Adventism's Physical God |

TBC Staff

Ellen White strongly suggested that not only Jesus but also His Father had physical bodies. Here are two of her quotes establishing her belief that Jesus Himself told her God has a body: "I have often seen the lovely Jesus, that He is a person. I asked Him if His Father was a person and had a form like Himself. Said Jesus, 'I am in the express image of My Father’s person' (Early Writings, p. 77.1).

"In February, 1845, I had a vision of events commencing with the Midnight Cry. I saw a throne and on it sat the Father and the Son. I gazed on Jesus’ countenance and admired his lovely person. The Father’s person I could not behold, for a cloud of glorious light covered him. I asked Jesus if his Father had a form like himself. He said he had, but I could not behold it, for he said if you should once behold the glory of his person you would cease to exist" (Letter published in Broadside 1, April 6, 1846, par. 7).

Because of Ellen White’s revelations from God, Adventism has been comfortable perpetuating the belief that God certainly has a body because He passed on His physical image to us. Nevertheless, Ellen’s statements were vague and poorly developed. She gave no explanation for this belief other than seeing God in vision.

There is a little-known fact, however, that Adventist founder James White, Ellen’s husband, wrote in detail his belief that God has a body—and explained his philosophical reasons. James’s writings are available, but most people do not know about them nor do they know that he established the Adventist materialist view in the very earliest days of Adventism.

Reading James White on this subject made me see why it was so hard to come to understand that we literally have immaterial spirits. He is the one who developed the argument that belief in immaterial spirits is demonic. He wrote:

Immateriality: "This is but another name for nonentity. It is the negative of all things and beings—of all existence. There is not one particle of proof to be advanced to establish its exisenece. It has no way to manifest itself to any intelligence in heaven or on earth. Neither God, angels, nor men could possibly conceive of such a substance, being, or thing. It possesses no property or power by which to make itself manifest to any intelligent being in the universe…In short, it can exert no influence whatever—it can neither act nor be acted upon. And even if it does exist, it can be of no possible use. It possesses no one, desirable property, faculty, or use, yet, strange to say, immateriality is the modern Christian’s God, his anticipated heaven, his immortal self—his all!…

"What is God? He is material, organized intelligence, possessing both body and parts. Man is in his image….What is Jesus Christ? He is the Son of God, and is like his Father, being “the brightness of his Father’s glory, and the express image of his person.” He is a material intelligence, with body, parts, and passions; possessing immortal flesh and immortal bones.

"What are men? They are the offspring of Adam. They are capable of receiving intelligence and exaltation to such a degree as to be raised from the dead with a body like that of Jesus Christ, and to possess immortal flesh and bones. Thus perfected, they will possess the material universe, that is, the earth, as their “everlasting inheritance.” With these hopes and prospects before us, we say to the Christian world who hold to immateriality, that they are welcome to their God—their life—their heaven, and their all. They claim nothing but that which we throw away; and we claim nothing but that which they throw away. Therefore, there is no ground for quarrel or contention between us.”

[TBC: The Lord does communicate ideas that finite man cannot clearly wrap his mind around. For example, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John:4:24), and the Lord Jesus (who is God manifest in the flesh - 1 Timothy:3:16) was prophesied in Isaiah:9:6 to be "The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." The "one" true God of Israel (the Almighty God) is plainly called the "mighty God" [el gibbor] in the very same prophetic context as Isaiah:9:6.

Jesus declared in John:14:9, “…he that hath seen me hath seen the Father…” From Scripture we conclude that the Father can only be seen in the Son. Consequently, when people “saw” the God of Israel in the Old Testament, they were seeing the pre-incarnate Christ. In His humanity, they were not seeing the full essence of the one who is “a consuming fire.” The words of Jesus in John:6:46 tells us that no one has ever seen the Father. Therefore, the Son who is God was seen but not the Father. It was Jesus before His incarnation, when he was “made flesh” and “dwelt among us... (John:1:14). The fact of Scripture’s declaration is something which James White ended up denying the teaching of Scripture in his appeal to human reasoning and philosophy to understand the nature of God.]