A Question of Integrity
Complied by Brother Anderson
A number of Ellen White's close associates and friends have provided testimony and eyewitness accounts that differ from Mrs. White's accounts. These differences call into question her divine inspiration. Over the years, these differences have proved to be a problem for advocates of Ellen White's prophetic role in the Seventh-day Adventist sect. Realizing they cannot deny the first-hand accounts of eyewitnesses they seek to counteract it using the following tactics:
- Questioning the motives of the eyewitnesses; or, deriding the eyewitnesses as "unreliable," "prejudiced," and "someone with an axe to grind"
- Publishing testimonies from Ellen White denying the eyewitness statements and smearing the character of these eyewitnesses
- Providing other "eyewitness" accounts and "signatures" from loyal SDAs who contradict the testimony of the other eyewitnesses
The Lucinda Burdick Case
Lucinda Burdick was the wife of a pastor. She was a close friend of Ellen Harmon during the mid-1840s, and was an eyewitness to some of Ellen's failed predictions. The two parted company when Mrs. Burdick concluded Ellen's visions were not inspired by God. When Mrs. Burdick provided her notarized testimony of her experiences with Ellen Harmon, Mrs. White, of course, denied everything, and denounced Mrs. Burdick as a liar:
"Mrs. Burdick has made statements which are glaring falsehoods. There is not a shade of truth in her statements. Can it be that she has repeated these false statements till she sincerely believes them to be truth?
"I have never seen any persons crowned in the kingdom of God, only on conditions that if they were faithful they would receive the crown of immortal life in the kingdom of glory. I have never stated that this one or that one was doomed or damned. I never had a testimony of this kind for anyone. I have ever been shown that God's people should shun these strong expressions which are peculiar to the first-day Adventists. These very expressions have been used unsparingly by John Howell, the first husband of Mrs. Burdick. But I never uttered them myself to any living mortal."1
A closer examination will reveal who really has a problem with honesty. First, Sister White said she "never" saw any persons crowned in the kingdom of God except on conditions they were faithful. We do not have every word that Mrs. White spoke, so we cannot evaluate whether or not this is true. There are certainly witnesses who claim she made such statements. However, we do have a couple statements where she saw various people in heaven:
Claim made by Ellen White
Was she honest? You decide.
"I have never seen any persons crowned in the kingdom of God, only on
conditions that if they were faithful they would receive the crown of
immortal life in the kingdom of glory."
"We all went under the tree [of life], and sat down to look at the glory of the place, when brothers Fitch and Stockman, who had preached the gospel of the kingdom, and whom God had laid in the grave to save them, came up to us and asked us what we had passed through while they were sleeping."
"I saw that she [Mrs. Hastings] 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."3
Secondly, Mrs. White claimed she never said anyone was "doomed" or "damned." The following written evidence contradicts that:
|Claim made by Ellen White
||Was she honest? You decide.
"I have never stated that this one or that one was doomed or damned. I never had a testimony of this kind for anyone. I have ever been shown that God's people should shun these strong expressions...I never uttered them myself to any living mortal."
"Then I saw the Laodiceans [first-day Adventists].... Dare they admit that the door is shut? The sin against the Holy Ghost was to ascribe to Satan what belongs to God or what the Holy Ghost has done. They said the shut door was of the devil and now admit it is against their own lives. They shall die the death."4
"Thomas Paine, whose body has now moldered to dust and who is to be called forth at the end of the one thousand years, at the second resurrection, to receive his reward and suffer the second death, is represented by Satan as being in heaven, and highly exalted there."5
"[At the resurrection of the wicked] there was the proud, ambitious Napoleon, whose approach had caused kingdoms to tremble."6
"I saw that the slave master will have to answer for the soul of his slave whom he has kept in ignorance; and the sins of the slave will be visited upon the master. ...the master must endure the seven last plagues and then come up in the second resurrection and suffer the second, most awful death."7
After reviewing this evidence, one must ask themselves: Who lied? Lucinda Burdick? Or, Ellen White?
Throughout her career Mrs. White was plagued with questions about her integrity. Most of the questions involved her habit of taking the writings of other authors and publishing them under her name. In recent years, abundant evidence has surfaced showing Mrs. White plagiarized extensively. However, she claimed the words she wrote were her own:
“The words I employ in describing what I have seen are my own unless they be those spoken to me by an angel, which I always enclose in marks of quotation.”8
Seventh-day Adventist theologian Dr. Fred Veltman spent eight years, at the expense of the SDA sect, examining the charges of plagiarism in Ellen White's book Desire of Ages. At the conclusion of his study, he wrote this about her habit of copying the writings of others:
"It strikes at the heart of her honesty, her integrity, and therefore her trustworthiness."
Mrs. White's credibility is further shaken by what she wrote of the story of the arrest and trial of Israel Dammon. Mrs. White's story of the event differs sharply from the sworn testimony given under oath by multiple eyewitnesses, both friend and foe, in a court of law. The difference between her story and the eyewitness testimonies is so profound that one is left wondering whether Mrs. White was even at the same event!
Even in her personal life, her private life denied the mystique she portrayed in her public life. For example,
- She wore jewelry in private, while publicly telling others it was wrong.
- She ate meat in private, while publicly telling others it was wrong.
- She used vinegar in private, while publicly telling others it was wrong.
- She spent money on photography in private, while publicly telling others to devote that money to God's service.
- She publicly told others that phrenology was satanic but privately took her children for readings.
- She publicly warned others against reading fiction, while privately she read fictional books.
- She publicly told others it was wrong for them to be depressed, while privately she was frequently depressed.
Ellen White on Lying10
Falsehood virtually consists in an intention to deceive; and this may be shown by a look or a word. Even facts may be so arranged and stated as to constitute falsehoods. Some are adepts at this business, and they will seek to justify themselves for departing from strict veracity. There are some who, in order to tear down or injure the reputation of another, will, from sheer malice, fabricate falsehoods concerning them. Lies of vanity are uttered by men who love to appear what they are not.
A story cannot pass through their hands without embellishment. Oh, how much is done in the world which the doers will one day wish to undo! But the record of words and deeds in the books of heaven will tell the sad story of falsehoods spoken and acted. Ye shall not "deal falsely, neither lie one to another." "All liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." God is a God of sincerity and truth.
Can you trust Sister White?
When the same measure of judgment is applied to Mrs. White as she used upon others, it can be seen that Mrs. White is the one who suffered problems with honesty, integrity, and credibility. Given her propensity to deceive others, are her writings really trustworthy?
1. Ellen White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 8, p. 239.
2. Ellen White, Word to the Little Flock, p. 16.
3. Ellen White, Selected Messages, Vol. 2, p. 263.
4. Ellen White, Manuscript Releases Vol. 5, p. 204; Ms 11, 1850, pp. 3, 4.
5. Ellen White, Supplement to the Christian Experience and Views of Ellen G. White, p. 8.
6. Ellen White, Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 1, p. 215.
7. Ellen White, Early Writings, p. 276.
8. Ellen White, Review and Herald, Oct. 8, 1867.
9. See the Veltman Report.
10 Ellen White, Testimonies, vol. 4, 335.