Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers


The General Conference of 1888

The General Conference session of 1888 was called for Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 17 to November 4. This was preceded by a week-long Biblical Institute, at which there were discussions as to whether the Huns or the Alemanni should constitute one of the ten kingdoms of Daniel 2 and 7, and Revelation 13. Uriah Smith, editor of the Review and Herald, took a certain position and A. T. Jones, editor of Signs of the Times, took another. E. J. Waggoner, also from the Pacific Press, conducted studies on the atonement and the law of God, and Elder Jones presented justification by faith. These discussions continued into the session itself, and occasionally there was bitter disputation. Some of the ministers had come to the conference to debate certain questions, rather than to study truth. Ellen White was present, and she called for all to approach these presentations with open hearts and open minds. She urged a careful, prayerful study of the topics under discussion. TM xxiii.1

Somehow the issues came to be identified with certain men. To many, the message of righteousness by faith struck home, and there was a response of heart and soul which led to victorious experience in personal Christian living. There were others who identified themselves with certain cautious and conservative leaders from Battle Creek who saw what they thought were perils in some of the teachings presented. When the conference came to a close, these men had failed to gain the blessing God had in store for them. TM xxiii.2

There is no record of the discourses which were presented at the conference by others than Ellen G. White, for it was not the custom of that time to publish the addresses. A General Conference Bulletin was issued, but it was a simple sheet carrying news about the events of the conference and presenting the business proceedings. No action was taken on the Biblical questions discussed. TM xxiii.3

At that meeting Elder O. A. Olsen was elected president of the General Conference, but he was in Europe during the conference. On November 27, 1888, William C. White, a member of the General Conference Committee, wrote Elder Olsen that “the delegates at the close of the meeting carried away very different impressions. Many felt that it was one of the most profitable meetings that they ever attended; others that it was the most unfortunate conference ever held.” TM xxiv.1