Ellen G. White: The Progressive Years: 1862-1876 (vol. 2)


Appendix A

Relation to Church Fellowship

By Francis M. Wilcox [F. M. Wilcox was editor of the Review and Herald and might be considered a “church statesman.” He was one of the five men appointed by Ellen White as trustees to care for her writings.] As we consider the subject of spiritual gifts and their manifestation in the Church, the question naturally arises, should faith in this doctrine be made a test of church fellowship?

Those seeking membership in the Church should be carefully instructed in all the truths of the gospel. They should know, first of all, that christ is their saviour and that their sins have been washed away in the blood shed on calvary. They should be taught that the test of faith and love is found in obedience to the divine requirements, but that the law of God can be expressed in the life only as it is written in the heart by the operation of the spirit in the new covenant relationship. They should be instructed in the evidences of Christ's soon coming, and in the prophecies pointing out last-day world conditions and the special work to be done in the preparation of a people to stand in the day of the Lord. 2BIO 491.1

Candidates for church membership should be taught to realize that they are not their own, but Christ's, and therefore they should honor him in their bodies, his temples, by wearing proper attire, and providing such food and drink as make for strength and not for drunkenness; and that their lives and property should be placed upon the altar of sacrificial service for others as the spirit shall indicate. They should be instructed in church organization and polity, in the historical development of this movement, in the doctrine of spiritual gifts, and especially the gift of the spirit of prophecy, which heaven has used so largely in fostering the work of this movement. Particularly should they be taught that these gifts answer to the word of prophecy in their manifestation in the Remnant Church. 2BIO 491.2

Inasmuch as the labors of Mrs. E. G. White have entered so largely into the development of the second advent movement, candidates for church membership should be made acquainted with the divine ministry to which she was called, and the influence of her labors and writings through the years. Opportunity should be afforded them to read her published books. When this instruction has been given candidates, but little question ever will be raised as to faith in the doctrine of spiritual gifts being made a test of Church Fellowship. 2BIO 492.1

If, as the result of this investigation, the one contemplating church membership arrives at settled convictions in opposition to this doctrine, he naturally will not wish to unite his interests with a church that holds it as a part of its religious faith. In any event he should be encouraged to wait until he has had time and opportunity for more mature study of the question. 2BIO 492.2

If, on the other hand, while in full sympathy with his adventist brethren regarding their faith and objectives and their church polity and organization, he still feels doubts over the doctrine of spiritual gifts and their exercise in the Church, but has no opposition to the fullest and freest exercise of faith in these gifts on the part of his brethren, and to the free use of the instruction which has come to the Church from the gift of prophecy, he need not necessarily be excluded from church membership. 2BIO 492.3

Elder J. N. Andrews records the attitude of the Church on this matter in these words: 2BIO 492.4

In the reception of members into our churches, we desire on this subject to know two things: (1) that they believe the Bible doctrine of spiritual gifts; (2) that they will candidly acquaint themselves with the visions of Sister White, which have ever held so prominent place in this work. We believe that every person standing thus and carrying out this purpose will be guided in the way of truth and righteousness. And those who occupy the ground are never denied all the time they desire to decide in this matter.—The Review and Herald, February 15, 1870. 2BIO 492.5