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Authentic History -The Shepherd's Rod
During the late 1920s, when the US economy was spiraling into the Great Depression and the papacy was gaining acceptance in the Protestant nations of Europe and the Americas, within the circles of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, there was a silent theological awakening throughout the Sabbath School Department, one that would give rise to the much-hated message, The Shepherd's Rod.
The year 1929 was remarkable for several reasons: it was the year that the political revolutionary and reformer Martin Luther King Jr. was born; it was the year America experienced the beginnings of the Great Depression, during which it lost over $50 billion when the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted to a record low of 68! It was the year that the Italian government signed the Lateran Treaty with the Holy See, restoring full temporal powers to the papacy, and the pope became king again not just of the Catholic Church but also of many Protestant churches with Catholic leanings.
Indeed, the ascension of the papacy to statehood again after having suffered a near-fatal injury in 1798 at the hands of the French, meant that this move was the virtual death chant of Protestantism. Under Luther (the Monk), the Protestant Reformation had dealt a vexing wound to the papacy in the sixteenth century. For it to then regain temporal power without the Protestant churches raising an eyebrow to the contrary, was indicative of the Protestants' having ended their 400-year protest, thereby allowing the papacy to self-heal from the prophetic "deadly wound," occasioned by the reformatory sword.
This open wound festered until the rise and progress of Seventh-day Adventism. The call of this denomination was to warn the world that Babylon had fallen, but if at any time, it should fail to give such a warning and instead become bedfellows with the papacy, then and only then would it have lost its power to protest, and keep the wound opened, and then too, would the "healing" process begin.
That the papacy regained international statehood during the spiritual watch of the Seventh-day Adventist Church means much, theologically speaking. It indicates that this Denomination had stopped its protest against the papacy and was conforming to the policies of that institution. Evidence of this march towards the papacy is traceable to the early working policies of church leadership.
We recognize those agencies that lift up Christ before men as a part of the divine plan for evangelization of the world, and we hold in high esteem Christian men and women in other communions who are engaged in winning souls to Christ.
The Adventists' lack of continuing the spiritual protest resulted in the reshaping of political and religious alliances that eventually gave birth to the Lateran Treaty. Of that treaty, one news headline in that year read: "Mussolini and Gaspari Sign Historic Pact ... Heal Wound of Many Years." The New York Times headlines for the same date read, "Pope Becomes Ruler of a State Again," the subheading declared, "Bells Peal and Crowds Cheer as Treaty Exchange Restores His Temporal Sovereignty." Thus the record of history squarely shows the reversals of the reformation after 400 years of protest.
This is a big deal in heaven's eyes because ever since the "remnant church" had backslidden into cold formalism and no longer saw reason for its protest against despotism, the divine hand that had guided the affairs of the church throughout history had somehow stepped in and sought to correct its course. One might well surmise that the events that had led to the Lateran Treaty reveal the sleeping of Adventism, which was then called to the post of "watchman" in the progress of the Reformation. During that time, it slowly reversed its steps in a compromising spiritual retreat toward Egypt (worldliness) and in time into the arms of the papacy, an institution against which it had formerly loudly protested.
Because the church is Christ's only object on earth on which He, in a special sense, bestows His supreme regard, He necessarily had to do something. He had to send a course correction, an alarm, a message of revival and reformation, one that showed that the church was adrift, without chart or compass, thinking it was headed for fair harbor to dock on blissful shores astride the sea of glass, when, in fact, it had ran aground and lost its sail, chart, and compass in the dark and turbid sea of apostate Christianity.
This course correction came in the form of a message — the much despised and hated Shepherd's Rod. From 1928 to 1929, God had directed the Sabbath School Department of the SDA Church to publish a three-volume Bible study guide entitled Isaiah the Gospel Prophet — a most memorable Adult Sabbath School Lesson Study series, authored by Milian Lauritz Andreasen. This Bible study series would forever change the course of neo Adventism, and give birth to its own spiritual revival and reformation, calling the Church back to its historic roots in Protestantism.
Victor T. Houteff: The Man, His Message, and His Mission
Victor Tasho Houteff, an itinerant businessman turned Seventh-day Adventist Christian in 1919, would later become Sabbath school teacher in a Los Angeles church in the 1920s. In this capacity, Houteff was teaching from Isaiah the Gospel Prophet adult Sabbath school lessons, when greater light (truth) was revealed to him. As he continued to teach those lessons, more and more church members became attracted to the "new light" studies he was sharing. He was not a grammarian (he was a Bulgarian immigrant), and this caused people to wonder at the knowledge he had gathered from the Scriptures in setting some of the most perplexing concepts of the Bible in so plain a light as to baffle theologians for the simplicity and harmony those answers brought to formerly confounding theological questions.
These "new light" discoveries and Bible teachings did not sit well with church leaders, however, and they soon found reasons to persecute Houteff. They would eventually excommunicate him from church membership in their efforts to "protect the Church" from what they considered fanciful and fanatical teachings. The arrival and subsequent rejection of The Shepherd's Rod message by leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church marked the second time in a generation that the "remnant church" had taken such an organized approach in defiance of a message purported to be sent from heaven, one bearing the credentials of truth.
In 1888, at the General Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, two young preachers, Alonzo T. Jones, a former military officer turned historian, and Dr. Ellet J. Waggoner, the son of an Adventist preacher, startled that discussion. Both men, independently, yet simultaneously, latched upon the truth of righteousness by faith, a message they would share in the open sessions of that General Conference. Though their messages were strongly endorsed by Ellen White, yet the theological thought leaders of the Church, in a move to "protect the church" from errors would reject this most precious message of salvation! This occurred in spite of White's repeated warnings and entreaties that they were rejecting a message from Heaven; the message God wanted His church to receive and live. Of that special message, White pointedly wrote:
The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. Many had lost sight of Jesus. They needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family. All power is given into His hands, that He may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure.
The True religion, the only religion of the Bible, that teaches forgiveness only through the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour, that advocates righteousness by faith of the Son of God, has been slighted, spoken against, ridiculed, and rejected.
The third angel's message will not be comprehended, the light which will lighten the earth with its glory will be called a false light, by those who refuse to walk in its advancing glory. The work that might have been done, will be left undone by the rejecters of truth, because of their unbelief. We entreat of you who oppose the light of truth, to stand out of the way of God's people. Let Heaven-sent light shine forth upon them in clear and steady rays. God holds you to whom this light has come, responsible for the use you make of it. Those who will not hear will be held responsible; for the truth has been brought within their reach, but they despised their opportunities and privileges. Messages bearing the divine credentials have been sent to God's people; the glory, the majesty, the righteousness of Christ, full of goodness and truth, have been presented; the fullness of the Godhead in Jesus Christ has been set forth among us with beauty and loveliness, to charm all whose hearts were not closed with prejudice.
Given that church leaders had stood in rebellion to the prophet, and of their own volition rejected "messages bearing the divine credentials," the stage was set for a repeat of their defiance as well as a repeat of divine "mercy." The 1888 message was officially rejected between 1889 and 1890, nearly two years after it was first presented. As with ancient Israel at Kadesh-Barnea, the people wandered in the wilderness for forty years. Similarly, in our day, some forty years later, such a repeat message came to the church between 1929 and 1930. The true history of this repeat message in the outpouring of truth upon the SDA Church has been swept under the carpets for decades, and the truths of its claims covered up, distorted and otherwise maligned, even until now.
A founding purpose in writing this book is to re-examine the history and teachings of The Shepherd's Rod, and declare such findings on the mountaintops, so the world may know that God has been merciful in sending us His Truth of revival and reformation, exactly 40-years after its initial rejection. This message was as vigorously opposed, condemned as error, and actively prevented from free circulation by church leaders in the 1930s, as was the message of 1888 in that generation. Prophesying of this message, A.T. Jones made the following prophetic pronouncement:
That [1888 message], however, is but a sample. There will be things to come that will be more surprising than that was to those at Minneapolis, more surprising than anything we have yet seen. And, brethren, we will be required to receive and preach that truth. But unless you and I have every fiber of that spirit rooted out of our hearts, we will treat that message and the messenger by whom it is sent, as God has declared we have treated this other message. From this passage, the following can be readily extracted.
A future message will come to the SDA Church whose contents shall be more surprising than the one in 1888.
This future message is categorized as "that truth."
It is further recognized as "that message."
It will be given by a "messenger."
It will likewise be rejected by church leaders if the spirit of 1888 has not been rooted out of their hearts.
With forensics records at our disposal, I shall allow the pen of prophecy to illuminate the pages of history and reveal that God had spoken to His church twice in a generation, and both times the Church has rejected His warnings and entreaties.
The Adventist church has written its version of this history in the booklet The Story of "The Shepherd's Rod" and I will examine that record to see if it bears the accuracy of history, or if it is the "story" of men who have betrayed their trust. Sadly, I have found that in fact, the Adventist church leaders, like the Pharisees of Christ's days, have contrived and marketed a "story" against Houteff s ministry, and mustered the courage to promulgate it as fact.
While most if not all humans bring their personal biases when looking at any evidence, there comes a point when the evidence is so compelling that, biases aside, the truth can be ascertained, and a balanced, accurate thread can be adduced by the honest researcher. Here, you will read about one of the largest historical cover-ups in Protestant circles of modern times by an active propaganda machine bent on making its plot appear to hold the mark of true and honest reporting.
Only eight months after Houteff's death, the Denomination's Committee on Defense Literature published its famous report, The Story of "The Shepherd's Rod." This Story is painful and ugly because it shows men dressed in the holy garb of ministerial candor stooping to the unholy levels of political brinksmanship and outright lying in their efforts of hoarding power and control to themselves. They exemplify a cold, calculating craftiness not unlike the Jesuits of the sixteenth century in the "counter reformation," or that of the fiendish priests and temple rulers in Christ's days, whose studied aims were His destruction. Thus the SDA Church leaders began their epic Story with the air of contempt.
Disaffection came early in the man's experience, for, dissatisfied with the care given him at one of our sanitariums, he was tempted with doubt: "Is that sanitarium God's place for His sick people? I asked myself. Is this people really God's people? The answer that came to these questions was this: The sanitarium is God's, and the church is God's, but the people that are running them are reactionaries, they are the modern priests, scribes and Pharisees, that there is a need for more Samaritans among them. This is where God's truth is, though, and God helping me, I said, I shall stay with it." Thus a root of bitterness sprang up in his heart.
The denomination's report of "dissatisfaction" on Houteffs part makes him out to be a bitter man with the church, but his published testimony reveals differently.
Houteffs Glendale Hospital Visit and Spiritual Awakening
"This Sanitarium incident, though, produced another disappointing picture in my mind. Is that Sanitarium God's place for His sick people? I asked myself. Is this people really God's people? The answer that came to these questions was this: The Sanitarium is God's, and the church is God's, but the people that are running them are reactionaries, they are the modern priests, scribes and Pharisees, that there is a need for more Samaritans among them. This is where God's Truth is, though, and God helping me, I said, I shall stay with it. Yes, God did help me, I kept the faith, complained about nothing and stayed in the church with as good record as any."
If indeed this "root of bitterness" theory were true, one would expect that Houteff would have sought to build a rival sanitarium. Instead, he gave broad acknowledgment that "The sanitarium is God's, and the church is God's," but that there was great need for "more Samaritans" among them. That which saddened his heart was the fact that he, as a church member in good and regular standing, received substandard treatment from one of the denomination's health care facilities, and he also realized, even then, that there was a stronger demand for money above and beyond the level of care administered.
For his part, though, Houteff remained with the church as an active and loyal member, and in time, he became a well-respected Sabbath school teacher. This illustrates that he at no time questioned the theology of the church but instead was resigned that "this is where God's truth is." This confession could hardly have been extracted from the pen and lips of one who was disaffected with the church and carrying "a root of bitterness" in his heart. Clearly, he felt that the customer service was inadequate, and this is testimony borne by some patients, even in our days, more than eight decades removed from that incident.
An Internet search on patients' complaints against services provided by some Adventist hospitals will show that Houteff's complaints more than eighty years ago are still real today, and the poor service received at the Glendale Hospital was his only grief, not the demise of the church, or the destruction of its life-saving health care system, which today is the envy of many Protestants. From my vantage point, the real root of bitterness lay in the hearts of church leaders, for even in this report, they failed to acknowledge Houteff as a brother in the faith, merely referring to him as "the man."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "What Every Seventh-day Adventist Should Know about the Shepherd's Rod Volume 1"
Copyright © 2014 Garrick Augustus.
Excerpted by permission of iUniverse.
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Table of Contents
SOME CONVENTIONS USED IN THIS BOOK, xvii,
AUTHOR'S BIOGRAPHY, xxvii,
LAYOUT AND HOW TO USE THIS BOOK, xxxvii,
CHAPTER 1: AUTHENTIC HISTORY -THE SHEPHERD'S ROD, 1,
CHAPTER 2: HOUTEFF AND THE GROWING CONTROVERSY OVER THE SHEPHERD'S ROD, 50,
CHAPTER 3: THE SDA CHURCH REPLIES TO HOUTEFF, 101,
CHAPTER 4: CLEARING THE GOALPOSTS FOR REEXAMINATION, 128,
CHAPTER 5: ANALYZING ADVENTISTS' PERSPECTIVES, 181,
CHAPTER 6: FORENSICS; EXAMINING ADVENTISTS' CASE EVIDENCE, 197,
CHAPTER 7: PROPOSITION 2; WHO IS THE BEAST OF REVELATION 13?, 233,
CHAPTER 8: PROPOSITION 3; WHEN AND HOW DID ONE HEAD OF THE BEAST RECEIVE THE DEADLY WOUND?, 243,
CHAPTER 9: PROPOSITION 4; WHAT IS THE SEAL OF THE LIVING GOD?, 257,
CHAPTER 10: PROPOSITION 5; WILL THE WHOLE CHURCH, EVERY MEMBER, BE PERFECT BEFORE THE LOUD CRY?, 266,
CHAPTER 11: PROPOSITION 6; WHAT IS THE HARVEST OF MATTHEW 13?, 289,
CHAPTER 12: PROPOSITION 7; WHEN WILL THE WHEAT AND THE TARES BE SEPARATED?, 301,
CHAPTER 13: PROPOSITION 8; THE CHURCH NAME-SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST, 316,
CHAPTER 14: PROPOSITION 9; THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST MINISTERS AND LEADERS, 335,
CHAPTER 15: PROPOSITION 10; THE SLAUGHTER OF EZEKIEL 9 — WHEN WILL IT TAKE PLACE?, 349,
CHAPTER 16: CORRECTING HISTORICAL INACCURACIES, 419,
CHAPTER 17: THE FOUR CARDINAL DAVIDIAN DIVISIONS, 482,
CHAPTER 18: MY PERSONAL TESTIMONY OF PHYSICAL AND VERBAL ABUSE, 508,
CHAPTER 19: M.L. ANDREASEN'S INTERVIEW WITH V.T. HOUTEFF, 522,
CHAPTER 20: ANALYSIS OF M.L. ANDREASEN'S UNPUBLISHED LETTER TO THE GENERAL CONFERENCE, 536,
CHAPTER 21: THE KING OF THE NORTH UNVEILED, 594,
CHAPTER 22: THE CONCLUSION OF THE WHOLE MATTER, 636,
HOW SHALL WE STUDY THE SCRIPTURES AND DISCOVER THE TRUTH?, 649,
THE COVER STORY- ELEVENTH HOUR CALL, 681,
END NOTES, 709,