G. White -- the Myth and the Truth
by Å. Kaspersen
spite of what most Seventh-Day Adventists believe, Ellen White has been given
unmerited honor for being a pioneer in the area of health reform.
"Ellen G. White's keen 'foreknowledge' of now-accepted scientific
information has provided a strong reason why large numbers of people have developed
an enthusiastic faith and confidence in her messages." (Ellen G. White Estate,
Medical Science and the Spirit of Prophecy, p. 3. Review and Herald Publishing
Assn. 1971. Emphasis added.)
This is a grossly exaggerated statement. We have previously been looking at
"her" statements on the evils of masturbation, wigs, the lungs in the throat,
narrow waists and other strange things. For obvious reasons, these oddities
have not been accepted by today's medical science.
And for still more obvious reasons, Ellen White's statements where she supports
these odd superstitions from an bygone era, are being bypassed in silence. They
are to be found in her writings no longer in general circulation. But nevertheless,
they are "the Spirit of Prophecy".
Of course there are many good and true counsels in her writings on health-related
subjects - "now-accepted scientific information", but from where did she get
her information? Research done by Dr. Ronald Numbers show that she almost completely
got her information from well known health advocates in the early 1800's. This
is very well documented in Dr. Numbers' bookProphetess of Health. Most of Ellen
White's information on health matters has been borrowed from people like James
Caleb Jackson, Russell T. Trall, Larkin B. Coles and Sylvester Graham - she
often quoted verbatim from their works. What is more significant, is the fact
that she also quoted their errors, which of course were common superstitions
at that time. However, these men were right in a number of things which Ellen
White "borrowed", and which today has been substantiated by modern science.
The problems arose when she got "visions" on health reform, in which nothing
was new under the sun. Other people had written on this before her. These health
reformers from the 1800's are almost completely forgotten today, while Ellen
White, who had borrowed their material, and by "visions" made them a "thus saith
the Lord", got all the credit. This because she had a strong and growing organization
behind her which could promote her writings.
When James and Ellen White travelled around in the 1860's, promoting health
reform, quite a few people noted the similarities between their teachings and
those of Dr. James Caleb Jackson, of Dansville, N.Y. He also had a sanitarium
there. In fact, Ellen White's visions on health reform were so strikingly similar
to the health principles advocated by Dr. Jackson, that Ellen White was obliged
to give an "explanation,. "Question,- Did you receive your vision on health
reform before you visited Dr. Jackson's health resort in Dansville, N.Y., or
before you had read any books on the subject?
'- I did not visit Dansville till August, 1864, fourteen months after I had
the view. I did not read any works upon health until I had written Spiritual
Gifts, Vols. iii and iv, Appeal to Mothers, and had sketched out most of my
six articles in the six numbers of 'How to Live.'
'I did not know that such a paper existed as the Laws of Life, published at
Dansville, N.Y. I had not heard of the several works upon health, written
by Dr. J. C. Jackson, and other publications at Dansville, at the time I had
the view named above. I did not know that such works existed until September,
1863, when in Boston, Mass., my husband saw them advertised in a periodical
called the Voice of the Prophets, published by Eld. J.V. Himes. My husband ordered
the works from Dansville and received them at Topsham Maine. His business gave
him no time to peruse them, and as I determined not to read them until
I had written out my views, and books remained in their wrappers.
'As I introduced the subject of health to friends where I labored in Michigan,
New England, and in the State of New York, and spoke against drugs and flesh
meats, and in favor of water, pure air, and a proper diet, the reply
was often made, "You speak very nearly the opinions taught in the Laws of Life,
and other publications, by Drs. Trall, Jackson, and others. Have you read that
paper and those works?
'My reply was that I had not, neither should I read them till
I had fully written out my views, lest it should be said that I had
received my light upon the subject of health from physicians, and not from the
'And after I had written my six articles for How to Live, I then searched
the various works on hygiene and was surprised to find them so nearly in harmony
with what the Lord had revealed to me. And to show this harmony, and
to set before my brethren and sisters the subject as brought out by able writers,
I determined to publish How to Live, in which I largely extracted from the works
referred to." (Second Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, October 8, 1867. Emphasis
In this explanation, we are to take note of a few things.
James and Ellen White visited Dr. Jackson's sanitarium in August 1864. Fourteen
months earlier, Ellen White received her so-called "Otsego vision" on health
reform (June 6, 1863). This vision lasted 45 minutes. In her explanation, she
says that she did not know of any writings by Dr. Jackson until September 1863,
one or two months after the vision. But in his book The Early
Years, Arthur White reveals that James and Ellen in fact did know of
Dr. Jackson's writings in February 1863, four months BEFORE the vision.
James and Ellen's two boys had become ill by diphteria in the beginning
of February 1863,
"And then it happened! In the first week of February two of James and Ellen
White's three boys complained of severe sore throats and high fever, and they
could hardly utter a word - undeniable, frightening symptoms. They had diphtheria.
Fortunately - in the providence of God, no doubt - there had come into
their hands, probably through an 'exchange' of papers at the Review
office, either the Yates County Chronicle, of Penn Yan, New York, or some journal
quoting from it, an extended article entitled 'Diphtheria, Its Causes, Treatment
and Cure.' It was written by Dr. James C. Jackson, of Dansville, New
York. How eagerly James and Ellen White read it." (A.L. White, Ellen
G. White, Vol. 2, The Progressive Years, p. 13. Emphasis supplied.)
It becomes therefore obvious that Ellen White in fact was familiar with
Dr. Jackson's writings at least four months before she received her "health
reform vision" at Otsego.
Because Ellen White gave misleading information about this in her "explanation"
in the Review, we are then forced to ask questions about other details in the
explanation: Did she in fact unwrap and read Dr. Jackson's articles before she
got her "vision?" A person caught in a lie, may be suspect of other lies.
In addition, James White wrote a series of health related articles in the Review
six months before the Otsego-vision in June 1863. In his articles, James emphazised
healthy living, and in a Review(February 10, 1863) he mentioned fresh air, clean
water and light as "God's great remedies, which are preferable instead of physicians
and their medicines." The following week, James put into the Review Dr. Jackson's
article on diphteria and its cure.
Consequently, there's not a shadow of doubt that Ellen White both knew,
and had been reading health related matter before her vision. Her statement
that she did not knew any health related matter neither from Dr. Jackson or
from others until spetember 1863, is simply not true.
Because the information given in her "visions" on health reform were strikingly
similar to the teachings of Dr. Jackson and others, the suspicion is strengthened.
She says that she did not read other writings on hygiene until she had finished
Spiritual Gifts, vols. 3-4, Appeal to Mothers and sketched the material for
How to Live - information gathered almost totally from others. Appeal to Mothers
was published in 1864. This book is so bizarre, that its contents certainly
did not come from heavenly visions, but from other authors who were strongly
colored from contemporary myths and superstitions on the subject of masturbation
- in particular Sylvester Graham. These peculiarities did not originate with
Ellen White, neither did she receive them from heavenly visions. From were did
she get them, then? From other authors who believed these oddities. Ellen White
just echoed the superstitions of others. This is the only reasonable conclusion.
Ellen White must have read other health related material before
she wroteAppeal to Mothers and the other works mentioned, which also contain
strange things. The matter contained in Appeal to Mothers stands as a mighty
witness against Ellen White's explanation in the Review. She did
in fact read other writings on hygiene before her vision, and before she wrote
the books she mentioned, and in these books she parrotted a motley-collection
of truth and superstition. When it comes to Appeal to Mothers, mostly superstition.
No wonder that this book went into a quiet death and a secluded grave. Why,
one would ask, inasmuch it was based upon "heavenly visions"?
We have previously mentioned phrenology. This pseudo-science
claimed that the brain was divided into as many "organs" as there were traits
of character etc. The "animal organs" were at the base of the brain, at the
rear. These "organs" controlled the base or "animal passions". Ellen White touched
on this when she wrote a testimony to a money-greedy brother, telling him that
the problem was caused by "satanic excitation of the organ of aquisitiveness"
(letter to Br. and Str. Lockwood, Sept. 1864).
But Ellen White had other things to say about the "animal organs".
"Fashion loads the heads of women with artificial braids and pads, which do
not add to their beauty, but give an unnatural shape to the head. The hair is
strained and forced into unnatural positions, and it is not possible for the
heads of these fashionable ladies to be comfortable. The artificial hair and
pads covering the base of the brain, heat and excite the spinal nerves centering
in the brain. The head should ever be kept cool. The heat caused by these artificials
induces the blood to the brain. The action of the blood upon the lower
or animal organs of the brain, causes unnatural activity, tends to recklessness
in morals, and the mind and heart is in danger of being corrupted.
As the animal organs are excited and strengthened, the moral are enfeebled.
The moral and intellectual powers of the mind become servants to the animal."
(EGW in The Health Reformer, October 1, 1871. Emphasis supplied.)
Now we have been learning something new: wigs and toupees (braids and pads)
may cause recklessness in morals because the "animal organs" are being excited.
"Habits which lower the standard of physical health, enfeeble the mental and
moral strength. The indulgence of unnatural appetite and passions has a controlling
influence upon the organs of the brain. The animal organs are strengthened,
while the moral are depressed." (Testimony for the Church, PH159, p.
67. Counsels on Health, p. 36. Emphasis supplied.)
Apart from the suspicion that the above quotations most probably are borrowed
from other authors and published in The Health Reformer as "the Spirit of Prophecy"
to give weight to their statements, they reflect the phrenological principles
about "organs of the brain" and "animal organs". Such kind of matter were mere
reflections from the lack of knowledge about the brain, but still got their
way into SDA-publications. Of course other people wrote on phrenological principles,
but when such matter was borrowed and published under the name of Ellen G. White,
it suddenly became "The Spirit of Prophecy".
There is considerable evidence for Ellen White borrowing information
from other health reformers and publishing this information as a "pipeline from
heaven". Early books as Appeal to Mothers and How to Live, Articles in the Health
Reformer etc. etc. testify to this. Her plagiarism of health related material
is also evident. I will quote a few statements from Larkin B. Coles and compare
them to statements allegedly from Ellen White.
"It is as truly a sin to violate the laws of our being as it is to break the
ten commandments. To do either is to break God's laws." (EGW, Christian Temperance
(1890), p. 53.)
"It is as truly a sin against Heaven, to violate a law of life, as to break
one of the ten commandments" (Larkin B. Coles, Philosophy of Health (1853),
"The sympathy which exists between the mind and the body is very great. When
one is affected, the other responds." (EGW, Testimonies, vol 4, p. 60 (1876).)
"The sympathy existing between the mind and the body is so great, that when
one is affected, both are affected" (Larkin B. Coles, Philosophy of Health (1853),
". . .flesh meat is not necessary for health or strength. If used it is because
a depraved appetite craves it. Its use excites the animal propensities to increased
activity and strengthens the animal passions. When the animal propensities are
increased, the intellectual and moral powers are decreased. The use of the flesh
of animals tends to cause a grossness of body and benumbs the fine sensibilities
of the mind." (EGW, Testimonies, vol 2, p. 63 (1868).)
"Flesh eating is certainly not necessary to health or strength. . . .If it be
used, it must be a matter of fancy. . . .It excites the animal propensities
to increased activity and ferocity. . . .When we increase the proportion of
our animal nature, we suppress the intellectual. . . .The use of flesh tends
to create a grossness of body and spirit" (Larkin B. Coles: Philosophy of Health,
(1853), p. 64-67)
It is evident for all to se that one is copied from the other. Ellen White published
her testimoniesafter 1853, the year when Larkin B. Coles published
his book, it is therefore easy to see who copied from whom. These comparisons
can be continued ad infinitum.
Larkin B. Coles warned against the use of flesh meats many years prior to Ellen
White's so called health reform vision in 1863, where she "saw" that the use
of flesh meat was not the best. Ellen White's well known statement that transgression
of the laws of health is synonymous with transgression of the Law of God, comes
- as we have seen - from Larkin B. Coles. It stands there on print for all to
see. Larkin B. Coles was a milleritte who died in 1856. He also advocated dress
reform, and was against the use of drugs (medicines). He also launched the idea
that there might be a connection between the use of tobacco and cancer. (The
Beauties and Deformities of Tobacco-Using, p. 142. (1853).) Much of Ellen White's
writings on health reform show great similarities with the writings of Larkin
B. Coles, who wrote long before Ellen White. There should be no doubt about
Ellen White's borrowing from Coles and presenting the matter as "heavenly visions."
In his book Lectures on the Science of Human Life (1849) the free-thinker Sylvester
Graham (1794-1851) advocated most of the health principles Ellen White claimed
to have seen in her vision from 1863. He warned about the use of eggs, milk,
butter, tea, coffee, tobacco, rich pastries, medicines (drugs), white bread,
pork, spices, tight lacing and all kinds of exciting food - exactly the same
as Ellen White, but prior to her. Obviously, Ellen White was strongly influenced
by Sylvester Graham. Dio Lewis was another well known health reformer from the
1850's. He advocated two meals a day - the same as EGW, but prior to her.
In the 1850's, health reform was very popular. Numerous health reformers travelled
around, holding lectures on health reform. They advocated all the principles
Ellen White later presented in her own writings. Her vision from 1863 represented
nothing new under the sun. All this was well-known matter which had been preached
and lectured in America at least ten years before her vision. On this background,
it sounds strange that God would give her a "vision" on all these well-known
things, and also that Ellen White claimed that she did not know about this before
she got her "vision written down". Then she "discovered" to her "amazement"
that others had advocated the same principles years before he! But Ellen White
got all the merit for the pioneer work other people had been doing years before
It has been claimed that God had been showing Ellen White "advanced medical
principles" years ahead of her time. As we have seen, these are exaggerated
claims. These principles did not originate with her. What God really should
have shown her in visions, was how to prevent by simple means some of the greatest
causes of disease at that time.
1. In 1863 one of the greatest transmitters of disease was milk. Both tuberculosis
and brucellosis could be transmitted by milk. In 1870 the method of pasteurizing
was developed by heating the milk to a certain temperature. This was a simple
procedure. Ellen White should have known this from her visions, but because
pasteurizing was developed at a later time, she had no literature on the subject
to copy from.
2. At that time people died by the thousands by typhus and cholera. The medical
science did not know that this diseases could be prevented by boiling the drinking
water. Ellen White should have been shown this in visions, but because medical
science didn't know this simple fact in the 1860's, Ellen White had no one to
In 1844 Mrs. M.L. Shew published the third edition of her book with the lengthy
title, "Water Cure for Ladies: A Popular Work on the Health, Diet and Regimen
of Females and Children, and the Prevention and Cure of Diseases; With a Full
Account of the Processes of Water Cure; Illustrated With Various Cases". The
1844-edition was in fact the third edition; the book must therefore have been
published some time before 1844.
In this book a great number of the "new" health principles Ellen White "saw"
in the "Otsego vision" of 1863, and which she got credit for, were outlined
- health principles which were "far advanced for her time". Mrs. Shew (prior
to 1844) and Mrs. White (after 1863) warned against the use of alcohol, drugs,
salt, spices, tea, tobacco, opium. (Ellen White was warned in a "vision" against
opium; Mrs. Shew warned against opium several years before, without help from
any "vision".) She also warned against rich pastries, meat, cheese etc.)
Mrs. Shew (before 1844) and Mrs. White (after 1863) recommended water cures
in the place of medicines, salt in small quantities only, daily bathing, excercise,
fresh air, preparing pies and cakes with cream instead of butter and lard, cream
and milk instead of meat, fruit and vegetables instead of meat, 5-6 hours between
meals, bread from whole grain etc. etc.
Accordingly, there was nothing new under the sun in Ellen White's health reform
vision from 1863. Others had been advocating the same principles long before
Ellen White came into the arena. However, because of borrowing and plagiarism,
and aggresive promoting, she got all the credit for health principles others
had been pioneering long before her.
As we have seen, Ellen White's counsels on health are frequently mixed with
bizarre superstitions she borrowed from others.
Ellen White went against her own counsels
In the 1850's both James and Ellen White made use of swine's
flesh as food. Later they abandoned it.
"Dear Sister Curtis: - I felt sorry for you as I read your letter. I believe
you to be in error. The Lord showed me two or three years since
that the use of swine's flesh was no test. Dear sister, if it is your husband's
wish to use swine's flesh you should be perfectly clear to use it." (EGW, letter
to Str. Curtis, quoted in H.E. Carver, Mrs. E.G. White's Claims to Divine Inspiration
Examined. Emphasis supplied.)
In 1858 Ellen White wrote a similar testimony,
"I saw that you had mistaken notions about
afflicting your bodies, depriving yourselves ofnourishing food.
Some have gone too far in the eating question. They have taken a rigid course,
and lived so very plain that their health has suffered. I saw that God
did not require any one to take a course of such rigid economy as to
weaken or injure the temple of God. All this is outside of the word
of God. If this is a duty of the church to abstain from swine's
flesh God will discover it to more than two or three. A fanatical
spirit is with you. You are deceived." Testimony No. 5. Emphasis supplied.)
This is the original testimony. The second edition has been put into Testimonies,
vol. 1, pp. 206-7 - somewhat edited, with an "explanation" by James White. Here
Ellen White says that swine's flesh is nourishing food, and that people who
went against the use of it, were deceived and led by a fanatical spirit. (The
testimony had to do with swine's flesh.)
Then we have the strange situation that God showed Ellen White in a
vision that the use of swine's flesh was not a test, and that it was
OK to eat it, in spite of what the Bible plainly says, that the swine is an
". . .And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth
not the cud, it is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh,
nor touch their dead carcase" (Deut. 14:8).
This plain command, written several thousand years ago, was no unknown matter.
Later, Ellen White writes testimonies - allegedly based on visions - that swine's
flesh was unclean food, and that God did not sanction its use. First, God shows
Ellen White in a "vision" that the use of swine's flesh is OK. Later, God shows
her that it is wrong to make use of it. Meantime, the Bible was clear on that
James White wrote in 1850,
"Some of our good brethren have added 'swine's flesh' to the catalogue
of things forbidden by the Holy Ghost, and the apostles and elders
assembled at Jerusalem. But we feel called upon to protest against such
a course, as being contrary to the plain teaching of the holy scriptures.
Shall we lay a greater 'burden' on the disciples than seemed good to the Holy
Ghost, and the holy apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ? God forbid. Their decision,
being right, settled the question with them, and was a cause of rejoicing among
the churches, and it should forever settle the question with us."
(The Present Truth Vol. 1., Nov., 1850. - No. 11., 'Swine's Flesh'. Emphasis
James White wrote this in 1850. In 1858 both he and his wife wrote letters and
testimonies echoing this article. James even claimed that to go against the
use of swine's flesh, was contrary to Scripture.
On the back of this letter to Str. Curtis (quoted above), James White had jotted
"That you may know how we stand on this question, I would say
that we have just put down a two hundred pound porker." (H.E.
Carver, Mrs. E.G. White's Claims to Divine Inspiration Examined.)
Ann Lee (1736-84), who founded "the Shakers", received "visions" which she published
as "Testimonies". She went strongly against the use of swine's flesh - and that
several years before Ellen White came into the arena. All this was nothing new.
At the very time James White "brought down a hundred pound porker", Ann Lee's
testimony against the use of swine's flesh had been in existence for many years.
It then becomes clear that SDA's at that time did not dodge the use of fat porkers,
and they had Ellen Whites "inspired testimonies" behind them to support this
practice. But later she received equally "inspired testimonies", saying that
God did not intend that people should eat swine's flesh, under any circumstances.
(How to Live, chap. 1, p. 58 (1865).)
"You know that the use of swine's flesh is contrary to His express command,
given not because He wished to especially show His authority, but because it
would be injurious to those who should eat it." (Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 96
Accordingly, Ellen White's statements where she "saw" that the use of swine's
flesh was not wrong, comes into a strange light. Later editions of Ellen White's
books have footnotes and appendices, trying to "explain" her many contradictory
statements on health issues from that time. One common explanation is that Adventists
got "progressive light" on health issues. But that doesn't explain away the
fact that at the same time a substantial number of health reformers both wrote
and lectured against the use of swine's flesh, and flesh meat in general, without
pleading heavenly visions as basis for their teachings. Both Graham, Fowler,
Wells, Jackson, Trall, Ann Lee and others warned against the use of swine's
flesh, but God were obliged to give Seventh-Day Adventists "progressive light"
and in addition contradict himself!
After her Otsego vision in 1863, Ellen White abandoned the use of flesh meat
a few years. Later she took up her former practice and ate meat until 1894.
This information will undoubtedly come as a shock to many, but is based on plain
In a letter to E.S. Ballenger, (January 9, 1936), Dr. John H. Kellogg wrote,
"Mrs. White ate meat and plenty of it. The next day after she
arrived in America on her return from Scandinavia. I took dinner with her at
the house of a mutual friend near New Bedford, Massachusetts. A large
baked fish occupied the center of the table. Mrs. White ate
freely of itas did all the rest with the exception of the hostess and
myself. From this circumstance I think Mrs. White began the use of meat during
the several years she spent abroad, chiefly In Switzerland and Scandinavia.
She visited the Sanitarium frequently during the years that intervened before
she went to Australia. When there she always called for meat and usually
fried chicken. Dr. H.F. Rand was then the cook at the Sanitarium and
had became an ardent vegetarian and he on more than one occasion said to me,
'It goes very hard on me to have to prepare fried chicken for Mrs. White.' In
those days we had a liberal table at the Sanitarium where we served meat to
friends of patients who insisted on having it, although we did not prescribe
it for patients.
'At the annual meetings of the General Conference, which were always held in
Battle Creek, we used to give the Conference a banquet. Most of the members
were members of the Sanitarium constituency. We thought we owed them that courtesy.
At these banquets they expected us to serve meat.
'In those days practically all Seventh-Day Adventist ministers ate meat.
'They knew that Mrs. White ate it and with not more than two
or three exceptions they all ate chicken or mutton stew that was usually served
'On the day of Elder White's funeral, his, brother, who attended the funeral,
and his two sons, J.E. and W.C., took dinner at the Sanitarium. They ate the
liberal table and both ate meat within an hour after their father was buried.
'After Mrs. White return from Scandinavia she visited many camp meetings at
some of which I was present. She was then in the habit of eating meat and the
fact must have been generally known. I heard J.E. on one occasion, standing
in front of his mother's tent, call out to a meat-wagon that visited the grounds
regularly and was just leaving, 'Say, hello there! Have you any fresh fish?'
'No' was his reply. 'Have you got any: fresh chicken?' Again the answer was
'No,' and J.E. bawled out in a very loud voice, 'Mother wants some chicken.
You had better get some quick.'
'It was always lay suspicion that he was the one who was hankering for the chicken
and that Mrs. White ate it also and that it was then her habit.
'I am surprised that Elder Starr should state that Mrs. White did not eat meat
in Australia. He must have been acquainted with the fact that she ate it regularly.
She was eating meat when she went there (1891) and continued to eat it for several
years until she got rheumatism so bad she was not able to walk and had to be
wheeled about and sat in a chair while she talked.
'After a while she gave up the use of meat and wrote me about it. She said that
one of her addresses on Christian temperance was attended by a Catholic woman
who was president of the W.C.T.U. and happened to be a vegetarian.
'After the lecture she called on Mrs. White and thanked her for the lecture
and remarked, 'Of course you do not eat meat, Mrs. White.' Mrs. White
replied she did sometimes, whereat the lady dropped upon her knees
and with tears streaming down her face besought Mrs. White never again to allow
a morsel of meat to pass her lips. Said Mrs. White in her letter to me, 'I
thought it was about time me to begin my own teaching.' So who said,
'I have stopped the use of meat myself, but I still serve it
to my workers. . . .
'When I visited the Grand Rapids camp grounds, one of the first camp meetings
held, I found in the provision stand conspicuously displayed whole codfish,
large slabs of halibut, smoked herring, dried beef and Bologna sausage. I found
some of the same things at all the camp meetings I visited.
'After a few years I succeeded in getting these things cleared out. On one occasion
in order to clean up the provision stand I paid what the whole stock of meat,
strong cheese and some detestable bakery stuff cost, which was fifteen dollars,
and ordered it thrown into the river. I was assured that this would be done,
but learned afterwards that it was put away and after the camp meeting was Over
was divided up among the preachers of the Conference. This was in Indiana. I
received information concerning its disposal from Elder Covert who was President
of the Conference." (Letter, J.H. Kellogg to E.S. Ballenger, Jan. 9, 1936. Emphasis
In this letter, we are to note that Ellen White admitted as
late as 1894 that she ate meat. According to the words of several witnesses,
she had at that time been a meat-eater for several years. Further she admitted
in 1894 that it was time to begin to follow her own counsel. Accordingly, she
had not been doing this for a number of years. Do not forget that she received
her so-called vision on health reform in 1863, 31 years before 1894.. In a manuscript,
dated August 30, 1896, Ellen White herself admits this incident in Australia,
It is strange that the Otsego vision in 1863 - which Ellen White claimed was
from heaven - was not enough to convince her to keep to the health reform. A
catholic lady was to intervene several years later, and she
managed to accomplish what the "heavenly vision" did not.
In 1863, according to her own claims, God gives her a vision, in which both
she and others were warned against meat-eating, that it caused leprosy, tuberculosis,
cancer, benumbed the brain, shortened the life-span etc. Quite often Ellen White
wrote testimonies, condemning others for eating meat, while she herself was
"Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that
preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should
not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost
thou commit sacrilege?" (Romans 2:21,22.)
"Thou therefore which teachest another
not to eat flesh-meats, dost thou eat flesh-meat?"
According to Dr. Kellogg, she
reverted back to meat-eating during her stay in Europe in the mid 1880's. However,
from her own letters, it is quite obvious that she had been eating both meat
and fish long before that. So what? She did not sin in doing this. Nowhere does
the Bible call meat-eating a sin. That's not the point in question here. What
we are discussing, is Ellen White pretending to be a health reformer, condemning
other people for occasional digressions, all the time while she herself made
quite a few "digressions" on a continual basis. This, of course, is hypocrisy.
In a letter, dated May 31, 1882,
Ellen White wrote,
"Mary, if you can get me a good
box of herrings, fresh ones, please do so. These last ones that Willie got are
bitter and old. If you can buy cans, say, half a dozen cans, of good
tomatoes, please do so. We shall need them. If you can get a few cans
of good oysters, get them." Letter 16, 1882", to her daughter-in-law,
Mary Kelsey White.)
After the 1887 campmeeting in Springfield,
Ill., Ellen White met Fannie Bolton and wanted to hire her as a literary assistant.
Ellen White arranged to meet her in Chicago on the way back to California. From
Chicago they were to travel together. Fannie Bolton tells the story,
"When Ellen left the campmeeting
circuit to return to her home in California, she arranged for Fannie to meet
her and her party at the Chicago depot so that they could travel together. Ellen
was 'not with her party, so Elder Starr hunted around till he found her behind
a screen in the restaurant very gratified in eating big white raw oysters with
vinegar, pepper and salt,' Fannie wrote; and on the same trip Willie White brought
into the car a 'thick piece of bloody beefsteak' for Sara McEnterfer, one of
Ellen's valued employees, to cook on a small oilstove. These incidents were
shocking to Fannie, who had 'lived up to the testimonies with all faithfulness
discarding meat, butter, fish, fowl and the supper meal, believing that as the
'Testimonies' say, 'no meat-eater will be translated.'' (Letter, Fannie Bolton
to Mrs. E.C. Slawson, Dec. 30, 1914; pp. 108-9. The Fannie Bolton Story: A Collection
of Source Documents, Ellen G. White Estate, 1982.)
Dr. John Harvey Kellogg tells almost
the same story,
"With reference to Fanny Bolton's
story about Mrs. White eating oysters, Fanny told me that the first time she
net Mrs. White was in Chicago in a restaurant. She had been informed that Mrs.
White was eating her dinner at a certain restaurant and went there and found
she was eating stewed oysters. Mrs. White I think was not so much to
blame for eating meat oysters etc. as the people associated with her. They made
her believe that she needed meat and ought to eat it." (Letter, J.H. Kellogg
to E.S. Ballenger, Jan. 9, 1936. Emphasis supplied.)
According to Dr. Charles E. Stewart,
Ellen White in fact ate oysters as late as 1890.
As I have mentioned on several occasions,
Ellen White received her so-called health reform vision in 1863. The purpose
of this vision was - according to EGW - to show the dangers of meat-eating,
"But since the Lord presented before
me, in June, 1863, the subject of meat-eating in relation to health,
I have left the use of meat. For a while it was rather difficult to bring my
appetite to bread, for which, formerly, I have had but little relish. But by
persevering, I have been able to do this. I have lived for nearly one year without
meat." (Spiritual Gifts, vol 4a, p. 153. (1864). Emphasis supplied.)
Five years later Ellen White wrote,
"I have not taken one step
back since the light from heaven upon this subject first shone upon
my pathway. I broke away from everything at once, - from meat and butter,
and from three meals. . . .I left off these things from principle. I took my
stand on health reform from principle." (Testimonies, vol. 2, pp. 371-372 (1869).
The following year she wrote,
"Those who digress occasionally
to gratify the taste in eating a fattened turkey or other flesh meats,
pervert their appetites, and are not the ones to judge of the benefits
of the system of health reform. They are controlled by taste, not by
principle. . . .No butter or flesh meats of any kind come on my table."
(Testimonies, vol. 2. p. 487 (1870). Emphasis supplied.)
This was written in 1870, just one
year after she had written that she did not yield an inch from the principles
of health reform.
When Dr. Ronald Numbers was struggling
with the White Estate to get copies of letters and other material as documentation
for his forthcoming book "Prophetess of Health" (1976), he finally got what
he asked for, with the exception of two letters which Arthur White would not
release - probably because they were damaging for the madonna-picture of Ellen
G. White. One of these letters was dated 1873, just two years later than the
above testimony from 1870. In this letter from 1873, Ellen White describes a
vacation trip to the Rocky Mountains, where both she and her family ate deer-broth
and wild ducks.
"A young man from Nova Scotia had
come in from hunting. He had a quarter of deer. He had traveled
20 miles with this deer upon his back. ... He gave us a small piece of the
meat, which we made into broth. Willie shot a duck which came in a time of need,
for our supplies were rapidly diminishing" (Manuscript 11, 1873; Manuscript
Release 14, p. 353. Emphasis supplied).)
". . . No butter or flesh meats
of any kind come on my table," she had written two years before, reproving a
brother for gratifying his appetite on a fat turkey. Those who did so, she informed,
were not to talk aloud about the benefits of health reform - while she herself,
from time to time, gratified her own appetite by eating meat. However none wrote
more about the benefits of health reform than Ellen White at that time.
Long after the death of his mother,
W.C. White told about picknic baskets laden with chicken, turkey and tinned
tongue. (Ronald Numbers, Prophetess of Health, pp. 171-2.)
". . .No butter or flesh
meats of any kind come on my table." (Testimonies, vol. 2. p. 487 (1870).
"You place upon your tables butter,
eggs, and meat, and your children partake of them. They are fed with
the very things that will excite their animal passions, and then you come to
meeting andask God to bless and save your children. How high do your
prayers go?" (Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 362 (1870). Emphasis supplied.)
What kind of God does Ellen White
present here? Are God's answers to prayers dependent on an egg or two, or a
little butter on the breakfast table? According to this, one egg on the table,
and your prayers go as high as the roof, but not further. Does this make any
sense to you, dear reader?
But at the 1919 Bible Conference,
A.G. Daniells, the President of the General Conference, commented,
"I have eaten pounds of
butter at her table myself, and dozens of eggs. I could not explain
that in her own family if I believe that she believed those were the Lord's
own words to the world." (Statement by A.G. Daniells, Bible Conference of 1919..
A.G. Daniells had been knowing Ellen
White personally for 40+ years.
According to Ellen White's testimony,
her own prayers during several years did not reach longer than the roof - she
had been placing eggs, butter and meat on her table!
In 1888, at a time when
Ellen White ate meat, she wrote,
"I do not preach one thing
and practice another. I do not present to my hearers
rules of life for them to follow while I make an exception in my own
case...." (Selected Messages, vol. 2, p. 302; Letter 12, 1888. Emphasis
But at this time Ellen White did
teach one thing and practice quite another. This is well documented. She pretended
before others that she was a strict health reformer, and she condemned in strong
words others who took "side steps" - all while she herself took quite a few
"side steps". If this is not religious hypocrisy, what is it then? The above
statement is a plain lie which does not square up with documented facts!
In the years 1891-1900 she wrote,
"No man should be set apart as a
teacher of the people while his own teaching or example contradicts the testimony
God has given His servants to bear in regard to diet, for this will bring confusion.
His disregard of health reform unfits him to stand as the Lord's messenger."
(Testimonies, vol 6, p. 378. Emphasis supplied.)
In 1903, nine years after she finally
abandoned meat-eating, she wrote,
"God gave the light on health reform,
and those who rejected it, rejected God." (Special Testimonies,
vol 6, p. 31. Emphasis supplied.)
She claimed that God gave light
on health reform in 1863. According to herself, those who rejected the light,
rejected God. Ellen White did not reject health reform per se, but for many
years she did not practice it. She was a health reformer by principle, not by
practice. According to her own words, she could not represent the truth
to others, and was unfit to stand as God's messenger all these years - more
than twenty years - all the while she calls herself "God's messenger".
At that time (1901) Arthur G. Daniells
was elected President of the General Conference - an office he held to 1922.
Daniells was a meat eater and neglecter of health reform, but in spite of this,
Ellen White strongly supported Daniells when he was elected. How could she do
that, when his "neglect of health reform" made him "unfit" to stand as the Lord's
messenger? None should be elected to teach the people, she wrote, while they
were neglecting health reform.
In 1909, Ellen White wrote,
"When the message of health
reform first came to me (1863), I was weak and feeble, subject to frequent
fainting spells. I was pleading with God for help, and He opened before me the
great subject of health reform. . . .This light has been a great blessing to
me. I took my stand as a health reformer, knowing that the Lord would strengthen
me. I have better health today, notwithstanding my age, than I had in my younger
days. . . .
'It is reported by some
that I have not followed the principles of health reform as I have advocated
them with my pen; but I can say that I have been a faithful health reformer.
Those who have been members of my family know that this is true." (Testimonies,
vol. 9, p. 158-159. Emphasis supplied.)
This light she may have been receiving
by reading the numerous writings on health issues which circulated at that time
- and she did exactly that.
But as we have seen, Ellen White
admitted while in Australia, that she ate meat at that time, until 1894. Her
big household, counting sixteen people, would most probably attest to that.
Her own son Edson provided her with chicken; and while visiting the Battle Creek
Sanitarium, she ordered fried chicken. She ate oysters and herring, butter and
eggs. In other words, she was not a true health reformer from
1870 or prior to that, until 1894. In addition she was a hypocrite on this matter.
She did not tell the whole truth in her statement from 1909.
Even the so-called
dress reform, which the SDA's advocated in the 1800's, was not based on "visions"
from God, in spite of Ellen White's claims to the contrary. Ann Lee, of the
Shakers, introduced a special dress for her followers.
Shortly before the American Civil
War in the years 1861-5, a few radical feminists in America advocated a so-called
"reform-dress", consisting of a dress, halfways up to the knees, with loose-sitting
pants underneath. Some adventist sisters claimed that such a reform dress was
both healthy and sensible, but Ellen White condemned it and took heaven as witness
to that, through a testimony,
"God would not have His
people adopt the so-called reform dress. It is immodest apparel, wholly
unfitted for the modest, humble followers of Christ. . . .Those who feel called
out to join the movement in favor of woman's rights and the so-called dress
reform might as well sever all connection with the third angel's message." (Testimonies,
vol 1, p.p. 421-422 (June 1863). Emphasis supplied.)
Here Ellen White claims in no uncertain
words that God would not that his people should adopt this
reform dress because it was "immodest".
Four years later (1867) Ellen White
says in a new testimony, purportedly from heaven,
"Christians should not
take pains to make themselves a gazing-stock by dressing differently
from the world." (Ibid, p. 458. Emphasis supplied.)
She claims that his people should
not adopt the American reform dress and dress differentely from the world.
One year later, in September 1864,
James and Ellen White visited Dr. James C. Jackson's sanitarium at Dansville,
N.Y. During their three weeks stay at this place, they both became fascinated
by the health reform principles taught there. One of the physicians at Dr. Jackson's
sanitarium, Miss Harriet N. Austin, wore a reform dress which, with small modifications,
was similar to the reform dress Ellen White one year previously had claimed
that God would not that his people should adopt. Ellen White began wearing Miss
Austin's reform dress, and received "visions", testimonies and "revelations"
where she claimed that God now wanted his people to adopt this dress,
"God would now have His
people adopt the reform dress, not only to distinguish them
from the world as His "peculiar people," but because a reform in dress
is essential to physical and mental health." (Ibid, p. 525. Emphasis supplied.)
One of the reasons that God now
wanted his people to adopt the reform dress - the same dress he previously had
condemned - was to distinguish his people from the world and set them apart
as his special people. But he had stated previously that his people should
not make gazing-stocks of themselves, by dressing differently from the world!
These are all absurdities and contradictions, which did not originate from an
orderly God. God does not change his mind from day to day.
Ellen White provided paper-patterns
which she advertised in the Review at one dollar each. She also brought these
patterns with her wherever she travelled and sold them at the same price. She
urged the sisters to buy them, and urged them not to make their own! This was
some business going on!
D.M. Canright tells about his own
wife, who wore this reform dress,
"I was married at Battle Creek in
1867, to a young sister of nineteen. It was at the height of this short-dress
craze. Of course, as a minister's wife, she reluctantly put on the dress and
wore it for eight years. So I know all about it. It was a shameful thing, and
brought ridicule everywhere. On the street, people would stop and gaze at her
and mock. I have seen troops of boys follow her, making fun, till she would
step into a store to hide from them. We were both ashamed of it; but God's prophet
said it was his will, and we must bear the cross! Here is the warning Mrs. White
'I have done my duty; I have borne
my testimony, and those who have heard me and read that which I have written,
must bear the responsibility of receiving or rejecting the light given [Testimonies,
Vol. 1, p. 523.]'." (D.M. Canright, The Life of Mrs. E.G. White, Chap. 19.)
"Christians should not
take pains to make themselves a gazing-stock by dressing differently
from the world." (Testimonies, vol 1, p. 458. Emphasis supplied.)
"God would now have His
people adopt the reform dress, not only to distinguish them
from the world as His "peculiar people. . ." (ibid, p. 525. Emphasis
Canright goes on,
"But at length she saw it was a
mistake and a failure. So she went away to California and quietly laid
it off herself, and never wore it afterward. Of course she was plied
with requests for explanations; but she simply refused to give any.
She said she had given the light. They could obey it or reject it.
That was all! The fact was, she had been misled by Miss Austin, and dared not
own it, for she had said it was light from heaven, and had made God responsible
for it all." (D.M. Canright, The Life of Mrs. E.G. White, Chap. 19. Emphasis
Ellen White says that she received
the light, and they (SDA's) could receive it or reject it. Because Ellen White
took off her reform dress and never wore it again, she rejected the light from
heaven, according to her own words.
Such absurdities and contradictions
are the result of claiming heavenly visions as basis for human inventions.