of Seventh-day Adventists, Moscow, May 12-19, 1928.
2. In Romania
The following declaration was submitted by the Adventist Church to the Ministry of Public Worship and Education in 1923:
"It is true that at the mobilization in 1914, and also during the war, 1916-1918, all Seventh-day Adventists, numbering many| hundreds, reported themselves. Their officers have in many instances praised them, testifying to their faithful service rendered during the time of the war....
"If there are any who refuse to take the oath or decline to bear arms and do military service, then these either belong to another sect or do not belong to any, but interpret the Bible according to their own understanding."-Memorial Acts, p. 18.
In 1924, the Romanian Union issued a publication authored by its president, P. P. Paulini, stating:
"Doing military service and taking part in war does not involve a covenant with the world, nor is it equivalent to taking sides with Babylon. Participation in war is a mere civil duty. As far as the war service is concerned, our young men will perform' their duties also on the Sabbath."-Prophecy, p. 41.
3. In Yugoslavia
In 1925 the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Yugoslavia published a book setting forth their beliefs and practices, in which they explained their stand as follows:
"In Regard to Military Duties
"1 Sam.; ; Rom. 13 quoted.
"According to the Bible standard, 'Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's,' Adventist Christians fulfill all their duties, including their military duties.
"They conscientiously serve the army with arms in time of peace as well as in time of war. In the world war a great number of Adventist Christians proved so prominent in the battlefield that their breasts are decorated with the highest war and military medals.
"Let photos and army records of some of the Adventist soldiers on pages 112, 114, 116, and 117 serve as proof of the above statement."-Adventisam [Adventism], pp. 53, 54.
As a matter of fact, on pages 112-114 of the same book, for example, they show how a man (in this case a church elder) can be a good Adventist and a valiant warrior at the same time. Here is the story:
"In the Service of the King and the Fatherland
"As great-grandson of Vujice Vulicevica, who is the godfather of the brave Duke Karadzardza, who in turn is the great-grandfather of our beloved King Alexander, I entered the army on January 1st, 1914, with the 7th Infantry Regiment. After six months I was transferred to 9th Military Academy Regiment in which I remained until the war with Austria. Then our Regiment was dissolved and I was transferred to the machine-gun department of the 18th regiment where I tasted all that was good and bad in Albania, Crete, France, and at the Thessalonian front, while fighting for the freedom of the Fatherland.
"The Advent hope gave me much more love towards the Fatherland and the Serbian nation and made me a fearless warrior. My commander, Jovan Leko, who then was a first captain, and who is now a lieutenant-colonel of the Kings Guard and professor at the Military Academy in Belgrade, liked me especially because of this.
"One time ammunitions had to be supplied and someone had to go to bring them. No one was willing to go and expose himself to certain death. Then, finally, my commander sent me, knowing that I feared nothing but God, and that I was quite faithful to my oath of loyalty towards the king and the Fatherland.
"The assignment was completed with great success and, as a reward, I received the colonets commendation, was promoted to the rank of corporal, and also received a silver medal for bravery.
"Between January 7th and 10th, in the year 1917, his excellency, the heir to the throne, Alexander, visited our regiment at Elvish and asked to meet the best and most courageous soldier in I our regiment. My commander then called me and introduced me to his excellency, who then awarded me a gold medal. These awards still decorate my chest, and I carry them with pride and respect.
"Later I received two more awards, one for loyalty to the Fatherland in 1915 and another for the 1915-1918 period.
"Then I was transferred from the 18th to the 7th regiment, from which I was discharged." (Sgd.) Zivadin Branko Vulicevica, Azanja, August 30, 1925.
It is not our purpose here to cast contempt on this man, since s he was acting in accordance with the position maintained by the church. In the light of the third angel's message, however, we s have no option but to say that such procedure is evidently a direct transgression of the law of God. When an individual member takes a wrong stand, we say, "That man is wrong." But when the church takes an indefensible course and boasts about it by using ' confirmatory examples from among her own members, then it, becomes evident that the church is off the right track. r
As the result of the new stand taken by the church in connection with military service, open violation of the law of God, especially of the fourth commandment, came to be looked upon as of little consequence in the denominational ranks, particularly in certain areas. Hereunder is a good example:
"Difficulties in Europe
"It is hard to believe, but there [in Europe] the lack of liberty is a real problem. Not even in one country of our Division are the children allowed to attend the Sabbath school. All of them are 5 enrolled in public schools, except those whose parents can pay tuition for their children in private schools. In some of the countries private schools are not permitted.
"In one country, Yugoslavia, children have to produce baptismal certificates in order to attend school. Therefore, all Adventist children are baptized by a Catholic priest so they can obtain a baptismal certificate.
"In practically all countries military service is compulsory by law. All young men have to be under arms for one and a half to three years. They cannot even dream of keeping the Sabbath. Military service takes the young people in their most impressive age and places them under the most unfavorable conditions, without any religious help. Some of our brethren show a true character by obeying God. In some countries all army units have to listen to Catholic preaching and attend mass. These conditions seem to be real obstacles to the development of a Christian character."-La Revista Adventista [SDA paper published in Argentina], November 1937, last page.
4. In Germany
From an article published in an Adventist church paper in Germany we quote:
"There have always been Christians who have tried to extend their love for their enemies beyond the obligations that we have toward ourselves and toward others. They have gone so far as to think that any fight for truth, rights, and property is sin; that it is not permitted to present a case before the judge in court; and that any defensive combat is a crime. This concept is wrong. Should all men maintain this idea, then, of course, lost paradise would soon be restored to mankind. Yet this condition will never be reached so long as Satan and sin rule the world. Where there are differences of opinion and knowledge in connection with a certain subject, or where the rage of animal passions controls brutal men, there is also contention. .; . Therefore, the authorities are necessary for the protection of rights and property against evil encroachments. Where, however, among nations ruled by different laws, a legal decision cannot be brought about, each side tries to enforce its rights by force. For, where rights are not respected any more, one cannot be sure of one's life.
"For this reason, the soldier goes to the battlefield, faces the enemy, and fights with him for the freedom, the rights, and the property of the Fatherland. Thereby he fulfills a holy duty. For the sake of future safety, he tries to render the enemy harmless through the destruction of his forces. But even in the middle of the battle the soldier can show Christian love: toward the disarmed [adversary] he uses kindness, toward the conquered [foe] he uses mercy, toward the prisoners he uses compassion. In this way he does for the good of his enemies all things that he would desire for himself if he were in their unfortunate position."-Der Adventbote [SDA paper published in Germany], October 15, 1927.
In a booklet prepared by Hilda Jost, head of the Welfare Work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Germany, and published by the Adventist publishing house in Hamburg, Germany, 1935, faithfulness in the fulfillment of military duties was urged upon the members. This was the instruction:
"He who despises true Christianity is also hostile to the welfare work, being therefore an enemy of the State. All those who spread unbelief under any form hurt the precious possessions of the nation. Taking Christianity away from our people is cutting the root of the tree of our national life. It is the realization of Christianity that gives our people their peculiar national character. On the other hand the State has a right to count on the spiritual, physical and material powers of its citizens. The State must not wait to see if, in the hour of danger and need, some will volunteer to take up arms. The State must watch all the time so that the nation will be fully armed to repulse every s enemy beyond its borders and subdue every rebel against the laws in the country. Whoever refuses to render this service to the Fatherland acts dishonorably and severs his connection with the nation as a whole.
"The State must watch and protect the honor of the nation. Therefore, the State is vested with God-given authority, which is the focal point of its righteous constitution. In this way liberty and order are guaranteed, and from this arrangement every individual receives the greatest blessing." Unser Dienst am Volk [Our Service to the People], p. 12.
5. In South America
At the beginning of the Chaco War (1932-1935) between 3 Bolivia and Paraguay, the president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Bolivia reported that the Adventist people in Bolivia were going through a great test. He wrote:
"At this time hundreds of our members, including teachers, evangelists, and lay members, are found in the battle line. All those to whom I could speak before their departure I advised to take their own Bibles in their pockets and also New Testaments for missionary work in the trenches. We are waiting for interesting I reports to see how God protects His faithful ones in this war, so that we may be able to convey the news to the brethren. During the four weeks I was absent from Bolivia on holiday at Melendo, Peru, I heard that many other teachers and evangelists had to leave our churches and church schools to take up military duties at the front. We are sorry that it so happened, still we have confidence in the Lord and we know that He is able to use our brethren for the preaching of the truth, even in such places where they now are. When our sons reach military age they must march to the battle line, but their aged parents remain behind with their younger brothers, consecrating their lives to God."-Revista Adventista [SDA paper published in Bolivia], December 5, 1932.
In these examples, we have not only a wrong practice unfortunately sanctioned by the church, but, what is worse, we also have a new doctrinal stand which cannot be harmonized with the requirements of the law of God. According to this new stand, a church member can serve as a combatant, performing his military duties at the front, and still be an Adventist. As far as we can see, the statement that God regards the Adventist combatants as "His faithful ones in war" is a self-contradiction containing a very misleading doctrinal idea.
In an effort to answer our objections, some have said that "Reformers are dealing with ancient history." Maybe they do not realize what their argument actually implies. Are they virtually suggesting that an apostasy which, instead of being removed, is allowed to become deep-rooted, must finally be overlooked, or regarded as an innocent condition, because it has become "hoary with age"? Those who are inclined to reason this way have never been able to tell us why they do not, by the same token, dismiss much older apostasies, such as the Sabbath-Sunday change. Was that only a local and temporary controversy raised by Joseph Bates? We would not use the documentary evidences showing what the church did during the first world war, if the problem had actually been corrected. If a genuine repentance had taken place, as it was claimed, then the apostasy would have been eradicated. But we see it taking deeper roots, growing, and bearing fruit, after World War I. Therefore, we cannot remain silent. We must show the beginning, the development, and the final consequences of this new doctrinal position.
X-DURING WORLD WAR II
When Hitler came to power in 1933, he ordered a full-scale rearmament and proceeded to carry out his schemes of conquest. The Nazi doctrine demanded that Germany become once more a great military power. This made it evident that World War II was not far off.
After World War I, it was said that the church would not repeat the mistake made in 1914-1918. Yet evidences showed, to our great disappointment, that they were still pursuing the same course. Finally another world war broke out and our Adventist brethren were given a new opportunity to prove themselves, standing either for or against the law of God. If they were actually sorry for what they had done during and after the first world war, they had an excellent chance, now, to redeem their past failure. The declarations quoted hereunder, from their own writings, will show how they acted.
1. In Germany
"We are now in the midst of a storm of world-shaking events....
"We should never expect that the principles of the kingdom of God will ever become a reality in the kingdoms of the world. They have their own legislations, also according to the will of God. Otherwise the Scriptures would not speak of the State as being ordained by God. Therefore, we submit, both willingly and cheerfully, to any service required of us. To those who shall lose their lives by so doing the words may be applied: 'Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends'). Let us remember our combatants, and especially our brethren who are risking their lives for their country and for those who are left behind. We will also pray for the Fuehrer and his coworkers." -Der Adventbote [SDA paper published in Germany], October 1, 1939.
"While our brothers, fathers and sons beyond the borders were engaged in the fiercest battle, hurrying from victory to victory, for the greatness and future of the Fatherland, we felt the intervention of God in the world, in the events witnessed these last few weeks. In still adoration, we thank God, Who, in His wise providence, gave the Fuehrer to our people.
"In the meantime, we cannot, nay, we do not want to, stand still. This we proved in the past, and now we are proving it again, because it is a holy decision to put the will of God into action The pride which we as fellow Germans take in the great victories of our soldiers, is for us a new incentive to imitate them at the home front and to use our strength most conscientiously for the victory."Was tun die Adventisten in der Wohlfahrtsphlege? [SDA Welfare Report for 1939, Germany].
"We will never forget the moment in which the enforcement of the armistice with France was announced to us....
'We picked up courage, we set to work, and- as we stood before the need-we fought like never before. And God has turned the balance of destiny to our favor.... Germany believes in making human sacrifices to the very limits of our capabilities, and also believes in a God Who is blessing our human battle. This sentiment was expressed in joyful yet humble words, and it was implanted in our hearts as it was sung in holy melodies and as it was rung from the belfries. And it will remain to the very last stage of the battle, which will bring us the victory over the last opponent and then we will have peace.
"How glorious is the hour of victory! We, who were once ignominiously deceived concerning victory and righteous peace, have now tasted it with quiet and deep rejoicing, yet without any arrogance.... This is not just a hypocritically pious phraseology; it is a declaration made with a sense of responsibility before God....
"Fighting and sacrificing will still be necessary. What for? Well, this is clear enough. To think about the victory means to think about mighty tasks. A people that could not be intimidated by any armed enemies or threats, will not shrink back from the last efforts on the way to the goal, nor from the future tasks, no matter how great they are. We have been put in this world to fight and to work...." -Der Adventbote [SDA paper published in Germany], July 15, 1940.
"We, soldiers of the front, have left our homes and our trades, and are here to defend the country on these far advanced posts." -Der Adventbote (SDA paper published in Germany), June 1, 1941.
"Today we are living in great and stirring times, in which our destiny lies before the weightiest decisions and tasks. We are in the midst of a frightful and total war. This battle is of course being fought directly and mainly by our soldiers abroad, at the front, but as this is an all-out struggle, the whole nation takes part in it. All fellow Germans are fighters to the same degree, and all must therefore act and fight as soldiers in the fullest sense of the word. They must be brave, cautious, self-sacrificing, and show a sense of duty, as if the outcome depended on each one individually. In this way, the victory is equally implanted in the heart of each one of us. At whichever post we may be, we must prove, every day and every hour, that we are valiant warriors, worthy of our heroic brethren in the battlefield. Only one thought should rule us today: How can I help secure the victory? Toward this goal we should direct all our commissions and omissions, all our speaking and our silence, all our desires and demands. This most extensive war requires of all fellow Germans the utmost and greatest efforts throughout a time of expectation, endurance, sacrifice and fighting."–Gegenwarts-FEagen [SDA paper published in Germany], November 7, 1941.
2. In Romania
"Only those who have had the experience can understand, what it means to keep up the work of our institutions and of our organized state conferences, and to keep them running, when many of our men have been drafted.
"In Romania, for instance, the president of the Union, the presidents of the state conferences, the secretary-treasurers, the departmental men, the ministers, the canvassers, the leaders and employees of the institutions, as well as the church officers, had to leave their posts now and again to answer the call of the country. Many of them have been in the army all the time since the beginning of the war. Only God knows how long they will continue there.... In some state conferences the whole body of canvassers, including the leaders, have been drafted.... If our ministers could have remained in their positions, instead of being in the army, the numbers [of those baptized] would be much larger."-La Revista Adventista [SDA paper published in Argentina], March 1941.
3. In the Soviet Union
"I am glad, Brother Branson, to report that our work in the Lord's vineyard was crowned with success in these last years, and we are quite happy about it. The war that hit us in our beloved country complicated the situation of our work. Many brethren have gone to the front to defend the Fatherland.... At the same time we are helping with all our might to hasten the day of final victory over the enemy.... Your brother in Christ, (sgd.) G.A. Grigorieff." Botschafter [SDA paper, in German, published by Pacific Press Publishing Association], January 1, 1943.
4. In Australia
"lf Australia were invaded, they [the SDA's] would fight to the last man in defense of their country and beliefs, Mr. E. B. Rudge, Australian president of the Movement, told 'Smith's' " -Smith's Weekly (Australia), January 25, 1941.
5. In the Philippines
"I have had the privilege to work for God in the Philippine Islands for several years before the last world war, as principal of the Philippine Union College.
"When World War II involved the Philippines, the young men were called to defend their country.... Would their souls be strengthened for the trial that every one must face? Would they be prepared to go and face the enemy and die?
"Thousands of Philippino young men marched to Bataan and to death. I saw them waving their hands when they departed full of courage, not even thinking that most of them would never come back. Very soon they found themselves in the midst of the forests and mountains of Bataan, engaged in that terrible battle, caught between life and death. For over three months, day and night one could hear and see the battle from the college. There, the few teachers and students that were left would meet, pray, wait, watch, think and cherish the hope that their children and friends would be faithful, loyal, and would still live."-Revista Adventista [SDA paper published in Brazil], March 1947.
6. In China
"A true Christian soldier....
"As soon as his duties permitted it, he [Colonel Djang] looked for the Adventist church. Week after week he associated with the brethren to worship God....
"Soon after the foreign armies invaded China, companies of the Chinese army hurried to resist the invaders. Colonel Djang was sent with his men to the terrible battle around Shanghai. As an Adventist officer it was not easy for him to fulfill his daily duties, at the 'front' as well as in the trenches, and yet live according to the Christian principles. Nevertheless, Colonel Djang decided to be faithful and do his best to transmit the present truth to his subordinates. Not long after this there was a considerable number of soldiers taking part in the morning worship, and there was a larger group, still, attending the Sabbath school which was held weekly.
"In an impressive way the Lord heard the prayer of His servant. He got permission to withdraw with his men far away from the firing line every Friday to a place where they could rest and keep the Sabbath. The Sabbath school there was different from any other in the whole world, being conducted under peril and varying circumstances....
"For two years they held Sabbath school meetings without lesson pamphlets, but he instructed the members in the biblical truths as best he could. He took with him a copy of 'Biblical Doctrines to help him in the preparation of his studies and his biblical sermons....
"Colonel Diang's wife, who was able to accompany him recently to the front, is now the superintendent of the 'Sabbath School of the Front.' A Bible class is also being conducted for the soldiers. Let us pray for this Christian soldier, who is faithful to the banner of Prince Immanuel, fighting both for the earthly and the heavenly Fatherland." O Missionario Trimestral [quarterly compilation prepared by the Sabbath School Department of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists], Portuguese edition (published in Brazil), October-December 1940.
As can be seen, again the new doctrinal position maintains that an Adventist, while being faithful to the banner of Christ, may go to the front as a combatant.
7. In the United States
"The Adventist Youth and the Second World War.
"To me that was one of the most beautiful and touching programs of the congress. At the sound of trumpets 100 war veterans, in uniform, marched up to the platform. Then the American flag was brought to the platform, escorted by honor-guards and accompanied by the National Anthem, which was sung by the big congregation attending the congress. Items on the agenda and quotations were read in which famous high ranking military officers, such as McArthur, were telling of the heroism, bravery and dedication of the Adventist youth in the theater of war-men who had exposed their lives to save other lives in the medical service. It was impossible to curb one's tears when a young Adventist, crippled in the war, was brought onto the platform in a wheelchair pushed by a nurse. But the strongest emotion was very deeply felt when a white, very white, cross was placed in the center of the platform, beside the flag of the country. A young girl dressed in black placed a bunch of flowers at the foot of the cross, symbolizing the pain of the Adventist mothers, wives and brides for their beloved ones who had fallen in the war, serving their country as Christians. The trumpet sounds were softened. Thrilling! Indescribable! There is no doubt that the Adventist youth is the best in the world, the best in peace and war."-Revista Adventista [SDA paper published in Brazil], February 1948.
It has been said that "The Reformers came to the incorrect conclusion that the General Conference had approved the apostasy of the European leaders" (1914-1918), and that they should have contacted the General Conference "to verify whether their conclusions were correct," but they "chose not to do so." Those who make such statements are still missing the point. We believe in repentance, confession, and correction. Repentance and confession are genuine only if followed by the forsaking of sins (AA 324) in a work of thorough reformation (4T 189). If the same sins are continually repeated, and tolerated by the General Conference, then it is evident that there was no genuine repentance and that the so-called "confession" made was nothing but a farce. We don't have to ask the General Conference for information, because, with our own eyes, we can see what is going on in reality.
XI-AFTER WORLD WAR II
After the second world war the new doctrinal position became generally accepted in the Adventist Church-that an Adventist can serve his country, both in time of peace and in time of war, according to his personal conviction, and still be an Adventist. Today hardly any church member will protest against this stand. The following quotations, mostly from denominational publications, will supply a clear picture of the present situation:
"It is known that the members of our church serve in the army and partake in the defense of the Fatherland like all other citizens of Yugoslavia. Our believers fulfill all their military duties and are ready to serve in the defense of the country by all means, because the Holy Scriptures do not prohibit them from doing so."Declaration made by Rados Dedic, SDA leader in Yugoslavia, Nedelne Inforrnativne Novine [weekly newspaper published in Yugoslavia], May 4, 1952,
"In the different Divisions of the American Armed Forces, whether in Germany, Japan, or Korea, whether in barracks, trenches, or vessels of the Navy, we meet Adventist soldiers."Der Adventbote [SDA paper published in Germany], August 15, 1952.
"What literature can our boys in Korea, Japan, or Germany use to do missionary work? The International Service Commission has prepared a series of missionary pamphlets for this purpose, and has already sent many thousands to the armed forces through military chaplains and our own servicemen." RH Aug. 28, 1952.
"The number of Adventist servicemen grows daily. The number on duty in Vietnam grows daily. The Government has opened to the church additional assignments of chaplains to take care of the growing number of Adventist servicemen." RH Dec. 23, 1965.
"Nation after nation today is calling on its manpower to meet the situation it is faced with in a restless world. Most of these manpower needs are for military service. Virtually every nation is building up its military forces for defense. Volunteers to fill the ranks are urgently sought, and when these are not sufficient a draft or conscription process is resorted to.
"Seventh-day Adventist youth by the thousands are being called into the military forces of their countries through these conscriptive processes. As loyal citizens they respond willingly, though sometimes apprehensively, when called upon to discharge their military obligations. They recognize that the responsibilities of citizenship should fall equally on all who benefit from civil government." RH Dec. 15, 1966.
"Adventist youth today are serving their country in the military forces under many different flags and varied circumstances. RH Dec. 29, 1966.
"Though draft calls have been greatly reduced and troop assignments overseas have been cut back, we still have a large number of men serving in uniform. Among these are many young Adventists whom the church must not forget."-Pacific Union Recorder, May 22, 1972.
"There have been three trends in the United States Armed Forces over the past several months that could have some significance for Seventh-day Adventists. First, the number of those drafted is low-approaching the zero draft scheduled for the middle of the year. Second, there is a sharp increase in the number of those with Seventh-day Adventist background entering the Armed Forces voluntarily. Third, there have been more church members with difficult Sabbath problems in their military duty than there have been for many years."-Pacific Union Recorder, January 29, 1973.
"A few years ago, when the Vietnam war was in progress, very few wanted to go into military service. Since the war ended, however, there has been a change in the thinking of many, even to the extent that a number of Seventh-day Adventist young men and women are enlisting in the Armed Forces."-Pacific Union Recorder, June 23, 1975.
"In the mountains of Burma, Karen rebels take their fight for freedom as seriously as their religion. For hundreds of orphans who join the guerillas, it's a case of onward Christian soldiers.
"At 16 they can volunteer for the revolutionary army to fight the Burmese Buddhists, but even children as young as 12 swap their toys for automatic rifles and army fatigues.
"Led by a devout Seventh Day Adventist, General Bo Mya, the Karens continue a 34-year struggle for an autonomous state in Burma, which has been largely ignored or forgotten among the world's flashpoints.
"And children who march on prayers and hymn are paying with their lives in what has developed into a religious war.
"Bo Mya is a puritanical Christian who attends daily prayer meetings -that's how the Karens have sustained their optimism through years of bloodshed."-People [Australian newspaper published in Melbourne], January 30, 1984.
More quotations are not needed. What we have read is sufficient to prove that participation in the Armed Forces, both in time of peace and of war, is now endorsed by the leaders, even in official publications, in harmony with the new teachings of the church.
XII-PRESENT STAND OF THE SDA CHURCH
A comparison between the original stand and the present stand of the SDA Church toward the question under discussion shows an important change, as sufficiently proven. And this change is a serious matter because it affects the law of God. After the SDA Church was organized, it was understood that nonparticipation was the only position consistent with the law of God. Today, however, according to the teachings of the church, you may participate if your convictions tell you to do so. It is a matter of personal choice. Examples:
1. The Council of the European Division announced the following resolution made at Gland, Switzerland, January 2, 1923:
"We grant to each of our church members absolute liberty to serve his country at all times and in all places, in accord with the dictates of his personal conscientious convictions."-(Seventh-day Adventists in Time of War, pp. 346, 347)
2. Instructions to this effect have been issued as follows:
"Seventh-day Adventists, classified by their Government as noncombatants, are willing to put their all into the war effort as they advance side by side with their fellow soldiers, to meet the enemy and if necessary die for country and for God.... And the teachings of the Master have convinced them that it is not only a duty but a privilege to serve in the defense of their country. It is the rendering unto God of their all that compels them to be patriotic and loyal to their country." YI March 20, 1951.
"Though our Adventist ideal for our youth in war is that of noncombatancy, we do not take a dogmatic position on this. Accordingly, we do not disfellowship the youth who does not enter the armed services as a noncombatant. Far from it. We follow him into the armed services with our prayers. We recognize that as regards this and some other questions in the realm of Christian duty and interpretation of the Scriptures, there will probably never be full agreement. Some matters must be left to the individual conscience." RH Feb. 28, 1963.
"Individual conscience is held supreme at all times and it is therefore possible for an Adventist young man to be either a combatant or a conscientious objector and still be an Adventist." Bulletin issued by West Australian Conference, Sept. 25, 1967.
"Seventh-day Adventists of the United States are registered with our Government as noncombatants.... The church does not attempt to dictate to its members individually, but each person must stand upon his own conscientious convictions.... The last paragraph [of the document] leaves the final decision to the conscientious convictions of the individual involved whether he takes the 1-A, 1-A-O, or the 1-O classification. However, the teachings of the church are still the 1-A-O classification. Harry Garlick, Area Representative, National Service Organization.- "Pacific Union Recorder, November 16, 1970.
Remark: 1-A stands for Active Service
1-A-O stands for Noncombatant
1-O stands for Total Objectors (Nonparticipants)
"Genuine Christianity manifests itself in good citizenship and loyalty to civil government. The breaking out of war among men in no way alters the Christian's supreme allegiance and responsibility to God or modifies his obligation to practice his beliefs and put God first.
"This partnership with God through Jesus Christ who came into the world not to destroy men's lives but to save them cause Seventh-day Adventists to advocate a noncombatant position....
"The above statement is not a rigid position binding church members but gives guidance, leaving the individual member free to assess the situation for himself.
"1. For members in the United States, the counsel of the church is that the above action is best reflected at present by the l-A-O classification (military service as a noncombatant)....
"2. A member in the United States making his personal decision on how to fulfill his obligated term of service to the country shall first consider the historic teaching of the church on noncombatancy which could lead him to choose the l-A-O classification. If because of personal convictions he chooses to seek other than a l-A-O classification, his pastor, teacher, or other church worker should aid him in satisfying the legal requirements for securing the classification of his choice....
"a) For those choosing the 1-0 classification (civilian alternative service in lieu of military service), pastoral guidance and counsel should be provided....
"b) For those who conscientiously choose the 1-A classification (military service as a combatant), pastoral guidance and counsel should be provided in ministering to their needs since the Church refrains from passing judgment on them."-1972 ANNUAL COUNCIL (NAD), "The Relationship of Seventh-day Adventists to Civil Government and War."
"Would a Seventh-day Adventist lose his membership if he became a regular soldier? No. While the church position is that of noncombatancy, the individual must make his own decision in this matter, and the church respects the conscience of those who choose to bear arms." ST [Australian], Jan. 3, 1972.
"Particularly in the leaflet Military Service and You, you will notice that the matter of noncombatancy is not a test of church fellowship, consequently as you have indicated it does not appear in the Church Manual or on your baptismal certificate. This is a point in which the church feels each individual member should make his own choice. The church will offer pastoral support and assistance to all members whether they choose the position of pacifism (complete abstinence from violence), noncombatancy (refusing to train or use weapons) or combat service."-Letter by C. D. Martin, Associate Director of the Seventh-day Adventist National Service Organization, dated June 24, 1975.
When all the facts mentioned in this booklet are taken into consideration, it cannot be maintained that, from the Civil War (1861-1865) until today, there has been no change in the stand of the SDA Church toward military service and participation in war, in the light of the law of God. There has evidently been a change. The church recommends noncombatant participation (or conscientious cooperation), but makes it clear that the final decision is up to the individual. Since it was officially declared that every individual member is free to choose how he wants to serve his country, both in time of peace and in time of war, the direct involvement which has characterized the Adventist Church in different places, after World War I, must be considered as an unavoidable consequence. Unions and members have acted according to the new stand of the church.
XIII-CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION vs. CONSCIENTIOUS COOPERATION
According to official publications, SDA's declared themselves noncombatants toward the end of the Civil War (1864-1865), and during World War (1914-1918), and again during World War II (1939-1945). "We have been noncombatants throughout our history," they say, trying to give the impression that they have not changed their position in connection with this principle. Evidences, however, show the very opposite.
At the End of the Civil War
In 1864 and 1865 the Adventists declared their position as follows (F. M. Wilcox, Seventh-day Adventists in Time of War, pp. 58, 62, 24):
"The denomination of Christians calling themselves Seventh-day Adventists, taking the Bible as their rule of faith and practice, are unanimous in their views that its teachings are contrary to the spirit and practice of war; hence, they have ever been conscientiously opposed to bearing arms." (August 3, 1864).
"I understand the proper course for our brethren in case of draft.... [T]hey are conscientiously opposed to bearing arms.... [W]e are a noncombatant people...." (August 24, 1864.)
"We are compelled to decline all participation in acts of war and bloodshed...." (May 23, 1865.)
In those days, common usage of terms ordinarily understood "noncombatancy," "nonparticipation," and "conscientious objection" as interchangeable.
From "conscientious convictions founded upon the ten commandments" SDA's were "opposed to engaging in war", so they availed themselves of "the exemption clause in the enrollment law, which applies to those who are opposed to war from religious and conscientious convictions."-F. M. Wilcox, Seventh-day Adventists in time of War, p. 64.
"Up to July, 1864, the exemption was available to all, but after that date only conscientious objectors could claim it. The church leaders at once sought and obtained a ruling from the provost marshal in Washington, D.C., instructing all deputy marshals that Seventh-day Adventist men should be considered noncombatants." The Story of Our Church, p. 496.
The enactment signed by the Provost Marshal General in Washington, D.C., September 26, 1864, reads:
"That members of religious denominations, who shall by oath or affirmation declare that they are conscientiously opposed to the bearing of arms, and who are prohibited from doing so by the rules and articles of faith and practice of said religious denominations, shall, when drafted into the military service, be considered noncombatants, and shall be assigned by the Secretary of War to duty in the hospital, or to the care of freedmen, or shall pay the sum of three hundred dollars to such person as the Secretary of War shall designate to receive it, to be applied to the benefit of the sick and wounded soldiers." F. M. Wilcox, Seventh-day Adventists in Time of War, p. 61.
This is how Seventh-day Adventists, when drafted, obtained their exemption in those days.
Those Adventists who, instead of availing themselves of the existing exemption clause, decided to enlist into the service of war, were disfellowshipped. We quote from The Review and Herald:
"As voluntary enlistment into the service of war is contrary to the principle of faith and practice of Seventh-day Adventists as contained in the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, they cannot retain those within their communion who so enlist." RH March 7, 1865.
In Recent Wars
When the Adventists in the United States were directly affected by World War I, they renewed their declaration of noncombatancy but adopted some fundamental changes.
"At the meeting of the executive committee of the North American Division Conference, held in Huntsville, Alabama, April 18, 1917, the action of the General Conference of 1865 in making declaration of noncombatancy, was adopted as expressing the principles of the Seventh-day Adventists of the North I American Division Conference. This declaration was filed with the War Department at Washington, April 26, 1917, and published in."-F. M. Wilcox, Seventh-day Adventists in Time of War, p. 84.
In the time of the Civil War (1861-1865), noncombatants were conscientious objectors, and, as such, they did not go to war. From what was considered in previous pages, we already know that SDA's, declaring themselves to be "noncombatants," declined "all participation" in acts of war and bloodshed. But, since World War I (1914-1918), the concept of noncombatancy has assumed a new meaning.
The Review and Herald of June 14, 1917, informed that Congress had passed a law exempting certain classes from draft, but made it clear, by stating the exemption clause, that "no person so exempted shall be exempted from service in any capacity that the President shall declare to be noncombatant" (Seventh-day Adventists in Time of War, p. ll0). A document issued by the War Service Commission of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, entitled "Regulations and Instructions for Noncombatants," made known that "noncombatant service," as defined by the President of the U.S.A., includes the following: "Service in the Medical Corps wherever performed. This includes service in the sanitary detachments attached to combatant units at the front; ... Any service in the Quartermaster Corps.... Any engineer service.... Also, in rear of zone of operations, service as follows: Railroad building, operation, and repair; road building and repair; construction of rearline fortifications, auxiliary defenses, etc.; construction of docks, wharves, storehouses, and of such cantonments as may be built by the Corps of Engineers; topographical work; camouflage; map reproduction; supply depot service; repair service; hydraulic service; and forestry service."-Ibid., p. 126.
Since a distinction was created between conscientious objection and conscientious cooperation, SDA's in the United States promptly announced their choice:
"It has been accepted as an evidence that Seventh-day Adventists, instead of emphasizing their conscientious objections, have desired to make a real contribution to their country by emphasizing their conscientious cooperation." RH June 8, 1941.
"As never before, the young men of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the United States of America, under the operation of the Selective Service Act of 1948, will have an opportunity to demonstrate whether they are truly 'conscientious cooperators,' as they have claimed, or in reality 'conscientious objectors,' which they have repudiated.
"Their predecessors in military service twelve thousand of them in World War II demonstrated the reality of the claim most gloriously." YI Aug. 24, 1948.
The difference is obvious: Before, SDA's declared themselves noncombatants and declined "all participation in acts of war" (SDA's in Time of War, p. 24). When drafted, they claimed the exemption, and, instead of going to the front, they were assigned "to duty in the hospital, or to the care of freedmen," or ordered to "pay the sum of three hundred dollars" (Ibid, p. 61). Now SDA's declare themselves noncombatants, or conscientious cooperators, and explain that they are prepared to go to the front and perform those military duties which correspond to their status. They say:
"Christian noncombatancy leads those who hold it to request their government, when it calls them, to place them into those branches of service either civil or military in which they will be able to render the service they desire to give." RH October 10, 1940.
The Australasian Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventists issued the following declaration in 1941:
"In harmony with the conscientious convictions of the majority of its members, our denominational attitude toward war is noncombatant.... The term noncombatant [is to] be understood as distinct from nonparticipant.... Agreement or disagreement with the denominational position of noncombatancy is not to be a test of church fellowship."-Rights and Relationship.
Conscientious cooperators, when serving at the front, may not be directly involved in killing, but they are working in collaboration with Satan's war machinery, which is opposed to every principle of God's law (1T 361). This warning should, therefore, be taken into serious consideration:
"We should never give sanction to sin by our words or our deeds, our silence or our presence." DA 152.
So far we have considered only one point of difference in the change under discussion. A second point of difference, as we, have seen before, is that noncombatancy (in its new connotation) is only "recommended by the church" (RH April 28, 1983). In reality, every Adventist is free to choose how he wants to serve his country. You can be a noncombatant, or a conscientious objector, or a combatant, and you are still a member. Under this I freedom of choice, there is no uniformity in the Adventist stand toward military service and the war question. In the United States, Australia, and Great Britain, we take it for granted that the majority of Adventists choose to serve as conscientious cooperators. But in other countries, where the government gives them no freedom of choice, they, i.e., the majority, serve as combatants, using the freedom of choice given them by the church. This fact was made plain in the previous chapters of this writing.
In the presence of all these evidences, it is not possible to maintain that the church has never changed its position in this controverted matter.
XIV-TWO OBJECTIONS ANSWERED
1. People of God engaged in wars in the past
The objection is often brought up that in the past the people of God waged many wars with the approval of God. And this is true. What the objectors seem to ignore is that circumstances have changed with the inauguration of the Christian era. Ancient Israel was a theocratic nation. As a racial and political unit, they were declared to be "the nation whose God is the Lord," the nation "whom He hath chosen for His own inheritance" (Ps.), and they were to engage in wars solely as an act of obedience to God, for the purpose of executing His judgments upon very wicked nations. (Read PP 629.) Modern Israel, the church of God in our days, however, is composed of elements of all races and nations. Today God does not recognize any racial and/or political unit as His theocratic nation. When two nations, today, are at war against each other, and the church has members in both conflicting armies, and both sides are praying for the victory, this procedure is not in harmony with the plan of God, and He does not hear their prayers.
In our days it is actually Satan who incites the nations to war against one another. "Satan delights in war, for it excites the worst passions of the soul and then sweeps into eternity its victims steeped in vice and blood. It is his object to incite the nations to war against one another, for he can thus divert the minds of the people from the work of preparation to stand in the day of God." GC 589.
In the New Testament era we as Christians are not supposed to kill but to save. "For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.". He said: "My kingdom is not of this world." .
To hinder abuse (inquisition, persecution) when man-made laws conflict with the law of Jehovah, the Lord divided the responsibilities between the State and the Church, with two separate ministries and two sources of income. He said, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.". This means that legislative and judicial powers on the one hand and spiritual powers on the other hand should carefully avoid mutual interference.
2. Seeming contradictions clarified
To justify the procedure that the church has been following since 1914, some bring up a letter which reads:
"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 law 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 them from every temptation." 2SM 335.
The information contained in this letter should be considered in the light of three important facts:
1. The letter does not specify the kind of work that was assigned to those three men, but in the Swiss Army those drafted were free to choose the medical department. We quote from The Review and Herald:
"In Switzerland Sabbathkeepers have the choice of joining the sanitary corps, in which a person is exempt from bearing arms; but the duties to be performed on the Sabbath are not such as are proper for God's holy day." RH Nov. 3, 1885.
2. In this letter there is no word sanctioning active participation in war, or combatant service, or any kind of commandmentbreaking. The three young men who had been summoned for a drill were encouraged "to be found true soldiers of the cross of Christ" and admonished to resist "every temptation." The farewell that was given them with this specific advice was not a suggestion for them to turn away from, but to remain faithful to, the law of God. Therefore, we see no contradiction between 1T 361 and 2SM 335. The Spirit of Prophecy is always consistent.
3. This letter is dated September 2, 1883 (not 1886). On September 2, 1883, Sister White was not in Switzerland; she was attending a camp meeting in Vermont, U.S.A. If this is actually her letter, written from Basel, Switzerland, on September 2, 1886 (as it appears in 2SM 335), then she misdated it by mistake. And this is what most probably happened. But the assumption that Sister White just wrote out the dictated translation of a report received from Switzerland in 1883 seems to have some plausibility, too. Some day we may receive more information about this manuscript.
For three main reasons we do not agree with the new stand adopted by the Adventist Church since World War I:
1. During the Civil War, when Adventists declared their position to be "noncombatancy," they meant "nonparticipation"period. Their conscientious convictions compelled them "to decline all participation in acts of war and bloodshed." Today, when the SDA Church says, 'We are noncombatants," they mean: "The church recommends noncombatancy," but "we grant to each of our members absolute liberty to serve his country at all times and in all places, in accord with the dictates of his personal conscientious convictions." The church "leaves the final decision to the conscientious conviction of the individual." If anyone chooses to be "a combatant or a conscientious objector," he can "still be an Adventist." The difference between the old stand and the new stand is obvious.
2. The new stand is tantamount to an official licence to violate the law of God. The Spirit of Prophecy made it clear why the people of God cannot participate-"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." 1T 361. Therefore, by taking a negative attitude toward the law of God on this question, the church has changed her relationship with God and His kingdom (GC 582; TM 16, 17).
3. The new stand permits open violators of the law of God to remain on church rolls. It is not our purpose to judge the many thousands of SDA young men who have taken up arms at the call of their country. Most of them followed in good faith the advice received from their leading brethren. The responsibility and guilt lies with the church leaders who "cause My people to err." By granting her members freedom to break God's commandments, the church as a body becomes guilty before God.
"He [God] shows us that when His people are found in sin they should at once take decided measures to put that sin from them, that His frown may not rest upon them all. But if the sins of the people are passed over by those in responsible positions, His frown will be upon them, and the people of God as a body, will be held responsible for those sins." 3T 265.
In our opinion, the lapse of time is no argument against the seriousness of this new situation, because, when an error or an evil is not corrected, the older it grows the more consolidated it becomes. "Errors may be hoary with age; but age does not make error truth, nor truth error." 6T 142. Some have made the suggestion that there is no reason why we should get involved in a question which arose between a portion of the European membership and the leadership of the church over sixty years ago. This is almost like saying that we have nothing to do with a controversy that was started by Joseph Bates and a few other pioneers in connection with the Sabbath-Sunday question over one hundred years ago. We are not trying to draw a parallel. Nor do we want to multiply examples. We just wish to emphasize that we as Adventists have actually been contending against old apostasies, which have not been buried by the passing of centuries.
The Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement is not a new form of Adventism with new doctrinal ideas; it is rather an honest effort to continue in the old paths and walk in them, and a determination to remain on the original platform (EW 258, 259) and build on it. Our main object is to uplift the violated law of God.
We do not profess to be a "reformed" church, as though our work were finished and as if we were satisfied with our attainments. We believe we are on the reformatory journey depicted by Sister White in "An Impressive Dream" (2T 594-597), where she saw a company traveling along a road which became more and more narrow. At every step we feel our want: "We need now to begin over again. Reforms must be entered into with heart and soul and will." 6T 142. "Reform, continual reform, must be kept before the people." CH 445.
The reformation-which does not owe its existence to us as a people, because we have never invented it-is a plan or program of God, clearly set forth in the Bible and in the Spirit of Prophecy and revealed to those who honestly want to put it into practice. We are no more responsible for the appearing of the prophesied reformation than the astronomers are responsible for the appearance of a comet in the heavens.
Our name, "Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement," challenges us to live up to all the truth contained in the third angel's message, and draws a distinct line of demarcation between those who are lowering the standards and those who exalt the truth before the world, whatever the cost may be.
The Lord has established His reformation program, and we can all have a part in it if we want to. If, however, we are not willing to come into line with this plan, we will be passed by and allowed to select our own way, which will not lead to salvation. And the Lord will call others.