Does Mrs. White Pass the Biblical Tests of a Prophet?
By Dirk Anderson
Importance of Testing
In 2020, over one 1.8 billion people called themselves Muslims. It is the biggest religion on the planet and the fastest growing in terms of numbers of new adherents. The religion is based upon the writings of prophet Muhammad. By "writings," it should be understood that Muhammad was illiterate, so he depended upon literary assistants to do his writing for him. If you decided to follow Muhammad it would impact every aspect of your life:
Islam impacts every area of your life!
If you follow a prophet, your life will be impacted. If what that prophet tells you is false, that wrong teaching could have far-reaching effects upon almost every aspect of your life. It could impact your health, your relationships with others, even your relationship with God. That is why the Word of God says:
I hate every false way (Psalm 119:104)
Consider the case where a man finds a Book of Mormon in his hotel room and reads it. He heart is warmed by the stories of love for God and courage. He says, "Whoever penned such beautiful, encouraging words must be a prophet of God." He ends up joining the "Latter Day Saints" without ever studying whether or not Joseph Smith passed the tests of a prophet.
Some people are born into a church with a prophet. They grow up accepting it and never challenge the idea during their entire life. Many do not realize that following a prophet's teachings can have a tremendously powerful impact on every area of their life. They devote little time to researching the prophet. They never test the prophet to find out if their claims are true. How many Moslems, Mormons, or Seventh-day Adventists have really taken the time to sit down and study out whether or not their prophet is everything they claimed to be? With so much on the line, isn't it worth a little investigating?
One of the duties of a Christian is to test the prophets. It is commanded in the Bible, and failure to do so is disobedience to God's Word:
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)
The reason given that we are to test the prophets is because there are "many" false ones in the world. Jesus recognized this problem would face His people in the future. "Beware of false prophets", he warned, "And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many." (Matt. 7:15, 24:11) He went on to warn that even good Christians, intelligent people--"the very elect"--could be deceived:
For there shall arise...false prophets...insomuch that if were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. (Matt. 24:24)
These warnings by Jesus should be enough to emphasize the importance of validating the claims put forth by a prophet or by the followers of a prophet. Jesus would not have bothered to make such strong statements unless He believed His followers would face a significant threat from "false prophets" in the future.
With so many prophets out there in the world today, how can we determine which ones are true and which ones are false prophets? Have you ever asked someone why they believe a prophet?
If you are a Seventh-day Adventist, those answers will sound familiar to you. Reasons similar to these are frequently cited in favor of Ellen White. Interestingly enough, none of these reasons is a Biblical test of a prophet. "But wait," you say, "doesn't making a predication that comes true prove a person to be a prophet?" Not according to the Bible! You see, anyone can predict a future event, and by luck or chance, that future event may actually take place. Predicting a future event does not prove someone to be a prophet; however, if a prophet makes a prediction of a future event, and that event does not take place, then the Bible tells us that prophet is not a true prophet. That is the first of seven Biblical tests of a prophet.
We cannot trust our feelings or our emotions. We must have an objective set of criteria--specific, measurable rules--that can be applied to every person claiming to be a prophet; otherwise, everyone and his neighbor could be a prophet! That criteria exists as the seven Biblical tests outlined below. When one candidly examines all the evidence presented below, one will find sufficient evidence to make an educated decision regarding the prophetic calling of Ellen White. Using these seven tests we can easily distinguish the true prophets from the false ones.
TEST #1: Prophecies Must be Fulfilled
When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously; thou shalt not be afraid of him. (Deut. 18:22)
A prophet does not have to make predictions in order to be a prophet. A prophet is defined as "somebody who interprets or passes on the will of a deity." (Encarta Dictionary) Typically, however, Biblical prophets do make predictions about future events. These predictions help to establish the claims and validity of a prophet because knowledge of future events surpasses human ability and resides in the domain of omnipotent power. Jeremiah writes that… ...when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the LORD hath truly sent him. (Jer. 28:9)
When a prophet first arises, he may not be believed by the people at first, but when his predictions start coming to pass, then people begin to have faith and confidence in that prophet. However, any "prophet" can get lucky and make a guess about the future which, by chance, comes to pass. Therefore, the Bible places a much more stringent test upon the prophet. Moses told the people to keep a score card. If the prophet's predictions come to pass, then keep on eye on him. If the prophet ever fails, even once, then ignore him. He is not a true prophet. Why? Because anyone can make a lucky guess but only God can get the future right every single time. This is what differentiates God's prophets from all the other false prophets in the world. This is what sets them apart. This is how we can identify a true prophet of God. God's prophets are correct about the future 100 percent of the time. It is that simple.
Now, let us examine some of the predictions made by Ellen White. As soon as you begin analyzing Mrs. White's predictions, something becomes immediately evident. Most of Mrs. White's specific predictions were made early in her career, and virtually every single one of them failed to come to pass. The further she progressed in life, the less predictions she made, and if she did make a prediction, it was usually something vague and ambiguous, such as "crime will worsen", "cities will be more polluted", or "the earth will become more and more corrupt." It appears that Mrs. White learned from her early failures, and was more careful in later predictions to make them obscure and ambiguous enough so that she could not be accused by her detractors of making false predictions.
With that in mind, let us now examine some of the predictions she made. Remember to keep score because a true prophet of God will never make a false prediction, not even one.
Prediction #1: Jesus will return in June, 1845
Lucinda Burdick and Ellen Harmon [White] were close friends during the mid-1840s. Mrs. Burdick, the wife of a pastor, had many opportunities to hear Mrs. White's prophecies. (Can you trust Lucinda Burdick? Click here.) The following is Mrs. Burdick's eyewitness testimony of a prophecy Mrs. White made:
"During the year 1845 I met Miss Ellen G. Harmon several times at my uncle's house in South Windham, Me. The first of these meetings was in the month of May, when I heard her declare that God had revealed to her that Jesus Christ would return to this earth in June, the next month." (Lucinda Burdick, notarized letter, published in Limboline)
Pass or Fail? FAILURE!
Ellen Harmon said "God revealed to her" that Jesus would come in June of 1845. This is a failed prophecy.
Prediction #2: Jesus will return in September, 1845
Mrs. Burdick again testifies:
"During the haying season I again met her in company with James White at the same place, and heard my uncle ask her about the failure of the Lord to appear in June according to her visions. She replied that she had been told in the language of Canaan which she did not understand; but that she had since come to understand that Christ would return in September, at the second growth of grass instead of the first." (Ibid.)
Pass or Fail? FAILURE!
Did Christ return in September of 1845? Obviously not.
Prediction #3: Whites to be Thrown in Prison in 1846
Mrs. Burdick again testifies of statements made by Ellen White in 1846:
"Once, when on their way to the eastern part of Maine, she saw that they would have great trouble with the wicked, be put in prison, etc. This they told in the churches as they passed through. When they came back, they said they had a glorious time. Friends asked if they had seen any trouble with the wicked, or prisons? They replied, 'None at all.' People in all the churches soon began to get their eyes open, and came out decidedly against her visions" (Ibid.)
Pass or Fail? FAILURE!
The people she told her vision to thought she was describing an imminent imprisonment that would occur on their trip to the east. That is obvious from the facts that 1) the people specifically asked them about the imprisonment when they got back, and 2) when they found out there was no imprisonment, they came out decidedly against her visions. This failed prophecy was enough to convince the people in the Maine churches she was a false prophet, and it should be enough to convince us today!
We could stop right here and know that, according to Deut. 18:22, we have nothing to fear from this prophet. She has proven to be wrong, thus indicating she does not speak for God. But let us be careful. The Bible warns us not to accept anything on the voice of just one eyewitness. Can Mrs. Burdick's story be corroborated in any way? The answer is, yes. Mrs. White made several statements about the imminent return of Christ in the 1840s and 1850s which corroborate Mrs. Burdick's statements. It does appear that in the early days of her career Mrs. White had a bad habit of predicting the return of Christ. Below is the supporting evidence from Sister White's own writings.
Prediction #4: The "great pestilence" that never came
In 1849, Mrs. White penned these terrifying words:
"What we have seen and heard of the pestilence [of 1849], is but the beginning of what we shall see and hear. Soon the dead and dying will be all around us." (Present Truth, Sept. 1849).
Pass or Fail? FAILURE!
The "pestilence" she was describing turned out to be a local cholera epidemic that struck American cities in 1849, resuulting in the death of hundreds. There have been many worse epidemics since then. This was not a sign of the imminent end of the world, nor was this the pestilence that was the "beginning of sorrows" predicted by Jesus (Matt. 24:7-8). Not long after this prophecy was penned the epidemic ended and the United States entered a period of peace and prosperity that lasted over a decade. She said "soon the dead and dying will be all around us." What does soon mean? It has been over 170 years! She said the dead would be around "us", indicating her belief it would happen within her lifetime. Another prophetic failure.
Prediction #5: Jesus to come in "months"
In 1850, Sister White writes out what her angel told her:
"My accompanying angel said, 'Time is almost finished. Get ready, get ready, get ready.' . . . now time is almost finished. . . and what we have been years learning, they will have to learn in a few months." (Early Writings, pp. 64-67)
Pass or Fail? FAILURE!
The context of this statement is undeniable. New converts will have to learn the doctrines in a "few months" because "now time is almost finished." The reduction in learning time is not because new converts are smarter than the older ones, nor is it because the Adventists developed an accelerated learning course. No, the context clearly states the reason they will have to learn quickly: "time is almost finished."
What is a reasonable definition of the phrase "a few months"? Three? Five? If your friend called you up and said, "I'll be coming out to visit in a few months," when would you expect him? Three or four months, perhaps six at the most? Well, as of the end of 2020 it has been about two thousand and thirity-six months since Mrs. White said only a "few months" remained! She was certainly saying there were not "years" or "decades" left, because she said that what earlier converts had learned in "years", recent converts would have to learn in "months."
How can this failure be explained? Perhaps this is yet another case of her misunderstanding what her angel said. Perhaps her angel spoke in the language of Canaan again!
Prediction #6: Some at 1856 Conference to see Jesus return
Finally, Mrs. White concluded a 10-year string of failures predicting the return of Christ with a notorious statement that, unlike the previous failures, got widespread attention. She made this statement at a church conference in 1856, and it received notoriety because it was published in her "Testimonies to the Church" and many church members read it. Mrs. White describes her "vision":
"I was shown the company present at the Conference. Said the angel: 'Some food for worms, some subjects of the seven last plagues, some will be alive and remain upon the earth to be translated at the coming of Jesus.'" Testimonies, Vol. 1, p. 131
Pass or Fail? FAILURE!
Everyone at this conference passed away generations ago. Not a single one was "alive" and "upon the earth to be translated at the coming of Jesus." After this prophecy utterly failed the church was in quandary as to what to do with this statement. It was finally decided to declare this to be a "conditional prophecy" even though there were no conditions stated or implied in the prophecy (unlike conditional Biblical prophecies which always had the conditions stated explicitly or implicitly in the passage--for a further discussion on conditional prophecy, click here).
A review of Mrs. White's 1856 statement indicates there are no conditions stated explicitly or even implied in the prophecy. Mrs. White simply says that some of those at the conference will be alive when Christ returns. There is no condition such as "If you work hard, and give lots of offerings, then Christ will return..." The prophecy was never understood as conditional during Mrs. White's lifetime. It was only after the last person attending the conference died that the brethren were forced to come up with the explanation that the prophecy was conditional.
Prediction #7: Earth to be depopulated soon
Mrs. White continued her unbroken string of failed predictions in 1864, when she wrote:
"The human family was presented before me, enfeebled. Every generation has been growing weaker, and disease of every form visits the human race.... Satan's power upon the human family increases. If the Lord should not soon come and destroy his power, the earth would soon be depopulated." Testimony #8, p.94, in Spiritual Gifts III-IV
Pass or Fail? FAILURE!
Again we find the word "soon". In 1864 she said the earth would "soon" be depopulated. Did that happen soon after 1864? Well, by 1900 the earth's population had soared to 1.6 billion people. Today there are around 8 billion. By 2050 there may be 25 billion people on the planet. Because of better nutrition, advances in medicine, and improved living conditions, each generation is living longer, healthier, stronger, and taller. Diseases which once ravaged mankind have been eliminated or rendered harmless by powerful medications. Sadly, all that Mrs. White could foresee in the future was darkness, disease, and death. Had she truly had divine foresight she would never have made this statement.
Prediction #8: Slavery to Revive in the South
Here is another infamous prediction made by Mrs. White:
"Slavery will again be revived in the Southern States; for the spirit of slavery still lives. Therefore it will not do for those who labor among the colored people to preach the truth as boldly and openly as they would be free to do in other places. Even Christ clothed His lessons in figures and parables to avoid the opposition of the Pharisees." (Spalding & Magan Collection, page 21 and 2 MR #153, page 300)
Pass or Fail? FAILURE!
Was slavery ever revived "in the Southern United States"? Of course not! Since the Civil War ended it has been a federal crime to engage in slavery. Since the end of the Civil War there have been a few criminal operations that engaged in slave-labor, but when they are discovered by authorities, they are shut down and the owners are jailed. Slavery was permanently abolished and it will never be revived again in the United States. Any person can choose to live and work any place they want to. Thanks be to God, slavery is dead and gone. This is another prophetic debacle. More on this subject-->
Prediction #9: Slave Masters to Suffer Seven Last Plagues
Here Mrs. White predicts that slave masters will experience the seven last plagues described in the book of Revelation:
"I saw that the slave master will have to answer for the soul of his slave whom he has kept in ignorance...the master must endure the seven last plagues and then come up in the second resurrection and suffer the second, most awful death." (Early Writings, p. 276)
Pass or Fail? FAILURE!
This "prophecy" was given in the context of the slavery then existing in the United States. The oldest slave masters in the United States died in the early 1900s, over 100 years ago. Even if Ellen White had another country in mind, the United Nations outlawed slavery on planet earth in 1948. Mauritania was the last country to abolish slavery in its territory in 1981. Therefore, slavery is illegal in every country on earth since 1981. Even if Ellen White had Mauritania in mind, and not the United States, it is likely that few, if any, slave masters are still alive (the average life span in Mauritania is 64 years).
Prediction #10: Sick man to recover
In 1873, the editor of the Swedish edition of Advent Herald, Mr. C. Carlstedt, had become seriously ill with Typhoid fever. Mrs. White and others were called to his bedside to pray for Carlstedt. On their way home from the prayer meeting, Mrs. White remarked that the Lord was...
"present with his restoring power, to raise Carlstedt, whose sickness was not unto death, but to the glory of the Son of God." (Charles Lee, Three Important Questions for Seventh-Day Adventists to Consider)
Pass or Fail? FAILURE!
Charles Lee, who at that time was a Seventh-day Adventist minister, was at the prayer meeting and was a witness to Mrs. White's prediction. Sadly, Mrs. White was dead wrong. Carlstedt was dead within one week of her statement. A horrific failed prediction.
Prediction #11: Rappings will increase
Mrs. White claimed she saw in vision from God the rappings of the Fox Sisters and others would increase:
"I saw that soon it would be considered blasphemy to speak against the rapping, and that it would spread more and more, that Satan's power would increase and some of his devoted followers would have power to work miracles and even to bring down fire from heaven in the sight of men." Early Writings, p. 59.
Pass or Fail? FAILURE!
This prophecy was a marked failure. Even though the Spiritualism movement increased in popularity for a short period during the mid-1800s, it eventually died down. The movement was already on the decline prior to the Fox sisters' admission, in 1888, that the rapping was faked. After their deaths in the 1890s it continued to decline. Today, if you were to ask almost anyone about "rapping" they would think you were talking about a form of music, not a form of communicating with the dead. Rapping has completely vanished from the public awareness. We have seen no evidence it was ever considered "blasphemy to speak against the rapping." The entire Spiritualist movement fizzled out in the 1920s after popular magician Harry Houdini exposed numerous popular mediums as fakes and frauds. For a more detailed discussion of Spiritualism, the Fox Sisters, and the modern New Age movement, CLICK HERE.
Did any of her predictions come true?
Mrs. White made some vague predictions about crime worsening and cities becoming more polluted. These types of predictions are difficult to judge, because many other people of her day were saying the same thing. The problem is that if we considered everyone who made such generalized predictions to be prophets, then we would literally have thousands of prophets. General predictions about worsening crime and pollution simply do not substantiate a prophet's claims. A prophet must be measured on specific predictions and specific results.
What about the predictions in the Great Controversy?
Some have suggested that the predictions written out in the Great Controversy, such as the United States in prophecy and enforced Sunday observance, appear to be coming to pass, and this proves Mrs. White to be a prophet. The truth is that the United States is moving away from a National Sunday Law. What about the predictions of the papacy uniting with Apostate Protestantism? Mrs. White warned of this, but many other non-Adventist Christians were sounding the same alarm during that time period. Does that mean these other people are prophets also?
What about the San Francisco Earthquake?
Perhaps the closest Mrs. White got to making an accurate prediction of the future was her 1903 statement regarding the destruction of San Francisco:
"San Francisco and Oakland are becoming as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Lord will visit them. Not far hence they will suffer under His judgments."--Ms 30, 1903.
Although she never specified what the "judgment" would be, she was 50% correct on this prediction, because San Francisco was hit by an earthquake three years later, in 1906. However, Oakland was not seriously damaged. Oddly enough, even though she lived in Northern California, Mrs. White never made any attempt to personally go and warn the residents of San Francisco of the impending earthquake.
Test #1 - You Decide: Pass or Fail?
We have cited eleven instances when her predictions failed. Remember, it only takes one failure to disqualify a prophet. Even if we were generous and gave Mrs. White credit for predicting the San Francisco earthquake--although she never specifically said it would be an "earthquake" and the warning was only penned in a manuscript and not published until after the event--she still would have only made one out of twelve predictions correct. That is less than 10%. That would put her about equal with the psychics of today, who happen to get lucky about so often. However, she is far from matching the success rate of the Biblical prophets. In Bible times, you had to be all the time, or else you risked losing your life. Given that, it is unlikely Mrs. White would have dared to proclaim herself the "spirit of prophecy" back in Bible times.
TEST #2: Cannot have falsehoods in their visions
Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD. (Jer. 23:32)
There are some instances in the life of Ellen White where she prophesied falsehoods that caused her "people to err." The most significant of these were the shut door visions.
Falsehood #1: Door of Salvation is Shut
When Christ failed to return in 1844 there was great confusion among the followers of William Miller. Most of the Millerites returned to their churches, but others were too ashamed to admit their error or felt too humiliated to return. It was among these people that the "shut door" teaching developed. The teaching is based upon the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25. These people firmly believed that they had given the "midnight cry" (Matt. 25:6) and that Jesus, the Bridegroom, came to the "marriage supper" on October 22, 1844:
And while they [foolish virgins] went to buy, the Bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with Him to the marriage; and the door was shut. (Matt. 25:10)
They taught that on October 22, 1844, Christ got up and moved from the Holy Place into the Most Holy Place. In so doing, Christ shut the door of salvation to all except those Advent believers who had joined Miller's 1844 movement. They believed that Jesus was "shut in" with His special people, preparing them to receive His kingdom. They believed that since October 22, 1844, Christ was ministering only to the "little flock" or "Israel" (the Advent believers). They taught that Christ was testing His children on certain points of truth, such as the Sabbath, and that their work for the salvation of others was finished.
Ellen White had visions supporting this "shut door" doctrine, and James White's paper--Present Truth--trumpeted the shut door teaching up until late 1850. Most Adventists, including William Miller and most of the leaders in the Millerite movement, rejected the doctrine. It was accepted by only a small number of followers of Joseph Bates and the Whites. In early 1850 the "shut door" began to slip open. Those who were Christians in 1844, but had not had opportunity to hear Miller's time-setting message were allowed to enter the church. Near the end of 1850 the "shut door" opened a little further. The Adventists were shocked when a man who was a non-believer in 1844 accepted the Adventist message in August, 1850, and started attending their meetings. It was their first conversion of an unconverted man since 1844!
By 1851, the teaching had fallen out of favor and so the Whites modified their teaching on the "shut door." James White abandoned the Present Truth magazine and started a new magazine, the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald. He reprinted his wife's visions in 1851, but was careful to remove those parts referencing the erroneous "shut door" doctrine. The doctrine disappeared from the writings of the leaders and most of the new converts into the church never heard of it nor had any idea that their prophet had seen a "shut door" of salvation in her visions.
In the period of 1844-1850, a time when Mrs. White was receiving frequent public visions, she claimed on a number of occasions to have seen in vision the door of salvation shut and that Adventists no longer needed to work for the salvation of the world. Otis Nichols, a fervent believer in Ellen White, wrote thus to William Miller:
"Her message was...that our work was done for the nominal church and the world, and what remained to be done was for the household of faith." --DF 105, Otis Nichols to William Miller, April 20, 1846.
Adventist minister Isaac Wellcome testifies:
"I was often in meeting with Ellen G. Harmon and James White in 1844 and '45. I several times caught her while falling to the floor, --at times when she swooned away for a vision. I have heard her relate her visions of these dates. Several were published on sheets, to the effect that all were lost who did not endorse the '44 move, that Christ had left the throne of mercy, and all were sealed that ever would be, and no others could repent." (An Examination of Mrs. Ellen White's Visions, Miles Grant, Boston: Published by the Advent Christian Publication Society, 1877)
Although she later denied having visions supporting a shut door of salvation, there is ample evidence from eyewitnesses and from her own pen that she taught a shut door on the basis of her visions. In one of her earliest visions she describes how impossible it is for the rejected world to get onto the path leading to heaven:
"Others rashly denied the light behind them, and said that it was not God that had led them out so far. The light behind them went out leaving their feet in perfect darkness, and they stumbled and got their eyes off the mark and lost sight of Jesus, and fell off the path down in the dark and wicked world below. It was just as impossible for them to get on the path again and go to the City, as all the wicked world which God had rejected." (A Word to the Little Flock, 1847)In 1849 she wrote about the condition of those in other chuches:
"My accompanying angel bade me look for the travail of soul for sinners as used to be. I looked, but could not see it; for the time for their salvation is past." (Present Truth, August, 1849)
To illustrate how Mrs. White's visions about the "shut door" of salvation led people to err, consider her vision in Exeter, Maine. Here is a specific example of how Ellen White saw a falsehood in vision (the shut door of salvation), and then related that vision to other people who then accepted the false teaching:
"While in Exeter, Maine, in meeting with Israel Dammon, James, and many others, many of them did not believe in a shut door. I suffered much at the commencement of the meeting. Unbelief seemed to be on every hand. There was one sister there that was called very spiritual. She had traveled and been a powerful preacher the most of the time for twenty years. She had been truly a mother in Israel. But a division had risen in the band on the shut door. She had great sympathy, and could not believe the door was shut. (I had known nothing of their differences.) Sister Durben got up to talk. I felt very, very sad. At length my soul seemed to be in an agony, and while she was talking I fell from my chair to the floor. It was then I had a view of Jesus rising from His mediatorial throne and going to the Holiest as Bridegroom to receive His kingdom. They were all deeply interested in the view. They all said it was entirely new to them. The Lord worked in mighty power setting the truth home to their hearts. ... When I came out of vision, my ears were saluted with Sister Durben's singing and shouting with a loud voice. Most of them received the vision, and were settled upon the shut door." Manuscript Releases Vol. 5, p. 97
Pass or Fail? FAILURE!
Notice this carefully. Prior to the vision, Sister Durben "could not believe" the door of salvation was shut. Mrs. White says Sister Durben had "great sympathy." Sympathy for whom? For those upon whom the door of salvation had been shut! She could not believe that God would abandon these people to eternal death. After the vision, Sister Durben accepted the shut door. Therefore, the vision of Ellen White convinced Sister Durben to accept and believe a falsehood. (To learn more about the shut door, click here).
Falsehood #2: Sealing Time Visions
Mrs. White's visions of the "sealing time" provide unequivocal evidence that she failed the tests of a prophet. To begin, let us review Ellen White's teaching regarding the sealing time, as written in her landmark book, The Great Controversy:
"When the final test shall be brought to bear upon men, then the line of distinction will be drawn between those who serve God and those who serve Him not. While the observance of the false Sabbath in compliance with the law of the state, contrary to the fourth commandment, will be an avowal of allegiance to a power that is in opposition to God, the keeping of the true Sabbath, in obedience to God's law, is an evidence of loyalty to the Creator. While one class, by accepting the sign of submission to earthly powers, receive the mark of the beast, the other choosing the token of allegiance to divine authority, receive the seal of God." (Great Controversy, p. 605)
In the above passage Ellen White makes the following five points regarding the sealing:
In Great Controversy Mrs. White outlines the specific characteristics of the 144,000 as thus:
"None but the hundred and forty-four thousand can learn that song; for it is the song of their experience--an experience such as no other company have ever had. "These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth." These, having been  translated from the earth, from among the living, are counted as "the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb." Revelation 15:2, 3; 14:1-5.  "These are they which came out of great tribulation;" they have passed through the time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation;  they have endured the anguish of the time of Jacob's trouble;  they have stood without an intercessor through the final outpouring of God's judgments. ... - They have seen the earth wasted with famine and pestilence, the sun having power to scorch men with great heat, and they themselves have endured suffering, hunger, and thirst." (Ibid. p. 649)
From the above it is obvious that the 144,000-those who have received the Seal of God-are identified by the following:
Obviously no one living in the 1800s had gone through any of these experiences, and thus it is clear that no one in the 1800s was either sealed or a part of the 144,000.
It is obvious that in 1911, the prophetess believed that the sealing time was yet future. Yet, her "visions" from 62 years earlier paint a far different picture. In the 1840s, she taught the sealing time was is in full progress:
"Satan is now using every device in this sealing time, to keep the minds of God's people from the present, sealing truth; and to cause them to waver. I saw a covering that God was drawing over his people, to protect them in the time of trouble; and every soul that was decided on the truth, and was pure in heart, was to be covered with the covering of Almighty God." (Present Truth, August 1, 1849)
On January 31, 1849, the Whites published a pamphlet entitled "To Those who are Receiving the Seal of the Living God." In that pamphlet Mrs. White wrote:
"The sealing time is very short, and soon will be over. Now is the time to make our calling and election sure, while the four angels are holding the four winds."
Mrs. White even went so far as to identify some of those who had received the seal of God during the sealing time...
"I saw that she [Mrs. Hastings, who had just died] was sealed and would come up at the voice of God and stand upon the earth, and would be with the 144,000. I saw we need not mourn for her; she would rest in the time of trouble." (Letter 10, 1850, 2SM 263)
Later, she wrote that some of the elderly men in the church had the "seal of God" upon them:
"There are living upon our earth men who have passed the age of fourscore and ten. The natural results of old age are seen in their feebleness. But they believe God, and God loves them. The seal of God is upon them, and they will be among the number of whom the Lord has said, 'Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.'" (SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 982)
In his book, A Seal of the Living God, published in 1849, Joseph Bates quotes a vision that Ellen White had of the sealing time. In this vision Mrs. White claims that "not all" of the saints have been sealed yet, implying that the sealing was in progress and some had already been sealed:
"The angels are holding the winds. It is God that restrains the powers. The angels have not let go, for the saints are not all sealed. The time of trouble has commenced. It has begun. The reason why the four winds are not let go, is because the saints are not all sealed. It [the trouble] is on the increase more and more; that trouble will never end until the earth is rid of the wicked. Why, they [the winds] are just ready to blow. There is a check put on because the saints are not all sealed." (A Seal of the Living God, pp. 25,26)
There is no doubt Mrs. White taught from her visions the sealing was in progress in 1849. And yet, in 1911, she describes the sealing as a future event, an activity that takes place at the time of the "final test."
Pass or Fail? FAILURE!
Mrs. White's early visions indicated the sealing had begun, which was a falsehood because the sealing had not begun. Later in life, in the Great Controversy, Mrs. White indicates the sealing was yet future, and would be triggered by a government-enforced Sunday law. Many Adventists are not aware of the false sealing teaching because, according to Adventist historian Isaac Wellcome, who was baptized by James White in 1845, Elder White suppressed the early visions:
"Eld. White had published several of Ellen's visions on small sheets for general distribution; but as time passed on the theology of her later visions was materially different from former ones, and they were suppressed... but these visions as published now are greatly in conflict with those which acquaintances and witnesses in New England were accustomed to hear from her lips, after recovering from her clairvoyant state, or to read on sheets as published at first, by Eld. White." (History of the Second Advent Message, p. 407)
Falsehood #3: Tall people living on Jupiter!
In 1846 Mrs. White had a "vision" of the solar system. Mrs. Truesdail, a dedicated and sincere Adventist, was present during the vision. She describes how Mrs. White saw a "tall, majestic people" living on either Jupiter or Saturn:
"Sister White was in very feeble health, and while prayers were offered in her behalf, the Spirit of God rested upon us. We soon noticed that she was insensible to earthly things. This was her first view of the planetary world. After counting aloud the moons of Jupiter, and soon after those of Saturn, she gave a beautiful description of the rings of the latter. She then said, 'The inhabitants are a tall, majestic people, so unlike the inhabitants of earth. Sin has never entered here.'" (Taken from Mrs. Truesdail's letter, Jan 27, 1891)
Pass or Fail? FAILURE!
Could it be true? Are there tall, majestic people living on Jupiter and/or Saturn? This may have seemed plausible in 1846, but with all we know about these planets today, we know it is impossible. Conditions on both planets are extremely inhospitable to life as we know it:
While this outlandish, false vision about tall people living on Jupiter probably did no harm to the church, does help to illustrate the fact that God was not the source of her "visions."
Falsehood #4: Satan has a body!
Mrs. White had a vision in which she claimed to have seen the body of Satan. The vision was published in Spiritual Gifts and the 1888 version of Great Controversy, but was later removed and no longer appears in the Great Controversy sold by the SDA Church today. Perhaps the publishers believed the statement would cause a great controversy because it contradicts the Bible teaching on the nature of Satan. Here is what Mrs. White saw in vision:
"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 every 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." (Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 1, p. 27)
Ellen White states that Satan is a fallen "angel". She then goes on to describe a number of physical characteristics:
Pass or Fail? FAILURE!
The Bible teaches that angelic beings are not composed of flesh and blood:
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Eph. 6:12)
The Bible consistently refers to evil beings as beings "spirits":
...he cast out the spirits with [his] word... (Matt. 8:16)
Satan, the leader of the fallen angels, is described in the Bible as an "angel":
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. (2 Cor. 11:14)
In Hebrews, angelic beings are described as "spirits":
And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits... Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? (Heb. 1:7,14)
These verses show the Bible teaches that angelic beings are "spirits", and that spirit beings, do not have a body composed of "flesh and blood". This "vision" directly contradicts the Bible and illustrates that her visions did not originate with God.
Test #2 - You Decide: Pass or Fail?
Above are four incidents where Mrs. White saw falsehoods in her visions and led her people astray. She taught a shut door of salvation from her visions. She claimed the sealing started in the 1840s when it had, in fact, not started at all. She taught there were tall people living on other planets in our solar system. She taught Satan had a physical body. More could be mentioned, but these are sufficient to prove that her visions did not come from God.
TEST #3: Cannot steal their writings from others
The Bible identifies false prophets as those who steal their writings from others:
I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. ... Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. (Jer. 23:25,30)
Much has been written on Mrs. White's extensive plagiarism of the writings of others. Prior to the publication of Walter Rea's The White Lie in 1983, Adventists maintained that 8% to 10% of Mrs. White's writings was copied. The SDA Church hired Adventist scholar Dr. Fred Veltman to examine the Desire of Ages and he found 30% or more, depending upon the chapter examined. After almost eight years of research, Veltman confirmed what other studies showed, that depending upon the material examined, the copy work could be as much as 90%.1 Dr. Veltman noted:
"Implicitly or explicitly, Ellen White and others speaking on her behalf did not admit to and even denied literary dependency on her part...
Dr. Don McAdams, an SDA scholar, stated in the 1980 Glendale meeting:
"If every paragraph in the book Great Controversy, written by Ellen White, was properly footnoted, then every paragraph would have to be footnoted."2
The evidence is too massive to put in this article. Below are links to various other pages which spell out the plagiarism in much greater detail:
Test #3 - You Decide: Pass or Fail?
The evidence is overwhelming that she stole her "inspired writings" from her "neighbors." This indicates she failed the third test of a prophet. To examine all the evidence of plagiarism in more detail, CLICK HERE.
TEST #4: Cannot contradict the Word of God
To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isa. 8:20)
Mrs. White made many strong endorsements of the Bible throughout her prophetic career. She frequently encouraged her followers to be read the Bible, study it, and memorize Scripture. Given this, many Adventists are surprised to discover that Mrs. White contradicted the Bible a number of times in her writings.
There are several examples that are too lengthy to be included in this web page, but are listed here for you to research:
There is insufficient room on this page to detail all of Mrs. White's other contradictions of Scripture, but here is a small sampling:
1. Did Satan Deceive Adam?
NOTE: 1 Tim. 2:14 says Adam was NOT deceived (Greek apato: To cheat/beguile/deceive) whereas Eve was "apato" (cheated/beguiled/deceived). 2nd Corinthians 11:3 says "the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty (Greek panourgia: craftiness/cunning)". In 1 Tim. 2:14 Paul contrasts Eve, who had the wool pulled over her eyes, with Adam who was NOT deceived or beguiled. This is an obvious comparison-contrast. Paul is juxtaposing Eve being tricked with the fact that Adam was not tricked, was not deceived, and was not fooled by the serpent.
2. Was Israel destroyed by Gluttony?
NOTE: The plague fell before the people could even eat the food. The people were punished for coveting, not gluttony. Coveting is a craving for something forbidden by God. Gluttony is habitual over-eating. Coveting and gluttony are two very different sins. Gluttony is never mentioned in Numbers 11:33-34. The Bible is clear the people died for the sin of craving. They never had a chance to be gluttons because they died while the food was still in their mouth, as the New King James Version says, "before it was chewed."
The Israelites had violated the 10th commandment which forbids man from coveting that which is unlawful for him to have. Because craving or coveting is forbidden by God's covenant with Israel, God could execute capital punishment upon the lawbreakers. On the contrary, gluttony is not explicitly forbidden in God's covenant with Israel. So why would God punish people with death for a sin which was not forbidden in His covenant with Israel? God punishes people according to the degree of their sin. If the Israelites' sin was a violation of God's covenant with Israel (the 10 commandments) then God was justified in delivering the appropriate punishment for that violation--death in this case. However, gluttony was not a violation of the 10 Commandments, and nowhere in the Bible do we find over-eating being punished by death.
3. Can we be certain of our salvation?
NOTE: The reason the apostle John wrote his letter was to assure the believers that they had obtained eternal life. In Ephesians 2:8 the New King James Version Bible says, "For by grace you HAVE BEEN saved..." The Greek verb for "have been" is este which is in the perfect tense. The perfect tense conveys a completed action.
4. A sin to be sick?
NOTE: How could all sickness be the result of transgression? God said that Job was "a perfect and an upright man." (Job 2:3) Paul had a "thorn" in his body that was making him weak (see 2 Cor. 12:7-10). Was it a sin for Paul to have this condition in his body? It seems odd for Mrs. White to have made this statement, because she was often sick herself. Her husband and two of her children died of sickness. Are we to believe their sins led to their deaths?
5. Christians to make trespass offerings?Source: Cultic Doctrine, p. 371
NOTE: This may have been good for SDA church finances, but under the New Covenant, Jesus paid the price for sin for all people for all time.
6. Who spoke to Cain?Source: www.truthorfables.com
7. Is Jesus the Almighty God?Source: www.truthorfables.com
8. Does God hate wicked children?
NOTE: Ellen White was supposedly in constant communication with heaven through dreams, visions, and angelic visits. How could someone with a direct line to heaven be so terribly wrong about the character of God? Mrs. White said God does not love wicked children. This is in direct opposition to the teaching of Christ.
"If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing..." (1 Tim. 6:3,4)
Test #4 - You Decide: Pass or Fail?
While it is true that Mrs. White's writings agree with the Bible in the majority of instances, we have shown that she does, at times, contradict the Bible. Should we overlook the fact that she contradicts the Bible in some instances because the majority of her writings agree with the Bible? Is it therefore okay to mix truth with a small amount of error? Not only do some of Mrs. White's teachings contradict the Bible, she adds to the Bible with countless restrictions and rules that are found nowhere in Scripture.
TEST #5: Must bear good fruit
Beware of false prophets... Ye shall know them by their fruits. (Matt. 7:15,16)
This is perhaps the most subjective of the Biblical tests. One person may perceive a fruit to be "good" while another may not. One person may love sour apples, while another prefers sweet apples. If they both pick an apple from the same tree, one may love it while the other may hate it. There is a great controversy regarding the fruits of Mrs. White's ministry.
Good Fruits: On the positive side, many people have claimed to have been blessed by the books published under the name of Ellen White. There are many beautiful and inspiring statements in her writings (although some of those inspiring statements were actually written by other authors). Many people, including the editor of this web site, have found the books Steps to Christ and Desire of Ages to be particularly inspiring. Some Adventists claim to have been saved by reading her writings. Some Adventists claim that Ellen White's testimonies helped them overcome sin, lead a better life, improve their health, or become a better person. Millions of Ellen White's books have been published and distributed throughout the world. There can be no doubt that Ellen White's writings have touched untold thousands of lives in a positive way. These are good fruits and they are to be applauded.
Mixed Fruits: Mrs. White was a guiding force for the Seventh-day Adventist Church during its formative years. Opponents of Ellen White point to the fact that Ellen White led the church astray on several key doctrines. In her early years she put her prophetic stamp of approval on some very questionable doctrines, such as the Investigative Judgment and the Shut Door. Proponents of Ellen White point out that she introduced health reform to the church which has apparently benefited some church members, although there is not complete consensus on this point. Mrs. White helped guide the church away from an Aryan view of Christ toward a more orthodox, Trinitarian view of the Godhead. Mrs. White opposed slavery, although a few of her statements appear racist to a modern reader. When A.T. Jones and E.J. Waggoner began preaching the "1888 message" of righteousness by faith, Mrs. White, to her credit, was fully behind the proclamation of the message.
Bad Fruits: There are a number of statements, particularly in the Testimonies, where Mrs. White reveals a harsh, critical, legalistic, judgmental nature. This is especially true of her opponents, whom she frequently characterized as being under the influence of satanic agencies. Unfortunately, some Adventists have claimed that they acquired the same harsh, critical, judgmental and legalistic spirit after reading her writings. Some say her writings have held the church back from advancing into new truth. They say her writings have locked the church into prophetic interpretations that no longer make sense in today's world. Some comment that her multitude of rules and regulations take much of the fun and enjoyment out of life, turning it into a legalistic tedium. Some say her emphasis on character perfection results in church members feeling inadequate and burdened with a load of guilt.
Test #5 - You Decide: Pass or Fail?
There is no doubt that Mrs. White's ministry has produced some good fruit. Not even the fiercest critic can deny this. There is also little doubt her ministry has produced some bad fruit. Not even the most loyal follower can deny it. Some say that the good outweighs the bad. Others say there is more bad than good. In all fairness to Ellen White, we cannot say she failed this test. However, because of the negative fruits of her ministry noted above, we also cannot say definitively that she passed this test. This one is left as a question mark for the reader to decide. Each person will have to use their God-given judgment and their own personal experience as guides to decide for themselves whether or not Mrs. White's fruits have been good or bad.
TEST #6: Must Encourage and Build Up Others
He who prophesies speaks to men for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. (1 Cor. 14:3 RSV)
Few Seventh-day Adventists have struggled to read through the multitude of testimonies written by Ellen White. They are told that Mrs. White's testimonies were encouraging to her followers, and they never bother to read them for themselves to find out if this is true. There certainly are some instances where Mrs. White built up, encouraged, and consoled others. However, a serious examination of her testimonies reveals that she frequently tore down, discouraged, and grieved others. As we examine some examples, keep in mind that these are not isolated incidents. The general tone of her testimonies was negative, fault-finding, accusatory, and critical. In the remainder of this section we will examine how Ellen White tore down and discouraged her enemies, her church members, her family, her co-workers, and national leaders.
Treatment of Her Enemies
Mrs. White saved her most brutal barbs for her enemies. Mrs. White would tolerate different views on some subjects, but one thing she would absolutely not tolerate under any circumstances was someone who questioned her prophetic gift. According to her former friend, Israel Dammon, those who "took a stand against the visions, she saw them 'doomed, damned, and lost for ever, without hope.'" (An Examination of Mrs. White's Visions, 1877) Here is but a tiny sample of the derogatory statements she made of her opponents:
It quickly becomes apparent that if one disagreed with the prophet, or worse yet, if one dared to question her prophetic calling, Ellen White would vehemently and unmercifully assassinate their character.
Treatment of Church
Mrs. White was apparently fond of standing up in church and rebuking the sins of the audience members from the pulpit. More than one SDA church felt the wrath of Mrs. White. Dr. Ronald Graybill, former associate director of the White Estate, relates one such incident:
"James [White] defended the style as well as the content of his wife's messages by putting her sharp rebukes in the best possible light. She called the congregation in Wright, Michigan, together one afternoon in 1867 to hear her read 51 pages of 'testimony' she had written concerning various church members. 'Those reproved,' James reported, 'were, of course, surprised to hear their condition described, and were thrown in great trial.'" (Power of Prophecy, p. 9)
Imagine the utter humiliation of having the prophet parade your "sins" in front of the entire church! Worse yet, those "sins" may or may not have been accurate, depending upon from whom the prophet obtained her information!3 Here is one example of how Mrs. White derided an ill church member in one of her "testimonies":
"I was shown...nearly all your thoughts are now upon yourself...In your present state of mind you are not fit to marry. There is no one that would wish you, in your present helpless, useless condition. If one should fancy he loved you; he would be worthless; for no sensible man could think for a moment of placing his affections upon so useless an object... At the present time your condition is not acceptable in the sight of God..." (Testimonies, Vol. 2, pp. 324,325)
Treatment of Children
Dr. Graybill helps us understand how Ellen White's son Edson was viewed by her and James:
"Edson often found himself left in the care of one family and then another. When his parents were with him, they interpreted his frequent illnesses as a part of Satan's attack on the fledgling movement and his healings as evidence of God's endorsement of their public efforts. Thus even in his sufferings he was only an adjunct to their careers." (Ibid., p. 62)
Sister White's treatment of Edson is consistent with her false teaching that God does not love the disobedient (see test #4 above).
Treatment of Co-workers
To illustrate how Ellen White treated her fellow workers, we will examine the case of Adventist pioneer J.N. Andrews. In 1860 Mrs. White, in a 24-page letter to Andrews and his wife, complains about him refusing to accept her "testimonies":
"I saw that Bro. John had suffered in his mind extremely. ... Bro. John has been driven to almost insanity. ... I saw that his family do not stand clear. ... They will not stand in the light until they wipe out the past by confessing their wrong course in opposing the testimonies given them of God. ...He unsettled the mind of Henry Nichols in regard to the visions, and Henry has never recovered. ... The visions are either of God or the Devil. There is no half way position to be taken in the matter."
Despite his doubts regarding Mrs. White's inspiration, Andrews continued to serve the church. Andrews suffered a difficult life. In 1872, his wife Angeline died. In 1874, he sailed to Europe as a missionary with his two children. In 1878 Andrews, returned to bury both his daughter, Mary, and his brother. Andrews was in poor health and did not return to Europe until the following year. Joseph Smoot, in the spring 1984 issue of Adventist Heritage, reports that in 1883, Mrs. White wrote a letter to B.L. Whitney sharply criticizing Andrews:
"She said Andrews had 'given the impression of suffering when he has endured no more than ordinary laborers in their first experience in this work.' She regarded Andrews as having 'a diseased mind.' Mrs. White thought that John Andrews would die and said she 'could not pray for his life, for I consider he has held and is still holding [up] the work in Switzerland.' ... She concluded that she did not want Andrews 'injured, neither do I want the cause of God to bear the the hindrance and the mold of his diseased imagination.'" (Smoot op. cit. Adventist Currents, vol. 1, #6, p. 7)
It is astonishing that Mrs. White could not even bring herself to pray for Andrews, a pioneering missionary and author who had devoted his entire life to the work of the SDA Church! Contrast this with Stephen who prayed for his murderers while they were stoning him to death. Contrast this with Jesus who not only asked God to forgive those who were murdering him, but also said, "pray for them which despitefully use you." (Luke 6:28)
Mrs. White then wrote Andrews a letter that Smoot describes as "the most severe rebuke she had ever given to him."
"She said that 'if you go down into the grave, I do not want you should go down in deception.' ...she proceeded to enumerate his character defects. Feeling that the Andrews and Stevens families had been a bad mix from the beginning, she believed they had fostered his desire "to crave for sympathy, to love to be pitied, to be regarded as one suffering privations and as a martyr. She told him of his sin of dwelling on himself, of mourning for his wife and daughter as he had done... Dwelling at length on his rejection of her counsel regarding remarriage [he never did], she told him that he had not been a good father to his son, Charles." (Ibid., pp. 7,8)
Smoot concludes "this letter must have broken Andrews' spirit and will to live." Andrews died a few months later on Oct. 21, 1883.
When Butler was president of the General Conference, he endured a scathing attack from Sister White. He describes the assault in a letter to J.H. Kellogg:
"Sister White called me up to your Hospital, and talked to me two or three hours, when my head seemed as though it would just about wreck me. It seemed as though it would split. I nerved up, with every ounce of energy I had, and listened to it all. Some things, I tell you, were about as cutting as a man could hear. Occasionally I would throw in a word. She said, 'you ought to have been out of office for years.'" (Butler letter to Kellogg, June 9, 1904, published in Adventist Currents, vol. 1, no. 5)
D.M Canright describes how Mrs. White rejected the pleas of Abraham Lincoln for a day of prayer and fasting for the war-wracked nation:
"Mr. Lincoln, in his need, asked the prayers of all Christians, and appointed days of fasting and prayer. Of these Mrs. White said: 'I saw that these national fasts were an insult to Jehovah. . . A national fast is proclaimed! Oh, what an insult to Jehovah!' (Testimonies, Vol. I., p. 257). That was the way she sympathized with Mr. Lincoln and the nation in the hour of need.
Test #6 - You Decide: Pass or Fail?
As we read these accounts, particularly the disturbing cases of J.N. Andrews and Edson White, we are faced with the stark realization that Ellen White was not fulfilling the prophet's duty to represent the character of God through "upbuilding and encouragement." While some of Mrs. White's counsels and testimonies could truthfully be described as "encouraging", all too often they were vindictive, discouraging, and destructive.
TEST #7: Must Acknowledge Paul's Writings as Commandments
If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. (1 Cor. 14:37)
Did Mrs. White follow Paul's commandments? Mrs. White said that the writings of Christ's apostles were "dictated by the Holy Ghost" (Spiritual Gifts, vol. 1, p. 176). Therefore, since Mrs. White regarded Paul as an apostle, she must have considered Paul's writings in 1st Corinthians 14:37 to be inspired by God. Just three verses earlier Paul gives his commandment regarding how women should conduct themselves in the church:
Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak [Greek: laleo - "to utter a voice or emit a sound / to speak / to use the tongue or the faculty of speech / to utter articulate sounds / to talk"]...for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. 1 Cor. 14:34,35
Elder Benjamin Warfield explains the meaning of these passages:
The [Greek] word [laleo] is in its right place in 1 Corinthians 14:33ff, therefore, and necessarily bears there its simple and natural meaning. If we needed anything to fix its meaning, however, it would be supplied by its frequent use in the preceding part of the chapter, where it refers not only to speaking with tongues, but also to the prophetic speech, which is directly declared to be to edification and exhortation and comforting (verses 3-6). It would be supplied more pungently, however, by its contrasting term here - "let them be silent" (verse 34). Here we have laleo directly defined for us: "Let the women keep silent, for it is not permitted to them to speak." Keep silent - speak: these are the two opposites; and the one defines the other.
Not only did Mrs. White ignore Paul's command to be silent in church, but she also broke his command about prophesying with her head uncovered:
But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 1 Cor. 11:5
Mrs. White and the Adventist Church seemed to have adopted the view that Paul's commandments did not apply to them in the "modern age." It is quite convenient when faced with a Biblical prohibition that one dislikes to simply dismiss the prohibition as being "out-of-date" or "only applies to that culture at that time period." If one were to follow this philosophy, one could dismiss many prohibitions in the Bible as being "out-of-date."
Test #7 - You Decide: Pass or Fail?
While one may argue over whether Paul's prohibitions apply to the "modern age", it cannot be denied that Mrs. White broke these particular commandments. She was often found in the church pulpit, giving sermons, lectures, and teaching the people. In all the descriptions of her prophesying there is never any indication that she ever bothered to cover her head. Therefore, since it is obvious that Mrs. White disregarded these commandments of Paul's in her life, we can only conclude that Mrs. White failed this test of a prophet.
Adventist Tests of a Prophet
Adventists have developed their own unique set of "tests" that they use to prove to others that Mrs. White passed their "tests" of a prophet. When examined, it can be shown that these are not really tests at all. Using these "tests" virtually anyone could qualify as a prophet of God!
Questionable test #1: Christ came in the flesh
One text frequently quoted in favor of Ellen White is 2 John 1:7:
"For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh."
Virtually every modern Christian prophet teaches that Christ came in the flesh, so passing this "test" is a small hurdle indeed. Joseph Smith, Mary Eddy Baker, and countless other "prophets" pass this test. Even Muhammad taught Christ was a real human being. So this "test," while true, is of minor importance to this dicussion because virtually any modern Christian believer could pass this test.
Questionable test #2: Predictions come to pass
Another "test" that is sometimes used is the test of future predictions. If a prophet makes a prediction about the future, and that prediction comes to pass, then supposedly that is evidence that person is a true prophet. However, this is only valid when combined with Deut. 18:22, which says that a prophet cannot make a false prediction. Just making a true prediction about the future does not make one a prophet. Psychics often give vague prophecies about the future, and on rare occasion they get lucky and the event actually does occur as predicted. If a psychic gets lucky on a prediction does that mean he is a prophet?
Consider the case of Mormon prophet Joseph Smith. He made these prophecies in 1832, nearly 30 years before the start of the U.S. Civil War:
"1. Verily, thus saith the Lord concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls;
These prophecies were fulfilled with stunning accuracy. A Civil War between the northern and southern states did start in the state of South Carolina. Does this prove Joseph Smith to be a prophet? Not unless he also was accurate in all of the other predictions he made. A prophet must be completely accurate according to the Biblical rule.
Questionable test #3: Inspirational writings
Sometimes Adventists will point to books such as Desire of Ages and Steps to Christ as evidence of Mrs. White's prophetic calling. Even if Ellen White never plagiarized a single word from other authors, and even if Ellen White did not have a staff of talented writers that assisted her, the fact that she produced an inspiring book would never qualify her to be a prophet. If writing an inspiring book proved a person to be a prophet, then we would have untold thousands of prophets, because thousands upon thousands of inspiring books have been written by Christian authors.
Some point to the fact that Mrs. White suffered a severe head injury when she was in the 3rd grade which forced her to drop out of school. They point to her later writings and proclaim: "How could someone with only a 3rd-grade education write such wonderful books?" Those asking this question are implying that Mrs. White must have received supernatural assistance in writing her books. The truth is Mrs. White had more than a third grade education (CLICK HERE to find out how much education she received).
Followers of the prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam, point to the writings of this illiterate man as evidence of his divine inspiration. They say, "How could an illiterate man write such wonderful works, such as the Quran, without divine assistance?" The truth is that Muhammad had secretaries who assisted him in writing. Likewise, Mrs. White almost always had assistance with her writing. In the beginning it was James White. Later, as their financial situation improved, she hired a professional staff to assist her in writing her books, articles, and even her personal letters. She hired Marian Davis who was a professional writer to assist her with her books. Her secretary Fannie Bolton was also involved in writing for Mrs. White for many years.
As discussed earlier, Mrs. White also received substantial assistance in writing by copying from some of the top Christian authors of her time. While there is some debate as to the exact amount of material that was plagiarized from other authors, in some books it is believed that up to 90% of the material has been copied.
Whether or not Mrs. White had supernatural assistance in writing her books we cannot judge. However, it is clearly evident that she had plenty of human assistance.
Do her inspirational writings provide evidence of supernatural assistance? What if you were given permission to copy any material you wanted from the top Christian authors in the world and put it into a book? And what if you had a staff of competent editors and writers to assist you in this effort? Do you think you could put together an inspiring book? Of course you could! In this regard, Mrs. White's inspiring books do not prove her to be any more of a prophet than you are!
Questionable test #4: Supernatural feats
Some Adventists point to supposed supernatural events that were reported to have occurred in some of Mrs. White's earlier visions as evidence she was a prophet. For example, there are reports of her not breathing during vision or holding up heavy objects with supernatural strength. Advocates of Ellen White claim that these phenomena are similar to those encountered by the prophet Daniel. Whether or not Mrs. White exhibited the same characteristics as Daniel is a matter of great debate, but General Conference President A.G. Daniells cuts right to the heart of the matter:
"Now with reference to the evidences: I differ with some of the brethren who have put together proofs or evidences of the genuineness of this gift, in this respect, - I believe that the strongest proof is found in the fruits of this gift to the church, not in physical and outward demonstrations. For instance, I have heard some ministers preach, and have seen it in writing, that Sister White once carried a heavy Bible - I believe they said it weighed 40 pounds - on her out-stretched hand, and looking up toward the heavens quoted texts and turned the leaves over and pointed to the texts, with her eyes toward the heavens. I do not know whether that was ever done or not. I am not sure. I did not see it, and I do not know that I ever talked with anybody that did see it. But, brethren, I do not count that sort of thing as a very great proof. I do not think that is the best kind of evidence. If I were a stranger in an audience, and heard a preacher enlarging on that, I would have my doubts. That is, I would want to know if he saw it. He would have to say, No, he never did. Then I would ask, 'Did you ever see the man that did see it?' And he would have to answer, 'No, I never did.'
None of us were present at the visions, so we do not know for sure what did happen and what did not happen. However, that is not relevant. With so many magicians and trick artists in the world it would not make any sense to have a "test" based upon a display of "supernatural" powers. Biblical prophets were not judged upon whether they exhibited supernatural feats, but upon their prophetic word and their character.
Questionable test #5: Was years ahead of science
Another claim put forward is that Mrs. White's understanding on health was years ahead of science. Contrary to popular myth, Mrs. White brought few, if any, new health reforms to the world. Other popular health reformers were promoting most, if not all of her teachings on health, before she began teaching them. (To review that evidence, CLICK HERE)
Mary Eddy Baker, Joseph Smith, and the prophet Muhammad all proposed health reforms to their followers, and today their followers all claim that these health reforms are only now being validated by science and that this is evidence of divine guidance. The truth is that initiating a health reform is no proof of prophethood. Thousands of health reforms have been instigated by various people over the centuries of human history. Are these health reformers thus prophets because they started a successful health reform? Of course not!
Questionable test #6: Maintains Unity in the Church
One claim put forward by some Adventists is that the writings of Mrs. White help to keep the church unified by resolving theological differences over Bible passages, helping to maintain the "unity of the brethren". Those making this claim must acknowledge that this unity means that one's individual view of a particular Biblical topic must be brought into harmony with Ellen White's view. If one fails to bring their view into subjection to Ellen White, then that individual is ostracized by the church at large. This seems a heavy price to pay for unity, and elevates the role of Ellen White to chief interpreter of the Bible, a role not too far different from that of the Pope.
In reality, the writings of Ellen White stifle investigation into the true meaning of Scriptures because a "good Adventist" cannot study a Scripture and come to a conclusion that is different from the accepted "Ellen White" position.
While some measure of unity on Biblical interpretation is attained by strictly adhering to the dictates of Ellen White, this does not necessarily translate into unity within the church. In fact, over the years, many people have testified about the lack of unity within the SDA Church. It is very likely that a large part of the disunity seething under the covers in today's SDA Church is directly related to Ellen White.
Some members question Ellen White's role and authority in the church. These members may not follow all of Sister White's dictates or agree with all her interpretations, and thus they find themselves locked in mortal combat with devotees to Ellen White who believe she was God's mouthpiece for the church.
Another source of disunity is the writings of Ellen White herself. The Bible, although written by dozens of authors over a period more than 1,000 years, displays a surprising continuity throughout. In contrast, the writings of Ellen White, written by one person over 75 years, display a surprising number of contradictory and confusing statements.
The young Ellen White forbids seeing doctors. The older Ellen White visited doctors herself. The young Ellen White wrote long and prolifically against solitary vice. The older Ellen White wrote not a single word about it the last 40 years of her life. The young Ellen White stressed the law. The older Ellen White stressed grace. Again and again, throughout her career, Ellen White contradicts her own writings. Add to that the fact she wrote over 100,000 pages--about 100 times more writings than is found in the Bible--and there are plenty of contradictions to be found on almost any subject by anyone who takes the time to look.
These contradictory and confusing statements are a continual source of irritation between various factions within the church. There are controversies raging over the nature of Christ, last day events, dress and entertainment, sports, diet, the Investigative Judgment, jewelry, marital excess, education, and countless other issues. If anything, the disunity in the SDA Church is magnified by the presence of such a large body of "authoritative writings" that contain so many seemingly irreconcilable contradictions.
Sooner or later, every child grows up and realizes that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy are myths. It is not our fault we believed those silly stories. We were told by the ones we trusted to believe in them. As a child, whenever I lost a tooth, I put the tooth under my pillow and went to sleep believing the Tooth Fairy would take my tooth away and deposit a coin in its place. And sure enough, every time I woke up in the morning I would find a bright shiny quarter.
One day, however, the tooth fairy stopped coming. Why? I had grown up. My knowledge increased. I was no longer so gullible to believe in such silly stories.
When you started reading this page, you may have been a believer in Ellen White. You believed what you were told by those whom you trusted. You believed something because you had only been told half the story--the half that made it appear she was a prophet. Now you know the full story. You have grown up. The time has come to walk away from the fairy tales of childhood. They served you well, for a time, but when the truth comes, the fairy tales lose their luster. You are no longer satisfied with fairy tales. You want the truth.
You may be upset. You may be disappointed. You may be asking yourself, "How could I be so gullible to believe such stories?" Remember, it is not your fault. You were doing the best you could do based upon the incomplete information you were given. You cannot change the past. But you can change the future. You can share with others the truth you have learned on this page. You can continue studying to find out how many more of your beliefs are based upon myths. Jesus promised,
"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32)
1. Walter T. Rea, Ph.D., "How the Seventh-day Adventist 'Spirit of Prophecy' was Born", p. 1.
3. H.E. Carver, D.M. Canright, and J.H. Kellogg all testified that they supplied information about people to Ellen White which she later used in writing out "testimonies" to these same people. See Mrs. E.G. White's Claims to Divine Inspiration Examined, 2nd edition, 1877, Merritt G. Kellogg's Statement, 1908, Interview between Elder G. W. Amadon, Elder A. C. Bourdeau, and Dr. John Harvey Kellogg at Dr. J. H. Kellogg's House in Battle Creek, Michigan, October 7th, 1907, as printed in Spectrum, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 61-62, and the March 20, 1889, edition of the Healdsburg Enterprise newspaper.
4. Benjamin B. Warfield, "Paul on Women Speaking in Church", The Presbyterian, October 30, 1919.
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