Ellen G. White -- the Myth and the Truth

by Å. Kaspersen


18 -Afterword

According to prominent SDA-leaders, Seventh-Day Adventism stands and falls with Ellen White,

"The influence of the spirit of prophecy is woven into the warp and woof of Adventist faith, life, and organization. . . . What we are as a church is a reflection of our faith in the divine authority evident in the writings of Ellen G. White." (John Robertson, The White Truth, p. 61. Emphasis supplied. Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1981.)

"Our position on the Testimonies is like the keystone to the arch. Take that out, and there is no logical stopping place till all the special truths of the message are gone.... Nothing is surer than this, that this message and the visions belong together and stand or fall together." (Review and Herald Supplement, Aug. 14, 1883. Emphasis supplied.)

Please note that the above statement is taken from the Review and Herald, which is the official organ of the Seventh-Day Adventist church, and that the word our is being used. Consequently this is an official statement from the Seventh-Day Adventist church. It cannot be stated more plainly that some peculiar doctrines of this church are not based on Scripture, but on Ellen White's "visions" and writings. In other words, no Ellen White, no Adventist doctrines. We are not touching on SDA doctrines which are based on the Word of God, but on some peculiar doctrines which has been forming SDAism - the Investigative Judgment, the adventist sanctuary teaching and 1844. These are the foundations of Adventism

We read in the above statement that the Advent message and Ellen White stands and falls together. That is, if Ellen White's visions fall, the advent message falls; if the advent message falls, Ellen White's visions fall. For years we have been teached that the "special truths" in "our message" was based on Bible. Now we know better, according to the official SDA organ. If we remove the testimonies, "all the special truths in the message" will vanish. Maybe this is the cause for the serious problems we are having when we try to defend our "special truths" - the Investigative Judgment, the sanctuary teaching and 1844 - from the Bible only, without resorting to Ellen White's visions.

This radical standpoint, as quoted above, has been watered down considerably through the years, but because the pillars of adventism are unprovable from Scripture alone, contrary to what most SDA's believe, the statement from 1883 is certainly more in harmony with facts than later statements.

This is the case with every cult: No Joseph Smith and his writings, no Mormons; no Mary Baker Eddy and her writings, no Christian Science; no Mohammed and the Koran, no Islam.

In his book "The Mark of the Beast", a former president of the General Conference, G.A. Irwin, states,

"It is from the standpoint of light that has come through the Spirit of Prophecy that the question will be considered, believing as we do that the Spirit of Prophecy is the only infallible interpreter of Bible principles." (G.A. Irwin, The Mark of the Beast, p. 1. Emphasis supplied.)

This statement by a former president of the General Conference reflects the same principles found in the Roman Catholic Church. Irwin claims indirectly that "we" have an infallible authority an par with the Roman Pontiff, eg. to be the only infallible interpreter of Scripture.

This extreme standpoint from a former GC-president has been toned down considerably since his time, but in practice a number of ultra-conservative adventists view Ellen G. White through Irwin's glasses. If she has something to say about biblical topics, the final word has been said. No more discussion, or you are being labeled a "disbeliever in Ellen White", and frowned upon.

It is an undisputable fact that the scribes within the Seventh-Day Adventist church fail to produce conclusive Scriptural evidence when it comes to the central pillars of SDAism - 1844, the sanctuary teaching and the Investigative judgment. The latter depends of course on 1844 and the sanctuary teaching. The same can be said of the other doctrines - they are all interconnected and depending on each other. Learned SDA theologians know that they are in serious trouble trying to defend these doctrines from Bible alone. A special committee, nominated by the General Conference in the 1960's, came together for five years studying these things, without reaching agreement. Finally, they had to confess that these doctrines were not on a solid, biblical ground. Other Bible students reached the same conclusions, among them Ballenger at the turn of the century, W.W. Fletcher, L.R. Conradi, D. Ford and others. Regarding Ballenger, even the learned preachers confessed that his conclusions were standing on a solid, biblical platform. But as one of them stated, "I have always been of the opinion that the Bible should be interpreted by the writings of Ellen White." Ellen White condemned Ballenger as a "satanic agent" and threw him out as unclean without a cent to support his family. Louis R. Conradi and William W. Fletcher were among other SDA Bible students who came to these obvious conclusions when they in their Bible studies dodged Ellen White's writings.

That Seventh-Day Adventism in its present form stands and falls with its prophetess, is a true statement. Her writings are being used as "proofs" for the central doctrines, all while the lay people in the church are being brainwashed to believe that these doctrines are in full harmony with the Bible. But how many have followed the example of the noble Bereans? Some did, and the prophetess labeled them as "agents of Satan".

For this reason the lay people are brainwashed to believe that they under no circumstances are to turn the spotlight on their prophetess and her writings. She is "sacrosanct". If you do that, you are venturing on forbidden ground. Maybe the reason for this is fear - fear that someone should begin to make personal investigation and discover that the map does not correspond with the terrain.

If Ellen White falls, Adventism falls, at least in its present form. This will not happen, because history and experience shows that sectarians are true to their guru until death. Several suicide cults can attest to that.

Ellen G. White have had an enormous influence within Adventism for 150 years, and for those adventists who are true to their prophet, undisputable evidences that she was not what she pretended to be, are not evidences at all. Paradoxically, to those adventists heaps of evidences against Ellen White will only serve as oil on fire and confirm them still more in their belief in Ellen White. Literature such as this article are for them a fulfillment of her predictions. They are slaves under the yoke of "ellenocraty".

The person Ellen G. White

In "Bibelstudier" (the norwegian Sabbath School quarterly), February 20, 1999, we found this statement by EGW,

"In these letters which I write, in the testimonies I bear, I am presenting to you that which the Lord has presented to me. I do not write one article in the paper, expressing merely my own ideas. They are what God has opened before me in vision - the precious rays of light shining from the throne." (Selected Messages, vol. 1, p. 27. Emphasis supplied.)

Dear reader, do you still believe this after reading the documentation in this article?

"In her writings there is to be found no teachings which are not in harmony with Scripture" (Bibelstudier, p. 64).

After reading this article, you may evaluate if this is a true statement.

"Many of her aquaintances could attest to her noble character" (ibid., p. 64).

I have no right to judge any person, but I will at least mention that she on occasions lied to others, lied about her visions, lied about her plagiarizing, and lied about herself. She seldom apologized for all her blunders by sending out false testimonies which hurt and damaged other persons. In this article, we have documented several examples of this.

During many years she pretended to be a rigid health reformer while she was not. She spiced up her testimonies with sharp reproofs and the wrath of God over people who digressed from health reform while she herself was guilty of doing the very same things - and maybe even to a greater extent than the accused!

She was of course nice and sociable towards persons who supported her and did not gainsay her - those who parrotted her, but she was often merciless against persons who did not support her or who pointed their finger at something she had been writing, or something in her personal life which did not correspond with her profession. She labeled them as satanic agencies and would have nothing more to do with them. She became angry at those who gainsayed her in her many blunders.

It is of course human to err and make blunders, but Ellen White claimed heavenly visions and instructions to what finally turned out to be blunders which put both herself and other persons in embarassing positions.

In other words, Ellen White was a human being with many defects of character, like all of us. She was definitely not the madonna-figure on her pidestal certain fanatical adventists make her to be. She was in the same position all of us are. However it is a grave thing to take God as witness for unjust treatment of other persons, or to lie - swear falsely - in the name of God, which she certainly did at occasions - probably in an effort to maintain her own status as true end time prophet in the SDA church.

"Seventh-Day Adventists believe they can decide the genuineness of a prophet by seing him or her in light of the criteria found in the Bible. When we test Ellen White according to these criteria, we find that she is a modern, inspired prophet" (Bibelstudier, p. 65).

The documentation in the present article should convince open-minded persons that the above statement is not quite true. How many adventists have given their prophet a thorough biblical test? When we are saying that she passes all biblical tests, and that all her writings are in harmony with Scripture, we are reading Bible through Ellen White and interpreting Scripture according to preconceived ideas. The same applies to other cults. They read verses of Scripture which are interpreted in advance, consequently everything they come out with is "in harmony with Scripture". This is not to test a prophet with Scripture; it is to test Scripture with the prophet. This is exactly the way Seventh-Day Adventists are using Ellen White. It is possible to use Scripture to "prove" almost everything. It depends on which glasses you are putting on when you read the Bible.

"It is regrettable that someone would spend their time undermining her work and deny her inspiration. To be armored against such attacks, we are to know what the Bible says about the marks of a true prophet" (ibid., p. 63).

The present article will of course be regarded as a grandiose attempt to "undermine her work" and "deny her inspiration". There is no reason to pay much attention to such statements. It is the Bible and undisputable, documented facts that will settle the matter. We have documented the circumstances about her visions, and we have documented how large parts of her writings came into shape. Many a myth has been consigned to the grave.

But some will say; "the documentation in this article is rather dubious. It most certainly derives from persons who had a grudge against her".

Such arguments are based on the following logic,

1. Ellen White always told the truth.2. Adventist pioneers always told the truth about her when they were supportive of her.3. Adventist pioneers never told the truth about her when they were not supportive of her, or remained neutral.4. Adventist pioneers who always told the truth about her when they were supportive of her,always became untruthful about her when they changed their mind after having discovered a number of things.

Strange logic indeed.

Curiously enough, adventists who follow this kind of logic when it comes to Ellen White, do not follow the same logic when it comes to "outcasts" from other cults, such as mormonism and Jehovas Witnesses. When people from these cults get their eyes opened and leave - and eventually write books, uncovering their former church, such persons will of course be branded by their former church as liars with dubious documentation. "He is not to be trusted. He is an outcast. He does not tell the truth. He is trying to defame us".

But in such cases, many SDA's will say, "See? What did we say about them? This person knows pretty well what he is talking about. After all he had been connected with them for several years. We recommend this book to all Seventh-Day Adventists". No SDA will question their documentation.

But when a SDA get his eyes opened, and eventually leave - and writes books uncovering his former church, the SDA's will rant, "His documentation is not sound. He is not to be trusted. He is an outcast. He does not tell the truth. He is trying to defame us, and he gives a completely distorted picture of what we are standing for".

When a Mormon or a Jehovas Witness read his book, they say, "See? What did we say about them? This person knows pretty well what he is talking about. After all he had been connected with them for several years. We recommend this book to all Jehovas Witnesses". No JW will question their documentation.

It's a strange world we are living in, and people sometimes manifest odd behaviour. But all will of course try to defend their own.

Some will say, "the author of this article defends Ballenger, Kellogg and Canright, and we know these persons were under Ellen White's condemnation".

Yes. There is much evidence to their having been unjustly condemned by the adventist prophet. How many have investigated their case from their own testimonials? The opportunity has been given in this article. I am a defender of truth and justice. However, for the guardians of myths the end justifies the means, and the means have at times been merciless in its character. Even today there are SDA ministers standing on the pulpit condemning the above mentioned persons. One should be extremely careful to travel around condemning persons without knowing their case. Most adventists know these men from Ellen White's writings and what the denomination has to say about them. Is this how it works in a court of law? I am sorry to say that some have made a life-style out of acting as an accuser of the brethren. But God's law plainly says, "Thou shalt not lie".

The authors of the above quoted Bible lessons and other official SDA-literature are supported by a strong denomination, and they are intent on preserving the myth by presenting the fictive Ellen White, not the real one. This of course has to do with authority and money. Ellen White is a convenient tool to maintain authority over church members, quoting selected "Spirit of Prophecy" statements when there is a need - either to collect money or to bring people into line. "Ellen White says" - and church members who are brainwashed to accept their prophet as God's infallible mouthpiece are brought into submission. This is the case with every authoritative cult which claims extra-biblical writings as their authority. The Adventist denomination is no exception. Such propaganda is common among cults which try to maintain the image of their guru in order to keep church members into submission.

In their General Conference sessions the Adventist church has voted that Ellen G. White is an inspired prophet. The same applies to the Mormons/Joseph Smith and Christian Science/Mary Baker Eddy. But a vote with two thirds majority does not make Joseph Smith and Mary Baker Eddy true prophets, nor Ellen White. This is not the criterion. A majority vote does not make these writings into harmony with God's Word. I do not say that everything in their writings are unbiblical. It is more correct to say that not all are in harmony with the Bible. Such is also the case with the writings, visions and revelations of Ellen White. It is an undisputable fact that not everything are in harmony with God's Word. I think we have produced sufficient documentation to that effect.

Votes and decisions in human councils do not make darkness to ligh nor error to truth or vice versa. Light and darkness, truth and error are quite able to stand on their own feet and maintain their status regardless of human votes by raising of hands. It is the Bible and the Bible onlywhich settles the matter and discriminates between light and darkness, sweet and bitter, and truth and error.

In fact, Ellen White gives this good counsel, which is in perfect harmony with Bible,

"Suppose a brother held a view that differed from yours, and he should come to you, proposing that you sit down with him and make an investigation of that point in the Scriptures; should you rise up , filled with prejudice, and condemn his ideas, while refusing to give him a candid hearing? The only right way would be to sit down as Christians and investigate the position presented, in the light of God's word, which will reveal truth and unmask error. To ridicule his ideas would not weaken his position in the least if it were false, or strengthen your position if it were true. If the pillars of our faith will not stand the test of investigation, it is time that we knew it. There must be no spirit of pharisaism cherished among us." (Counsels to Writers and Editors, p. 44.)

This was a good admonition, which sadly enough Ellen White did not follow herself. The Ballenger case should prove this. What did Ellen White do with the kind, pleading letter he wrote to her, asking for help? He just found out that central points in the SDA sanctuary teaching were not in harmony with Scripture. When he pointed out this fact to her, what did she do? Did she sit down with him in a christian spirit, trying to figure out the problems from the Bible?

No. After having received his letter, she condemned the man, in the name of heaven, as an agent of the devil, being led by spiritistic powers. She was not willing to follow her own counsel and yield to the Word of God. It was obvious that her own honor and her own writings took priority before the Bible and truth and justice. All this she did in the name of heaven, testifying this in the Lord's name.

This is one of the things about Ellen White that have made the author of this article particularly hesitant.

This article is not intended as a personal, malicious attack on Ellen White as a human being. God shall judge her, not we. But we must admit that much is required from those who claim advanced light and constant communion with heaven, God and angels.

It is a fact that there exists two versions of the human being Ellen G. White. One is the fictiveEllen White, the other is the real Ellen White. We are asking for the real Ellen G. White to stand up. The fictive Ellen White has never existed. She is an imaginary product created by myths and superstitions. She then became the imaginary Ellen White, the adventist madonna entrusted with heavenly authority. The purpose of this article is to kill the fictive Ellen White and let the real Ellen White stand up. It will then be manifest that she was not a madonna, but a human being like ourselves, full of errors and shortcomings. This, however does not excuse her numerous, and grave offences against people who were innocent in what they had been accused of. Neither does it excuse her rather easy-going relation with truth.

To many adventists, Ellen White stands as an effective block to further Bible study. Because her writings are being considered the final word, the Ellen White reader does not progress further in his/her Bible understanding than Ellen White's own understanding. And her understanding was faulty in many areas, because she depended on the interpretations arrived to by the pioneers.

Some ultra-conservative adventists deny vehemently that Ellen White did plagiarize from other authors. They claim that everything in her writings are original, derived directly from heaven. Some of these people even publish magazines, in which every EGW-quote bear a stamp with the text: "Inspired". They claim that the allegations of plagiarism are from the devil, and undisputable evidences to the contrary, even direct comparisons, glance off as water on the goose. For such people fact are not facts, and evidences are not evidences. Sadly to say, they are completely brainwashed by "ellenism". They must defend her at any cost, and to them the end justifies the means. Some are even extreme to the degree that they label all who come up with information which they perceive as "attacks on Ellen White", as Jesuits and catholic infiltrators.

Robert J. Ringer gave this pertinent admonition on how to deal with such people,

"You have no obligation to deal with irrational people. . . . Talking, arguing and/or begging don't work with irrational people. Attempting to persuade them through logical argument will only wear you out. Dealing with an irrational person is a can't-win situation. . . . Always go out of your way to avoid can't-win situations. When someone surrounds you on all sides with irrational points, don't stand for it. Exit through the top, if necessary, but get out. When every side you turn to leads to trouble, you're in a can't-win situation." (Robert J. Ringer, Looking Out for #1, p. 111-12. Quoted in Walter Rea, The White Lie, p. 220.)

It will be profitable to us to know the truth about Ellen White's writings. In that way we do not make exaggerated claims about them, but place them where they belong, and handle them accordingly. There are many good, spiritual things in her writings, but they are not "the Spirit of Prophecy". Much of the good, spiritual content she had been borrowing from other authors, and we are to view her writings in that light. Certainly many of the authors she borrowed from, were inspired by the Holy Spirit when they wrote their books. A notable example is "Night Scenes in the Bible" by Daniel March, which is a wonderful book.

In addition, Ellen White's visions, dreams and revelations should be tested by the Bible. This we have done. Did she pass the test? You be the judge.

"But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? 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. 18:20-22).

"Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy, and say thou unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear ye the word of the LORD;

Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!

O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts.

Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the LORD.

They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The LORD saith: and the LORD hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word.

Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination, whereas ye say, The LORD saith it; albeit I have not spoken?

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye have spoken vanity, and seen lies, therefore, behold, I am against you, saith the Lord GOD.

And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord GOD.

Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered morter:

Say unto them which daub it with untempered morter, that it shall fall: there shall be an overflowing shower; and ye, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall rend it.

Lo, when the wall is fallen, shall it not be said unto you, Where is the daubing wherewith ye have daubed it?

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even rend it with a stormy wind in my fury; and there shall be an overflowing shower in mine anger, and great hailstones in my fury to consume it.

So will I break down the wall that ye have daubed with untempered morter, and bring it down to the ground, so that the foundation thereof shall be discovered, and it shall fall, and ye shall be consumed in the midst thereof: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

Thus will I accomplish my wrath upon the wall, and upon them that have daubed it with untempered morter, and will say unto you, The wall is no more, neither they that daubed it;

To wit, the prophets of Israel which prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and which see visions of peace for her, and there is no peace, saith the Lord GOD.

Likewise, thou son of man, set thy face against the daughters of thy people, which prophesy out of their own heart; and prophesy thou against them,

And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe to the women that sew pillows to all armholes, and make kerchiefs upon the head of every stature to hunt souls! Will ye hunt the souls of my people, and will ye save the souls alive that come unto you?

And will ye pollute me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, to slay the souls that should not die, and to save the souls alive that should not live, by your lying to my people that hear your lies?

Wherefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against your pillows, wherewith ye there hunt the souls to make them fly, and I will tear them from your arms, and will let the souls go, even the souls that ye hunt to make them fly.

Your kerchiefs also will I tear, and deliver my people out of your hand, and they shall be no more in your hand to be hunted; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life:

Therefore ye shall see no more vanity, nor divine divinations: for I will deliver my people out of your hand: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.Ezek.13:2-23

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

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