Ellen G. White -- the Myth and the Truth

by Å. Kaspersen


17 -Undermining

On several occasions Ellen White states that in the future, persons would arise, making efforts to tear down the foundations of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, and who would try to create doubts regarding the Testimonies. Here comes a selection of the most well-known statements to that effect.

"Many of our people do not realize how firmly the foundation of our faith has been laid. . . .What influence is it that would lead men at this stage of our history to work in an underhand, powerful way to tear down the foundation of our faith - the foundation that was laid at the beginning of our work by prayerful study of the Word and by revelation?" (Selected Messages, vol. 1, pp. 206-207. Emphasis supplied.)

"Now at the present time God designs a new and fresh impetus shall be given to His work. Satan sees this, and he is determined it shall be hindered. He knows that if he can deceive the peoplewho claim to believe present truth, [and make them believe that] the work the Lord designs to do for His people is a removing of the old landmarks, something which they should, with most determined zeal, resist, then he exults over the deception he has led them to believe." (Counsels to Writers and Editors, p. 31. Emphasis supplied.)

"When the power of God testifies as to what is truth, that truth is to stand forever as the truth. No aftersuppositions, contrary to the light God has given are to be entertained. Men will arise with interpretations of Scripture which are to them truth, but which are not truth. The truth for this time, God has given us as a foundation for our faith. He Himself has taught us what is truth. One will arise, and still another, with new light which contradicts the light that God has given under the demonstration of His Holy Spirit." (Ibid, pp. 31-32. Emphasis supplied.)

"We are not to receive the words of those who come with a message that contradicts the special points of our faith. They gather together a mass of Scripture, and pile it as proof around their asserted theories. This has been done over and over again during the past fifty years. And while the Scriptures are God's word, and are to be respected, the application of them, if such application moves one pillar from the foundation that God has sustained these fifty years, is a great mistake." (Ibid, p. 32. Emphasis supplied.)

"No line of truth that has made the Seventh-day Adventist people what they are, is to be weakened. We have the old landmarks of truth, experience, and duty, and we are to stand firmly in defense of our principles, in full view of the world." (Ibid, pp. 52-53. Emphasis supplied.)

"In the future, deception of every kind is to arise, and we want solid ground for our feet. We want solid pillars for the building. Not one pin is to be removed from that which the Lord has established. The enemy will bring in false theories, such as the doctrine that there is no sanctuary. This is one of the points on which there will be a departing from the faith." (Ibid, p. 53. Emphasis supplied.)

"Satan is . . . constantly pressing in the spurious - to lead away from the truth. The very last deception of Satan will be to make of none effect the testimony of the Spirit of God. 'Where there is no vision, the people perish' (Prov. 29:18). Satan will work ingeniously, in different ways and through different agencies, to unsettle the confidence of God's remnant people in the true testimony. . . . There will be a hatred kindled against the testimonies which is satanic. The workings of Satan will be to unsettle the faith of the churches in them, for this reason: Satan cannot have so clear a track to bring in his deceptions and bind up souls in his delusions if the warnings and reproofs and counsels of the Spirit of God are heeded." (Selected Messages, vol. 1, p. 48. Emphasis supplied.)

These were selected statements by Ellen White on the Adventist doctrines and the Testimonies. There are numerous other similar statements.

What are we to say about this? In one of the above statements Ellen White says it is wrong to use the Bible to test the pillars of adventism,

"We are not to receive the words of those who come with a message that contradicts the special points of our faith. They gather together a mass of Scripture, and pile it as proof around their asserted theories. This has been done over and over again during the past fifty years. And while the Scriptures are God's word, and are to be respected, the application of them, if such application moves one pillar from the foundation that God has sustained these fifty years, is a great mistake." (Quoted above. Emphasis supplied.)

In other words, it boils down to a confrontation between the Bible and Seventh-Day Adventism, and Seventh-Day Adventism and Ellen G. White are closely linked toghether. A confrontation between Ellen G. White and the Bible - that is the real matter. Which one are we to believe? What Ellen White in reality is saying in the above statement, is that we should stay by the Advent message if we, after a close investigation, discover that the Bible and the Advent Message does not square. She takes of course for granted that the Advent Message harmonizes with Scripture, but if they do not, the Advent message (and her writings) will have first priority above the Bible. That's what she in effect is saying. The A.F. Ballenger case proved this claim to be true. Even a "pile of Scriptures" against the Seventh-Day Adventist doctrines have no weight if they contradict these doctrines! We are to respect the Word of God, says Ellen White, "but if we make use of this Word to move a single block or pin in this message", it is "a big mistake" - even if the Word of God plainly contradicts the Advent message. The reader should review the chapter on A.F. Ballenger to see the truth of this statement.

This is pure cultism! It is a matter of fact that certain fundamental doctrines of the SDA Church does not harmonize with the Word of God. Every objective truth-seeker will soon discover this by personal study. The prejudiced adventist does not see it that way, of course. He has to "interpret" otherwise plain Scripture, twist them, read them out of context and perform other strange things to make them fit into a preconceived, doctrinal frame. This is not unique to SDA's, however. All cults have to do the same to fit the Bible into their particular theories.

For this reason there is no cause to worry about the above statements by Ellen White. If the pillars don't square with Scripture, let the "pillars" go! The Bible is the one and only rule of faith. The Advent message is to be judged by the Bible, not vice versa. According to Ellen White, God will have a people on earth who have the Bible only as their sole rule of faith and their sole basis for all doctrines. Not just some doctrines - all! In other words, There is no place for the writings of Ellen White here! It is not "the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy", which is a saying or stereotyped phrase among certain SDA's. It is the Bible alone!

"When you find men questioning the testimonies, finding fault with them, and seeking to draw away the people from their influence, be assured that God is not at work through them. It is another spirit." (Selected Messages, vol 1, p. 45. Emphasis supplied.)

When we are finding certain statements in the Testimonies - the "Spirit of Prophecy" - which do not harmonize with the Bible and plain facts, and there are a lot of such, then the Bible, and the Bible only shall be the standard - not the words of Ellen White. By the way,

"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 same test applies of course to Ellen White and her writings.

"It is Satan's plan to weaken the faith of God's people in the Testimonies. Satan knows how to make his attacks. He works upon minds to excite jealousy and dissatisfaction toward those at the head of the work. The gifts are next questioned; then, of course, they have but little weight, and instruction given through vision is disregarded. Next follows skepticism in regard to the vital points of our faith, the pillars of our position, then doubt as to the Holy Scriptures, and then the downward march to perdition. When the Testimonies, which were once believed, are doubted and given up, Satan knows the deceived ones will not stop at this; and he redoubles his efforts till he launches them into open rebellion, which becomes incurable and ends in destruction." (Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 672. Emphasis supplied.)

How would you harmonize this statement with the following quote from the same author,

"But God will have a people upon the earth to maintain the Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines and the basis of all reforms." (Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, p. 413. Emphasis supplied.)

This we believe fully, of course. But even if Ellen White points to the Bible as the only standard, and encourages personal Bible study, we can read between the lines in her many statements that the results of our personal Bible study must be brought into harmony with the "established faith" and the doctrines and interpretations supported by her writings - even if they cannot be supported by the Bible. From this standpoint a personal Bible study has little or no value because the results are determined in advance. They must be interpreted by Ellen White. "Study your Bible, but bring the conclusions into harmony with my writings".This is in effect what she is saying.

Ellen White claims (5T 672),

1. First of all you begin to cherish doubts about her writings.2. Then you begin to cherish doubts about the fundamental doctrines in "our faith". 3. Then you begin to cherish doubts about the Bible, and you have opened the way down to perdition.

Well - there you have it! This is in effect saying that the fundamental doctrines of "our faith" are based on her writings and not the Bible, and that her writings are elevated above God's Word. If you lose faith in her writings, you lose faith in SDAism. What then are SDAism based on, other than her writings?

My friend, this is not the Bible only. It is "the Spirit of Prophecy" and the Bible. The two above statements from 5T 672 and 4SP 413 are mutually exclusive and contradictory by nature, but 4SP 413 is absolutely true.

Ceertain adventists believe that by pointing your finger against Ellen White's writings, you are automatically accusing the Bible. This of course is the consequence of claiming that her writings are on the same level as the Bible, which Ellen White actually has done between the lines. Then the Bible and her writings stand and fall together. This extreme viewpoint has, thank God, no support in Scripture, but will drive adventists away from the Bible if they begin doubting her writings. They will then automatically doubt the Bible. From such a standpoint there is a kernel of truth in her statement, but it would be qualified by the person's standpoint, namely that the Bible and the Testimonies stand and fall together.

This is extreme, cultic fanaticism without support in the Word of God. Unfortunately, certain adventists in the ultra-zealous, ultra-conservative, fringe, the "Ellen White"-fringe practice this view.

Let's look at some facts,

It is crystal clear that Ellen White produced several false visions. It is also crystal clear that we encounter a number of absurdities and contradictions in her writings - things which cannot be sustantiated from the Bible. It is a matter of fact that she was sending out false testimonies from time to time, in which she accused named persons for having done things they definitely were not guilty of - and thereby placing these individuals in embarassing positions. By doing so, the false testimony or vision backfired on Ellen White herself, by placing her in embarassing positions she was having trouble getting out of. This is in open violation of the ninth commandment in the Law of God.

According to Ellen White, when a person begins to doubt her writings, the next step will be to doubt the fundamental doctrines of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. This of course is a logical conclusion of the above, because Ellen White's visions and writings very strongly support these teachings. However it is a undisputable fact that several of these teachings are not in harmony with Scripture, for example 1844 and the Investigative judgment. The adventist sanctuary teaching too will be surrounded by a big question mark when we read the Bible the plain way, without being led by preconceived interpretations. The sanctuary teaching is of course closely connected to the year 1844 and the Investigative judgment - or is it vice versa?

The next step will be to doubt the Bible, she says. This is a strong statement which undoubtedly applies to certain extremists as mentioned above, not normal, unbiased truth-seekers. A number of adventist pioneers, after having studied the Bible for themselves, asked pertinent questions about Ellen White's inspiration and certain adventist doctrines. They left adventism, but kept their faith in the Bible, which became dearer to them than ever. Ellen White's statement is to be taken with a big pinch of salt. Of course, a few may have taken extreme steps and ended out in the world as atheists, but we are not to generalize from such examples. They had built their house on sand, not Jesus and his Word. One will find examples like this in all christian surroundings - with or without Ellen White. If a person renounces the Bible as a result of questioning Ellen White's visions, this must of course be taken as a clear token that this person has not built his house on the right foundation, but on sand. Such course indicates that this individual has built his christian experience, his faith and ultimately his salvation on the visions and writings of Ellen G. White. This is 150% secterism and fanaticism, not Bible and a healthy relationship with the Saviour.

On what are we to build our faith? According to Ellen White (reading between the lines) her writings should be the norm, because these writings on account of her own words, stand as a shield against doubting the Bible. If you begin to doubt her writings, the next step will be to doubt the Bible. But does the credibility of God's Word depend on Ellen White? This unbiblical claim must be strongly rejected.

We believe fully that the Bible, and the Bible only, is the only unfallible standard for all doctrines and all reforms. By keeping to the Word of God only, we are building our house on a firm foundation which can stand against storm and torrents.

It is significant that Ellen White regards herself and her writings as "all or nothing",

"This work is of God, or it is not. God does nothing in partnership with Satan. My work . . . bears the stamp of God or the stamp of the enemy. There is no halfway work in the matter. The Testimonies are of the Spirit of God, or of the devil." (Testimonies, vol 5, p. 671. Emphasis supplied.)

Regarding her Testimonies, she says,

"If the Testimonies speak not according to the word of God, reject them. Christ and Belial cannot be united." (Ibid, p. 691. Emphasis supplied.)

These are strong statements indeed. What are we then to say about the false visions, false dreams, false testimonies, contradictions etc. which carry the name of Ellen G. White on them? What about the extensive plagiarism? According to herself, she will not have a balanced view, but demands that we either accept her totally or reject her totally. She is either from God or the devil, she says.

As we have seen, great portions of her literary production from the earliest years of Adventism through her death in 1915, has been borrowed from other authors. Of course there is much good material here, and the authors of books like Night Scenes in the Bible, The Great Teacher etc., from whom Ellen White borrowed extensively, may have been inspired. But they got their inspiration from the Bible, illuminated by the Spirit of God.

In Ellen White's writings we do not find any soul-destroying teachings whih lead to perdition. It would then be more correct to say that Ellen White's writings neither were from God, in the sense of being based on "visions" and "revelations", nor from the devil. They were simply of human source, based on men's study of the Word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit.. We do find many wrong conclusions and erroneous interpretations - errors - in her writings. These were all interpretations and conclusions she borrowed from other adventist pioneers, who also misinterpreted God's Word. This shows clearly that her writings were not based on "visions", as she claims. The false visions fall under the same category. This is at least my personal opinion. They were not visions, neither from God or the devil, but probably had their source in nervous diseases. The problem however, is that Ellen White constantly denied and explained away all the cases - based on "visions" - where she undoubtedly was wrong.

"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." (1 Thess. 5:21.)

These are of course inspired words which also apply to the Writings of Ellen White. We are to keep what is in harmony with Scripture, and reject all things which are not in harmony with the Bible, plain facts and general good sense. Ellen White has written edifying things, the same applies to other christian writers. But we are not to make exaggerated claims about her writings.

When we test her writings with the Bible, and discover that certain things do not harmonize with Bible, certain people become frightened by Ellen White's warnings, quoted earlier in this article. But we are not to be frightened by this. The Bible says,

"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.)

This applies to non-conditional prophecies, and not prophecies connected to certain conditions on repentance etc., like Jonah's prophecy about Ninive. Jonah's prophecy did not meet its fulfillment in forty days as he proclaimed, but he certainly was a true prophet of God. If the Ninivites had not repented, the prophecy would have been fulfilled in forty days.

Several of Ellen White's non-conditional prophecies did not fulfill, and there were many false visions, false testimonies and false messages. Certain of her statements are not in harmony with the Bible. Consequently, according to the Bible, we are not to be afraid of her. She has not passed the biblical test of a true prophet.

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