Crucial Question 25:  What does Ellen White teach about the humanity of Christ, and does her teaching make Christ more of an example than a substitute?


From the Pen of Ellen White:


Letters have been coming in to me, affirming that Christ could not have had the same nature as man, for if He had, He would have fallen under similar temptations. If He did not have man's nature, He could not be our example. If He was not a partaker of our nature, He could not have been tempted as man has been. If it were not possible for Him to yield to temptation, He could not be our helper. It was a solemn reality that Christ came to fight the battles as man, in man's behalf. His temptation and victory tell us that humanity must copy the Pattern; man must become a partaker of the divine nature” (1SM 408).

Christ's overcoming and obedience is that of a true human being. In our conclusions, we make many mistakes because of our erroneous views of the human nature of our Lord. When we give to His human nature a power that it is not possible for man to have in his conflicts with Satan, we destroy the completeness of His humanity” (OHC 48).


“The obedience of Christ to His Father was the same obedience that is required of man. Man cannot overcome Satan's temptations without divine power to combine with his instrumentality. So with Jesus Christ; He could lay hold of divine power. He came not to our world to give the obedience of a lesser God to a greater, but as a man to obey God's Holy Law, and in this way He is our example. The Lord Jesus came to our world, not to reveal what a God could do, but what a man could do, through faith in God's power to help in every emergency. Man is, through faith, to be a partaker in the divine nature, and to overcome every temptation wherewith he is beset” (OHC 48).


“The humanity of the Son of God is everything to us. It is the golden chain that binds our souls to Christ, and through Christ to God” (1SM 244; OHC 48).


“Said Christ, ‘I have glorified Thee in My human character, perfecting that character for the benefit of all humanity, to show human beings that man can keep the law of God in a world of sin and transgression, and through being a partaker of the divine nature, stand as an overcomer” (6MR 233).


“The world’s Redeemer passed over the ground where Adam fell because of his disobeying the expressed law of Jehovah; and the only begotten Son of God came to our world as a man, to reveal to the world that men could keep the law of God” (6MR 334).


“We are ever to be thankful that Jesus has proved to us by actual facts that man can keep the commandments of God, giving contradiction to Satan’s falsehood that man cannot keep them.  The Great Teacher came to our world to stand at the head of humanity, to thus elevate and sanctify humanity by His holy obedience to all of God’s requirements showing it is possible to obey all the commandments of God” (5MR 113).


“So you have the whole duty laid down, and that is to keep the commandments if you expect to have eternal life.  What was lost through Adam by disobedience must be brought back by obedience” (5MR 260).





During the period when the New Testament was being written, false teachers were denying that Christ had come in the flesh (I John 4:2).  Ellen White doesn’t deny that Christ came in the flesh, but if her Christology is faulty, is she in violation with the principle behind I John 4:2?  The modern application of this text is that genuine prophets must uphold biblical teachings regarding the nature and ministry of Christ; Ellen White does not, as evidenced by her emphasis on a very human Example as opposed to a divine Substitute.


Thought Questions:


  1. Does the Bible clearly teach that Christ had a human nature with a propensity to sin?
  2. Does the idea of the humanity of Christ diminish His divinity?
  3. Is the humanity of Christ doctrine just simple cover for perfectionism?  If Jesus was perfect in His human nature, and if He had no advantage over human beings, then shouldn’t His followers also achieve perfection?
  4. Did Christ come to show us that we can keep the law?


Bible Texts:


“Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God” (I John 4:2).

“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (II Pe. 2:1).

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom. 3:23-26).


For Further Study:


  • Ralph Larson, The Word Was Made Flesh: One Hundred Years of Seventh-day Adventist Christology, 1852-1952, Brushton, NY: TEACH Services, 1986
  • Herbert E. Douglass, A Fork in the Road, Coldwater, MI: Remnant Publications, 2008
  • Jack Sequeira, Saviour of the World: The Humanity of Christ in the Light of the Everlasting Gospel, Boise, ID: Pacific Press, 1996


Continue on to Crucial Question #26:  Substitute or Second Chance?

Go back to Crucial Question #24:  Incomplete Atonement