Why You Posting Jones and Waggoner?

Someone contacted me through email asking, “Why do you publish information on A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner?” The short answer is, because I love the way that they seek to teach both Gospel and Adventism at the same time. However a little more indepth answer appears below.

Importance of 1888

To answer this question, we must first recognize that many people from the different theological perspectives of Adventism see in their message, or the history of that time, a God given message. Some see in the 1888 messengers and attempt from God to shake the church out of the icy grip of legalism. Others see in it a call to bring Adventism more in line with the gospel that the other churches have taught. Others see in the 1888 message an important call to move to Christianity first before the distinctive teachings of Adventism.

As I think about the 1888 messengers, I remember a few discussions with friends. First there is the friend who said that it was only after reading these messengers that he saw how Adventist doctrines can help him in his understanding of the Gospel. Before Jones and Waggoner he saw the Sabbath as important, but not connected to the Gospel as he does now. He sees in the doctrine of the nature of humanity (state of the dead) the reality that Christ, in his humanity, decided to die a death that would mean eternal death. Some articulate this by saying that “Christ went to hell.” In the Sanctuary, my friend now sees one who is looking out and working for humanity right now with a purpose that includes the cleansing of humanity.

Another friend told me that 1888 reminds him that in our “Adventist-ness” we can never lose our “Christian-ness. We are a part of that global body called Christianity and none of our doctrines can separate us from that body.

Why I Like The Messeges

Personally, I think that 1888 allows Adventism to make sense in the context of the Gospel. It emphasizes the Gospel, but it emphasizes that we look at and understand it through our Adventism. Certainly A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner are not infallible. I agree with Ellen White, God Alone is infallible. But in these writings, I see two individuals, striving to see and learn more of Jesus in our characteristic doctrines, not in spite of them. Waggoner doesn’t teach the sabbath just for the sake of the sabbath. Jones doesn’t teach the sanctuary just for the sake of the sanctuary. Everything is taught to gain a greater understanding of Jesus Christ and his mission.

My first attempts at looking at theology came from reading Jones and Waggoner. I will always love these three for that reason. Certainly, I don’t agree with everything, but 1888 reminds me that our doctrines and teachings are not an end to themselves, but are there to help us understand Christ. Agree or disagree with them, they tried to just preach Christ and him crucified within the context of Adventism.

E. J. Waggoner a Practical Theologian

The other day I was reading Christ and His Righteousness by E. J. Waggoner of 1888 fame. In it Dr. Waggoner states, “Every doctrine of the Bible is for our practical benefit, and should be studied for that purpose. I immediately thought of The Homiletical Plot by Eugene Lowery which encourages us to ask the question “What bind does a doctrine get us out of?” I like the question and have come back to it often in the past as can be shown in this post from the past.
The Homiletical Plot: The Sermon As Narrative Art Form
I will also come back to the question in the future. Answering that question will force the sermon and teaching to be practical and has the added benefit of helping the congregation to understand what good is a doctrine for daily living.

After stating that we must look for the Practical benefit Dr. Waggoner then tries to tackle the Sabbath doctrine and seeks to point us to a practical basis for understanding the doctrine. In the next couple of posts we will look at this attempt.

1888 and Race

I have heard a lot of talk about 1888 and the 1888 message, but we have heard very little on the issue of Race and these two ministers. I remember Elder Dudley used to say that God was trying to come to earth back in 1888, but many white folks were trying to go without the black folks.

An Attempt to Remove the Color Line in 1887

Interestingly I looked in the General Conference Bulletin of 1887, one year before that 1888 Conference. During that year the was an attempt to remove the color line from the Adventist Church by means of A.T. Jones, E.J. Waggoner, and others. I found this on the “Words of the Pioneers” CD.
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