With all due respect to Elder Pfandl, Lesson #11 starts out with a completely illogical statement:
...we believe that her inspiration, not her authority, is on the same level as the Old and New Testament prophets...If Mrs. White was no different than Bible prophets, if she was equally inspired, and if, as Adventist leaders say, she was specially sent for the end-times, then why would she not carry the same, or more authority than prophets who lived thousands of years ago? Is it because Mrs. White's writings do not appear in the Bible--a collection of books selected by the early Catholic Church?
By virtue of this divinely-appointed authority, the Catholic Church determined the canon of Scripture (what books belong in the Bible) at the end of the fourth century. We therefore believe in the Scriptures on the authority of the Catholic Church. After all, nothing in Scripture tells us what Scriptures are inspired, what books belong in the Bible, or that Scripture is the final authority on questions concerning the Christian faith.1Is the only reason Ellen White has less authority than any other prophet of God because her writings do not appear in a list of "inspired" writings put together by the Catholic Church in the fourth century? Or is there another reason? Could it be that Seventh-day Adventists do not have complete confidence in her "gift"?
Sunday's lesson starts out with an interesting assertion:
There is no question that there will be people in heaven who never have heard the gospel.In order to prove his point, Elder Pfandl then quotes a statement Ellen White made about heathens who are the children of God. Perhaps that is true, and perhaps not, but the point is, the authority cited for Pfandl's statement, which he claims is without "question", is a quote from Desire of Ages, not the Bible. This is an example where the "authority" of Ellen White is used by Seventh-day Adventists to teach a doctrine that is either not found, or is at least not readily apparent in the Bible.
In Wednesday's lesson on "context", Pfandl addresses one of Mrs. White's more controversial quotes:
In Christ’s Object Lessons, Ellen White makes the statement that “those who accept the Saviour, however sincere their conversion, should never be taught to say or to feel that they are saved.” —Page 155. Does this mean we can never be certain about our salvation? 1 John 5:12, 13.
When we study the context, we discover that she is speaking about whether a person can fall from grace after conversion. ... The immediate context makes it clear that she is addressing the issue of self-confidence and temptations after conversion. We are never secure against temptations, we can never say that we cannot fall, that we are saved and therefore secure from temptation, but this does not mean that in Jesus we cannot have day-by-day assurance of salvation.Perhaps Ellen White's emphasis was indeed on falling from grace, but nevertheless, she did say that Christians "should never be taught to say or to feel that they are saved." In other words, Christians should be taught to feel they are in continual danger of being lost. How is it possible to "have day-by-day assurance of salvation" while feeling that you are not saved? The two are polar opposites!
Mrs. White reiterates her "not saved" rhetoric elsewhere in her writings:
We are never to rest in a satisfied condition, and cease to make advancement, saying, "I am saved." When this idea is entertained, the motives for watchfulness, for prayer, for earnest endeavor to press onward to higher attainments, cease to exist. No sanctified tongue will be found uttering these words till Christ shall come, and we enter in through the gates into the city of God. Then, with the utmost propriety, we may give glory to God and to the Lamb for eternal deliverance. As long as man is full of weakness,--for of himself he cannot save his soul,--he should never dare to say, "I am saved."2Mrs. White said no sanctified tongue would say that it was saved. Let us compare that with the Bible:
He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24)
And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:47)
We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved… (Acts 15:11)
For in this hope we were saved. (Romans 8:24)
By this gospel you are saved... (1 Corinthians 15:2)
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith… (Ephesians 2:8)
...who has saved us and called us to a holy life--not because of anything we have done… (2 Timothy 1:9)
...he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us... (Titus 3:5)
We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. (1 John 3:14)
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13)
1. John Salza, http://www.scripturecatholic.com/, extracted Feb. 25, 2009.
2. Ellen White, The Review and Herald, June 17, 1890.