Pastor's Piece - Adventists and the Cross
by Dr Alex Currie
Adventists and the Cross
On arriving at Avondale College in 1959 I found myself in a rambling old wooden dormitory called Haskell Hall. It was built from pit-sawn timber felled on the property and completed in the summer of 1897/8. The dormitory was name after Stephen N Haskell (1833 - 1922) Adventist pioneer, Church Administrator (Secretary of the GC, Conference President) and one of the first American SDA missionaries to come to the South Pacific, arriving on June 6, 1885. He was a teacher at Avondale College when it opened its doors in 1897.
Haskell, an avid bible reader, would rarely read his bible at a train station because he became so absorbed he'd invariably miss his train. He authored books such as The Story of Daniel the Prophet and The Story of the Seer of Patmos. In 1914 he published The Cross and Its Shadow, a book which is still available in Adventist Book Centres. The book is about the Old Testament Sanctuary, priesthood, feasts, offerings and tribes of Israel. He writes "Eternity can never fathom the depth of love revealed in the cross of Calvary. It was there that the infinite love of Christ and the unbounded selfishness of Satan stood face to face. The entire system of Judaism, with its types and symbols, was a shadow of the cross, extending from Calvary back to Eden, and contained a compacted prophecy of the gospel." - p V. Sanctuary furniture was laid out in the form of a cross.
The design of the sanctuary was given by God. Ex. 25:9, 40; 26:30, and was sanctified by God. Ex. 29:43. It was a pattern of the heavenly sanctuary. Hebrews 8:5. GC 414. Although the cross was used by pagans and has become an object of counterfeit worship, it was God-given. Adventists have never used the symbol of the cross as a charm, an object of worship, nor do we cross ourselves with the sign of the cross. We sing about the cross, have written poems about the cross and recognize its centrality in salvation. Ellen White says, "Both the redeemed and the unfallen beings will find in the cross of Christ their science and their song" DA 20. She can write "All blessings of this life and of the life to come are delivered to us stamped with the cross of Calvary." COL 362.
G A Irwin, a General Conference President, wrote an introduction to Haskell's book and said, "In the sanctuary, the Cross of Christ is the great center of the whole scheme of human redemption." p 1X. Suppose the word cross was deleted from every bible and hymnbook, what kind of a gospel would we have?
Often when traveling behind vehicles in the city I see an old symbol of Christianity - the fish. This was drawn on the walls and ceilings of catacombs. Although some see the cross as a sacred object Adventists never have. So in Jerusalem the Adventist Research Institute, where I have stayed, is marked by a cross on the gate, a symbol that this is a Christian place in a non-Christian city. Jews have always recognized that worshipping a creature or symbol is idolatry. So worship of a sacred object becomes idolatry. Muslims however believe that any figure made with a likeness of anything God has made is idolatry.
In 1853 Rev. Alexander Hislop, wrote the book The Two Babylons, in which he pointed out that the Babylonians and Egyptians used the letter T as a mystic symbol - a symbol of god Tammuz etc. However one of the great contributions Adventists have made to the theological world is an understanding of the Sanctuary on earth and heaven - the layout of which is in the form of a cross which pre-dates these nations. Everyone saved will forever be indebted to Jesus our High Priest who became the only bridge from earth to heaven via Calvary's cross. So Paul could write: 1 Cor. 1:17 (KJV) "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect." Galatians 6:14 (KJV) "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."
Thank God for the Christ of the cross.
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