Pastor Stephen Bohr at GYC 2014
Much attention has been drawn to Pastor Bohr’s initial presentations at the 2014 GYC meetings in Phoenix, Arizona which actually took place on January 1 and 2 of 2015. They were a surprising revelation of early Adventist understanding regarding God and His Son. His review of scriptural and Spirit of Prophecy statements on this subject, especially in his second message entitled “The Risk of Eternal Loss”, made a compelling case for the divinely begotten Son of God brought forth “from the bosom” of God the Father “of whom are all things” even as Eve was made of a rib taken from Adam’s side. His systematic analysis of nine parallels involving two separate individuals, who were one in nature, equally divine/human, intimate, one an image of the other, the second self, “co-substantial” (having the same DNA, he suggested), one the glory of the other, and subject to the authority of the head—was indeed compelling. The many audible amens and visible tears were evidence of the impact made as the realization struck home to his listeners that God the Father struggled with the prospect of giving His most precious Son, “torn from His bosom”, to be exposed to possible “risk of failure and eternal loss” DA p. 49, just as Adam agonized over the loss of Eve.
Like Ellen White, as she heard the same “most precious message” sent by God in 1888, every fiber of my heart cried out, Amen! (Ms 5, p 10, June 19, 1889; 5MR p. 219.1). The measure of God’s love is the fact that He sent His very own Son, who was His Son in heaven before he was sent to this earth, as Stephen pointed out. His message appeared boldly in stark contrast to the currently taught Incarnational Sonship of Christ. Pastor Bohr appeared to be bravely defending the same position our Advent Pioneers held for over 50 years.
In the years following 1888 numerous articles echoed the begotten Son belief. It was this teaching and understanding that led Ellen White to exclaim, when we were accused of denying the divinity of Christ in 1893, “...there is not a people on earth who hold more firmly to the truth of Christ’s pre-existence than do Seventh-day Adventists.” Review and Herald, Dec 3, 1893. How could that be? Adventists at that time exceeded all other people on earth in the belief of Christ’s pre-existence? What about those who stood on the platform of the “most holy trinity,” hammered out by the “church fathers” of the 4th and 5th centuries at Nicaea, Constantinople, and Chalcedon? They spawned a long string of creeds, all proclaiming a co-eternal Son of God who had no beginning! Was it simple arrogance that drove Ellen to make such an exclusive statement?
First of all, she was not claiming to believe in an existence of Christ that was prior to that of any other people on earth, but that Adventists held the truth of Christ’s pre-existence in eternity more firmly. Then, how could that be? The creeds stated their dogmas as conclusive axioms formulated by a sequence of philosophical dictums. They defined divinity and eternity and then held all other doctrinal teaching to their definition. But the Advent people relied, not on a priori definitions, but on Biblical statements found in the Word of God which became their fundamental principles. Their confidence in God’s Word was held more firmly than other’s confidence in church councils.
Pastor Bohr laid a strong foundation for the “co-substantial” divine nature of the Father and Son. The Son coming from the bosom of the Father inherits the very same 100% divine nature of God his Father, just as Eve, made from Adam’s rib, inherited his exact same humanity. She was cloned from Adam, one in nature, only “a little short of being identical.” His use of “co-substantial” was novel. It effectively describes the identical nature that will be possessed (having “the same attributes”) of the true Son who comes forth from his true Father.
Trinitarian literature abounds with a similar term, “con-substantial”, which has its roots in the issue that dominated the original Council of Nicaea: was the Son of the very same or only similar nature of the Father? Subsequent councils gravitated toward an inseparable, indivisible, physically connected one substance triune god that solved their demand for monotheism. But scripture and Ellen White are consistent in identifying the Father as God, and Christ as the Son of God. Here, monotheism is centered in the Father, the one true God (John 17:3), the living and true God (1Thes 1:9).
We are sure what we believe.
The Spirit of Christ was in the prophets (1Peter 1:10,11).
Jesus said, “In that day you shall know that I am in the Father, and you in me, and I in you” John 14:20.
“God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts” Gal 4:6.
Now Christ lives in us (Gal 2:20); He is our life! (Col 3:4).
We have the Spirit of Christ and are one of His (Rom 8:10).
We pray to our Father which art in heaven (Matt 6:9),
in the name of Jesus (John 14:13),
in the Spirit (Eph 6:18; Jude 20) of Jesus (Phil 1:19).
Some have questioned, in the light of his clarification Saturday night, why we should feature his presentations. We do so for the same reason that a Presbyterian writer was featured in two issues of the 1891 Signs of the Times entitled “The Subordination of Christ.” Samuel Spear was convicted by a number of Bible texts to clearly present the Son of God in a subordinate, submissive relationship to his Father, subject to the Father’s will—just as Stephen has presented. Adventists in 1891 recognized in Samuel Spear a brave trinitarian who was willing to take a position more in line with their understanding based on biblical and not philosophical expressions. Pastor Bohr may be attracted to this truth because it supports his position on women’s ordination as he, himself, acknowledged. But he “didn’t go there” in his sermon and neither will we.
We rejoice that the truth about God and His Son was given recognition in such a public forum.
Grace and peace be unto you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ
the Son of the Father in truth and love. 2 John 3