The Advent Movement | Survey 18, Part 1

Greetings MOL Family!

As we continue on our historic survey of The Advent Movement, we want to encourage you to be faithful and trust in the purpose and plans of God.

Above the distractions of the earth He sits enthroned; all things are open to His divine survey; and from His great and calm eternity He orders that which His providence sees best. – {MH 417.3}

–God’s Great Purpose & Plan–

In Robinson’s book, The Story of Our Health Message, dated 1903, on page 307 we read:

“Medical missionary work is yet in its infancy. The meaning of genuine medical missionary work is known by but few.”

When you remember that this was over 40 years after the great vision on health reform, and after the beginning of our first medical missionary institution, there is something strange about the expression, “Medical missionary work is yet in its infancy.”

If we see a person 40 years old, and we say that he is still in his infancy, we would call it a case of arrested development, wouldn’t we? Well, there is some interesting history back of this statement. The date 1903 is significant. At that time, the medical missionary work stood at its high tide. Dr. Kellogg and those associated with him had built up the Battle Creek Sanitarium, and a medical college, and a nurses’ training school, and other training schools. They had established sanitariums and treatment rooms in various parts of this country and in foreign fields. As men viewed it, there was a great medical missionary work going on. Yet this says it was in its infancy.

Then Sister White asks the obvious question, “Why?” Let me read her answer:

“Why? Because the Saviour’s plan of work has not been followed. God’s money has been misapplied. In many places practical, evangelistic medical missionary work is being done, but many of the workers who should go forth as did the disciples are being collected together and held in a few places, as they have been in the past, notwithstanding the Lord’s warning that this should not be.” – Ibid

During the early part of the 20th century, a split came between the medical missionary work led by Dr. Kellogg and the organization. We studied last time some of the causes of this. We studied also some of the reasons why God desired the medical and evangelistic lines of work to always be united.

In God’s plan, there was to be given to the world a demonstration of love, of tender ministry, in the spirit of the Good Samaritan. There was also to be a work done for our people to prepare them in body and mind to receive and fully live out the spiritual truths of this message. Those are the two objectives of health reform and medical missionary work – to prepare a people for the coming of the Lord by changing their habits of living, and to demonstrate to the world at large a spirit of tender, loving interest in others. God never intended that either of those be attempted apart from the church. It is very important that we understand that. That was where Dr. Kellogg’s work finally led off on a tangent and got independent of the church, the ministry, and the conference. He came to see, more and more, the humanitarian features and the health betterment features of the work. But God intended that these two lines of work – the gospel ministry and medical missionary work – should be so blended that as the Seventh-day Adventist Church went forth on its mission it would be one work for body, mind, and soul.

If presented by the minister, it would include health reform. If presented by the doctor and the nurse, it would include the truths of the third angel’s message. Whether approached from the physical side or the spiritual side, it would lead to both sides in one blended work. That was God’s plan. God intended that every minister would be a medical evangelist. He intended that every physician and nurse should be a medical
evangelist. That was His great ideal. Oh, that men had seen it in its glory and fullness.

But various things entered into the split. Looking back over the decades, it’s easier to see now than it was by those who were participants in it. But through a failure on the part of many in the ministry and the church to appreciate health reform on the one hand, and the reaction of the doctors and those associated with them on the other, there came to be a chasm between them. This is perhaps best summarized by Sister White herself at the General Conference of 1903.

You will find this statement in Spalding’s book, Christ’s Last Legion. Speaking at the General Conference of 1903, Sister White said:

God has given Dr. Kellogg the success that he has had. I have tried constantly to keep this before him, telling him that it was God who was working with him, and that the truth of God was to be magnified by His physician. – Christ’s Last Legion, pg. 137

Wasn’t “God’s physician” a wonderful name for Dr. Kellogg to be given? Of all the degrees that he earned and all the honors that he received, what could compare with being called God’s physician by the Lord’s messenger before the General Conference? Now Note:

God does not endorse the efforts put forth by different ones to make the work of Dr. Kellogg as hard as possible in order to build themselves up. God gave the light on health reform, and those who rejected it rejected God. One and another who knew better said that it all came from Dr. Kellogg, and they made war upon him. This had a bad influence on the doctor. He put on the coat of irritation and retaliation. God does not want him to stand in the position of warfare, and He does not want you to stand there. – Ibid

Men have written many pages on the whole question and have not summed it up as clearly and as neatly as Sister White summed it up in these few sentences. There it was. God gave the light on health reform. He used Dr. Kellogg as His physician to champion it, to propagate it, to spread it. But there were those who rejected the light on health reform and warred against Dr. Kellogg. He, in turn, put on the coat of irritation and retaliation. Sorry to say, it led to a split.

The sad thing is, and was, that when the smoke of battle had cleared away and men rubbed their eyes and looked, the dear men who had stood for reform, and championed reform for years, stood outside the denomination. And here was Sister White, the prophet of God, standing by the side of men in the organization, some of whom had opposed Dr. Kellogg, and some of whom even yet were not living out health reform. Some never did, yet she was standing by their side. That’s something to meditate on, dear friends. Reform is important, but when reform and church organization get crossways, the prophet of God takes her stand with organization, not with reform against organization. That’s worth hours of meditation and study.

Don’t misunderstand me. In doing so, Sister White never once endorsed backsliding on health reform, or any other reform. On the other hand, she could not encourage the attitude of those reformers who made their reforms an excuse for retaliation against the ministry, the church, and the organization.

It is true there were other things that went into the issue. Dr. Kellogg’s views on pantheism were a vital part of it. But remember, as is indicated in these references, that years before those doctrinal issues developed, there was a deep underlying schism, a division, in feelings between many in the ministry on one side and Dr. Kellogg and his medical missionary workers on the other.

Keep in mind that the basic reasons for this division were that Dr. Kellogg’s work called for two basic things that the selfish, unconverted heart does not like. One is a change in the habits of life, particularly the habits of eating, the denial of appetite, health reform. And the other is an appeal for sacrificial service, Isaiah 58 helping the poor and needy, ministering to the down and out in a sacrificial way. Those two things are still called for today by Jesus, the great Physician and the great Medical Missionary. Getting rid of Dr. Kellogg didn’t get rid of that problem.

The dear doctor went out, but Jesus didn’t go out. Jesus is still pleading with His people, with you and me, to take up the cross of self-denial on appetite and be true health reformers, and to take up the cross of true medical missionary work and help the poor and needy in a way that costs us something in time and money and effort. If we will do those things, we will be following in the footsteps of Jesus and in the footsteps of Dr. Kellogg as far as he walked right.

We may not find that it’s any more popular today than it was over a hundred years ago. But if we find that medical missionary work of that kind awakens opposition as it has in other ages, let us pray God that we shall not do what Dr. Kellogg did. What did I read here? He put on the coat of irritation and retaliation.

Thank God, friends, medical missionary work and health reform are too precious, too sweet, and too divine to fight about. The best way to advance them is not to fight for them; just live them. And at the same time, do what Dr. Kellogg failed to do – be so loyal to the organization in every way that no one can criticize justly.

Well, between the years 1903 and 1907, the decisions were finally made that resulted in the loss of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, the loss of Dr. Kellogg and some who stood with him to the last.


Invite a friend to join us, as we review the history of medical missionary evangelism, and the beginning work that took place in Southern California

-Continue on to the next study-

* This study has been adapted from classes taken by Elder W.D. Frazee.


  1. Bro. A

    Amen, let’s continue building the walls and be used as the repairers of the neglected principles of God, continue sounding the alarm…maranatha.

    • MOL Assistance

      Amen! Please don’t forget to share these truths with others! God bless you!


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