Adventist Teaching: Yes
Biblical Teaching: No
Fundamental to Seventh-Day Adventist theology is their Great Controversy paradigm. The Great Controversy is an extra-biblical, pre-earth origin story unique to the Adventist Church which became a book by Ellen G. White (the Seventh-Day Adventist prophetess), purportedly revealed to her in a vision at a funeral, and is the central governing principle of the Adventist Church’s theology—branded as the “Great Controversy Theme” (GCT). It is also fundamental belief #8 of the SDA Church’s 28 Fundamental Beliefs. Because the SDA Church believes Ellen White was divinely inspired and corrects inaccurate interpretations of scripture, they are stuck having to uphold this.
In this pre-earth narrative, a great cosmic controversy between Christ and Lucifer (who through his rebellion became Satan the Adversary) started because Jesus was exalted to be made equal with the Father. Ellen White repeatedly wrote, in multiple places, that Jesus was given an exalted position and made equal with the Father. Lucifer saw this exaltation as a great injustice because he believed he should have been the one to be exalted.
It bears striking similarity to the Mormon Plan of Salvation which predates The Great Controversy by a number of decades—which should not be surprising considering Mrs. White’s vast amounts of plagiarism.
Mrs. White stated that this exaltation included Jesus being given authority He did not previously possess, newfound access to the counsels of God, and his presence being equal to that of God the Father. She referred to the Son as being “next in authority to the Great Lawgiver.” This is to say that Jesus is not God Almighty (Yahweh) in this system of theology.
Adventist apologists have sought to defend this in a number of ways. Some traditionalist SDAs agree with the statements, but those that understand the abject heresy these statements present, the primary defense has been to cite where Ellen White claimed this exaltation brought “no change in the position or authority of Christ,” it was simply a revealing by God the Father of something that had always been a reality. The problem is Mrs. White has a regular track record of contradicting herself. Not only that, but she states in multiple places that Jesus was given authority, and made equal. Being “given authority” and “made equal” are not alternate ways of saying something had always been the case. It’s the exact opposite. To be given something means one didn’t have it prior.
The other defense they have tried using is to point to the verses in scripture regarding Jesus’s exaltation after incarnating. But this is the fallacy of equivocation and false equivalency. Mrs. White’s statements have to do with an exaltation prior to the creation of the earth, before the incarnation when Jesus added unto Himself a human nature. The exaltation of Jesus discussed in scripture (Acts 2:32-3) is in reference to his humanity after incarnating. As a man, Jesus was exalted above all of creation as the perfect, sinless Son of God to take His rightful throne over the creation to rule and reign with all authority. This is not the same as Jesus being exalted prior to having a human nature when he only possessed His divine nature. White’s claim would mean Jesus was either a lesser divine being at best, or not divine at all at worst.
This teaching is not only false, but damnably heretical. It shows that the Jesus of Adventist theology is not the Jesus of history and scripture.
The Jesus of scripture is Yahweh—the Almighty. He has been co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father and the Holy Spirit from eternity past. There are a plethora of scriptural examples that demonstrate this.
The Bible is crystal clear that there is only One God (Deuteronomy 6:4)—One Lord (Ephesians 4:5)—Yahweh the Almighty. Not one Almighty and then a lesser god. Jesus is that Lord (Romans 10:9, Revelation 19:16) alongside the Father and the Holy Spirit who are all the one Almighty. Yahweh was not exalted to be made equal with Yahweh.
Isaiah says that Yahweh is the First and the Last, the only Savior (Isaiah 43:10-11; 44:6-8). Jesus explicitly states that He is the First and Last—the Almighty (Revelation 1:8, 17-18; 2:8). Jesus is our great God and Savior (John 20:27-28, Titus 2:13-14, 2 Timothy 1:10). If Yahweh alone is the First and the Last—the only Savior—that means Jesus is the Almighty.
God also tells us through Isaiah that “the LORD alone made everything” (Isaiah 44:24). The Hebrew word translated LORD is Yahweh—the Almighty God. Paul and John both tell us that Jesus made everything (Colossians 1:16-18, John 1:1-4). If Yahweh alone created everything and Jesus created everything, He is Yahweh. Paul also goes on to say Jesus is the “fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). The fullness of the Godhead means He possesses all that makes God divine.
Scripture warns that there are many false christ’s in the world (Matthew 24:24, 2 Corinthians 11:1-4). Simply using the name Jesus is not enough—the details matter. This is one of the primary, foundational doctrines that put Seventh-Day Adventism outside the bounds of Christianity and why Christians need to be prepared to share the true Christ and His Gospel with Seventh-Day Adventists.
Ellen White claimed that “whatever contradicts God’s Word, we can be sure proceeds from Satan”, that her writings never contradict God’s Word, and bear the test of investigation. We’ll let you connect the dots.