Is Steps to Christ Now Too Hard to Read?
On April 9, 2018 I received an email from AdventistBookCenter.com asking that I compete a survey "on behalf of AdventistBookCenter.com and the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists" because of a proposed project to distribute "large quantities" of the book, Steps to Christ. Three samples of quotations from the real Steps to Christ were listed along with a "modernized text." Apparently after 126 years someone thinks that English has changed so much that an update of the text is needed. This is despite the fact ALL of the words in Steps to Christ are the paragon of simplicity and we in the modern age can master computer talk, have Greek and Hebrew words included in the Sabbath School Bible Study Guide, know our way around the features of smart phones, etc. This is pretty reminiscent of the excuse for the allegedly improved, but corrupt, translation of the Bible known as the Revised Version (RV) and subsequent new bible versions.
Satan's first temptation of man involved instilling doubt regarding what God had said and his Satanic Majesty has been inspiring his minions to corrupt the Word of God ever since then. Steps to Christ is, by the way, part of the Word of God. It is true that as it says in Isaiah 8:20, "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." That means that nothing Ellen White wrote can contradict that which was previously given us in the Holy Bible. Isaiah would have been found a false prophet if he had contradicted scripture written by Moses. The same goes for Jeremiah and the other inspired writers of Holy Scripture. The light in inspired writings God has graciously given us through prophets inspired by the Holy Ghost can't be knowingly ignored without the loss of one's soul.
The reason for the corruptions in the new bibles is because there are those who wish to promulgate their own beliefs. Ever since the King James Bible of 1611 was published, it has been the goal of the Roman Catholic Church to discredit it by alleging it has errors and that their corrupt bibles are better. Benjamin G. Wilkinson, Ph.D. in his book, Our Authorized Bible Vindicated, exposes some of the beliefs and machinations of two of the principal players on the revision committee for the RV, Doctors Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort. That whole book is well worth reading but I will provide some quotes from it below.
All of this does have pertinence to the discussion on the proposed modification of Steps to Christ. First a problem is invented, i.e., the old version is too hard to understand. Then, if possible, an attempt will be made to change the text. If a change in the text is rejected, the next best thing is adding footnotes or marginal references from scholars to "explain" the text. Finally, when people have been lulled into false security, more changes in the text are introduced which readers are even less likely to notice.
- On page 152 Dr. Wilkinson notes that Hort wrote to Rev. John Ellerton that "But the book which has most engaged me is Darwin. Whatever may be thought of it, it is a book that one is proud to be contemporary with.... My feeling is strong that the theory is unanswerable." So, Hort didn't believe in the creation story.
- On page 152 there is a quotation of a letter from Hort to Wescott where he says, "I have been persuaded for many years that Mary-worship and 'Jesus'-worship have very much in common in their causes and their results."
- On page 154 quoting a letter from Hort to Rev. John Ellerton, Hort says "Westcott, Gorham, C. B. Scott, Benson, Bradshaw, Luard, etc., and I have started a society for the investigation of ghosts and all supernatural appearances and effects, being all disposed to believe that such things really exist, and ought to be discriminated from hoaxes and mere subjective disillusions." So, Westcott and Hort were occultists.
- Where Westcott and Hort had no hope of changing the scripture they used marginal references. On page 159 it notes that Westcott writing to Hort said, "There is some hope that alternative readings might find a place in the margin."
- On page 160 is a quote from what Hort wrote to Williams. "At present very many orthodox but rational men are being unawares acted on by influences which will assuredly bear good fruit in due time, if the process is allowed to go on quietly ; and I cannot help fearing that a premature crises would frighten back many into the merest traditionalism."
Is this being done to the writings of Ellen G. White? Yes, it is. The attempt was made and rejected by the Ellen G. White Estate years ago. Now that the writings of Sister White are in the public domain and no longer protected by copyright anyone can modify them, add their own footnotes, etc., and publish them. David Kang, a Chinese Seventh-day Adventist pastor in a sermon I found on YouTube said that the Jesuits in China have published books like The Great Controversy with their own ISBN number which are being sold in official government book stores in China. He said that the negative things Sister White said about the Jesuits have been expunged. Since I don't read Chinese and probably never will (unless I receive the gift of tongues), I have to stick to evaluating publications written in English or Spanish. If you wish to listen to David Kang enter the search terms "david kang china" on the YouTube site and, as least as of June 2018, his video is one of the choices that will come up with the title "Jesuit Sabotage of E.G. White books in China - David Kang."
In more recent years, the Ellen G. White Estate hasn't been as incorruptible as in former years. All Seventh-day Adventists have probably heard of the book, The Ministry of Healing by Ellen G. White. The Ellen G. White Estate, Inc. published, and the Pacific Press Publishing Association printed, a book purportedly by Ellen G. White titled The Ministry of Health and Healing with a copyright date of 2004. In the "Forward" to the book, the Trustees of the Ellen G. White Estate admit the book has been corrupted. It says "gender-inclusive language" has been used and different words have been substituted because some words in the uncorrupted edition "have little meaning today" and might be "misunderstood." It also talks of how the many new "Bible" translations have created a fresh interest in the "Holy Scriptures." In addition "unless noted, Scripture quotations" are all from "the New King James Version (NKJV)." The corrupt NKJV didn't exist at the time Ellen G. White wrote her books.
As noted, a recurring theme as the reason for corrupting the Word of God is that it's too hard to understand. Now our "helpful" theologians and scholars would like to claim that the writings of Ellen G. White are too hard to understand. Those of you who have read 1909 edition of The Ministry of Healing know that it's positively NOT too hard to understand. If you can't obtain a 1909 edition of The Ministry of Healing, the edition with a copyright date of 1945 is more available. From my perusal thereof, the only material way it differs from the 1909 edition is that on page 32 there is a quotation from the Revised Standard Version; a bible that didn't exist at the time Ellen G. White died. That was, as it were, the proverbial "foot in the door." Another edition was published in 2017 where it's admitted "the word intercourse has been replaced by the word communion" to "accurately convey the nineteenth-century intent." Who knows what else they may have modified (I haven't read that one cover to cover). I want Ellen G. White's books as they came from her and not as they've been modified and commented on by Seventh-day Adventist scholars.
Our scholars and theologians have been LYING to us and too many of US have studied so little of the real Word of God and the Spirit of Prophecy that we are too STUPID to see what they are doing. Go ahead and be shocked that I have said this; someone else said this first. You can read in Revelation chapter 3 that the "Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God" said 2,000 years ago that the church in our era was "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" and among other things advised us to "anoint thine eyes with eyesalve" that we might see.
I've chosen to review is the new Steps to Christ published by the Andrews University Press in 2017 and I have compared it to my Steps to Christ with an initial copyright date of 1892 and a copyright renewal date of 1908. First to be discussed will be changes in the text of the book and after that various notes by Denis Fortin, PhD, professor of historical theology at Andrews University. Except for one thing, the changes in the text are trivial but remember, the corruptions in the new bible versions also started with stealth and deception; i.e., with changes that some would consider trivial.
Since much of Steps to Christ was assembled using materials Ellen White had already written, it's possible that some of the changes in the new Steps to Christ are supported by those materials.
- On page 159 a second paragraph has been made from what was previously one paragraph.
- On page 173, "can not" has been changed to "cannot" in two places. "Can not" has also been changed to "cannot" on page 274. There may be more instances of changes from "can not" to "cannot" that I missed.
- On page 195 there is a sentence that reads, ":If we abide in Christ, if the love of God dwells in us, our feelings, our thoughts, our purposes, our actions, will be in harmony with the will of God as expressed in the precepts of His holy law." The two words "our purposes" have been added.
- On page 220 it says "All that Christ was to the disciples..." The older version says "All that Christ was to the first disciples..."
- On page 235 "every one" has been changed to "everyone."
- On pages 79, 134, 144, 199, 214, 250 and 312, "Psalmist" has been changed to "psalmist." There is a difference. "Psalmist" means David while "psalmist" could mean anyone who wrote psalms.
- On page 135 "God's Word" has been changed to "God's word" and "That Word" has been changed to "That word." On page 201, "Word of God" has been changed to "word of God." On page 250 "His Word" has been changed to "His word." In Revelation 19:13 it says, "And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God." Word should be capitalized as it is one of the titles of Jesus Christ. In my collation, similar failures to capitalize Word occur twice on pages 254 and 291 and once each on pages 255, 287, 290, 292, 293, and 295. I could have missed other instances in which Word as a title of Christ was not capitalized.
- On page 273 at the end of the paragraph which started on page 272 it says "The relations between God and each soul are as distinct and full as though there were not another soul upon the earth to share his watchcare, not another soul for whom He gave His beloved Son." The older version says "The relations between God and each soul are as distinct and full as though there were not another soul for whom He gave His beloved son."
- On page 293 "doubt" has been changed to "doubts."
Some background information is needed to correctly evaluate the comments in the "Publisher's Preface" and the notes of Dr. Fortin. Remember that one of the plans of Dr. Westcott was to introduce marginal readings to give alternate interpretations to the scriptures. Pastor M. L. Andreasen many years ago found that certain princes of the Seventh-day Adventist Church were trying change, and probably did change, Seventh-day Adventist publications to please certain evangelicals. Interestingly the Sabbath School Lessons for the second quarter of 1958 which dealt with Revelation chapter by chapter omitted discussion of Revelation 13. You can read more about the aforementioned in his book Letters to the Churches on page 9. On page 24 of the same book he says two men had suggested the insertion of notes and explanations in some of Ellen Whites books that would give readers the impression that she wasn't opposed to their new interpretations. On page 25 it states that the suggestion was rejected. Back then, Ellen White's books were still protected under copyright; they're not now so anyone can publish them with whatever footnotes they choose and that has been done with the new Steps to Christ.
According to the Publisher's Preface" on page vii of the new Steps to Christ, "Denis Fortin is eminently qualified to edit this anniversary edition of Steps to Christ" and it notes that he is a former dean of the Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University. He was also a member of the "oversight Project Committee" listed in the corrupt Andrews Study Bible that, among other things, recommended publication of that Bible. Steps to Christ is written in VERY simple English. There is NOTHING in Dr. Fortin's comments that are helpful in explaining the text of Steps to Christ and there are some items of concern.
You don't need Dr. Fortin's comments unless you think you have to know what words like ecclesiology, prevenient grace, semi-Augistinian, Arminian, etc. mean. You could live a whole life without ever knowing their meaning and do just fine.
- Speaking of Martin Luther, Dr. Fortin's Preface on page xi says, "Suddenly, the phrase 'the just shall live by faith' (Romans 1:17) flashed in his mind to convince him that works of penance, however needed they may be, do not in themselves provide for forgiveness of sins." Martin Luther didn't believe works of penance were "needed" and neither do Seventh-day Adventists. Maybe Dr. Fortin forgot he's no longer a Roman Catholic.
- On page 9 he says that in "the early 1980s, the Review and Herald published simplified versions of the book under the titles Steps to Jesus (1981), Knowing Him Better (1982), and God's Love for Man (1982)." The excuse for the adulteration was to "meet the needs of youth and those having a limited knowledge of English." Not only that, they used Today's English Version (a Roman Catholic version) for scripture references. The plea that Steps to Christ had to be dumbed down for the youth and nonnative speakers of English is fallacious. When my father needed to learn Spanish, we started attending a Spanish church and got Spanish bibles one of which I still have. We didn't use dumbed down anything.
- On page 10 Dr. Fortin says regarding Ellen White's "borrowing material from other authors without giving credit" that "these concerns are valid and raise significant issues regarding the genuineness of her prophetic gift." Why is he digging up and giving credibility to objections of skeptics that have been evaluated and laid to rest years ago?
- Also on page 10 Dr. Fortin notes that "White never claimed infallibility or perfection for herself or her writings." I agree, unless you count the places where she says things were revealed to her by heavenly agencies, but neither did Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, David, Paul or any other authors of sacred Scripture. Not even Peter claimed infallibility. The one who has claimed infallibility when speaking "ex cathedra" is the Pope (see page 71 of Catholicism for Dummies that received both the nihil obstat and the imprimatur of the Roman Catholic Church).
- On page 17, there is a quotation taken from Selected Messages Book Three on page 92. She says, "As spoken by the heavenly agencies, the words are severe in their simplicity; and I try to put my thoughts into such simple language that a child can understand every word uttered. The words of someone else would not rightly represent me." We don't need our doctors of the law explaining what she said; it's in plain modern very simple original English. We also don't need dumbed down versions of Steps to Christ for children and nonnative speakers of English.
- In the section "Historical Introduction" Dr. Fortin discusses the similarities of Ellen White's "theology" to the doctrines of John Wesly and Methodism. It is true Seventh-day Adventists have some doctrines similar to other churches but it was not Ellen White's theology and neither was she dependent on John Wesley and Methodism for what she believed and wrote. What she believed in was sola scriptura (only scripture) and being a prophet, God gave her much needed enlightenment on scripture. To say "Ellen White's theology" is to belittle her office.
- On page 121 Dr. Fortin's footnote says Ellen White never quoted Psalm 51:5 which is "a key passage in support of the doctrine of original sin and the natural depravity of human beings from birth, although she affirmed all these consequences of the fall of Adam and Eve." Ellen White did NOT affirm the doctrine of original sin which teaches that the unborn child has already sinned. That verse is not a problem in the King James Bible. In some of the new corrupt bibles, wording has been changed in that verse to support the Roman Catholic doctrine of original sin. It's too bad Dr. Fortin didn't elaborate on that corruption in the new bibles.
- On page 140 Dr. Fortin's note says, "She takes seriously and literally the thought expressed in Proverbs 28:13: 'He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy' (NKJV)." This could lead the uninformed to the erroneous conclusion that Ellen White used the NKJV or would have approved of using it. She died long before the New King James Version was published.
- The attempt to link Ellen White's beliefs to John Wesley's is continued in other parts of the book. On page 154 it says, "But for White and other Wesleyan or evangelical nineteenth-century preachers..." He is calling Ellen White Wesleyan and an evangelical. According to Wikipedia, "evangelical Protestantism is a worldwide, crossdenominational movement within Protestant Christianity." Among others, this would link Ellen White with Billy Graham. She was NOT an evangelical though Dr. Fortin who, having been on the Commission on Faith and Order of the National Council of the Churches of Christ, would probably like to make you believe she was. Seventh-day Adventists have a distinct message and are to be separate from the churches of Babylon. There are other places where Dr. Fortin attempts to link Ellen White with evangelicals.
- Dr. Fortin's footnote on page 200 reads, "White rejects the concept that human nature will ever reach a point of sinless perfection this side of eternity." That statement is a contradiction of the Bible and the writings of Ellen White.. That can be shown by quite a number of quotations from her books and from the Bible. On page 614 of The Great Controversy it says, regarding the time of trouble, "In that fearful time the righteous must live in the sight of a holy God without an intercessor." If the righteous were to be sinning at that time, they would have NO intercessor and NO forgiveness. On page 623 of The Great Controversy it says, regarding Jesus that, "He had kept His Father's commandments, and there was no sin in Him that Satan could use to his advantage. This is the condition in which those must be found who shall stand in the time of trouble." In Testimonies for the Church volume 2, page 355 she says regarding when Jesus comes that, "No work will then be done for them to remove their defects and give them holy characters." In Manuscript 122 of 1901 (found in The Mission Study Bible, which is a King James Bible with Ellen White comments, on page 354 in comments relevant to Ephesians) she says, "Those only who through faith in Christ obey all of God's commandments will reach the condition of sinlessness which Adam lived before his transgression." First John 3:6-7 says, "Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth has not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous even as he is righteous." If you "sinneth not" you must be in a state of sinless perfection and according to the Protestant Bible this is a requirement for salvation. No sin should be committed casually for God hates sin. You learn what sin is by Bible study.
© Martin J. Lohne 2018. Written 6/16/18.