Elder Robert J. Wieland died on July 13, 2011.
He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Grace. As of this writing, the time for his
memorial service has not been set.
We are trying to process the sad news of the passing of our dear friend, Robert J. Wieland who
passed away on July 13, 2011. Elder Wieland was a true Seventh-day Adventist who lived a
long life of service and sacrifice to further the gospel. To his ministry the Seventh-day Adventist
church is deeply indebted. The current and strengthening interest in the messages of Jones and
Waggoner and deepening study into the message of Christ's righteousness is to no small extent a result of the courageous work of Elder Wieland.
In 1950, Elder Wieland and Elder Donald K. Short served as missionaries in Africa. At that time
they both stood as delegates to the General Conference held in San Francisco. When a call was
given for delegates to communicate their concerns or advice to the elected leadership, Robert
Wieland had something to say. With a deep soul burden of the work of God, he wrote a letter of
concern about misunderstandings of the gospel that were infiltrating the church. His colleague,
Donald Short, assisted him with advice and much prayer. Elder Short decided that he would also
sign the letter, so Elder Wieland changed the pronouns and added the second name.
The two missionaries were asked to stay in America for further review of their document and of
their position in the church. In the meantime, they prepared a more complete disclosure of their
concern in a manuscript for church leadership that would be known as 1888 Re-Examined.
Ultimately, church leadership discerned that Elders Wieland and Short were being faithful to
their calling as Seventh-day Adventist pastors and missionaries. The men were sent back to
Africa to continue in service. From that point on, the names Wieland and Short became
inextricably linked together. They were leaders in calling for the Seventh-day Adventist church
to gain all the blessings God intended when He sent us the “most precious message” which was
presented at the Minneapolis General Conference in 1888.
In the providence of God, the 1888 Re-Examined manuscript passed from one person to another, stirring many minds. Conscientious Seventh-day Adventists began to understand that the reason why Christ's coming had been so long delayed was to be found in our failure to appropriate the blessings that were contained in messages God sent through Jones at Waggoner at Minneapolis.
Many church leaders, who felt good about the status quo in the denomination, worked to quell
and stifle the concerns. Numerous books and responses to the 1888 Re-examined manuscript
were written asserting that the "1888 Message" of Christ's righteousness had already been widely
accepted in the years since Minneapolis. These claims rang hollow as the denomination
descended into deeper division and controversy concerning the nature of the gospel itself.
Wieland and Short, for their part, worked vigorously to bring to light the hundreds of testimonies
Ellen White wrote with regard to the 1888 message. They also worked to make the message
available through publishing Jones’ and Waggoner's books and sermons. In addition, they
demonstrated clearly how this message is supported throughout the Bible.Numerous times certain church leaders suggested the idea of defrocking Elder Wieland, and
removing him from service. Several other church leaders such as Elder Herbert Douglass and
Elder C. Mervyn Maxwell stood firmly in defense of the message. Although vigorous opposition
has continued in some quarters until this day, Elder Wieland always attempted to keep the focus
on the message of truth and not on his personal wounds. In a recent visit with Elder Wieland, he
expressed how his heart was broken with sadness that our collective Laodicean lukewarmness
has delayed the coming of the Lord. He so dearly hoped that he might see the Lord come in his
In the early 1970’s, in response to the call of Elders Wieland and Short, the work of republishing
works of the pioneers – particularly those of Jones and Waggoner, was undertaken by our
denominational publishing houses. Waggoner's books, Christ and His Righteousness, and
The Glad Tidings brought clarity, hope, and renewed faith to thousands.
Elder Wieland authored or co-authored many other books, most of which focused on the history
and content of the "most precious message" which God sent to His people through Elders
Waggoner and Jones in the late 1800s. In the mid 1970s, Southern Publishing, a
denominationally recognized publishing house then based in Nashville, Tennessee, published
The 1888 Message: An Introduction. In it, Elder Wieland and Elder Short set forth the principles
of the 1888 Message as given in the words and writings of Jones and Waggoner.
For the centennial marking 100 years since the Minneapolis General Conference session,
Elder Wieland prepared a book which clearly demonstrated from Scripture and Inspiration the
reason for the continued delay in Christ's coming. The book, Grace on Trial was published by
the 1888 Message Study Committee. Only in eternity will we know how many Seventh-day
Adventists gained hope and courage from that book. Many, many Adventists have testified that
they received Grace on Trial just in time to keep them from giving up their faith and leaving the
church. Instead, they found a firmer foundation – a stronger faith in the bedrock truths of the
Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the motivation and power to become active participants in
spreading the good news.
Thousands of Adventists credit the survival and growth of their faith in the gospel of Christ's
Righteousness to the faithful work of Elder Robert J. Wieland. He was constantly pointing us
back to God’s clear messages to the church. He kept prominent the clear testimony of the Spirit
of Prophecy and the Scriptures with regard to Jones’ and Waggoner’s messages on the love of
God, righteousness by faith, and the good news of the gospel. Many of us, upon reading Grace
on Trial, have been re-established, not only in our convictions as Seventh-day Adventists, but in
loyal support and belief in the ultimate triumph of the Seventh-day Adventist church. Elder
Wieland's work has done much to build up confidence in the final victory to be obtained by
Laodicea, if it will only heed to the call of the "True Witness".
Elder Wieland most earnestly longed and hoped to live to see his Friend, Jesus come in the
clouds of heaven. He longed to see the Seventh-day Adventist church apply the call of the True
Witness to itself, accept the invitation to repent, and receive the "third angel's message" and
proclaim it in the power of the Holy Spirit. He understood that wrapped in that message is the
blessing of the latter rain and of the loud cry. Through decades, against storms and opposition, Elder Wieland stood unflinchingly in giving the call for repentance and acceptance of the key
truths contained in the messages of Jones and Waggoner.
Elder Wieland never held himself up as a model of perfection. He had his faults and made
mistakes. We do not pretend to find perfection in all of his positions. Yet, in many minds, Elder
Robert Wieland stands out as an Elijah or John the Baptist of his day. Some theologians have
quibbled over details of exegesis, others have made him an offender for a word. Some have
gathered up prejudice and doubt against a man. In spite of all this, the call for repentance,
revival and reformation goes forth with greater power.
So many of us can close our eyes and hear Elder Wieland’s soft, humble, yet confident voice
caressing the words of the Faithful Witness: "I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire,
that thou mayest be rich: and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of
thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As
many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the
door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will
sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne,
even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let
him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches" (Revelation 3:18-22).
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. Angels now guard the final resting
place of God’s humble servant, Elder Robert J. Wieland. Below we quote words of reproof and
promise of ultimate victory from the prophetess of the Lord. These words were taken seriously
and ardently cherished by Elder Wieland.
"God has not changed toward His faithful servants who are keeping their garments
spotless. But many are crying, "Peace and safety," while sudden destruction is coming
upon them. Unless there is thorough repentance, unless men humble their hearts by
confession and receive the truth as it is in Jesus, they will never enter heaven. When
purification shall take place in our ranks, we shall no longer rest at ease, boasting of
being rich and increased with goods, in need of nothing.
“Who can truthfully say: "Our gold is tried in the fire; our garments are unspotted by the
world"? I saw our Instructor pointing to the garments of so-called righteousness.
Stripping them off, He laid bare the defilement beneath. Then He said to me: "Can you
not see how they have pretentiously covered up their defilement and rottenness of
character? 'How is the faithful city become an harlot!' My Father's house is made a
house of merchandise, a place whence the divine presence and glory have departed! For
this cause there is weakness, and strength is lacking." Unless the church, which is now
being leavened with her own backsliding, shall repent and be converted, she will eat of
the fruit of her own doing, until she shall abhor herself. When she resists the evil and
chooses the good, when she seeks God with all humility and reaches her high calling in
Christ, standing on the platform of eternal truth and by faith laying hold upon the
attainments prepared for her, she will be healed. She will appear in her God-given
simplicity and purity, separate from earthly entanglements, showing that the truth has made her free indeed. Then her members will indeed be the chosen of God, His
“The time has come for a thorough reformation to take place. When this reformation
begins, the spirit of prayer will actuate every believer and will banish from the church the
spirit of discord and strife. Those who have not been living in Christian fellowship will
draw close to one another. One member working in right lines will lead other members to
unite with him in making intercession for the revelation of the Holy Spirit. There will be
no confusion, because all will be in harmony with the mind of the Spirit. The barriers
separating believer from believer will be broken down, and God's servants will speak the
same things. The Lord will co-operate with His servants. All will pray understandingly
the prayer that Christ taught His servants: „Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in
earth, as it is in heaven‟”
--Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, pages 250-251.
With tears in our eyes, we write our positive assurance that Elder Wieland, if he were still with
us today, would want nothing more than for you, dear reader, to recognize the tender love of
your Saviour, and your inestimable privilege to simply let your heart be warmed and brought to
whole-hearted repentance by the agape love of God as revealed in the saving work accomplished for you through the Cross of Christ. Elder Wieland would want you to understand how easy it is to say "Yes" to Jesus, and to let Him lead you to heaven. He would want you to understand the Everlasting Covenant – the eternal plan of salvation through simple faith alone. He would want you to know how beautiful and restful it is for those whose hearts truly believe to strive earnestly for, and actually experience real victory over sin and Satan. Elder Wieland would want you to let the sturdy, “much more abounding,” “Christ initiated” grace of God “work in you to will and to do” for Jesus under all circumstances.
As we mark the closing of Elder Wieland’s earthly life, let us each take the opportunity to say
"yes" to Jesus. Let us humbly respond to His love in contrition and repentance, rededicating our
lives to being "one member working in right lines" within God's Remnant Church, leading others
to unite in intercession for the victorious revelation of the Holy Spirit.
--Special thanks to David L. Wilson for his significant contribution to this remembrance.