Power, Print, and Martyrdom: The Legacy of C. C. Crisler in China

Funeral of C. C. Crisler. At Brother Crislers grave. At Brother Crisler's Grave Left to Right: Harold Schultz, Chinese Worker, Brother Davies, treas. of NW Union, Doctor H. W. Miller, O. A. Hall, Pastor Appel-Supt. of NW Union, Chinese WorkerThis paper examines the life and contributions of C. C. Crisler who served as a Seventh-day Adventist missionary in China from 1917 to 1936. Crisler was a detailed statistician who put together the missionary statistics at the 1901 General Conference Session. He later worked for Ellen G. White who used the medium of print to share her prophetic messages. After her death in 1915 he went to China and concentrated his efforts on developing publications and a church structure for the denomination in the Far East. At the same time Crisler was an example of overwork, which ultimately resulted in his death from pneumonia while on a trip to Tibet. His emphasis on equating numbers in baptisms and institutions with success resulted after the 1949 Cultural Revolution with a reversal in his life work and he was largely forgotten. This paper outlines both his contributions as well as challenges as a Seventh-day Adventist missionary in China. To read the paper click here: Campbell Power Print and Martyrdom 2014-10-31.

The 1919 Bible Conference and Theological Polarization

1919All of the post in recent weeks and months about Women’s Ordination in the Seventh-day Adventist Church lead me to reflect upon other times of theological turmoil in Adventist history. Perhaps one of the more tumultuous episodes occurred at the 1919 Bible Conference. It was intended to be the meeting that would unite Adventist Bible teachers, theologians and administrators into a cohesive whole and “finish the work” so that Christ will come. Such lofty goals were quickly not realized. Issues over minute details of prophetic interpretation led to theological polarization. As far as I can tell it is the first time in Adventist history where the terms “liberal” and “conservative” are bantered about. At one point the issues were so divisive that General Conference president A. G. Daniells forbade discussion unless he was present in the room to chair the proceedings, and even commented that he wished he could just take all these topics they were fighting, place them in a balloon, and let them float away. [Read more...]

Writing for Scholarly Journals

Academic WritingEarlier this year I was asked to take over our AIIAS Seminary journal, The Journal of Asia Adventist Seminary. It is an academic journal that comes out twice a year with articles on a wide variety of topics: pretty much anything taught at our Seminary is fair game (here are some additional details).

Perhaps the most interesting part of editing an academic journal is the peer-review process. Like most journals we practice “blind” review, in other words we do our best to not reveal who the author is to the reviewer, and similarly, we try to keep the reviewers anonymous from the author, too. The goal is to make sure that the acceptance of an article is based upon the merit of the actual piece without any undo prejudice. As the editor, I typically consult with my associate editor and my dean in helping to select experts in the field who are knowledgeable enough to give candid feedback. The result is not always encouraging. In my first batch of articles that I sent out for review, two thirds were rejected. [Read more...]

Mindanao and Sabbath School Mission Offerings

One of the more interesting articles that I have run across recently is a piece by C. C. Crisler titled “Into Mindanao.” In he details the birth of the work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Mindanao, the largest major island in the archipelago known as the Philippines. Today, Adventists may be familiar with this particular island because it is the headquarters of the Southern Philippines Union, and one of the fastest growing areas for the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church.

What is interesting is that Crisler highlights how $1,000 from last year’s (1926) mission offerings were designated to prepare “the way for an aggressive evangelistic campaign by Filipino workers” brought in from other parts of the Philippines. What is very clear is that very early on, Adventist missionaries recognized the effectiveness of training workers who could then more easily relate, speak the language, and spread the Adventist message. The work was coordinated by Pastor W. L. Rodriguez, one of the “older Filipino ministers.” As a result of their labors over 200 people were baptized.

“Until last year,” observes Crisler, “other islands near Mindanao were un-entered. A great impetus has come to our work in those regions through the help rendered from funds released for the support of the work in new fields, and the results are such as to lead us on and ever on.”

What does this mean? Adventist mission offerings have made a significant impact in the expansion of Adventism around the world. Today one of the fastest growing areas for the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church all began as the result of the Sabbath School mission offering–something that each week we have an opportunity to further support what others before us have done and to create additional opportunities to share the Adventist message around the world.




[Guest Post] The Long, Lost Obituary of Joseph Clarke

[This is a guest post by Kevin Morgan, a meticulous researcher, author, and friend who has found some amazing new material about Joseph Clarke. MWC]

Historian Michael Campbell and I share a common interest in Adventist pioneer Joseph Clarke, who Michael has described on his blog as an “unsung hero.” And certainly Joseph Clarke was, as I will note below.

Michael and I joined forces to try to find out what had happened to this Adventist pioneer known for four things. The first of these is his support of church organization, when James White was trying to accomplish the Herculean task of bringing the “scattered flock” of Sabbatarian Adventists together into a formal organization in the midst of the American Civil War. The second is for fancying “that the time might come when a regiment of Sabbathkeepers would strike this rebellion a staggering blow, in the strength of Him who always helped His valiant people when they kept His statutes.” Yet, there is no evidence that he actually advocated such. Rather, he encouraged the brethren to “stop pestering Bro. White on this subject, and go to God for guidance.” He also expressed confidence that, “when the time for drafting arrives, God will shed light on the path of the S. D. Adventists.” “We have the gift of prophecy,” he wrote, “and if we look to God, he will guide our leaders, and they will walk in the light” (RH, Sept. 23, 1862, p. 134). The third thing that Clarke is known for is his early but brief foray into the South to work with freed slaves following the end of the American Civil War. Fourth, Clarke is known for his many articles in the Review and Herald. (Last count, there are over 650! For comparison, Ellen White’s numbered 1895.) [Read more...]

Ellen White’s Unpublished Writings

Annotated Edition of Ellen White's WritingsThe first volume of a projected series covering the unpublished writings of Ellen G. White was just released this month. This is a major new work that makes a major contribution to Ellen White studies. It is perhaps the most significant publication to come from the Ellen G. White Estate in over three decades, perhaps since the 1982 Prophetic Guidance workshop. It was also in the early 1980s that the White Estate made a shift to generally start releasing her unpublished writings, unless there was a reason not to. Then in the 1990s serious discussions culminated in a project to annotated her unpublished writings. Begin in earnest in 2002 Roland Karlman spent the last decade of his career on this volume.

Among some of the significant contributions:

  1. Essay by Alberto R. Timm on the interpretation and authority of Ellen White’s unpublished writings.
  2. Essay by Merlin D. Burt on the Shut Door. He argues in essence that a careful historical study separates Ellen White as taking a more moderate view that allowed for her to progressively expand her view. This essay alone is worth the price of the book.
  3. The actual unpublished writings. While all of the unpublished writings will be released next year (July 16, 2015) on the 100th anniversary of Ellen White’s death, these earliest writings (up to 1859) give valuable insights. Plus, the careful identification of important people and places is invaluable.
  4. Afterward is a list of key biographical personalities from her life, as well as a timeline and several other useful tools.
  5. One of the appendices is also by Merlin D. Burt on charismatic experiences. In it he notes that she was far more enthusiastic in her religious experience than generally characterized, but still far from many of the fanatical excesses that she warned against. [Read more...]

Ellen White & Leo Tolstoy

Ilya_Repin_-_Leo_Tolstoy_Barefoot_-_Google_Art_Project[1]Two authors who were more or less contemporaries, but who lived a world apart. Each was vegetarian, had a notable conversion experience, read widely, had a literary team that supported them, and grew frustrated with some of their followers who went to extremes. Who were these two authors? Ellen G. White (1827-1915) and Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910).

As far as I can tell, neither one knew about the other. Ellen G. White, if she ever heard of Tolstoy, does not reference him in any of her writings, and did not, as far as I can tell have his writings in her library. And conversely the same thing holds true of Tolstoy.

While the similarities are interesting, some of the contrasts are more revealing. Ellen G. White claimed to be God’s prophetic messenger. Tolstoy never claimed to receive visions, or even to be visionary kind of leader although some certainly felt led to follow him. [Read more...]