(From Signs of the Times, Warburton, Victoria, Nov 26, 1906. High-lighting added by editor.)
IN the year 1844 a movement denominated the “third angel’s message,” took its rise. Commencing in a small way, it has at the present time assumed world-wide dimensions. It has for its object the proclamation of solemn and important truths to the last generation of mankind. It foretells the speedy advent of Christ, and the end of the world. It also brings to view a reform relating to the commandments of God. It is based upon clear and unmistakable prophecies found in Dan. 7:25, Rev. 14:9,12, etc., and it constitutes the last heaven-sent message of mercy to the world. It is not surprising, therefore, if from time to time the enemy should endeavour to confuse and mislead those who embrace this message by originating some false movement, some schismatic teaching, which, while having a semblance of truth, will be solely intended to obscure the real issue, and seduce the unwary. An examination of the history of the advent movement reveals that this is the case. Men have arisen claiming to have some special light, which, upon careful investigation, has proved to be false light. See 2 Cor. 11:13-15. Their minds were illuminated by nothing more than sparks of their own kindling.
One of the latest theories, which has for its ultimate object, although not for its ostensible object, the subverting of the distinct truths of the “message,” is that which has been termed the Eden Day-line.” The advocates of this theory have appeared at different places preaching and circulating literature upon the subject amongst Seventh-day Adventists, for whose special consideration the whole question is intended. This being the case, it will be interesting and advisable to give the matter that rigid scrutiny that in times of crisis is demanded in order to determine whether it is a friend or foe, to determine whether, in spite of its plausible exterior, this new dogma does not conceal at its heart a deadly error, calculated to neutralise the entire force of the harmonious system of truth which Adventists hold so dear. The question has been presented to the denomination before, and has been ably dealt with in pamphlet form, and every position taken by the Eden day-line adherents has been fully met and refuted. But they are persistent, and because the question is somewhat technical and intricate, it can thus be readily manipulated to disturb the minds of those who do not trouble to reason deeply upon the subject. We understand another attempt is about to be made to unsettle the minds of our people upon this matter. It is therefore advisable that every one should fortify himself by obtaining a clear view of what is involved in this question, and also with a satisfactory argument with which to refute the error. We cannot conceive that God will leave His people to be confronted with an error for which there is not a simple solution, suitable for the defence and protection of every believing soul.
Before attempting to refute this erroneous theory it may be advisable first to give a brief outline of the position taken by those who defend the Eden day-line hypothesis. There is a place upon the globe, recognised by scientists, at which the day begins, and from which it travels around the earth from east to west, and in twenty-four hours finishes at the same place. That circuit constitutes a day consisting of darkness and light. “And the evening and the morning was the first day.” Gen. 1 : 6. The point at which the day commences and ends is marked by an imaginary line drawn from pole to pole at the one hundred and eightieth meridian, running almost through the centre of the Pacific Ocean. To the left of this line, on the eastern shores of Asia and Australia, the people are a day ahead of the people on the right side of the line, on the western shores of the Americas. That is, the Sabbath comes to the people in Melbourne and on the east coast of Australia about eighteen hours before it reaches the people in San Francisco, on the west coast of America. The people inhabiting these two cities live, roughly speaking, about 2,500 miles from the line, east and west. They really face each other across the line at a distance of about 5,000 miles. It will be seen, then, that when any one crosses this line on shipboard from America to Asia, west to east, he will find himself a day behind the people in Asia. That is, his Saturday will be their Sunday. On the other hand, if an individual crosses the line from east to west, from Asia to America he will find himself a day ahead. His Sunday will be their Saturday. This brings confusion, which is obviated by the simple method of observing a natural law, by changing the day at the crossing of the one hundred and eightieth meridian, or day-line.
It will be seen that if the day-line was to be moved from its position in the Pacific, where it divides two great continents, and was to be placed to the west of Asia and Australia, that would bring the count of days in those lands almost the same as in America. The Australians and the Asiatics would need to call their Sunday Saturday. This is exactly what the Eden day-line advocates are agitating for. They claim to be able to locate approximately the spot where the garden of Eden was situated on the earth. This spot, they say, is in Armenia, about 8,000 miles to the east of the present day-line. Here they locate the initial day-line, because they claim the first day started out from that particular spot on its circuit around the earth, consequently the first Sabbath originated here, and from this locality all succeeding Sabbaths must be dated, thus throwing the count of days one day back in Australia, making Sunday the seventh-day Sabbath.
Upon a candid examination from a. scripture standpoint, it will be found that the whole question is a subtle device of the enemy to impede the progress of the great message for these times, namely, the Sabbath reform. In this enquiry, when the most is made of the question, it will be seen that, under an apparent stickling for a conscientious exactness as to the true day, the enemy cleverly changes the issue of the question involved in the last message, from being one of worship and loyalty to God, or obedience to and worship of the church of Rome, under the symbol of the beast and his image, to that of a merely technical question of exactness, involving no principle of choice between two rival powers, and totally eliminating the Romish element, and of conflict with the beast and his image, which is the very essence of the prophetic warning. It completely changes the purport, scope, and nature of the last movement of the closing reform from a grand principle, and narrows it down to a technical quibble under the guise of a conscientious scruple for the honour of God.
That this latter-day delusion is absolutely without foundation, and has no claim upon the serious attention of God’s people is shown as follows: In Amos 3:7 this important statement is made, ” Surely the Lord God will do nothing but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets,” Taking this as the basis of our investigations into this theory, what do we find ?—We find that its advocates point to it as a later development of the message intended to sift the wheat from the chaff. If this is so, then we have a right to ask for its scriptural credentials. The message itself is based upon the prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation. But for these prophecies no such movement would or could exist. This is quite in accordance with Amos 3:7. This movement has been revealed to His servants the prophets, Daniel and John. We now ask any advocate of the Eden day-line to point to one prophet who has had a revelation upon the subject, or to show one passage of scripture that even remotely alludes to this latest phase which they advocate. We have a right to ask for definite, plain prophecies in accordance with Amos 3:7. Not one can be found from Genesis to Revelation. Thus the whole theory stands unmasked as a latter-day delusion devised for the purpose of leading away from the great issue, “If any man worship the beast or his image,” etc. The Romish element is indispensable to the last message, it is the crux of the movement. The Eden day-line, technical, intricate, and obscure, knows nothing of this element, and need not occasion any conscientious concern to a single soul. In this last great closing’ movement the issue is clear-cut—the beast and his image or the commandments of God. All that needs to be decided in any locality is, Which day does Rome honour as a sabbath? The answer is invariably, ” Sunday.” Then, in order to embrace the third angel’s message, loyalty to God calls upon us to keep the day which precedes the Roman festival, that is, Saturday. The question of exactness as to the place of the beginning and ending of the first day is a totally distinct question which has never been raised by divine authority nor introduced by Scripture. The present condition of things concerning the days of the week is accepted and recognised by all properly constituted authorities, and under this condition of affairs the issue can be clearly ascertained and decided, which is, God or Rome?” “first day or seventh day?” Keep the day immediately preceding that one which Rome honours, and you are safe in this matter.
By T. Whittle
First published in Signs of the Times, Warburton, Victoria, Nov 26, 1906. Also see “The Eden Day-line Theory” published in the Bible Echo in 1901. See other issues of the Bible Echo and Signs of the Times in the Adventist Archives.