The Plan of Redemption Confusion
By Dirk Anderson
"Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD."
Mrs. White's vision of the formulation of the plan of redemption provides unequivocal evidence that she failed the tests of a prophet. Mrs. White relates her vision in 1854:
"Sorrow filled heaven, as it was realized that man was lost, and the world that God created was to be filled with mortals doomed to misery, sickness and death, and there was no way of escape for the offender. The whole family of Adam must die. I saw the lovely Jesus, and beheld an expression of sympathy and sorrow upon his countenance. Soon I saw him approach the exceeding bright light which enshrouded the Father. Said my accompanying angel, "He is in close converse with his Father." The anxiety of the angels seemed to be intense while Jesus was communing with his Father. Three times he was shut in by the glorious light about the Father, and the third time he came from the Father we could see his person; and his countenance was calm, free from all perplexity and trouble, and shone with loveliness, such as words cannot express. He then made known to the angelic choir that a way of escape had been made for lost man; that he had been pleading with his Father, and had obtained his consent to give his life a ransom, to bear their sins, and take the sentence of death upon himself to open a way that man might find pardon for transgressing God's command..."1
What an amazing vision! After Adam's sin, Jesus approaches the Father with an idea. Three times he "pleads" with the Father to be allowed to become the Redeemer of mankind. Finally the Father gives in and goes along with Jesus' plan. Is this how the plan of redemption was formulated? Was the plan made after the fall of man? Did Jesus have to plead with the Father to get Him to accept the plan?
Mrs. White's vision seems to call into doubt the planning ability and foreknowledge of God. It paints a picture of a god who is caught by surprise by man's sin, and then must suddenly come up with a plan in order to restore the happiness of Heaven. This is in direct opposition to the Word of God. The Bible says the plan of redemption was devised before the world was created:
"He [Christ] was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake." (1 Peter 1:20)
In a sermon given by Mrs. White in Grimsby, England, September 19, 1886, she said:
"After the fall of Adam and Eve, the race was plunged into hopeless misery, and it was then that this great plan of redemption was advanced. It was then [that] the Son of God consented to leave His Father's throne, lay aside His royal crown, clothe Himself with humanity, take upon Himself the nature of man, and become a man among men."2
Ellen White emphasizes that Jesus did not "consent" to the plan until after the fall. The verb "consented" means "acceptance or approval of what is planned or done by another."3 Mrs. White infers that Jesus did not consent (accept or approve) of the plan until after the fall of man. This contradicts the Bible teaching that Christ was "chosen before the creation of the world".4
Christ's sacrifice was not an afterthought. It was not a remedy devised after the fall. God knew all about it before the world was even created:
"Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge..." (Acts 2:22-23)
Instead of a god fumbling around for a solution after man fell, the Bible paints a very different picture. In the Biblical picture, God is solidly in control of the universe. He has thought of every contingency. Before any emergency happens, He already has plans in place to meet it.
"O Lord, Thou art my God, I will exalt Thee; I will praise Thy name; for Thou hast wrought marvels; plans determined long ago are steadfast and reliable." (Isaiah 25:1)
1890: The "vision" is revised
In 1882, Mrs. White's 1854 statement was reprinted in the book Early Writings. However, eight years later, in 1890, a much-revised version of her statement appears in the book Patriarchs and Prophets. In the revised account, there is no mention of a vision, and the account is reconstructed to make it appear there was already a plan in place:
"The fall of man filled all heaven with sorrow. The world that God had made was blighted with the curse of sin and inhabited by beings doomed to misery and death. There appeared no escape for those who had transgressed the law. Angels ceased their songs of praise. Throughout the heavenly courts there was mourning for the ruin that sin had wrought. The Son of God, heaven's glorious Commander, was touched with pity for the fallen race. His heart was moved with infinite compassion as the woes of the lost world rose up before Him. But divine love had conceived a plan whereby man might be redeemed. ... Before the Father He pleaded in the sinner's behalf, while the host of heaven awaited the result with an intensity of interest that words cannot express. Long continued was that mysterious communing--'the counsel of peace' (Zechariah 6:13) for the fallen sons of men. The plan of salvation had been laid before the creation of the earth; for Christ is 'the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world' (Revelation 13:8); yet it was a struggle, even with the King of the universe, to yield up His Son to die for the guilty race."5
Now, instead of God devising a plan after the fall, as Ellen White saw in her first vision, we find that God had already "conceived a plan". However, in writing this section, Mrs. White was faced with a dilemma. Her earlier "vision" had a meeting between God and Jesus where Jesus was pleading with God to accept His plan to save the race. How could that meeting be reconciled with her new understanding that the plan of redemption pre-existed the fall? What could be done about that meeting? It no longer made any sense to have a meeting, but she was stuck with it because many had read her earlier writings on this event. Now, she must come up with a way to reconcile the new version with the earlier vision. So she came up with an awkward explanation for the meeting. She wrote that the Father and Jesus were "struggling" over whether or not to go forward with the plan that they had already formulated and agreed upon. Think about that. Why would Jesus and the Father have to get together and "struggle" over something they had known for billions of years was going to happen and had already planned and agreed upon a solution to solve? Even Mrs. White, in a later article, admits that Jesus and the Father were in perfect unity on this subject for all eternity:
"The terms of this oneness between God and man in the great covenant of redemption were arranged with Christ from all eternity. ... The plan of redemption was not conceived after the fall of man to cure the dreadful evil"6
If the Father and Son were in "oneness" on this subject "from all eternity", then why did they need to meet and "struggle" with each other over it? Sound confusing? You are right! It is!
In 1898, 44 years after she wrote her vision of Jesus pleading with the Father after the fall of man, she wrote an account that aligned with the Bible. In Desire of Ages, with the assistance of book-maker Marian Davis, Mrs. White writes an account that is much more in accordance with Scripture:
"The plan for our redemption was not an afterthought, a plan formulated after the fall of Adam. It was a revelation of 'the mystery which hath been kept in silence through times eternal.' Rom. 16:25, R. V. It was an unfolding of the principles that from eternal ages have been the foundation of God's throne. From the beginning, God and Christ knew of the apostasy of Satan, and of the fall of man through the deceptive power of the apostate. God did not ordain that sin should exist, but He foresaw its existence, and made provision to meet the terrible emergency."7
In 1911, however, she writes in Great Controversy that the plan was devised after the fall:
"The kingdom of grace was instituted immediately after the fall of man, when a plan was devised for the redemption of the guilty race."8
This clearly states the plan was devised after the fall, which is consistent with her first vision, and yet diametrically opposed to her statements in Patriarchs and Prophets and Desire of Ages.
Notice this claim of inspiration made by Mrs. White for the three books just quoted from above:
"How many have read carefully Patriarchs and Prophets, The Great Controversy, and The Desire of Ages? I wish all to understand that my confidence in the light that God has given stands firm, because I know that the Holy Spirit's power magnified the truth, and made it honorable, saying: 'This is the way; walk ye in it.' In my books, the truth is stated, barricaded by a 'Thus saith the Lord.'"9
Are these books really the truth "barricaded by a thus saith the Lord"? Or are they confusing and contradictory? You decide.
For God is NOT the author of confusion.
1. Ellen G. White, Supplement to the Christian Experience and Views of Ellen G. White, p. 47, (1854). See also Early Writings, p. 126, (1882).
2. Ellen White, Sermons and Talks, Vol. 2, p. 31.
3. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
4. 1st Peter 1:20. See also Rev. 13:8: "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."
5. Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 64, (1890).
6. Ellen White, Signs of the Times, Aug. 24, 1891. See also, April 25, 1892: "The purpose and plan of grace existed from all eternity. Before the foundation of the world it was according to the determinate counsel of God that man should be created, endowed with power to do the divine will. But the defection of man, with all its consequences, was not hidden from the Omnipotent, and yet it did not deter him from carrying out his eternal purpose; for the Lord would establish his throne in righteousness. God knows the end from the beginning; 'known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.' Therefore redemption was not an afterthought--a plan formulated after the fall of Adam--but an eternal purpose to be wrought out for the blessing not only of this atom of a world but for the good of all the worlds which God has created."
7. Ellen G. White, Desire of Ages, p. 22, (1898).
8. Ellen G. White, Great Controversy, p. 347, (1911). Same quote is also found in the 1888 edition.
9. Ellen G. White, Selected Messages Book 3, page 122.