Laying Aside

Laying Aside His Divinity

Ellen White in the later part of her life made some remarkable statements concerning the divinity of Christ. Just prior to the pivotal General Conference of 1888 she wrote:
“He [Jesus] turned from his royal throne, his high command, and, laying aside his divinity, clothed himself with humanity.” ST March 17, 1887.12
Nearly a decade later she repeated this same thought:
“At the time when He was most needed, Jesus, the Son of God, the world’s Redeemer, laid aside His divinity, and came to earth in the garb of humanity.” Bible Echo Oct 12, 1896.1; ST March 18, 1897.3
But forces were building and threatening to change the fundamental principles and truths that the Advent people had been given through Bible study and prayer. The Son of God came to this earth to become the Son of man, to live and die for us. His pre-existence as the Son of God was being challenged by Canright and now Kellogg who both reversed their position on the Trinity—from one of opposition, to now embracing this “spiritualistic theory.”

As the Kellogg crisis emerged, she began to clarify with greater precision many more statements concerning the personality, pre-existence, and divinity of Christ who “is all the fullness of the Godhead manifested” (BTS March, 1906.1). This is the only time she wrote “The Son is all the fullness...” Over ninety times she quoted Colossians 2:9 “in Christ dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.’ ” “The Father that dwelleth in me” John 14:10. That’s why, the one time she said, He “is all the fullness”, she added the word “manifested.” This is also why, when she included the words of John Cumming, “life original, unborrowed, underived” from his 1856 book, she said that this life was “In him.” (ST April 8, 1897.2) The Father’s life was in His Son, because He gave it to him. John 5:26.

Thus, in 1906 at the peak of Kellogg’s challenge to “make many believe that the platform upon which we have been standing for the past fifty years* has been torn away” (Lt242-1903.9*), she refined the precision of her previous statements:
“Christ laid aside His kingly crown and royal robe, clothed His divinity with humanity, and left the courts of heaven to come to this earth to save mankind. He did not lay aside His divinity, but clothed divinity with humanity, that, as a divine-human Saviour, He might stand by the side of humanity.” Ms49-1906.6
Well, did He lay aside His divinity or did He not lay it aside? Was Ellen following John Harvey’s lead and retracting her previous position? Had she changed her mind on this crucial subject? Was she introducing new light? Not at all. But her words were being used against her.
“…the instruction given me has now been used by others to justify and endorse theories in Living Temple that are a character to mislead. May the Lord teach me how to meet such things. If necessary I can charge all such work as coming directly from Satan to make the words God has given me testify to a lie.” (Ms20-1906.11)
So, she confirmed again her previous understanding:
“The salvation of souls was the great object for which Christ sacrificed his royal robe and kingly crown, the glory of heaven, and the homage of angels, and laying aside his divinity, came to earth to labor and suffer with humanity upon him.” RH Nov 21, 1907.2; Ms31-1907.2
Yet, there was a difference because again she wrote:
“Christ did not lay aside His divinity—it was simply clothed in humanity, that He might help us.” Ms114-1909.19
Over a 22 year period EGW alternated between “Jesus, the Son of God...laid aside His divinity” and “Christ did not lay aside His divinity”. Like the term “God”, “divinity” also has two meanings: identity and nature. Christ did not lay aside His divine identity as the Son of God, but He did lay aside aspects of His divine nature—omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence...for a while.
“He was God, but the glories of the form of God for a while he abandoned.” Lt11-1887.16
For a while he abandoned His divine nature “being in the form of God” Phil 2:6. Yet, He was still God in His divine identity as the Son of God.
“He was God while upon Earth, but he divested himself of the form of God, and in its stead took the form and fashion of a man...He was God, but the glories of the form of God he for a while relinquished.” RH July 5, 1887.4; Sep 4, 1900.4
Likewise, now, having received the promise of the Holy Spirit from His Father (Acts 2:32,33), He divested himself (DA 669.2; Lt119-1895.18) of the form of God, “shedding forth” His divine nature, the Spirit of Christ (Rom 8:10), the Spirit of the Son (Gal 4:6) into our hearts. For Christ “has the seven spirits of God” (Rev 3:1) which He, as the Lamb with seven eyes, sends “forth into all the earth” (Rev 5:6). His Spirit speaks to our Spirit (Romans 8:16) for it is not I who now lives, “but Christ liveth in me” (Gal 2:20) “divested of the personality of humanity.”

*”The past fifty years” peaked in 1905:
1890 Lt112.14
1903 Lt242.9
1904 Lt33.7
1905 Lt95.3; Lt326.3; Lt329.19,24; Lt335.10; Ms44.21; Ms62.17; Ms111.4
1906 Lt84.6; Ms20.11; Ms21.3; NY Feb7.4
1907 Lt348.2; Lt356.6; AC Dec30.2
1908 Ms27.16

This is why Volume 5 of the Testimonies is so large!

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

Gary Hullquist