Beware This Cult!

Chapter 18 - Ellen White and Miscellaneous Nonsense

By Gregory G. P. Hunt, M.D., B.Sc., F.R.C.P.

How did Ellen White feel about herself? Many Adventists say that she never called herself a prophet. They take great pride in the fact that Mrs. White was being very humble. Mrs. White is quoted as saying,

"Why have I not claimed to be a prophet? Because, in these last days many who boldly claim that they are prophets are a reproach to the cause of Christ and because my work includes much more than the word prophet signifies. To claim to be a prophetess is something I have never done. If others call me by that name, I have no controversy with them. But my work has covered so many lines that I cannot call myself other than a messenger." (Questions on Doctrines p. 92)

It is notable that many of the revelations of God given to men came through an angel who often called himself 'a messenger'. In this passage Mrs. White is indicating that she had much more responsibility than that of mere prophet and preferred to use the term messenger. This obviously signifies a higher position than ordinary prophet and puts her on the same level as angel messengers.

As to the concern of not wanting to be confused with other false prophets of her time, I personally feel that if one is representing God as His prophet, then one should have enough fortitude to indicate that to God's people and be prepared to suffer the consequences. I do not think Adventists can read humility into this statement from Mrs. White.

Ellen White seemed to have an excuse for the slow growth of her particular church. "The Lord does not now work to bring many souls into the truth, because of the church members who have never been converted and those who were once converted but who have backslidden". (6 Testimonies p. 371) She is using the word 'truth' here of course to mean the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I am not aware of God ever having kept one from the truth because some other person or group of persons was not living up to par. Would God really keep people from the truth and hold them responsible for it on the basis of other peoples' actions? The problem keeping people from joining the Adventist Church seems quite obvious to me. Most people are not as gullible as I was and very early on they recognize Ellen White as a false prophet. They rather quickly part company with her followers. I have seen several intelligent people enter the Adventist Church, recognize Ellen White for what she really is and quietly leave without rocking the boat. Many people aren't quite that lucky and really get taken.

In an attempt to say at least something about almost everything, Mrs. White had the following to say about trees. "Numerous shade trees cast off many leaves which if not immediately removed, decay and poison the atmosphere". (Counsels on Health p. 58) This would suggest that a walk through the woods would be rather detrimental to one's health. Mrs. White thinks that God has things so ordered that leaves from His trees are poisoning the atmosphere. It seems she had many questions as to how God is running things.

Of the many perverted doctrines, Mrs. White was rarely the originator. She would generally pick up these ideas from someone else, then she would have a vision about it and indicate that this was proof from the Lord that the doctrine was correct. Joseph Bates was early pushing observance of the seventh day sabbath. He had considerable difficulty in convincing Mrs. White about this and she did not start keeping the seventh day until 1846 - two years after her first vision. The seventh day sabbath is probably the most important item of Seventh-day Adventist theology. Why wasn't this supposed 'great truth' revealed to her much earlier?

Joseph Bates had considerable reservations concerning Mrs. White's inspiration for quite some time as she was rather slow to accept the seventh day sabbath doctrine. However he was finally convinced of her claims when he observed her having a vision about planets. During this she mistakenly describes the wrong number of moons for Jupiter. She did not mention the name Jupiter but Joseph Bates blurted out during the vision that she was seeing Jupiter. Her husband James White was also present and the three of them must have discussed the vision later. Mrs. White did not give any hint that the planet she saw might not be Jupiter. Adventists try to excuse this blatant error by saying that Mrs. White didn't call it Jupiter but Joseph Bates did. Joseph Bates was a sea captain and an astronomer, obviously he was very impressed by this vision.

When Ellen White said, "I see four moons", Joseph Bates excitedly said, "She is viewing Jupiter". It has long been known that Jupiter has many more moons than four but in those days it was believed that Jupiter did have four moons. Certainly God hasn't added extra moons since that time. Nor does it seem reasonable that God would give someone an erroneous vision to convince one man of a prophet's integrity. God would realize that many people later would examine the evidence and use this in part as a basis for their decision. I do not believe that God would use a lie to convince one man that she was truly having visions only to have that lie used later to convince many others that she is a false prophet.

One of her other visions on astronomy is rather humorous. "Then I was taken to a world which had seven moons. There I saw good old Enoch, who had been translated." (Early Writings p. 94) The adjectives 'good, old,' are not really appropriate in describing Enoch. He was several hundred years old at the time of his translation but if we were to see him right now I don't really think he would look old. The term 'good, old Enoch' suggests that Mrs. White was talking about an old lost friend. I think she really outdid herself in this vision.

Mrs. White had a lot to say about entertainment and pastimes. You may be aware that Adventists are strictly forbidden 'worldly functions' such as movies, the circus, dances, and cards. They are not even allowed to read secular literature and the reading of novels is strictly forbidden. They must not wear make-up or jewelry and even wedding rings are forbidden! Of course many nominal Adventists don't want to know that these rules exist. If they do happen to find out they ignore them.

However others carry Mrs. White's counsel even further than she intended. I suspect some of them even refrain from voting. (Jehovah's Witnesses I believe refrain from voting) "There are amusements such as dancing, card playing, chess, checkers, etc. which we cannot approve because heaven condemns them". (The Adventist Home, p. 498) It is true that evil might develop from any pastime. Evil thoughts may occur when someone is trying to pray; evil might even develop in church. Some people may become trapped in these entertainments and almost anything can be overdone and can become sinful. Just because people get killed in car accidents is no reason for banning automobiles.

The Holy Spirit has not convinced me that it is sinful to have a game of checkers or chess, or to socialize with a group of people and have a good game of cards. There are many chess players in the Adventist Church who are not aware of this statement by Ellen White. I would say to them that they better stop playing chess at this point if they continue to believe that Ellen White is speaking on behalf of God.

We have already seen some of Mrs. White's attitude towards sex. God told Adam and Eve, "Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth". (Genesis 1:18) By the way, the word replenish seems to be a poor translation as it implies that the earth was populated sometime previously. Anyway it doesn't seem that Mrs. White would want to allow anyone to enjoy this part of God's plan. She wrote:

"When the passions are indulged, the blood, instead of circulating to all parts of the body, thereby leaving the heart and clearing the mind, is called in undue amounts to the internal organs. Disease comes as a result." (Counsels on Health p. 587)
Mrs. White is not here talking about illicit sex. She is talking about a natural function, a gift from God, intended for a multiplicity of purposes including procreation, pleasure, and to bind a man and woman together. Mrs. White sees intercourse as robbing the heart and brain of its blood supply and leading to disease. She doesn't appear to have enough faith to believe that God had looked after these complex details. This statement of course is nonsense.

The Victorian attitude was that the woman should give an appearance that she abhors sex. Women were expected to put off brutish husbands as long as possible and certainly were not ever to admit to enjoying sex. But God has indicated that this is not the way it is to be. "To the woman He said, ‘I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you'." (Gen. 3:16) Note the passage "your desire shall be for your husband".

God really does not set out a desired frequency for intercourse in the Bible. However, common sense would seem to indicate that sex can be overdone. Certainly in some marriages the withholding of sexual favors without just cause is sinful. Paul advised, "Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them." (Col. 3:18, 19)

In Ellen White's infamous health book we find:

"Whoever indulges often, and weekly is often in wedlock or out of it, will experience an unnatural heat, tension, tenderness, irritation, swelling, perhaps soreness, in these organs, of course resulting from their inflammation". (A Solemn Appeal p. 50)
From this passage we can infer that intercourse once a week, even between man and wife, will lead to disease.

It seems that sexual relations should be completely dispensed with during pregnancy.

"The sexual passion is indulged during pregnancy, which causes the mother to transmit doubly of the direful ail to the offspring within her womb ... every orgasm expends of the mother's vitality a portion that should go to nourish and develop her babe. Very much of the weakness and lassitude experienced during pregnancy is due to the exhaustion consequent upon the sexual embrace, and the forming child must suffer from its effects: for the mother cannot impart what she does not herself possess, health and strength." (Solemn Appeal p. 23)
There is no directive in the Bible to ban sexual relations during pregnancy.

Mrs. White was depending on visions from God for almost everything.

"I have resolved not to engage in prayer for anyone unless the Spirit of the Lord should dictate in the matter." (Counsels on Health p. 619)
She could not even use her own judgment concerning those who needed her prayers. Many of us would have been out of luck with Mrs. White as we would have been much too lowly to be worthy of her prayers. Following is a rather sickening note by Ellen White indicating just how full of herself she really was and also illustrating the above attitude.
"One Who Requested Prayer for Healing. -
My husband and I once attended a meeting where our sympathies were enlisted for a brother who was a great sufferer with the phthisic. He was pale and emaciated. He requested the prayers of the people of God. He said that his family were sick, and that he had lost a child. He spoke with feeling of his bereavement. He said that he had been waiting for some time to see Brother and Sister White. He had believed that if they would pray for him, he would be heated. After the meeting closed, the brethren called our attention to the case. They said that the church was assisting them, that his wife was sick, and his child had died. The brethren had met at his house and united in praying for the afflicted family. We were much worn and had the burden of labor upon us during the meeting and wished to be excused. I had resolved not to engage in prayer for anyone, unless the Spirit of the Lord should dictate in the matter ...

That night we bowed in prayer and presented his case before the Lord. We entreated that we might know the will of God concerning him. All we desired was that God might be glorified. Would the Lord have us pray for this afflicted man? We left the burden with the Lord and retired to rest. In a dream the case of that man was clearly presented. His course from his childhood up was shown, and that if we should pray, the Lord would not hear us; for he regarded iniquity in his heart. The next morning the man came for us to pray for him. We took him aside and told him we were sorry to be compelled to refuse his request. I related my dream, which he acknowledged was true. He had practiced self-abuse from his boyhood up, and he had continued the practice during his married life, but said he would try to break himself of it. This man had a long-established habit to overcome. He was in the middle age of life. His moral principles were so weak that when brought in conflict with with long-established indulgence, they were overcome ...

Here was a man debasing himself daily and yet daring to venture into the presence of God and ask an increase of strength which he had vilely squandered, and which, if granted, he would consume upon his lust. What forbearance has God! If He should deal with man according to his corrupt ways, who could live in His sight?

What if we had been less cautious and carried the case of this man before God while he was practicing iniquity, would the Lord have heard? Would He have answered?

This is not a solitary case. Even the marriage relation was not sufficient to preserve this man from the corrupt habits of his youth. I wish I could be convinced that such cases as the one I have presented are rare, but I know they are frequent." (Child Guidance p. 450-1)

Ellen White would have us believe that God, in a dream, directed her not to pray for this poor sinner. She records many ridiculous stories like this one. Her writings tend to become very nauseating. Consider some more of her rubbish.

"Frequent bathing is very beneficial, especially at night just before retiring, … it takes a few moments to give the children a bath and to rub them until their bodies are in a glow. This brings the blood to the surface, relieving the brain, and there will be less inclination to indulge in impure practices." (Child Guidance p. 461)

"Having the clothing neat and clean will be one means of keeping the thoughts pure and sweet ... nothing of irritating character should touch the bodies of children nor should their clothing be allowed to bind them in anyway. If more attention were given to this subject, far less impurity would be practiced ... Idleness leads to the indulgence of corrupt habits. Industry does not wary and exhaust one-fifth part as much as the pernicious habit of self abuse". (Child Guidance p. 162)

"When the extremities which are remote from the vital organs, are not properly clad, the blood is driven to the head, causing headache or nosebleed; or there is a sense of fullness about the chest, producing cough or palpitation of the heart, on account of too much blood in that locality; or the stomach has too much blood, causing indigestion." (Child Guidance p. 426)

"I have been shown that persons of apparently good deportment not taking unwarrantable liberties with the other sex, were guilty of practicing secret vice nearly every day of their lives. They haven't refrained from this terrible sin even while most solemn meetings have been in session ... They were such slaves to this awful crime that they seemed devoid of power to control their passions". (Child Guidance p. 442)

Ellen White's visions and religious dreams, if she had any, were certainly preconceived notions and were consistent with the religious mentality of her day. We have already seen some examples of this particularly where she erroneously describes the Ten Commandments being written only on one side of the two stones. Another good example is her visions of Satan. We all have a mental picture of what the devil looks like. This most often consists of an ugly red man, with pointed ears, sharp barbed tail, and a pitch fork in his hand.

Notice Ellen White's description of Satan:

"I was then shown Satan as he was, a happy, exalted angel. Then I was shown him as he now is. He still bears a kingly form. His features are still noble, for he is an angel fallen. But the expression of his countenance is full of anxiety, care, unhappiness, malice, hate, mischief, deceit, and very evil. That brow which was once so noble, I particularly noticed. His forehead commenced from his eyes to recede backward. I saw that he had demeaned himself so long, that every good quality was debased, and every evil trait was developed. His eyes were cunning, sly, and showed great penetration. His frame was large, but the flesh hung loosely about his hands and face. As I beheld him, his chin was resting upon his left hand. He appeared to be in deep thought. A smile was upon his countenance, which made me tremble, it was so full of evil, and Satanic slyness. This smile is the one he wears just before he makes sure of his victim, and as he fastens the victim in his snare, this smile grows horrible." (Spiritual Gifts Vol. 1, p. 27-28)

This description is really quite hilarious. Does she think anyone might believe that the devil really looks like that? We know that the devil can disguise himself in many different forms and I doubt that he ever uses the disguise as depicted by Ellen White. The devil took the form of a serpent when he tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden. We don't have any description of what he looks like when he appeared to Jesus in the wilderness and tempted Him after forty days of fasting. Paul does however give us a description of Satan. "And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light." (2 Cor. 11:14) Surely Satan could deceive no one if he were to appear as Ellen White describes him. I wonder how many Adventists would admit to believing Ellen White's description of Satan?

Ellen White probably errs in a preconceived notion of Jesus' appearance also. Most of us have been lead to believe that Jesus was nailed to the cross through the palms of the hands. Ellen White certainly had this picture. "The wounds made by the nails gaped as the weight of His body dragged upon His hands." (Desire of Ages p. 6 71)

I can recall doing a Bible study of this subject in the Adventist Church. The pastor pointed out that the New Testament was originally written in the Greek language. He further explained that there is no word in the Greek language to correspond with the English word 'hand'. The Greek word in fact meant that part of the arm from the elbow down to the finger tips.

When considering the anatomy of the hand it is unlikely that a nail through the palm could support a man's weight. There is considerable evidence to suggest the nail was driven through the forearm just above the wrist between the two bones of the forearm. Ellen White saw the nail prints in the palm of the hand which is the customary belief. Had she seen the nail prints in the wrist area, this might have supported her claim to be a real prophet. Let me add however that there is no way I can be certain about this item.

The next topic concerns the widespread belief that Jesus actually sweat blood in the garden of Gethsemane. I have heard this topic many times from the pulpit of Adventist and non-Adventist Churches. I believe it comes from misinterpretation of the Bible. In Ellen White's rendition of this story she first quotes the King James version of this occurrence. "And being in agony He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling to the around". (Lk. 22:44) She goes on to say "He might wipe the bloody sweat from His brow, ... a heavenly peace rested upon His blood stained face." (Desire of Ages p. 609, 610)

There are several contradictions to consider here.

First notice the words in the King James version; "Sweat was as it were great drops of blood". The words 'as it were' make it quite plain that a simile is being used here comparing large drops of sweat to large drops of blood. This no doubt was used to give an impression of how great the Lord's agony really was. The passage does not say that He sweat great drops of blood.

Comparing this passage in the Revised Standard version we find that the verse is left out of that translation. However it is included in a footnote indicating that other ancient authorities add verses 43 and 44. "And there appeared to Him an angel from heaven strengthening Him. And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down upon the ground." (Lk. 22:43,44) In this translation the word 'like' is used to indicate that a simile is being utilized. There is no point in putting the word 'like' in there if He was actually sweating blood.

If Jesus actually did sweat blood it seems that this would be a very serious and dramatic event. However this description of His sweating is not even included in the other three gospels. It has occurred in the Gospel of Luke who was a physician. It is understandable how he might compare the agony of large drops of sweat to that of large drops of blood both indicating severe pain. And besides, Luke was not present.

Also notice that Ellen White indicated He had blood on His brow and a blood stained face. His disciples were sleeping a few feet away being unable to stay awake and pray. What would have been their reaction had Jesus wakened them and they noticed that His face was all bloody? Shouldn't at least one of the four gospels have indicated that they were horror stricken with His appearance?

With a bloody face standing before Pilate and Herod isn't it reasonable that one of them would have commented on it?

Adventists have found a learned physician who indicates that there is a disease where it is possible that a man may sweat blood. If that disease does exist, I don't think any of us would believe that Christ was suffering from that disease.

We are unable to understand the depth of our Lord's suffering in the garden of Gethsemane. However, to pervert the picture and try to make us think that He was sweating actual blood is unacceptable deception. It is just another example of Ellen White following pre-conceived opinion.

Fairly early in my course with the Adventist Church, a friend told me a few things Ellen White had predicted or talked about. One of these statements I recall was that she was the first to indicate that the function of the Nervous system depended on electrical currents. Being a doctor, this piece of information was fairly impressive. On reading Number's book [Prophetess of Health] it became very obvious that she copied this idea from predecessors as she had all of her ideas.

Consider two examples from Numbers' book showing almost word for word copying by Ellen White from a predecessor, L. B. Coles.
"Whatever disturbs the circulation of the electric currents in the nervous system, lessens the strength of the vital powers, and the result is a deadening of the sensibilities of the mind." (E. White Testimonies 11 p. 347) "Whatever mars the healthy circulation of the electric currents in the nervous system, lessens the strength of the vital forces, and through them, deadens the native susceptibilities of the soul. (L. B. Coles, Philosophy of Health p. 266-67)
"The sympathy which exists between the mind and the body is very great. When one is affected, the other responds (E. White Testimonies IV, p. 60) "The sympathy existing between the mind and the body is so great, that when one is affected, both are affected. (L. B. Coles, Philosophy of Health p. 127)

It sounds like I am repeating myself, doesn't it?

Well, it seems like this principle stated by Coles is pretty sound. Ellen White did copy some principles which are correct - but she still copied!

Why do I say Mrs. White did the copying? Coles' book was published in 1855 -- eight years before Ellen White's fantastic health vision 'from God'. These quotations from her pen were published after this health vision.

Her idea about vital force, a very interesting concept, was stolen from Coles. It is believed that this 'vital force' is drained off by masturbation and other sexual activities. This explains how this behavior leads to all the horrendous diseases we have talked about previously. As a true prophet, Mrs. White shouldn't have copied this idea of masturbation draining nervous vitality. That one doesn't look so good!

Another topic which impressed me considerably, being a smoker, was that Ellen White had indicated that smoking caused cancer. This friend of course lead me to believe as he believed; that Ellen White was the first to come up with this idea. Ellen White called tobacco a 'malignant poison' but did not really say it caused cancer. Anyway, scientists had noted previously that there was some relationship between the use of tobacco and cancer. She copied this idea from Coles too. I will not quote the comparable passages here. I must point out here that I am not condoning the foul habit of smoking.

In the mind of this particular friend and I'm sure in the minds of countless Adventists, Ellen White has been credited with many revelations that have actually been stolen from others. I hope my friend can recognize now how we were both lead astray.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter BACK HOME