Subtle Arianism in the Seventh-day Adventist “Clear Word Bible”

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James and Ellen White
James and Ellen White

Some of the Seventh-day Adventist founding fathers were Arians. Arians deny that Jesus Christ is God the Son, one being with the Father (consubstantial), equal to the Father (co-equal), and as eternal as the Father (co-eternal). The founding mother of Adventism wrote many Arian-like statements, such as “The man Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty, yet Christ and the Father are one”.

See: Thus saith Ellen, part 3 – Jesus is not God

Modern day Arians include the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who published their version of the Bible called the New World Translation. In it they changed “and the Word was God” to “and the Word was a god”.

The Clear Word Bible is an Adventist production of the quality of the New World Translation. While not officially adopted as the official translation for the Adventist church, it remains popular and has been promoted from as high up as you can get in their hierarchy.

See: The Clear Word Bible

One interesting text is Acts 20:28. Look at how the real Bible (we’ll use the KJV here) compares to the Jehovah’s Witness and Adventist versions.

Acts 20:28 – KJV – Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

“Acts” 20:28 – New World Translation (Jehovah’s Witnesses) – Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed you overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God, which he purchased with the blood of his own Son.

“Acts” 20:28 – Clear Word “Bible” (Adventist) – Watch out for yourselves and for the sheep in your church. The Holy Spirit has selected you to be their shepherds and to care for them and feed them because they are the Lord’s property, which he bought with his own blood.

Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible

The real Bible uses “theos” which is translated to English as God.

The New World Translation adds in “Son” to avoid the blood belonging to Jesus as God. This changes the meaning completely.

The Clear Word Bible has a different angle – it changes “God” (theos) to “Lord” in the hope that people will miss the implication that this is God being mentioned, and allows for an Arian reading of the text.

It also changes Acts 20:28 from “church of God” to “because they are the Lord’s property” so that the words “which he hath purchased with his own blood” can be read in an Arian sense.

It should be noted here that in many Greek manuscripts, the text reads “church of the Lord and God” – “κυριου και θεου” (kuriou kai theou).

Kuriou kai theou” would be quite acceptable because it still specifies God in “Lord and God”. The majority early on seem to have “God”; certain types of partial manuscripts have a majority as “Lord and God”; the oldest and most reliable have only “God” (which thus carried over into the Textus Receptus), as do the early Christians citing the text; and “Lord and God” was probably a later gloss/elaboration.

Ethiopian Crucifixion, Leaf from Gunda Gunde Gospels
Ethiopian Crucifixion, Leaf from Gunda Gunde Gospels

Dropping “and God” (or replacing “God” with “Lord”) seems to be a later change in some Aramaic and Syriac texts, primarily seen where Monophysitism was found. Monophysitism joined the two natures of Christ into one, and the concept of the “blood of God”, while legitimate, was probably seen as too supportive of Monophysitism in those areas, so some clarified it by making it mean “blood of Christ” or “blood of the Lord”. Hence “church of the Lord purchased with his own blood” or “church of Christ purchased with his own blood”.

The motivation there would have been to counter Monophysitism, not promote Arianism. Adventists have no motivation to counter Monophysitism, but they do have an interest in promoting Arianism.

That is why the Adventist Clear Word variation is very problematic, as it assists in demoting God the Son to a lesser being.

Further reading:

Thus saith Ellen, part 3 – Jesus is not God

The Clear Word Bible

Is Jesus God? Part 1
Is Jesus God? Part 2
Is Jesus God? Part 3

Shield of the Trinity
Shield of the Trinity
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