What Is Your Final Authority?

by Rolaant McKenzie

In the November 28, 2021 episode of the U.S. nationally-aired news television program called Face the Nation, Margaret Brennan interviewed White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci. Responding to her comment regarding the politization of matters of life and death and criticisms of him personally for promoting universal corporate/government-mandated experimental medical treatments, Dr. Fauci said:

" It is very easy to pick out an individual and make them a target because that's what people can focus on. But you're talking about systems, you're talking about the CDC, you're talking about the FDA, you're talking about science in general. So if they want to- I mean, anybody who's looking at this carefully realizes that there's a distinct anti-science flavor to this. So if they get up and criticize science, nobody's going to know what they're talking about. But if they get up and really aim their bullets at Tony Fauci, well, people could recognize there's a person there. There's a face, there's a voice you can recognize, you see him on television. So it's easy to criticize, but they're really criticizing science because I represent science."

Fundamentally, science is defined as knowledge gained through observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of natural phenomena. In an open and free society where the pursuit of scientific discovery, ethics and truth can thrive, empirical data is available for evaluation, questions, debate, criticisms, replication, and the formulation of theories based on this process. In such an environment, no scientist or acknowledged expert is above having his theories or conclusions evaluated for validity.

Legitimate science is incompatible with fallacious appeals to authority. In the context of Dr. Fauci's comments, his claim to represent science was meant to emphasize the idea that the scientific or medical pronouncements he and "authoritative experts" like him make, today, must be believed and obeyed without question or criticism.

According to the 18th fundamental belief of Seventh-day Adventism:

"The Scriptures testify that one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and we believe it was manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White. Her writings speak with prophetic authority and provide comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction to the church. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested."

This tenet of Seventh-day Adventism is an expression of the belief that the writings of Ellen White are as inspired by God as the Bible. Even the claimed prophetic authority for her writings is described in words like those found in Scripture itself.

"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Though it is said that the Bible is "the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested", it is a common belief and practice of Seventh-day Adventists to use Ellen White's writings as an inspired, infallible interpreter of Scripture. It is like a table determining the length of the measuring tape instead of the other way around.

"I wrote many pages to be read at your camp meeting. Weak and trembling, I arose at three o'clock in the morning to write to you. God was speaking through clay. You might say that this communication was only a letter. Yes, it was a letter, but prompted by the Spirit of God, to bring before your minds things that had been shown me. In these letters which I write, in the testimonies I bear, I am presenting to you that which the Lord has presented to me. I do not write one article in the paper expressing merely my own ideas. They are what God has opened before me in vision -- the precious rays of light shining from the throne." (Testimonies for the Church, volume 5, page 67)

"In ancient times God spoke to men by the mouth of prophets and apostles. In these days He speaks to them by the testimonies of His Spirit. There was never a time when God instructed His people more earnestly than He instructs them now concerning His will and the course that He would have them pursue." (Testimonies for the Church, volume 5, page 661)

"It is Satan's plan to weaken the faith of God's people in the Testimonies. Next follows skepticism in regard to the vital points of our faith, the pillars of our position, then doubt as to the Holy Scriptures, and then the downward march to perdition. When the Testimonies, which were once believed, are doubted and given up, Satan knows the deceived ones will not stop at this; and he redoubles his efforts till he launches them into open rebellion, which becomes incurable and ends in destruction." (Testimonies for the Church, volume 4, page 211)

The second passage from Testimonies for the Church is reminiscent of what the author of Hebrews wrote in Scripture:

"God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world." (Hebrews 1:1-2)

Ellen White makes it clear that what she writes is not her own opinion, but words from God, even going as far as making the claim that her writings are just as authoritative as those of the prophets and apostles in Scripture and constitute the most earnest present truth for God's people in these last days. According to her, those who critically question or are skeptical of her writings are deceived by Satan, will eventually reject the Bible itself, and end up on the road to damnation.

Just as the light of the moon is superseded by the rising of the sun, the revelation of God from the Old Testament is superseded by the coming of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. But Ellen White usurps this superior revelation with her writings.

Instead of Jesus being God's full and final revelation as Hebrews 1 teaches, Ellen White used her "inspired interpretation" of this passage to present herself as the latter-day authoritative prophetic "expert" whose writings must be obeyed and could not be doubted or critically measured against Scripture.

While God reveals Himself to humanity in a general way through His creation, the Scriptures are a special, supernatural way in which He communicates with us. It is the standard by which all ideas, doctrines, and beliefs are to be tested.

"But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." (2 Peter 1:20-21)

When you are outside walking on a woodland path on a cloudless day with the sun shining in its strength, you can clearly see the way to go. You do not use a flashlight to find your way across the path because the sun provides more than sufficient light.

Would-be latter-day prophets and prophetesses, in drawing followers after themselves, typically make claims to receiving special revelations from God that go beyond what the Scriptures teach and reinterprets them to bolster their own heretical belief systems. They distract from the glory, majesty, and completeness of Jesus Christ and His word. Perhaps they do teach a few good and true things here and there, but in time they point away from the sufficiency of God's word. They inevitably draw power and authority to themselves and lead their followers into damnable falsehoods.

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths." (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

In the Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah, the greatest of prophets in Israel, appeared with Jesus on a high mountain. It can be said that the law and the prophets were epitomized with these two figures. But of Jesus, the Father's voice proclaimed, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!" (Mathew 17:1-9; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36).

Scripture warns us in many places against false prophets and teachers who make claims to speak on behalf of God and mislead people (Deuteronomy 13:1-5, 18:20-22; 1 John 4:1-6). Do not accept the flashlights they offer, no matter how appealing, when the Son provides all the light needed to see the truth. Listen to Jesus!

Believe in the One who is the exact representation and essence of God, who sustains the entire universe by His powerful word, who became a man to live the perfect life we could not, to die the death we deserved to pay for all our sins, who conquered death by rising from the grave, and who now sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven. He is the standard for truth, and we read about Him in the Scriptures inspired by the Spirit of God.

"And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they." (Hebrews 1:3-4)

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