The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. Isa. 40:8. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. II Timothy 3:16.
For Seventh-day Adventists the above texts should prevent any deviation from the truths delivered to us by the pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. But we were warned by Ellen White that there would be attempts to undermine the pillars of our faith, and that every wind of doctrine would be blowing.
“After the truth has been proclaimed as a witness to all nations, every conceivable power of evil will be set in operation, and minds will be confused by many voices crying, 'Lo, here is Christ, Lo, he is there. This is the truth, I have the message from God, he has sent me with great light.' Then there will be a removing of the landmarks, and an attempt to tear down the pillars of our faith.” RH Dec. 13, 1892.
“As a people, we are to stand firm on the platform of eternal truth that has withstood test and trial. We are to hold to the sure pillars of our faith. The principles of truth that God has revealed to us are our only true foundation. They have made us what we are. The lapse of time has not lessened their value. It is the constant effort of the enemy to remove these truths from their setting, and to put in their place spurious theories. He will bring in everything that he possibly can to carry out his deceptive designs. But the Lord will raise up men of keen perception, who will give these truths their proper place in the plan of God." 1 SM, 201.
What does she mean by “the sure pillars of our faith?” Sometimes she uses the term “landmarks” to describe these pillars. Here is what she says in Counsels to Writers and Editors, p. 30: “In Minneapolis God gave precious gems of truth to His people in new settings.” She’s speaking of the 1888 message of righteousness by faith.
“This light from heaven by some was rejected with all the stubbornness the Jews manifested in rejecting Christ, and there was much talk about standing by the old landmarks. But there was evidence they knew not what the old landmarks were. There was evidence and there was reasoning from the word that commended itself to the conscience; but the minds of men were fixed, sealed against the entrance of light, because they had decided it was a dangerous error removing the 'old landmarks' when it was not moving a peg of the old landmarks, but they had perverted ideas of what constituted the old landmarks. The passing of the time in 1844 was a period of great events, opening to our astonished eyes the cleansing of the sanctuary transpiring in heaven, and having decided relation to God’s people upon the earth, [also] the first and second angels’ messages and the third, unfurling the banner on which was inscribed, 'The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.' One of the landmarks under this message was the temple of God, seen by His truth-loving people in heaven, and the ark containing the law of God. The light of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment flashed its strong rays in the pathway of the transgressors of God’s law. The nonimmortality of the wicked is an old landmark. I can call to mind nothing more that can come under the head of the old landmarks.”
So, she mentions several landmarks, or pillars, of our faith: the 3 angels’ messages, the cleansing of the sanctuary in heaven, the Sabbath, and the nonimmortality of the wicked. We often state them somewhat differently, such as the Investigative Judgment, and the State of the Dead. We could also include the divine inspiration of Scripture as a pillar, as well as creation in 6 literal 24 hour days. I add those last two because of the skepticism that has been creeping into not only the Christian church in general, but also the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Many of our people have bought into evolution in one form or another and have adopted an historical critical method of biblical interpretation, as opposed to the historical grammatical method which was used by the Reformers and our early Advent pioneers.
Here’s the bottom line: while our understanding of truth may progress as we began to grasp more fully the plan of salvation, our deeper understanding of truth will never contradict the truths that were originally handed down to us.
Many hours of prayer and Bible study went into the discovery of the pillars of our faith. Often Ellen White was given a vision that confirmed the conclusions reached. So we can have confidence in our pillars. If it was truth in 1863, it is still truth in 2013. To abandon these pillars would be like removing not only the rudder, but also the compass from a ship. And anyone who knows anything about building understands that without strong pillars under-girding an edifice, there can be no structural integrity. Removal of the pillars results in the collapse of the building. Samson knew this, and that’s why he asked to be led to the supporting pillars of the pagan temple. The same thing that happened to the Philistine temple would also happen to our beloved church if we were to abandon the pillars of our faith. Now is no time to deviate from them. On the contrary, it is time to become even more firmly grounded in the truth than ever, lest we be caught up in the massive deception which the devil is preparing for all who have failed to fortify their minds with the truths of the Bible, and have not at the same time received the love of that truth.
As Peter said,
We have not followed cunningly devised fables.
II Peter 1:16