Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers


Differing Attitudes Toward Righteousness by Faith

Ellen White was much in the field during the next two years, endeavoring to lead the churches and conferences to a deeper, fuller understanding of the important message of righteousness by faith. She spoke of this Bible truth as one which, though “new to many minds,” was in reality “old truth in new Framework.”—Ellen G. White, The Review and Herald, July 23, 1889, reprinted in Selected Messages, B. 1, p. 355. TM xxiv.2

She was able to report during the following General Conference session, held in Battle Creek from October 18 to November 5, 1889, that “the spirit that was in the meeting at Minneapolis is not here. All moves off in harmony. There is a large attendance of delegates. Our five O'clock morning meeting is well attended, and the meetings good. All the testimonies to which I have listened have been of an elevating character. They say that the past year has been the best of their life; the light shining forth from the word of God has been clear and distinct—justification by faith, Christ our righteousness. The experiences have been very interesting. TM xxiv.3

“I have attended all but two morning meetings. At eight O'clock Brother Jones speaks upon the subject of justification by faith, and great interest is manifested. There is a growth in faith and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”—Ellen G. White Manuscript 10, 1889, published in Selected Messages 1:361. TM xxv.1

Unfortunately, several among the leaders of our work connected with the General Conference and our institutions at Battle Creek ranked themselves on the negative side and established in the very heart of the work of the church a hard core of resistance. Within the next few years, many of those who had placed themselves in this camp saw their mistake and made heartfelt confessions. But there were some who stubbornly resisted. Some of these, connected with the business interests of the church and our institutions, made their influence felt well through the 1890's. It was of such that Ellen White in 1895 wrote as recorded on page 363: “The righteousness of Christ by faith has been ignored by some; for it is contrary to their spirit, and their whole life experience.” TM xxv.2

In this volume, from page 76 and onward, frequent reference will be found to Minneapolis and its aftermath, and to the experience of some who were involved. TM xxv.3

At the session of 1888, the General Conference Committee was materially changed. O. A. Olsen was called from Europe to take the presidency of the General Conference, replacing George I. Butler. Elder Butler was ill, and, although not present at the Minneapolis Conference session, had placed himself with those on the negative side of the issue. He went into a period of retirement and cared for his invalid wife for ten years or more, then made a good comeback and again occupied positions of responsibility in the denomination. TM xxv.4

Elder Olsen, a man in full sympathy with the emphasis placed on the truth of righteousness by faith, and one who was ever loyal to the spirit of prophecy counsels, found it difficult to meet certain of the problems at Battle Creek. Particularly hard were problems arising from the rapid development of institutions and the enlargement of the work in Battle Creek to the detriment of the work elsewhere. TM xxvi.1