A new 285 page book has come out by author and speaker Ty Gibson seeking to trace the journey of Ellen White and the pioneers understanding of the relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The book leaves the reader with the idea that the Trinity is very important to the Christian experience. The doctrine of the Trinity is presented as the most beautiful picture of God imaginable. Ty’s latest book leads me to the thought that the Trinity doctrine is being examined by not a few people in the Seventh-day Adventist church. Let’s take a few moments and examine a few quotes.

Have you ever heard “the heavenly trio”, “the eternal heavenly dignitaries” or “three highest powers in heaven” quotes? These quotes by Ellen White are commonly used as proof positive that the trinity doctrine is supported by her writings. Ellen White passed away in 1915 but back in 1946 the leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist church helped put a compilation of Ellen White quotes together into a book entitled “Evangelism”. In a chapter entitled “Misrepresentations of the Godhead” (pages 613-617) features the so called Ellen White Trinity quotes. The leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist church at that time were so focused on lifting up Ellen White as a trinitarian that they added in their own words subheadings before all her quotes. One of those subheadings can be found on page 616 called “The Eternal Dignitaries of the Trinity.” The writings in this chapter are used to prove the Trinity and if a member of the Seventh-day Adventist church ever begins to think about examining the Trinity doctrine in our church, these quotes will be given to you by lay members, elders, pastors, conference officials, evangelists, independent ministries and our theologians to prove that Ellen White believed in a “unity of three coeternal Persons” which is the official stance of the church.

The heavenly trio, the eternal heavenly dignitaries and the three highest powers in heaven do not prove God is a Trinity. Ellen White was very clear who she believed God to be and her writings clearly express the identity of the heavenly trio if we would lay aside our preconceived ideas and assumptions. The Bible gives us the promise that if we are willing to follow the truth wherever it leads, we shall know whether the doctrine is from God or not.

If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

John 7:17

Ellen White writes about the identify of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in Testimonies volume 9:

Let them be thankful to God for His manifold mercies and be kind to one another. They have one God and one Saviour; and one Spirit–the Spirit of Christ–is to bring unity into their ranks. {Ellen White, Testimonies Volume 9 p.189.3}

Please do not move too quickly from the quote. This quote is saying that the:

  • One God = the Father
  • One Saviour = the Son of God
  • One Spirit = the Holy Spirit of Christ 

Brothers and sisters of the Seventh-day Adventist church. Have you examined the doctrine of the Trinity? The doctrine of the Trinity requires examination based on the Bible admonition to test the Spirits (1 John 4:1) and prove all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21.) The counsel of Ellen White from the Testimonies for the Church Volume Five is in harmony with this principle:

I have been shown that many who profess to have a knowledge of present truth know not what they believe. They do not understand the evidences of their faith. They have no just appreciation of the work for the present time. When the time of trial shall come, there are men now preaching to others who will find, upon examining the positions they hold, that there are many things for which they can give no satisfactory reason. Until thus tested they knew not their great ignorance. And there are many in the church who take it for granted that they understand what they believe; but, until controversy arises, they do not know their own weakness. When separated from those of like faith and compelled to stand singly and alone to explain their belief, they will be surprised to see how confused are their ideas of what they had accepted as truth. Certain it is that there has been among us a departure from the living God and a turning to men, putting human in place of divine wisdom. {Ellen White, Testimonies Volume 5 p.707-708}

God will arouse His people; if other means fail, heresies will come in among them, which will sift them, separating the chaff from the wheat. The Lord calls upon all who believe His word to awake out of sleep. Precious light has come, appropriate for this time. It is Bible truth, showing the perils that are right upon us. This light should lead us to a diligent study of the Scriptures and a most critical examination of the positions which we hold. God would have all the bearings and positions of truth thoroughly and perseveringly searched, with prayer and fasting. Believers are not to rest in suppositions and ill-defined ideas of what constitutes truth. Their faith must be firmly founded upon the word of God so that when the testing time shall come and they are brought before councils to answer for their faith they may be able to give a reason for the hope that is in them, with meekness and fear. {Ellen White, Testimonies Volume 5 p.707-708}

Agitate, agitate, agitate. The subjects which we present to the world must be to us a living reality. It is important that in defending the doctrines which we consider fundamental articles of faith we should never allow ourselves to employ arguments that are not wholly sound. These may avail to silence an opposer, but they do not honor the truth. We should present sound arguments, that will not only silence our opponents, but will bear the closest and most searching scrutiny. With those who have educated themselves as debaters there is great danger that they will not handle the word of God with fairness. In meeting an opponent it should be our earnest effort to present subjects in such a manner as to awaken conviction in his mind, instead of seeking merely to give confidence to the believer. {Ellen White, Testimonies Volume 5 p.707-708}

In a trinitarian mindset the words “heavenly trio” and the Bible verse in Matthew 28:19 prove a trinity.

The Comforter that Christ promised to send after He ascended to heaven, is the Spirit in all the fullness of the Godhead, making manifest the power of divine grace to all who receive and believe in Christ as a personal Saviour. There are three living persons of the heavenly trio; in the name of these three great powers –the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit–those who receive Christ by living faith are baptized, and these powers will co-operate with the obedient subjects of heaven in their efforts to live the new life in Christ.– Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 7, pp. 62, 63. (1905) {Ellen White, Evangelism p.615.1}

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:18-20

Does the above Bible verse along with Ellen White’s quote prove the current Seventh-day Adventist fundamental belief about God is correct? The churches official website says “There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three coeternal Persons.” https://www.adventist.org/en/beliefs/god/trinity/

Allow me to share with you an Ellen White quote that will help explain Matthew 28:18-20. The parenthesis [ ] in this quote below are Ellen White’s. She is trying to help you understand the identity of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost:

Christ gave his followers a positive promise that after his ascension he would send them his Spirit. “Go ye therefore,” he said, “and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father [a personal God], and of the Son [a personal Prince and Saviour], and of the Holy Ghost [sent from heaven to represent Christ]: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” {Ellen White, Review and Herald, October 26, 1897 par. 9}

This quote harmonizes with Testimonies Volume 9 page 189

  • One personal God = the Father
  • One personal Saviour = the Son of God
  • One Spirit sent from heaven = the Holy Spirit of Christ 

Cumbered with humanity, Christ could not be in every place personally; therefore it was altogether for their advantage that He should leave them, go to His father, and send the Holy Spirit to be His successor on earth. The Holy Spirit is Himself divested of the personality of humanity and independent thereof. He would represent Himself as present in all places by His Holy Spirit, as the Omnipresent. {Ellen White, 14MR 23.3}

Question: From the quote above, who does Ellen White say is representing Jesus Christ as present in all places?

Answer: “He would represent Himself” (14MR 23)

Please don’t be scared of the writings of Ellen White. She writes in english and she means what she says. One does not need to fight against this quote that was recently released from the White Estate:

The Lord is soon to come. We want that complete and perfect understanding which the Lord alone can give. It is not safe to catch the spirit from another. We want the Holy Spirit, which is Jesus Christ. If we commune with God, we shall have strength and grace and efficiency. {Ellen White, Letter 66, 1894.18}

I hope that we will stay in harmony with the true heavenly trio and not accept a heavenly trio based on suppositions and ill-defined ideas.

And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. Acts 9:5

Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 2 Corinthians 3:17

Ty Gibson’s book is said to be a ground breaking work. Synonyms for ground breaking include: innovative, revolutionary, cutting-edge, fresh and original. My prayer is that the Lord will give us the discernment we need to see truth from error and that we may have a willing heart to follow the truth at whatever cost or sacrifice even when it may conflict with our current understanding.

While the solid truth of the Bible came from the lips of men who had no fanciful theories or misleading science to present, there were others who labored with all their power to bring in false theories regarding God and Christ. And miracles were wrought, to deceive, if possible, the very elect. (Medical Ministry p.305)