Testimony of David DePinho
My name is David W. DePinho. I'm happily
married to my wife of 16 years, Martha, and have two grade school age children,
Amanda and Matthew. I am a chaplain serving on active duty with the United
States Air Force. Prior to that I was a civilian pastor in the state of
Indiana. In both situations I was serving in the capacity of a Seventh-day
Adventist ordained minister. I am no longer a Seventh-day Adventist minister.
I serve now as a chaplain for the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE)
a 35 million member umbrella organization for small denominations and independent
As I begin, I want the reader to know
that during my years as an Adventist pastor, as both a local civilian pastor
and as a military chaplain I have appreciated very much the SDA Church leadership
I have worked with. Most recently the Endorsing Officer for Adventism was
the perfect gentleman and dealt with me in as kind and as Christian a way
as anyone could hope. I believe him to be a true Christian man.
When I was working for the Indiana Conference
of Seventh-day Adventists (SDA's) from 1990-1997, I likewise had the most
positive relationships with the administration. They were fine people and
I still look to them as friends. Much the same could be said of my Adventist
undergraduate and seminary professors at Andrews University (an Adventist
denominational school). I don't have a bad thing to say about anyone in
the SDA Church that I ever had the pleasure to work with or under. In my
experience they are good folks trying to do right as they see it.
In addition to my good relationships
with leaders of the Church in the past, in my recent studies of issues relating
to Ellen White and some of the SDA doctrine which eventually led to my leaving
the SDA church, persons with whom I dealt, gave me the utmost respect and
courtesy. I continue to respect these men, and will for the rest of my life.
Not just one or two, but every one of them were "tops" in dealing
I write the above paragraphs so you,
the reader, will sense my spirit and intention as I write about my journey
out of the SDA church. I left reluctantly and I left with remorse that my
decisions would disappoint leaders who have stood with me at each juncture
of my ministry. My professors were there when I came to them as a young
man just out of the Marine Corps. They helped me through the maturing process,
and as my personality softened by the spirit of Christ. They were there
at my ordination, they supported me through the trials of the ministry to
my local churches and they were there supporting me as I entered the Air
Force to serve as a chaplain.
Please don't misunderstand, my reluctance
and remorse in leaving Adventism are not because I don't stand by the integrity
and biblical correctness of my decision, I do, very much. But because I
know, many of the people I respect within Adventism, will reason that I
left because I fell away from the Lord to one degree or another. After all,
since Adventists believe the SDA church represents the best presentation
of biblical truth on earth, they must reason that I left "truth".
So Adventism has done a great deal of
good in my life. My professors for the most part taught me biblical Christianity.
So you might be asking, "What's the problem? You liked the leadership
and truly found Christ?" I would answer that that is correct, I did.
But in life, and in the area of religion, it is possible to find Christ
in spite of our contortions of the Word of God. Jesus remarked to the religionists
outside Jerusalem, if the people did not praise God, the very rocks would
cry out. God is big enough to use even a church that was founded on false
doctrine. And God used Adventism to reach me, but God never leaves us where
He finds us. That I found Christ in Adventism does not provide a "pass"
for a church that teaches false doctrine. The system of Adventism must bring
itself fully into line with the Bible. Many have fallen victim to the false
teachings of Adventism without such relatively positive results and as a
consequence, teach and believe lies of legalism and other heretical teachings
of Mrs. Ellen White.
Understanding of Adventism
Adventism is a unique system of beliefs held
together by one idea more then any other. That idea is that Adventism is
"right", that Adventism represents "truth". It is an
idea that has a powerful influence on church members. If challenged, Adventists
will digest and interpret information about a doctrine with the premise
that: "Adventists are right".
I have to admit that for years that
idea, that I was "right" and had the "truth," kept me
from really reading to "understand" the perspectives of those
who would question Adventist beliefs. Rather then reading to understand,
I read to defend Adventism, I read to find the faults in the arguments of
my "foes," as I saw them. I suppose its all part of the human
condition; we are naturally defensive with regard to our beliefs. But I
have come to believe that tendency is exploited foundationally from early
For the many years I was an Adventist
I saw myself as a person with an open mind, I kept reading the oppositions
material but with each new book or article that I read, I felt comforted
to conclude that the writer was wrong, and that Adventists were right
Lucky for the SDA church, most books and articles that seek to critique
or attack Adventism simply don't understand the workings of Adventist thinking.
So my thinking went largely unchallenged.
As I said, the human mind is wired to
defend itself against change. When an important belief is challenged and
someone makes a credible point against the validity of an Adventist doctrine,
the Adventist believer thinks of another Adventist doctrine in which they
"know" themselves to be right and also "know" the author
is "wrong". Thus trumping any validity to the point made by the
For instance, if a writer is perceived
to be "wrong" on the State of the Dead, then he can not be trusted
to rightly evaluate the Adventist understanding of the "Investigative
Judgment", but more then that, most Adventists would simply not even
read the author.
I don't know how many times I have heard
church members say they only read Adventist books.
In evaluating non-Adventist material
Adventists will refer things they believe the author is wrong about but
are not under discussion in the material. Simply put, Adventism is an "Us
and Them" construction. Usually, Adventists don't deal with one issue
at a time because they see churches as "wholes", as systematic
doctrinal schemes. In biblical terms, Adventism believes itself to be the
woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, the true Church
of God. Members of other denominations are simply "non-Adventists",
they are following the woman who rides the beast, and Protestant churches
are the harlot daughters of the beast representing Catholicism. Some Adventists
don't hold these views, although if they don't, they are not true to the
Adventist worldview. These members, because of individual maturity, find
the Adventist worldview closed and immature.
As a result of the "Us and Them"
worldview of Adventism, those who would detract from the validity of Adventism
do so with a tremendous handicap. Adventists see the body of doctrines that
is "Adventism" to be "the truth" as a whole or if not
all truth, at least the best exposition of truth that exists. Adventists
could only expect or accept a valid attack to come from someone who is right
on all points of doctrine, and have a clear system of "truth".
Since other churches are seen to be tainted with error and represent the
"chaos" of spiritual Babylon it is unlikely that anyone will be
accepted as having the credibility to break down these presuppositions.
Of course, the truth is that no person or denomination has every piece of
truth perfectly figured out. We will all be learning and discovering our
infinite God throughout eternity.
As a side note, Adventism also heightens
the importance of issues that are secondary in nature with regard to human
salvation, while at the same time maximizing the importance of issues that
are heretical and undermine the core message of salvation. Early Adventism
demonstrated this clearly when it taught the Arian doctrine (the belief
that Jesus is not God but a created being like humans) while making the
practice of the Sabbath, a testing truth for salvation. So Christ's divinity
was denied in Adventism leaving Jesus as created being and the doctrine
of the Trinity perverted. On the other hand the practice of the Sabbath
was taught as a saving truth. And if one would not observe it to the minute,
they were unfaithful and would be lost.
Similar to the discussion above it is
not possible for critics to deal with the 27 doctrines of Adventism at the
same time. As a result, Adventists will just mentally remind themselves
that the critic who makes a good point in one area is wrong about a doctrine
that is not under discussion in another area. It is a kind of Catch 22 for
anyone seeking to find the cracks in the armor of Adventism.
Conceptually, Adventism sees itself
as a "ship", a ship on a journey to the second coming of Jesus,
the ship is a bit like Noah's ark. If an Adventist leaves the denomination
they are leaving the ship. To them, other ships (denominations) are false
ships, or at best, sinking ships. Adventists believe, on this basis, that
they are in great danger and will most likely be "lost" as a result
of leaving Adventism. So this last emotional issue combines with the other
intellectual issues to make Adventists slow to change. This operates as
a powerful deterrent to discourage those who might otherwise honestly question
or challenge what they have been taught. To the credit of those who dealt
with me, this was never mentioned.
How Did I Break Through That Kind of Thinking?
If Adventist believers are reluctant to deal
with doctrines "one by one" and therefore will not evaluate doctrines
individually, what is to be done? How can an honest Adventist really come
to a fair and honest evaluation of his or her belief system as it is taught
in the Adventist Church? I think my experience will be helpful to the reader.
I remember when my thinking began to
change. I have to admit I did not expect to change, or want to change, with
regard to Adventism. I was very content as an Adventist. I had supportive
denominational leaders, who I consider friends to this very day. I have
a good marriage, great kids and am doing well as a Chaplain. It is somewhat
of a paradox that it was my contentment with life and with Adventism that
ultimately led me to leave.
Since things were going so well for
me I was ready for another challenge. I remembered my old friend from college,
Pastor Clayton Peck, now, no longer an Adventist pastor. Clay is the pastor
of a non-denominational church called "Grace Place" located in
Berthoud Colorado. I thought, "If I take my time with him and see what's
going on with his thinking, I might be able to bring him back into the church.
I reasoned he probably was emotionally hurt from battling the Adventist
church over contemporary worship issues. "Clay is a good man and a
serious Christian, He will come back. After all, every honest person will
have to conclude Adventists are right!"
And thus, from my world of contentment
and harmony, I e-mailed Clay and began a dialog. For weeks we talked about
the Sabbath, the Sanctuary and Adventist doctrine of the Investigative Judgment
and I made arguments I was proud of and felt were logically sound. Clay
was a gentleman in every respect. He was patient, kind and respectful, he
stayed with the issues consistently. I remembered why I liked him so much
in our school days.
Then one day Clay said, "Dave,
would you do something for me? Would you read about the Shut Door doctrine
in early Adventism? And before you do, read the story of Israel Dammon on
site on the Internet." He continued, "I believe Ellen White is
an issue that has to be settled before we can really talk productively about
issues of Bible doctrine. If EGW has doctrinal authority as an inspired
prophet of God, then she holds the trump card on any theological discussion
we might have. You have to somehow end up where EGW on all the major issues.
On the other hand, if she does not have doctrinal authority, we can go back
and objectively study the Bible."
I felt his request was reasonable, I
also felt that this would be a good opportunity to share some of Ellen White's
material that I felt would be persuasive in reclaiming him for Adventism.
I believed wholeheartedly that Ellen White was a prophet and now I could
prove it. I have a double major in religion from Andrews University and
a Master of Divinity from the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary.
I graduated Magna Cum Laude from undergraduate school and while seminary
had no such recognition program I had a respectable Grade Point Average
there too. So I felt that I understood the issues and was well equipped
to defend the truth.
I didn't know it then but Clay had asked
me to evaluate the "lynchpin" of Adventism. An honest evaluation
of Ellen White and her role in Adventism is absolutely essential before
Adventists can honestly study Bible doctrine. Some wax eloquent about the
beauty of "this doctrine" or "that" and it's special
meaning for Christians. Others speak about the freedom and the joy in Christ
of being set free from "this regulation" or "that teaching".
However, when it comes to Adventists, these issues cannot even be discussed
intelligently until the issue of the authority of Ellen White is addressed.
You ask why? Some of you reading this
are saying, "I don't need Ellen White to support my beliefs, I believe,
teach and support everything from the Bible!" But hold it right there
for a moment. I am about to PROVE that that is impossible.
Two points make it clear that Ellen
White is where we must start. First: looking at Ellen White (EGW) provides
us an opportunity to deal with a "concrete" issue rather than
a theological one. For instance, it's easier for us to get a handle on terms,
ideas and the application of those ideas. We can deal with actual events
and happenings since there is a wealth of contemporary source material to
test her work as a prophet. Second, EGW is a "doctrine" in and
of herself within Adventism and that has a couple of serious implications.
This must not be overlooked or down played. In the Seventh-day Adventist
Church Manual dated 1986 and issued by the General Conference of Seventh-day
Adventists we find listed on page 28, doctrine number 17, "The Gift
of Prophecy". "One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy.
This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and was manifested
in the ministry of Ellen G. White. As the Lord's messenger, her writings
are a continuing and authoritative
source of truth , which provide for
the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction. They also make
clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience
must be tested."
Adventists will often say they support
their church doctrine because of the Bible alone and not EGW. I said it
too, over and over again. But I can now see that that is impossible with
the above doctrine. Logic dictates that if EGW is to be used for "guidance,
instruction and correction", and she is an "authoritative source
of truth", then Adventism has two truth sources. So the last statement
in doctrine 17 above `the Bible is the standard' is a logical fallacy as
long as EGW is doctrinally held to be an authoritative truth source as well.
Consider this from a practical standpoint.
Prior to becoming an Adventist I study the Bible, usually from a very limited
background and poor Bible study methods. I come to the point where I agree
Adventism is "Right' about the Sabbath and other points of doctrine.
Near the end of my studies I am introduced to EGW and told she agrees with
all the things I have learned. I then throw EGW into my belief system without
careful study since after all, she agrees with what I learned from the Bible.
Here is where the trouble begins.
If I have a belief in EGW as an authoritative
source of truth from God and I am furthering my study of a doctrine in the
Bible that EGW has spoken about, how can I come to a different conclusion
then EGW? The real issue is that most Adventists have never really taken
a hard look at EGW and tested her according to the Bible. They added her
into their slate of doctrines because, they thought, after all "Adventists
have right doctrine, EGW must be right too."
As I said above, in the system of Adventist
beliefs, EGW herself is a doctrine!
While I know it is possible to support the
doctrine of prophets living in the end of time by the Bible, it is
possible to test a person who claims to be a prophet (or a messenger which
EGW said encompassed all the work of a prophet and more) without looking
at the things they
teach, wrote and said .
Don't read further until you understand this paragraph.
For those Adventists who still believe
that the Bible is the supreme source of authority and are willing to really
test EGW against the Bible, consider this. If EGW is not "biblical"
and contradicts the Bible when she says "I saw" or "I was
shown" or relates the scenes of a vision, then Adventism is teaching
false doctrine in supporting her role as a prophet in the church. That's
clear, isn't it?
Since Adventism is a system that is
held to be truth, if acceptance of EGW as a prophet "falls" then
all Adventist teachings must come under a fresh reevaluation, with the preface
understanding that Adventism is wrong about EGW. This reevaluation, ultimately,
was what led me to leave Adventism.
I finally concluded that EGW could not
be a divinely appointed prophet. As a result I began to look at Adventist
doctrine openly and honestly for the first time. Not that I expected my
doctrine to be wrong, remember I held it because I learned it from the Bible.
But when I stopped again to really look at my doctrinal beliefs, now without
EGW's writings to "clear things up", I had to admit, Adventism
makes some very bold statements on some very thin evidence.
As a matter of conscience, experience,
and integrity, if you or I are going to make bold extraordinary claims,
we had better have extraordinary evidence. Don't you agree with this? Isn't
this the case in your personal life? If you are going to tell your friend
her husband is unfaithful, you had better be able to back it up with facts,
witnesses, pictures or something! But speculation, feelings or rumors just
aren't enough to risk the kind of heartache that would be caused to your
friend's marriage if you were wrong. Never mind the damage to your reputation
if you did not have solid evidence for such a charge.
The early Adventists knew that EGW's
living prophetic ministry, more than the Bible, was the one issue that gave
Adventism the extraordinary credibility to say extraordinary things. James
White (EGW's husband) wrote: "Our
position on the Testimonies (EGW's writings) 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 the message and the visions belong together and stand or fall together."
Advent Review and Sabbath
Herald , Aug. 14, 1883
As I said a moment ago, EGW is the "linchpin"
of Adventist teaching, James White calls her the "keystone". EGW
never disagreed with these words of her husband. During the time Dudley
Canright (one of Adventism's oldest and worst critics) was still an SDA
pastor he said virtually the same thing years later, again EGW never refuted
EGW said something similar when she
penned these words:"If the Testimonies
(her own writings) speak not according
to this word of God, reject them. Christ and Belial cannot be united.--
5, p. 691. But be certain that this is not easy to do if you are considering
remaining in the Adventist Church. Open questioning is often worse then
silent conclusions in Adventism. Again we read from EGW's own hand: "Some
write to me, saying that God has revealed to them that Sister White is in
error, that she is influenced by the leaders to believe some things that
are not true, and to reject some things that are true. But the word comes
again, "Heed them not; I have not spoken by them, nor given them any
word or message. They have spun lying words, from the suggestions of Satan."
Book 2, page 76, paragraph 2.
While I don't want to make more of this
statement than is warranted, it does seem to say that when it comes to "beliefs"
or teachings EGW says she is not to be considered wrong. She flatly denies
any of her core ideas are from others or that others influenced her beliefs
or writings. In the course of your wider study you will be able to evaluate
if this is true. EGW asserts that her writings are not to be filtered by
men but to be accepted as she wrote them. Consider this statement that clarifies
what I have just said. It is from Selected
Messages, Book 1, page 38, paragraph
1-3 or 4. Chapter Title: Ellen G. White and Her Writings, The
Sacred and the Common:
March 5, 1909
"I am troubled in regard to Brother
A, who for some years has been a worker in Southern California. He has made
some strange statements, and I am pained to see him denying the testimonies
as a whole because of what seems to him an inconsistency--a statement made
by me in regard to the number of rooms in the Paradise Valley Sanitarium.
Brother A says that in a letter written to one of the brethren in southern
California, the statement was made by me that the sanitarium contained forty
rooms, when there were really only thirty-eight. This, Brother A gives to
me as the reason why he has lost confidence in the testimonies. . . .
The information given concerning the
number of rooms in the Paradise Valley Sanitarium was given, not as a revelation
from the Lord, but simply as a human opinion. There has never been revealed
to me the exact number of rooms in any of our sanitariums; and the knowledge
I have obtained of such things I have gained by inquiring of those who were
supposed to know. In my words, when speaking upon these common subjects,
there is nothing to lead minds to believe that I receive my knowledge in
a vision from the Lord and am stating it as such. . . .
When the Holy Spirit reveals anything
regarding the institutions connected with the Lord's work, or concerning
the work of God upon human hearts and minds, as He has revealed these things
through me in the past, the
message given is to be regarded as light given of God for those who need
it. But for one to mix the
sacred with the common is a great mistake. In a tendency to do this we may
see the working of the enemy to destroy souls". (emphasis mine)
So in the particulars regarding "common"
things, EGW uses the information she has from human sources and we should
not think she is claiming that God has told her these things. EGW says that
it is only on theological matters
that we should hold her to absolute "truth"
or as she says " light given
of God " since these are the
issues God himself has shown her. So if we find EGW taught false doctrine
in biblical matters we should remember that she believed it was shown to
her in a vision or dream from God and that would qualify her as a false
prophet. But it would not be fair to question her on issues about `common'
things that do not have an impact on theology. Again EGW counseled pastors
not to interpret her `theological' content but to allow it to be accepted
as it is written. She wrote:
"God has given me a marked, solemn
experience in connection with His work; and you may be assured that so long
as my life is spared, I shall not cease to lift a warning voice as I am
impressed by the Spirit of God, whether men will hear or whether they will
forbear. I have no special wisdom in myself; I am only an instrument in
the Lord's hands to do the work He has set for me to do. The
instructions that I have given by pen or voice have been an expression of
the light that God has given me.
I have tried to place before you the principles that the Spirit of God has
for years been impressing upon my mind and writing on my heart.
And now, brethren, I entreat you not
to interpose between me and the people, and turn away the light which God
would have come to them. Do not by your criticisms take out all the force,
all the point and power, from the Testimonies. Do
not feel that you can dissect them to suit your own ideas, claiming that
God has given you ability to discern what is light from heaven and what
is the expression of mere human wisdom.
If the Testimonies speak not according to the word of God, reject them.
Christ and Belial cannot be united.
For Christ's sake do not confuse the minds of the people with human sophistry
and skepticism, and make of none effect the work that the Lord would do.
Do not, by your lack of spiritual discernment, make of this agency of God
a rock of offense whereby many shall be caused to stumble and fall, "and
be snared, and be taken." Testimonies
to the Church , Vol. 5, p. 691, written
in 1889 (emphasis mine)
"At times I am carried far ahead
into the future and shown what is to take place. Then again I am shown things
as they have occurred in the past. After I come out of vision I do not at
once remember all that I have seen, and the matter is not so clear before
me until I write, then the scene rises before me as was presented in vision,
and I can write with freedom. Sometimes the things which I have seen are
hid from me after I come out of vision, and I cannot call them to mind
until I am brought before a company where
that vision applies, then the things which I have seen come to my mind with
force. I am just as dependent upon the Spirit of the Lord in relating or
writing a vision, as in having the vision. It is impossible for me to call
up things which have been shown me unless the Lord brings them before me
at the time that He is pleased to have me relate or write them.
Spiritual Gifts ,
(1860), Vol. 2, pp. 292, 293.
Look at what it says on the next page:
PAGE 294"In bearing the testimony
which the Lord has given me for the last fifteen years, I have been opposed
by many who became my bitter enemies, especially those whose errors and
sins have been revealed to me, and have been exposed by me. Some of these
have carried out their feelings of revenge, as might be expected, in attacking
the humble instrument, and circulating unfavorable reports against me.
Spiritual Gifts ,
Vol. 2, p. 293, written in 1860.
EGW considers herself an instrument
in God's hand, who is not responsible for what God has her write or say.
Notice the quote below which again is meant to impresses readers with the
point that the words EGW speaks or writes on theological issues are God's
words given, as God would have them be related.
"The question is asked, how does
Sister White know in regard to the matters of which she speaks so decidedly,
as if she had authority to say these things? I speak thus because they flash
upon my mind when in perplexity like lightning out of a dark cloud in the
fury of a storm. Some scenes presented before me years ago have not been
retained in my memory, but when the instruction then given is needed, sometimes
even when I am standing before the people, the remembrance comes sharp and
clear, like a flash of lightning, bringing to mind distinctly that particular
instruction. At such times I cannot refrain from saying the things that
flash into my mind, not because I have had a new vision, but because that
which was presented to me perhaps years in the past has been
recalled to my mind forcibly ."
The Writing and Sending Out of the
Testimonies , p.24.
EGW is absolutely clear. She says her
words should be taken as they are, if we find theological error her role
as a prophet should be rejected. She says that in relating her visions,
God is in control. So Adventists must deal with EGW and decide if she is
a true prophet or not, she cannot be ignored. If a person believes EGW to
be a prophet, then to be honest, they must heed her instruction to investigate
her, and accept or reject her on the basis of the conclusions reached. To
do that we must read what she wrote.
I will share some of the research I
have done on an early doctrine of Adventism known as the "Shut Door
doctrine". This is the idea that in 1844 Jesus moved to the throne
of God in the Most Holy Place in the heavenly sanctuary just prior to the
second coming of Jesus in glory. The idea that the door was shut to the
lost was first taught by disappointed Millerites (but then it was the door
of the parable of the 10 virgins) who soon (in a few weeks or a couple of
months after October 22 nd
1844) rejected it. Many early Adventist's who
had not come under the influence of EGW rejected it like others, until EGW
had a vision that assured them that the work for sinners was in fact, finished.
Due to that false vision of EGW, work for the lost among Adventists would
not begin again for nearly seven years. But that evidence will come later.
Now watch out, if EGW is rejected then
something momentous has happened. A doctrine of Adventism is scene to be
wrong. A teaching of the SDA Church is scene to be a "false teaching".
We could therefore say with complete honesty that Seventh-day Adventists
teach at least one "false doctrine". Do you see why EGW is so
important? I hope so, I hope now you will study this question with a personal
stake in it, to be honest with yourself, no matter what the conclusion.
EGW represents a test case. If Adventists
are wrong about her, then the logical question is what else could
they be wrong about. Perhaps Pastor Clay Peck
knew that when he asked me to study the issue. This is not to say other
doctrines of Adventism must
be wrong, but that Adventists should reevaluate
their beliefs without the smugness that comes from believing you have a
recently living prophet verifying your conclusions and beliefs. There is
one doctrine of Adventism however that must be wrong if EGW is rejected.
That is the doctrine of the `Remnant'. Since EGW is 50% of the support for
teaching that Adventism is the Remnant Church of Bible prophecy, if she
goes, so too does this doctrine.
So in agreement with Pastor Peck I went
off to really investigate the issues surrounding EGW. I decided to look
at both sides, to read the material "pro and con" and make my
best defense. I was confident I would be able to see through the lies that
sought to discredit this powerful woman of God, as I then saw her.
I checked out the Ellen White Estate
Web Site and the material at Andrews University on their web site. I looked
at the detractors (critics) material too. I read books, lots of them. I
read Pro-Adventist books including the following: I read Messenger
of the Lord by Dr. Herbert E.
Douglass, Luke, a Plagiarist?
by George Rice, Why
I Believe in Mrs. E. G. White and Ellen White and Her Critics
by Francis D. Nichol, I
Was Canright's Secretary by
Carrie Johnson , The World of Ellen
G. White Edited by Gary Land,
The Ellen G. White Writings
by Arthur L. White, Early
Writings by Ellen White,
Testimonies Volume One
by Ellen White, The
Great Controversy by Ellen White,
The Desire of Ages
by Ellen White, Steps
to Christ by Ellen White, "
Damsteegt and a dozen or so other pro Ellen White books. I also read numerous
articles seeking to defend or promote the writings of Ellen White from hard
copies I had in my library and those I found on the web sites.
On the other side I read White
Washed by Sydney Cleveland,
Prophetess of Health: Ellen G.
White by Ron Numbers,
The White Lie
by Walter Rea, Life of Mrs. White
by D.M. Canright, Visions
of White by Snook and Brinkerhoff,
and The Cultic Doctrine of Seventh-day
Adventism by Dale Ratzlaff as
well as numerous articles from web sites critical to Adventism.
Newer books such as "The Cultic
Doctrine of Seventh-day Adventism" written by Dale Ratzlaff in 1996
are much more effective in breaking the assumptions of Adventist believers.
Dale uses logic and biblical truths accepted by Adventists of today to show
that no matter what you think about today's Adventism, when Adventism was
formed it taught false doctrine. Think about what I just wrote. At the same
time Adventism formulated the doctrine that it was the one true Remnant
Church of Bible prophecy, I found that Adventism was teaching clear heresy
that all Adventists would reject today, such as the Arian heresy (that Jesus
is not eternally God) and the Shut Door in heaven which taught Adventists
to stop sharing the Gospel to the lost.
Dale gives evidence of such false teachings
for readers to evaluate themselves. As a result, modern Adventists are able
to imagine themselves rejecting the Adventist church if they had lived when
it started because it was teaching heresy they could not accept today. If
God's the same yesterday, today and forever, the same standards of truth
for the people who lived at the beginning of Adventism would apply to us
today. Error is error and truth is truth. This idea of clear false doctrine
in Adventism in the early years of the church really challenged me. Ellen
White said that all those who rejected early Adventism (with it's accompanying
false doctrines) were lost! EGW said all the false doctrines of Adventism
in the beginning we true, that they were present truth.
Interesting proposition don't you think?
If a Methodist or Baptist rejected the false teachings of early Adventism,
EGW says they would be lost for not accepting present truth!
Imagine if Adventists still taught the
Arian heresy. If I were to say to a Christian who believes Jesus is fully
"Join my church, we reject Jesus
as God but we do teach the correct Sabbath."
Right or not about the Sabbath issue
the serious Christian would respond:
"Sorry, Jesus is my God and Savior
as the Bible says, I could not join a Church which rejects Jesus as God."
Some Adventists today actually have
the gall to say that the errors of the past were present truth at the time!
Give me a break! Would you have rejected Adventism on the grounds I outlined?
I would have. Which is more important, Jesus role as God and Savior or the
teaching of the Sabbath? James White went to his grave teaching Jesus was
a created being and was not fully God. Uriah Smith a major figure of early
Adventism lived most of his life teaching the same. And EGW only "clarified"
the issue on the side of the Trinity after her husband was long dead.
I dialoged at some length with the university
professor who taught the Ellen White class at my Alma Mater as well as the
religion department chairman there. In that dialog I wrote an imaginary
story that was no doubt lived out to some extent in the lives of early Adventists.
I have altered it slightly for ease of reading in this testimony:
My department chairman asked me:
"Just which one of the key, mature
teachings of EGW would you want to jettison? Can you accuse her of portraying
a false Gospel in the final analysis? Has the over all tenor of her work
been to lead people to the Lord, His Word, and a vision of Christian living,
self-sacrifice and witness or not?"
The professor who taught the Ellen White
class also asked:
"Just which of Ellen White's broader
expositions of Bible truth do you want to throw out?"
I am not able to look at these things
as irrelevant just because they happened more then a hundred years ago.
I have to say; What if these things were taught today? It was "today"
to the founders when they taught that Jesus was not God. It was "today"
when the founders taught that the Gospel was not to be shared with the lost.
It was "today" in the lives hundreds of early believers when all
of this was happening that they said that Adventism was the true Church
of God on earth and other Churches and their members represented the "lost",
the "rejected of God" and "Babylon". I can't say
these things are small when I consider that they had a contemporary audience,
that they applied these things to their witness for Christ and to their
life. These false teachings were of fundamental importance and destroyed
the Gospel message.
EGW condemned the faithful pastors of
non-Millerites and later on, the faithful witness of non-Adventists. She
says that God no longer listened to their prayers because they rejected
Miller and his teachings and later her teachings. She says they are
lost when they reject her false teachings about the gospel being closed
to anyone who was not a part of the Millerite 1844 date setting fiasco and
the subsequent teaching of the "Shut Door". We cannot
explain these things away saying they were "Present Truth" (Adventism
says false doctrines of the past were OK, since they were somehow true for
that time!). No, they were errors, errors about salvation, errors
about the Gospel, and just because change came to some of these things we
cannot say that when error was taught in the name of God that it was not
heresy. God does not lie. Not even to make his points.
Imagine this scenario of those early
It is the year 1844, and I
am a young Brethren Church member. I am Arminian rather then Calvinist,
(I believe it is possible to be lost having once been saved, as do the Methodists).
I am a Trinitarian, I believe in adult believer baptism, and know salvation
is by grace alone). My friend, who is with me, is a Seventh-day Baptist
(SDB), he likewise holds similar beliefs but also the particulars of the
Seventh-day Baptists (for the purpose of this illustration I will not debate
their rightness or wrongness).
I tell my friend who is the SDB that
I am drawn to the persuasive words and teachings of those who are preaching
Mr. Miller's ideas. My pastor at the Brethren Church and
my SDB friend remind me that no one can know the day or the hour of
Christ's coming. They say that the Millerites, though persuasive and
with what seem to be biblical reasons for their teachings are still
wrong. My friends quote from the Bible "The first to
come forward and present his case, seems right until another comes forward
and questions him". "These Millerites are teaching
in direct opposition to the Word of God" they say. "No man knows
when Jesus is coming again".
I don't listen to my friends. I respond
that there is too much of "God" in this, I don't understand it,
but Miller is right!" I declare. I join the Millerites and
expectantly wait for the Second Coming on Oct, 22, 1844. But on the
26th of October 1844, a few days after my terrible disappointment,
(since Jesus did not come as expected) my Pastor and my SDB friend approach
me and say: "We are sorry Dave, we live and learn, hopefully
this experience will teach you to trust God's Word over the persuasive messages
of preachers who disregard it's plain warnings."
I can reply in one of two ways,
I can say:
"Yes, I see what you were trying
to tell me now. If only I would have believed the Bible's
clearest warning about "the day and the hour" rather then following
the complex numerical calculations of Mr. Miller."
Or I might say:
"Wait, it all worked out in the
charts that Mr. Miller provided. We could not have been wrong. I must
look for the true answer to this because it is very important for me, something
must have happened on 22 October 1844!"
If I reply the first way I can get on with my Christian living and the work
of sharing Christ to the lost. If I reply the second way, another scenario
develops. Lets see how that second scenario develops.
I search for an explanation
of the disappointment. Not getting beyond my past interpretation of Oct
22, 1844 as a date of prophecy, I settle on the answers of James and Ellen
White and those who stand with them. This time I proclaim, with the Whites:
1) That we are among
the "Remnant", (the last true followers of Jesus);
2) Ellen White is God's special messenger or prophet;
3) The door of salvation is shut to the wicked world (no new converts
among the unsaved). No more teaching of the Gospel to the lost;
4) Millerites who have not continued to try to understand Oct 22, 1844
all lost too;
5) I look forward to 1851 with the Whites and brother Bates, who likewise
have accepted EGW's role as a prophet, for the Second Coming of Jesus
after seven years of a "tarrying time" (a waiting time) have
6) The Sabbath is the Third Angels message of Rev 14 and it runs from
6 pm to 6 pm;
7) I have given up the doctrine of the Trinity, there is only one God!
is created. James White has assured me and his wife the prophet has not
spoken to say he is wrong;
8) I accept the Sanctuary message and the Investigative Judgment,
learning that I must faithfully reproduce the character of Jesus to vindicate
Jesus against Satan's accusations;
I am really feeling good now since I know these truths. I reassure myself
that there is safety in following truth. We were wrong in teaching that
1844 would be the Second Coming but we have grown in great light from
God. All of those who have turned their backs on truth no longer have
the light of God in their lives, this I know since EGW has informed me
of this. God has truly smiled upon my willingness to follow truth wherever
it leads. I try to live holy and I don't waste my time on unbelievers,
they are forever lost.
My SDB friend visits me again. Since he has heard that I now believe in
the Sabbath, we discuss it together. He tells me the Bible is clear, if
I am going to keep the Sabbath it begins at sundown and should be kept
as the Bible says or it is not being kept! I am wrong, he declares, to
try to keep it from 6 pm to 6 pm. He tells me that salvation is in Christ
and Jesus is fully God, it is only in Jesus "as God", he says,
that he could provide for our salvation. He warns me again that there
is no Biblical evidence for a seven-year tarrying time ending in 1851.
He gently repeats to me that this is the same mistake that I made concerning
1844 and I am repeating it. He tells me that it is crazy to accept the
teachings of people who are listening to EGW's "visions" which
teach that salvation is closed for all the lost and even the sincere Millerites
who will not listen to the Adventists. Again he assures me that I am wrong,
and shows from the Bible that salvation is open to all until Jesus returns.
I reject his counsel I have been with the Adventists for six years and
I feel that they are "meeting my needs" and I find assurances
that I am correct through the prophetic role of EGW. I ask myself, "Which
one of the fallen Churches of Babylon who are prostituting themselves
to the Beast have a living prophet?!" 1851 comes and goes, I am still
on earth, I am a little disappointed again but I am O.K. with this "minor"
disappointment, after all we were pre-warned by our Adventist leadership
months ago that Jesus sets his own times. We are told Jesus might have
come if we were more faithful, I feel guilty that I haven't been more
faithful, was it my fault Jesus did not come?
Some time in 1851
a man is converted to Adventism and the Whites accept it as a true conversion
even though he was not part of the Millerite movement! How can this be?
Boy, we are changing, but that is O.K., I have to admit I feel a bit relieved
about salvation being open to the lost now, I never felt comfortable with
the teaching that everyone but Adventists were in "darkness"
and lost. I feel bad I didn't share my faith to my agnostic brother before
he died last month. But I thought, what's the use, he's lost anyway "the
door was shut!"
But I console myself; God is good, He knows what He is doing. 1853(4)
comes and the Sabbath hours are revised to "even to even"! I
think back to my conversation with my SDB friend, he was right after all!
"No matter" I say, I'm right now too. I feel troubled about
these changes that reflect the beliefs of Churches within Babylon, but
I feel the Lord has led me. I am reminded by the writings of EGW that
the only way I can really get into trouble "is to forget the way
the Lord has led me in the past."
It is now 1855; my old Pastor and friend see me at the grocery store.
Hello Dave, how are things going? I understand the Church has changed
some of their doctrine again? "Yes", I say, a little embarrassed.
We are following "Present Truth" we can expect to advance in
the light as it comes to us." My friends are somewhat incredulous.
"What?" they say. "When we presented these same truths
to you a few years ago, you rejected them and called us Babylon! You said
you were in the "Remnant" church. You said we were rejecting
true light as taught by the Adventists! Forgive us Dave, but you now wake
up to the same things we said all along because it is taught now by a
few of your leaders, years later and it is "Present Truth"?!
Give us a break!"
"Forgive us" they continue, "but you are deceived Dave,
and you have no credibility with us anymore." "The Adventists
have been teaching false doctrine (as I now readily admit) for years,
and Dave, you said they were right. You can't explain it away saying that
`it was true for that time' when it was error for all time!!!! It now
turns out that we `Babylonians' were right all along and after these years
how can you look at us with a straight face and say, you have `present
I look to my friends and hang my head in embarrassment and shame. I have
rejected all of their solid biblical counsel for years because it did
not come through those I trusted in "My Church". I go home to
my wife and kids and quietly eat my dinner, ashamed to admit the truth,
my friends we right all along.
This is not an unreasonable
scenario, in fact, to one extent or another it was most likely lived out
in the lives of "hundreds" of early Seventh-day Adventists (I
say hundreds and not thousands because most people did not join the Adventists
with their many clear heresies until a decade or so passed between them
and the memory of their worst anti-Gospel heresies).
Adventism of today has a right, like any other Church, to defend its'
doctrines on the basis of Bible study. It cannot appeal to the leading
of God in history, they readily admit that they were more wrong than the
Seventh-day Baptist's on the Sabbath issue (the rightness or wrongness
of either groups current position not being under discussion). As we can
see from this story, error is never "Present Truth", in the
light of hindsight, how can Adventism maintain that these things were
true in any sense what so ever? But EGW maintained either that:
a. these teachings were true for their time
b. she never taught these errors
c. others were distorting the Adventist positions.
But the evidence reveals
she did believe and teach these things, proclaiming that God validated
these teachings through her visions and dreams as a prophet. She is therefore
a false prophet for doing so. Her denials of what really happened are
a secondary issue of integrity.
Adventists regularly dismiss these particulars and appeal to the fruit
of the ministry of EGW, supposing it to be good spiritual fruit. But that
is not an easy sell to those who are versed in her first 40 years of "ministry"
which can be demonstrated to be very, very bad fruit. At the most fundamental
level, she taught a false Gospel. Only as she matured and accepted the
doctrines of the Methodists, Brethren, and Seventh-day Baptists who she
had years earlier relegated to the roles of the lost, would she again
speak with a more biblical voice.
If you or I were caught
teaching the things I have spoken about, you would not hesitate to condemn
me as wrong, wouldn't you agree? Adventists feel justified in saying that
the Bible writers did similar things to what we find in EGW. But friend,
NONE of the Bible writers ever had a vision that taught heresy as truth.
Some of the Bible writers may have been hypocrites at times and all were
sinners, but Scripture never teaches hypocrisy and error as truth!
Some Adventists appeal to personal experience. But as biblical Christians,
we cannot appeal to personal experience, experience is valuable but it
is not enough. The experiences of dozens of false movements with "prophets",
so called, demonstrate that. Adventism can only test prophets and test
itself by the Bible.
I hope that the reader can see that I am not, and I was not, looking for
perfection. Perfection is not reasonable to expect from humanity, I don't
look for it even in God's prophets. If Ellen White had stolen cars, committed
adultery and murder, I could say, well, we all sin. After all, King David
did some very terrible things. So, no, I am not looking for perfection
in the life of EGW.
The things I am outlining
are "damning" not just "damaging" to early Adventist
credibility. EGW was teaching error in the name of God and claiming her
visions were the source of that error. Biblical writers have never said
"God showed me..." and then what they said turned out to be
error, never. Cases such as Jonah's prophecy to Nineveh and Isaiah with
Hezekiah demonstrate contextually their conditional nature. Adventists
who point to these Bible stories to mitigate the charges against EGW are
unable to point to similar EGW documentation to show her predictions are
When EGW speaks she
says that she is not only led by God in the receiving of the visions and
dreams but also in the relating of them so they are just as God would
have them to be delivered with no mention of conditionality in historical
context or in the `testimonies' of EGW themselves.
"At times I
am carried far ahead into the future and shown what is to take place.
Then again I am shown things as they have occurred in the past. After
I come out of vision I do not at once remember all that I have seen, and
the matter is not so clear before me until I write, then the scene rises
before me as was presented in vision, and I can write with freedom. Sometimes
the things which I have seen are hid from me after I come out of vision,
and I cannot call them to mind until I am brought before a company where
that vision applies, then the things which I have seen come to my mind
with force. I am just as dependent upon the Spirit of the Lord in relating
or writing a vision, as in having the vision. It is impossible for me
to call up things which have been shown me unless the Lord brings them
before me at the time that He is pleased to have me relate or write them.
-- Spiritual Gifts (1860), vol. 2, pp. 292, 293.
After she says this in unequivocal terms, her defenders, in light of her
clear teaching of error on things such as the Shut Door must say, "Well,
she must have misunderstood the visions she received". What is so
difficult for EGW to understand when she reads (or as she claims, sees
in vision) about the simple Gospel message? How does the message of universal
salvation to all the repentant world get turned around to the degree that
EGW is able to say God told her the Gospel age is over in 1844!? The answer
is that God did not speak to her. Mrs. White did understand what she wrote,
that is the point in the above quotation. I will share the content of
the Shut Door visions below for you to evaluate yourself.
EGW says that when
God was ready for her to relate a point, then that point was brought to
her mind with force! But Adventists want so badly to salvage her they
say she misunderstood it. The Bible says: 2 Peter 1:20 "Above all,
you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's
So if we were to except
the defenders explanation, we would have to accept that EGW misunderstood
what God was saying and then taught that error in the name of God. EGW
would teach what she thought God was saying even when she didn't really
know by providing her own interpretation, so her above quote would amount
to little more than a bold faced lie. This, then, would serve as another
reason she is a false prophet. This all adds up to one unavoidable conclusion.
Adventist history does not show Adventism to be the "Remnant"
of Bible prophecy.
Adventism is severely
flawed doctrinally; even more than Protestant churches Adventism wants
to label "Babylon". But with one important difference, Adventism
can't admit its errors or grow out of them as long as they hold to the
teaching that EGW is a prophet of God. EGW was right in one important
statement that went like this "believers are in great danger if they
forget the leading of the Lord in the past.
So What About Adventism Now, Today?
On paper, in their
doctrinal statements, Adventists continue to be very heretical legalists.
And that is why they struggle with the "Historical Adventists"
who seek to faithfully reproduce early Adventism with its associated heresies.
Historical Adventists are clearly legalists. Other Adventists, Adventists
who read their Bibles and don't spend a great deal of time in the writings
of the church and EGW are often true Christians because they neglect Adventism's
particulars that they don't understand and embrace the clearer Bible message
about salvation by grace.
I wrote to a member
of the staff at the Ellen White Estate and it carries such an orderly
form I have decided to reproduce it for the reader much as I sent it out
to that staff member. It demonstrates the extent of the denial of the
real issues concerning EGW.
Here is that e-mail
response. I have added some clarification in parenthesis.
The Ellen White Estate Staff member (name omitted), wrote:
"Was she (EGW) human and hence fallible? Of course. But do these
warrant classifying her as a false prophet? No. Moses killed an Egyptian;
he also disobeyed God by striking the rock twice. Should we therefore
declare him to be a false prophet and discard the Pentateuch? No. This
would be "flyspecking (nitpicking)." David committed adultery,
murdered, and lied. Should we therefore discard the Psalms? Of course
not. Then what should we say about Ellen White, whose ministry has led
thousands to Jesus?"
When I read that I wondered if we were talking about the same subject.
I have no problem with EGW's humanity. I have a problem with her saying
"God showed me" when God did not show her. This is very different
then having a problem with her sins.
"If Ellen White were alive, we could ask her to explain what she
meant by "I was shown" or "I saw" in various instances.
And I am sure we would receive a clear, satisfying answer."
When she was alive many of these questions were put to her. Some by Adventist
Doctors, and she never answered them. They asked her, "how could
God show you about the sins of an individual when those sins never happened?"
EGW was given the opportunity to explain many of these things. She chose
not to answer, there is no record she every responded to these questions.
That leaves us with the responsibility to answer them for ourselves as
"I feel very comfortable with the fact that Ellen White did not at
first understand the meaning of what God showed her. God does the best
He can with the instruments available to Him."
In essence you feel comfortable laying the responsibility or blame for
these heretical teachings at the feet of God. Preaching and teaching the
nearness of the Second Coming of Christ is did the Bible writers is not
the same as preaching a timetable and a date for the Second Coming. The
Bible tells us this is NOT to be done. The chart that William Miller used
to preach that Jesus would come in 1843 was stamped with divine approval
by EGW. How could the chart showing biblical evidence for Jesus second
Coming to earth in 1843 be in any sense "true"? That is a clear
heretical teaching which contradicts the clear word of Scripture.
It is the responsibility
of the communicator to communicate. If EGW "misunderstood" her
visions then God is responsible.
You say that EGW "is a head injury victim." The brother in Canada
diagnosed her as having temporal lobe epilepsy. A large committee of specialists
in this field examined this charge several years ago. The substance of
their carefully worded statement in response was, "No way."
My own response is, "If temporal lobe epilepsy can have such a positive
effect on a person as it did on Ellen White, may God give us more people
with the affliction." I dismiss the charge as having no merit.
I raise this as a `possible' defense for EGW's false teachings. It is
my honest attempt to defend her from charges of "knowingly perpetrating
evil". If you disregard this possibility we are left with no reasonable
answer than to say EGW was knowingly deceiving God's people, as you will
see below in further responses.
Other churches that grew out of the Millerite movement --for example,
the Advent Christian church--are virtually inconsequential today, and
as F. D. Nichol once remarked (in substance) to one of their church leaders
who attributed the remarkable vitality and growth of the SDAs to "better
leadership," "No, my brother, the difference was that from the
beginning God gave the Spirit of prophecy to a frail young woman in New
I don't think size is a valid measure of success when it comes to "denominationalism".
The issue is "Christianity". In other words, other groups that
grew out of the Millerite heresy died as believers went back to Christian
Churches who did not hold to Millerism and their descendents are in those
groups, a topically dedicated denominational edifice like "Seventh-day
Adventist" is not required to gauge positive impact. Mormons, Jehovah's
Witnesses and other denominations with prophets have done relatively well.
Does their success equate to truth or that God's will is being accomplished?
I think you are correct
however in that EGW is the reason Adventism and
it's denominational identity has remained intact. Without her role as
a "prophet" within Adventism, the false teachings of Adventism's
early years and subsequent lingering differences from evangelical Christianity
would have caused us to rejoin with the larger Bible believing community.
Adventism has largely
changed its modern `presentation' with regard to things like the Investigative
Judgment and the Sanctuary to bring them more into harmony with the evangelical
world. Generally, as they are currently understood and taught by pastors
such as myself and the Adventist Chaplaincy Endorser for instance, they
are not heresy. But as long as Adventism supports EGW's role as a prophet
it will forever be assailed by those purists who wish to teach the doctrine
as presented by EGW and early Adventism such as is currently the case
with those who call themselves `Historical Adventists'.
If EGW's statements
were available and read by the masses of the Adventist Church, we would
see more of the heresies of the "Historical" Adventists. Make
no mistake about it; the abuses of the Historical Adventists originate
from a faithful application of EGW's own words. Just as in her own time
there was a church congregation which burned their photo's in response
to EGW's comments that photos were idolatry, only to have EGW chastise
them for applying her words as they were written!
With regard to the statement EGW made about some who lived in her time
living to see Jesus come and others who would be "food for worms".
To me, this comes within the
framework of conditional prophecy. God wanted to have the gospel message,
in the context of the three angels' messages, carried to the world soon
after 1844. His people did not rally to the extent necessary. Christ's
coming has been delayed further by insubordination. Should we blame the
prophet or the people? If the prophet, what shall we say about statements
such as "Behold, I come quickly" and "Surely I come quickly"
(Rev. 22:7, 20)? And shall we call Paul a false apostle because he said,
"Yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not
tarry" (Heb. 10:37)?"
Preaching the nearness or the sureness of the Second Coming is very different
from fixing a time or window of time for the event. Again, you feel comfortable
blaming God for this and suggest that God mislead biblical prophets in
the past. Further, in an effort to defend EGW you repeat a defense she
was fond of, you blame the people of the church. This attempt to defend
EGW by creating guilt and laying it at the feet of the people is offensive.
Her statement was
neither general as in the instances you just cited, nor was it conditional
as was Jonah's. She said nothing about conditionality and the people present
report nothing conditional about her statement. In the Bible's abbreviated
story of Jonah the response of the people to humble themselves is contextual
proof that the prophecy was delivered conditionally. Nothing in Scripture
even remotely equates to the false teachings of the "Shut Door"
doctrine where EGW proclaimed an end to the Gospel age! Nor is there anything
similar to the EGW "food for worms" error under discussion.
As we know from epistemology (the study of the nature or grounds of knowledge),
one best gains new knowledge by connecting it with the familiar. But what
if you have no adequate frame of reference for the new knowledge? You
may need time and new information to get it right. In Mrs. White's case,
the Holy Spirit kept working with her until the truth became clear. Ellen
White rightly acknowledged her full dependence on the Holy Spirit both
in giving her a vision and in explaining it. But that did not mean her
understanding was infallible."
I must take decided issue with you here. The historical record indicates
that there was a clear "framework" for EGW to understand and
teach truth "if" it had been revealed to her by God. Joseph
Turner (an early Millerite Adventist) first taught the "Shut Door"
as EGW would later teach it. What is more, Adventists were beginning to
teach the door of salvation was open to sinners for repentance shortly
after the 1844 disappointment, only to have EGW stop them "cold"
and hold them in error for an additional 6-7 years! The issues were abundantly
clear. The early Adventists were even identified as being "Sabbath
and Shut door" people.
Clearly the framework
for understanding was overwhelming. Either folks outside the Millerite
movement could be saved or they could not. This was not rocket science
or brain surgery. God's Word says:
and preach the Gospel to all nations
What possible framework
was lacking for EGW to misunderstand God's Word as it is written and instead
angel bade me look for the travail of souls for sinners as used to be.
I LOOKED BUT COULD NOT SEE IT FOR THE TIME FOR THEIR SALVATION IS PAST.
Dear Brother and Sister, I have now written the vision God gave me. I
am tired sitting so long. Our position looks very clear. WE KNOW WE HAVE
THE TRUTH, THE MIDNIGHT CRY IS BEHIND US, THE DOOR WAS SHUT IN 1844 AND
JESUS IS SOON TO STEP OUT FROM BETWEEN GOD AND MAN." Letter 5-1849,
White Estate, (March 24-30, 1849)
Regarding EGW and the Shut Door. Ellen White maintained, and the evidence
supports, that, while she and others believed for a time that no more
sinners would be converted after 1844, she was never instructed in vision
that the door of salvation was shut for the world.
This is simply not true. EGW said she didn't teach it from vision, but
the evidence is overwhelming that she was either forgetful or knowing
lied about what she said and taught from her visions. EGW did teach "from
her visions" that the door was shut.
"The light behind them (Millerites who did not become Adventists)
went out leaving their feet in perfect darkness, and they stumbled and
got their eyes off the mark and lost sight of Jesus, and fell off the
path down in the dark and wicked world below. It was just as impossible
for them to get on the path again and go to the City, as all the wicked
world which God had rejected."
Ellen G. White, A Word to the Little Flock, p. 14.
Again: (my comments
Under date of May 30, 1847, James White wrote:
"When she (EGW)
received her first vision, Dec. 1844, she and all the band in Portland,
Maine, (where her parents then resided) had given up the midnight-cry,
and shut door, as being in the past (NO LONGER TO BE BELIEVED). It was
then that the Lord shew her in vision, the error into which she and the
band in Portland had fallen. She then related her vision to the band,
and about sixty confessed their error, and acknowledged their 7th month
experience to be the work of God.--James White, A Word to the Little Flock,
(IN OTHER WORDS, TRUTH CAME TO THE BAND VERY QUICKLY BUT EGW HAD A VISION
THAT LED THEM BACK INTO THE SHUT DOOR HERESY!)
Again EGW writes:
"There was one sister there that was called very spiritual. She had
traveled and been a powerful preacher the most of the time for twenty
years. She had been truly a mother in Israel. But a division had risen
in the band on the shut door. She had great sympathy, and could not believe
the door was shut. (THIS WOMAN THOUGHT CHRISTIANS SHOULD STILL PREACH
THE GOSPEL TO THE LOST)
(I had known nothing of their difference.) Sister Durben got up to talk.
I felt very, very sad.
At length my soul seemed to be in an agony, and while she was talking
I fell from my chair to the floor. It was then I had a view of Jesus rising
from His mediatorial throne and going to the holiest as Bridegroom to
receive His kingdom. They were all deeply interested in the view. They
all said it was entirely new to them. The Lord worked in mighty power
setting the truth home to their hearts.
Sister Durben knew what the power of the Lord was, for she had felt it
many times; and a short time after I fell she was struck down, and fell
to the floor, crying to God to have mercy on her. When I came out of vision,
my ears were saluted with Sister Durben's singing and shouting with a
Most of them received the vision, and were settled upon the shut door.
(IN OTHER WORDS THEY ACCEPTED EGW'S VISION THAT THE DOOR OF SALVATION
WAS CLOSED TO UNBELIEVERS) Previous to this I had no light on the coming
of the Bridegroom, but had expected Him to this earth to deliver His people
on the tenth day of the seventh month. I did not hear a lecture or a word
in any way relating to the Bridegroom's going to the holiest.--Letter
3, 1847. (To Joseph Bates, July 13, 1847)""
I continued my response:
So, I am not sure what you are talking about when you say EGW did not
teach this heresy from vision, she clearly did. As is evidenced from the
last quote, she had visions at just the right time to maintain Adventists,
who were starting to accept truth, in the belief of a heretical lie!
You say that EGW maintained
that she did not teach this heresy from visions. You Quote EGW who said
years later in 1883:
"For a time after the disappointment in 1844, I did hold, in common
with the advent body, that the door of mercy was then forever closed to
the world. This position was taken BEFORE my first vision was given me.
(EMPHASIS MINE.) "I am still a believer in the shut-door theory,
but not in the sense in which we at first employed the term or in which
it is employed by my opponents." 1SM 63.
Robert Olsen, former
head of the Ellen White Estate and loyal EGW supporter comments on this
1883 quote above, when he rightly corrects it with facts and suggests
her statement is misleading.
"Ellen White appears to be saying that she immediately adopted "the
true position" after receiving her first vision. However, such an
interpretation of her words does not seem to be in harmony with other
documents of the time, especially Otis Nichols' letter to William Miller.
(See entry No. 24.)" THE "SHUT DOOR" DOCUMENTS Ellen G.
White Estate, Washington D. C. April 11, 1982
Olsen doesn't supply
any detail concerning the "documents" of the time to which he
refers. But (as the reader will already see) from quotes supplied here
we know what Olsen was referring to. Once again, the evidence is overwhelming
that EGW did teach, from her visions, that non-Millerites were forever
lost and outside the "Shut Door" and that those who were Millerites
and did not accept Adventism as presented by EGW were also lost.
With regard to the 1843 chart you referred to. For reasons that God alone
can explain, Bible students in 1843 needed the experience of 1843-1844.
Obviously God could have "stepped in" and guaranteed every date,
every line of reasoning, when Charles Fitch and Apollos Hale prepared
their chart. But that kind of divine intervention has been rare throughout
history. Permitting men and women to work through their problems, learning
special lessons that would not have been experienced otherwise, seems
to have been God's general plan.
Are you saying that God thought the people needed to be deceived about
the 1843-1844 fiasco? Interesting argument. Sir, the problem is not that
they were wrong, we both agree on that. The problem is that EGW says that
they were right, that God manipulated things to such an extent that "not
one line of the chart should be changed" as she said.
Sir, it is simply
not logical, let alone correct in any sense of the word to suggest that
the 1843 chart is divinely appointed as EGW does and as you have just
done saying that it represented truth for their time! EGW said that pastors
of the time had "blood on their hands" for rejecting the 1843
message and that the 1843 message was a "saving truth". It turns
out that they were more able to read God's intentions then the Adventists
since God did not come in 1843 or 1844 for that matter. And it is simply
unbiblical to call the 1843 message a `saving message' as EGW does. No
time message is a saving message. The Gospel is the saving message!
In closing, you did
not really speak to the substance of my points. I am coming to realize
the reason is that there are no substantial, credible answers to these
Your tendency to ignore
or defend over against the substance of the EGW errors and heresies does
not serve Adventism well. Why? Because a positive "spin" does
not change "facts" no matter how well meaning we may be. The
Bible says we will know them by their fruits. Saying EGW makes us feel
warm when we read her is not enough. Joseph Smith has followers in Mormonism
who testify similarly. The Bible commands us to "test the prophets",
not putting our most positive spin on what they say and reducing the conclusion
to subjectivity. But we are called to apply an objective, honest look.
The false teachings,
false testimonies to people with a disregard for the instruction of Matthew
18, contradictions, suffocating spirituality demonstrated in her guilt
(so different from the attractive spirit demonstrated in the words and
actions of Christ), demonizing of opponents and other practices of EGW
do not allow us as Christians to continue to recommend EGW as a source
of authority for Christian believers. If we said she was just a Christian
writer like you or I that would be one thing, but not a divinely appointed
messenger speaking for God.
I hope you will accept
my reply in the genuine spirit of love that it is intended. I know you
have labored long in the service of God as you have understood it. Just
as I did for the many years I served as a pastor.
I would ask you to
look again at the EGW record from a more objective position. Your conclusions
might be very different.
Finally, truth is
not error, and error is not truth, no matter who says so. You remember
that the Apostle Paul said we should not even believe an angel from heaven
if that angel taught falsehood. Our desire to vindicate EGW will not change
truth into the error, or vise versa no matter how hard we try or how good
our intentions. In the end, I believe I cannot stand with her, lending
my credibility to her writings either silently or actively, if I did,
I would be sharing in the deception.
This e-mail and the imaginary story from another give the flavor of my
objections to the leaders of the Adventist church. They represent the
end of long dialogs that encompassed numerous e-mails. The information
I was sharing with these men was coming from the writings of EGW herself,
and from the accumulated research of friends and foes alike of Adventism.
I had a wealth of information fresh from my study. You can check the quotes
for yourself at the Adventist Church's EGW web site www.ellenwhite.com.
As I said, I read!
I read for months, I read into the night for weeks at a time. I read with
zeal to vindicate not just Ellen White but myself, since I had for so
long, pointed to EGW as a genuine prophet for God's last day Church. To
my surprise and dismay I was finding more problems then answers. These
e-mail messages above represent the latter end of my efforts. I began
by writing friends of mine who are Adventist pastors to see what they
knew, so they could talk me out of my preliminary conclusions. I was once
again impressed with the quality of my friends and their loving spirit,
they stuck by me even when we disagreed. But with regard to our topic,
I was also impressed that they, like me, had not really taken the critics
material seriously, they had never done a fair and honest evaluation of
EGW as I was seeking to do then.
I wrote to the Ellen
White Estate and spoke to two members of the staff. I called my Endorser
at the General Conference Headquarters, I spoke with trusted senior Adventist
pastors and other Chaplains endorsed by the Adventist Church. I spoke
with another General Conference officer who was related to a local church
member. I spoke at length with my pastor at my local Adventist Church.
Answers to solve the problems were not forth coming.
I carried on a prolonged
e-mail dialog with a professor who now teaches the Ellen White class at
the university I graduated from. He was thoughtful and patient. However,
he was unable to answer the problems. He and the others were content to
say that the "weight of the evidence" was on EGW's side. He
responded to my suggestion that EGW was the victim of the results of her
head injury saying: "If a head injury results in such service to
the Lord then by all means, let me have a head injury!" Needless
to say, that was not very helpful to me. His opinion was mirrored nearly
word for word in a response I received from a member of the Ellen White
Estate Staff. In each case when I pinned them down to the issues, most
stopped responding to my e-mails, to their credit, not all.
To my surprise I found
a range of responses from other Adventist pastors and leaders. Some Adventist
leaders offered satisfactory answers to some of my questions. I knew there
would be answers to some of it, detractors (critics) can get carried away
and pile on when there is the smell of blood. But for the most part the
core issues went unanswered.
Some pastors admitted they didn't really accept the churches positions
regarding EGW and ignored her in their ministry to minimize her influence
on their congregations.
Some felt I was right
in every way and admitted they only stayed in the Adventist Church because
they were comfortable there and they had no place else to go for a job.
One Adventist University religion scholar admitted that he only stayed
in Adventism because that is where his friends were! He said he knew the
message was not true, that is why he could never do evangelism for Adventism.
I was disappointed for both him and myself when he admitted it.
I wasn't getting the
"straightening out" I wanted and I began to feel the pull of
a final decision. The "death blow" fell when I re-read Dale
Ratzlaff's new book, "The Cultic Doctrine of Seventh-day Adventism".
It is the best work I have read, in that he adequately debunks Ellen White
and shows she could not have been a prophet. He does it with a pastor's
heart as well, if you can look past the title of the book.
So this is my "short"
testimony to those who might be tempted to lightly dismiss the critics
of Adventism. Any honest evaluation must start with Ellen White. If you
or anyone can believe her to be a true prophet after honestly evaluating
the bulk of the evidence both pro and con, then studying doctrine would
be a waste of time. On the other hand, if you find that Ellen White taught
error in the name of God and know the difference between right and wrong
you will come to know Ellen White is at best a well meaning self deluded
head injury patient, and at worst a deceiver.
Either way, EGW fits
the biblical definition of a false prophet. And Adventism, as a result,
teaches at least two false doctrines. If that is your final conclusion
with regard to Ellen White, then look at the other doctrines of Adventism
again. But do it intelligently, do it by looking at the best material
out there on both sides. Dale Ratzlaff's "Sabbath in Crisis"
and Dr. Jerry Gladson's "A Theologian's Journey from Seventh-day
Adventism to Mainstream Christianity" are thoughtful books and worth
reading. Dirk Anderson's web site www.ellenwhite.org is also an excellent
source of very well written material.
Don't miss Robert Olsen's study of the Shut Door at the www.ellen-white.com
All of these are worth your time.
God says that he desires
those who worship Him to worship in spirit and truth. If you come to believe
you are lending your support to a denomination that teaches error, then
have the courage to leave that denomination, and say and support only
what you know to be true. Your church membership is a testimony to what
you believe, in Adventism perhaps more then other churches, since EGW
says in essence "love us or leave us" "all or nothing".
holds 27 "fundamental" beliefs. EGW is a fundamental issue in
Adventism, not a negotiable extra. Teach less if you need to, but don't
teach error arguing that it is not a big deal. The challenge is yours.
May God bless your study of His word and your walk with Him. To borrow
a phrase from a T.V. show commercial for "The X-Files", the
truth is out there, and God is the author of that truth. It's not all
in one place, or one denominational system, but rather in God's holy Word,