Greetings MOL Family!
We have seen how wonderfully God worked to bring out of the downfall of Battle Creek a new institution at Loma Linda; where there was established in the providence of God a school for the training of gospel medical missionary evangelists. In our lesson today, we will go back and review some of the developments at Battle Creek and see how God was looking ahead, and through the Spirit of Prophecy arranging for certain things which would grow out of those failures, and establish a work in the southern states of this country that was destined to have influence around the world.
–Standing With God–
While Sister White was in Australia, she was sending messages to Battle Creek against further building up there, and warning against the spirit of consolidation and centralization. Many of these warnings went unheeded.
At the 1901 General Conference, Sister White was present. Elder Daniels and others had come from Australia, and a great work was done in re-organizing the General Conference, and in bringing into a large General Conference committee, representatives of the various phases of the work. This work was continued at the General Conference of 1903 in Oakland. But at both of these General Conferences, and the time in between, there was an apparent lack of unity between the medical work headed by Dr. Kellogg and the conference work, the work of the ministry.
Prominent among the issues that developed from this difference was the struggle over pantheism as presented by Dr. Kellogg in his book The Living Temple. This book became the thing that caused a great discussion to come out in the denomination.
Back of that were other issues – the attitude of many in the ministry toward health reform, either ignoring or opposing or criticizing or ridiculing it, and the attitude of Dr. Kellogg and some connected with him in reaction to that. Concerning these points I read from the Spirit of Prophecy a statement found in Spalding’s book, Christ’s Last Legion. This is Sister White speaking at the General Conference of 1903:
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. – Christ’s Last Legion, pg. 138
It is very clear that there was wrong on both sides. It was very unfortunate. Satan’s effort, of course, was to separate the medical and the ministerial. This controversy went on over a period of several years.
One of the great crises in a series of crises was at the meeting of the Lake Union Conference in Berrien Springs, Michigan, in May 1904. That is what I wish to focus on in this lesson. This is a year after the General Conference in Oakland. During this time, great strides had been made in the re-organization of the General Conference. The book Living Temple had been disapproved by the Spirit of Prophecy. The General Conference had taken a definite stand against it, yet Dr. Kellogg and Elder A.T. Jones, and others associated with them, were still saying that the book was correct, and that it had been misunderstood. I think no one yet fully understood the depth of the gulf that lay between the two sides, and what it would eventually lead to.
As this counsel was held in Berrien Springs in May 1904, Sister White was still making most earnest efforts to get the two sides together. She was writing to the brethren, urging them to make efforts to save Dr. Kellogg and associates, pleading with them to unify with the brethren. Spalding quotes Sister White as saying at the 1904 meeting:
Dr. Kellogg was represented to me as standing upon the brink of a precipice, and there were some who were ready to push him off. – Ibid
What a picture. I suppose when a man has been a source of a great deal of problems, it’s human nature to think, Well, if he goes off, we will at least be rid of that much trouble. The heart of God, of course, longs for every one of His children. If we had known all about Judas that Jesus knew, without a heart of love we might have had some relief when he left the room that night. But the heart of Jesus broke over Judas in that closing meeting. As Jesus washed those soiled feet, we are told that Judas himself was thrilled with the impulse then and there to confess his sins. But pride forbade it.
So it was in the meeting at Berrien Springs in 1904 that Dr. Kellogg came near the point of making a full confession and affecting a reconciliation with his brethren. There are those who feel he might have done it had there been stronger overtures from the other side. On the other hand, Sister White plainly states that the efforts made to help him and others were interpreted by him as a victory for their side. So, there was a great mixture of currents and cross-currents.
Unfortunately, some who might have helped Dr. Kellogg see his wrong position stood up to defend him instead, and attacked those who had not agreed with him. Among these was Elder A.T. Jones. Sister White says:
The effort made at Berrien Springs to save the leading men in the medical work was interpreted by them as a victory over their brethren. – Testimonies Series B, pg. 37
Brother A.T. Jones acted unwisely. He acted in the light of another’s mind. He introduced matters that he would not have touched had he been wholly worked by the Spirit of God. – Ibid, pg. 26
On this same page is a sentence or two I want to read. You may think it strange that I introduce this. But it’s in the published works of Sister White, and I am reading it for a purpose:
Brother Sutherland spoke words that were untimely. For him to present his resignation at a time when so much was at stake, at a meeting in which the ministers had assembled for prayer and confession, and especially to seek for unity of spirit, was an unfortunate move, and showed that a strange power had come in to influence his mind, and lead it away from the living fountain to the brackish streams of the lowlands. He said that to which he would not have given utterance had he not been talked with and wrought upon. He spoke at a time when silence would have been eloquence. – Ibid
Brother Sutherland, the president of the college at Berrien Springs, presented his resignation at that meeting. This indicates that it came at an unfortunate moment. Yet the thing I am going to show you from the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy is that God is never taken unawares. He already had His plans laid to bring out of apparent defeat a glorious victory.
May I say, friends, we do not know what is ahead of us, personally or in our contact with others. We need to be prepared for the unexpected. The thing that will prepare us is to study the providence of God, and keep so close to our Leader that we will know when to speak and when to keep silent, and when to recognize the Spirit of God.
A.T. Jones spent hour after hour defending Dr. Kellogg, presenting that Dr. Kellogg was right, and that it was quite apparent that most of the audience was with him. The doctors were with him. Many of the teachers and students were with him. Many of the workers were. And when A.T. Jones had finished, Dr. Kellogg was there, and he was going to ask him to come and tell whether what he, Jones, had said was correct or not.
As Dr. Kellogg stepped onto the platform on one side, a door opened and Sister White came in from the other side. Dr. Kellogg courteously deferred to her, and she took the floor. She began to present things, and by the time she had finished, many who had been convinced that Jones and Kellogg were right now saw that the Spirit of Prophecy was standing on the other side. If they were going to accept the Spirit of Prophecy, it meant to stand with Elder Daniels and the organization.
–In The Providence of God–
… Back to Brother Sutherland presenting his resignation at that time. What were the things leading to that, and what grew out of it? While this particular event seems sad and disconcerting, I want you to see how God is never taken unawares. God was preparing to use even this experience, sad and disappointing as it was, to lead into a glorious work for Him.
Let’s go back to the 1890s. Sister White was over in Australia. She had gone there for various reasons in the providence of God, but perhaps one of the greatest reasons was to help lay the foundation at Avondale for a sample school, a pattern school. There, agriculture was developed as the A B C. Teachers and students worked together to fell the trees, to clear the land, to build the homes and the school buildings, to beautify the grounds, and to grow food. They reached out into the community in missionary service, and prepared young people for missionary service all through Australasia. It was indeed a pattern school, a sample school.
While Sister White’s mind was occupied with those things, and God was giving her in vision the wonderful instruction to lay the foundation of that school and to guide in its development, she was sending that material over to this country. Professor Prescott, who was leading out in many phases in our educational work, was impressed with these things. A young man out West who had been called to be the first president of Walla Walla College was also impressed with this material. He gathered his faculty together to study it. That young man was Edward Sutherland. Bessie DeGraw was one of the early teachers in that group at Walla Walla. There were others. For several years, they kept studying this increasing light from Australia that Sister White was sending on how to conduct a true Christian education program.
The result was that certain things went out of the curriculum at Walla Walla College, and certain things came in. Industries were brought in. Many of the old classical subjects and textbooks were eliminated. There were great reforms. When the General Conference was held in Nebraska in 1897, Sutherland was called to be the president of Battle Creek College. It was quite a thing for a young fellow like him to be called from a little school out west to be the president of Battle Creek College. But the Lord had arranged it.
Presently, he had surrounding him some of these teachers who had been at Walla Walla and who had been developing these reforms. Dr. Sutherland was the president, Magan was the dean, and Bessie DeGraw was one of the teachers. They began to study in the faculty and with the students at Battle Creek, and presently they were affecting some of these same reforms. They were bringing in industries the best they could where there wasn’t much land. They got some land a little ways out from the college. Students were taken back and forth to work on the land. Certain industries were established on the campus.
In “The Review and Herald” of 1899, there is an aticle entitled, “Why the Battle Creek College Cannot Confer Degrees”. The author of it is Edward A. Sutherland. That is just a straw that indicated which way the wind was blowing. It was blowing real strong in the direction of reform. Certain textbooks had gone out. Certain courses had been taken out, and other courses were being brought in. The Bible was being made the basis of education.
In all that, a demand inevitably arose on the part of these teachers and those who were influenced by them for a rural location. But there were those who said, “No. We can’t do that. We have the buildings here. We have the investment here. The teachers are here. Everything is here. We can’t move.” Sutherland and Magan were finally told to say no more on this subject. Thus they came up to the General Conference of 1901.
As great sweeping reforms were made in our organizational structure, Sister White herself brought forward in one of her meetings the call to take Battle Creek College out of Battle Creek and put it in the country. Under the influence of the movings of the Spirit of God, and in the presence of the prophet, a motion was made, seconded, and quickly passed, authorizing the removal of Battle Creek College.
Invite a friend to join us in our survey next week, as we continue to see how the providence of God worked through the efforts of Sutherland and Magan.
* This study has been adapted from classes taken by Elder W.D. Frazee.