Mrs. White picked on several items of diet and drink condemning them as sinful. For instance, "Tea and coffee drinking is a sin." (Counsels on Diet and Food, p. 425) That seems pretty simple and straightforward. I have no Biblical evidence to contradict this statement. However my conscience does not indicate to me that drinking tea or coffee is sinful. Certainly one might overdo coffee and tea drinking and that would become sinful. Some people are actually known to drink too much water sometimes even ending in death. Perhaps this is sinful but maybe they can be excused on the basis that they have an illness.
I know one Adventist lady who stands by Ellen White as a true prophet with great fervor. However, she admits that she does not believe the statement about tea and coffee being sinful. With great bother to her conscience she continues to drink her tea, she just can't give it up. In effect she is proclaiming that Ellen White is a false prophet when she claims she does not believe this straightforward statement made by her. Somehow she can't recognize the hypocrisy of her professed faith in Ellen White.
It seems that it is the caffeine in tea and coffee which causes the objections by Ellen White. As far as I know most Adventists do eat chocolate and cocoa. Hot chocolate is a favorite beverage during most Adventist Church socials. Surely these people realize that there are significant amounts of caffeine in these beverages. Many Adventists will boastfully tell you that they don't drink coffee when you offer it to them. But they have no qualms whatever about drinking a cup of hot chocolate. Why dont these people follow the counsel of their prophet? Who do they think they are fooling? Are they actually deceiving themselves? I suggest Adventists stop drinking hot chocolate at their church gatherings.
Mrs. White writes, "The use of soda or baking powder in bread making is harmful and unnecessary. Soda causes inflammation of the stomach and often poisons the entire system." (Ministry of Healing, p. 300) Baking soda and powder are simply sodium bicarbonate. Its mode of action in bread mainly is to release carbon dioxide gas which produces bubbles and causes the dough to rise. This leaves behind sodium which is a component of common table salt. The carbon dioxide of course would disappear long before the bread is eaten and even if it got into the stomach it is completely harmless. Are we really expected to believe that these two harmless substances (especially in such small quantities!) can cause inflammation of the stomach and poisoning of the entire system?
Mrs. White certainly does not go along with simple scientific knowledge, does she? I must admit, again I do not have a Bible passage which tells you that baking soda is okay.
The story is somewhat different concerning vinegar. Mrs. White actually contradicts the Bible on this subject. Vinegar was a subject used by Mrs. White trying to impress people about her health message.
In a letter to some poor soul who was trying to follow her advice on vinegar, but was having a difficult time, Mrs. White wrote:
"As long as you acknowledge this habit (using vinegar) by indulging in it, Satan will retain his hold on your will, and bring it into obedience to himself." (App. 1:6 Counsels on Diet and Foods)About vinegar she says, "The salads are prepared with oil and vinegar, fermentation takes place in the stomach as a consequence the blood is not nourished, but becomes filled with impurities, and liver and kidney difficulties appear." Another quotation, "Pickles (made with vinegar), and other things of like character irritate the stomach and make the blood feverish and impure." (CODF p. 345)
Adventists now use lemon juice instead of vinegar. The acidity of these two substances is about the same. They are both very weak acids. The acid which is found in the stomach is many many times stronger than vinegar. There is just no way that vinegar can "irritate the stomach".
As far as making the blood feverish and impure, I am aware that some people in the local congregation have been told that vinegar is used to clump red blood cells so they can be seen under a microscope. This is an example of a little bit of knowledge being extremely dangerous. These people latch onto little 'pearls of knowledge' like this to justify almost anything. As I said above, the stomach acid is extremely potent as compared to vinegar, and somehow God keeps this potent stomach acid from making the blood feverish or impure. Can you imagine the guilt of this poor lady mentioned above who was trying to break the vinegar habit and was told that if she didn'tt, that Satan would soon have complete dominion over her?
I am quite aware that a very wise man has said in Proverbs 10:36; "Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to those who send him." Certainly the smoke from campfires was irritating to the eyes but God did not command the Israelites to stop using campfires. Likewise there is no command to stop using vinegar. A simile is being used here to indicate that a lazy man is not going to do a very good job for his boss.
Did you know that Jesus drank vinegar on the cross? "And one ran and filled a sponge full of vinegar and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.... (Mk. 15:36)
In fact, the Bible does give an indication that we can use vinegar. In the law of the Nazarite found in Numbers 6:2-7, we find that this special class of person, who has taken an oath for a time for God, "Shall separate himself from wine, strong drink; shall drink no vinegar of wine or vinegar of strong drink; neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes nor eat moist grapes or dried grapes." It goes on to say that he shall eat nothing from the vine tree. He shall not shave his hair. He is not allowed to go near a dead body and that includes staying away from the funeral of his father, mother, or sibling.
Notice that these are the things that these special people must not touch during the time of oath only. It seems quite understood that other people in the congregation can use all of these things or else it would say so. In fact, we find that when the oath is finished in verse 20 we read, "After that the Nazarite may drink wine."
Imagine trying to raise a baby following this rule. "Infants should be allowed only plain food partaken of at regular periods, not oftener than three times a day, and two meals would be better than three." (CODF p. 229) Would anybody in the house get any sleep?
I have studied much of Mrs. White's medical counsel and find a great deal of it stinks!! Doctor Harvey J. Kellogg was an avid follower of Ellen White in the beginning but it appears that as he grew older and wiser he could no longer follow her counsel. I am sure he recognized her as a false prophet whether he actually said so or not.
Mrs. White prided herself in the fact that she was a health reformer. As we are seeing, much of her counsel is error to say the least. There is no doubt that gluttony is a sin. It is discussed quite plainly in the Bible. To stress this fact Mrs. White gives the following misinterpretation of the Bible. "The first great evil was intemperance in eating and drinking" (Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 4. p. 131) In this setting Mrs. White was trying to point out that Eve could not control her appetite and that is why she sinned.
In the actual account in Genesis chap. 3, I think you will find that Eve was not hungry. Her sin was the same as Lucifer's in that she wanted to be like God. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be open, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Gen. 3:5) I can't agree with Mrs. White that the first sin was intemperance in eating and drinking. In fact drinking was not even involved. The sin did not involve appetite at all.
In such a small book we obviously can't discuss all the errors in Ellen White's massive writings. However she did have something to say about almost everything. So that you will realize how fanatic Mrs. White actually was about diet I include this.
"You place upon your table 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 and ask God to bless and save your children. How high do your prayers go?" (Testimonies, Vol. 2, p. 362)
Mrs. White actually complained that many of her contemporaries were accusing her of not following her own health reform counsel. I would have to agree with the accusations. Mrs. White wrote "No butter or flesh meats of any kind come on my table" (Testimonies, Vol. 2, p. 487) We have already seen that Mrs. White did not give up meat eating until around 1892. The above quotation is from a book published prior to 1868.
Have a look at pictures of Ellen White. It seems fairly obvious that she was rather obese most of her life. She seemed to be quite aware of this herself and, in fact, wrote, 'I have within eight months, lost 25 pound of flesh" (Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 4, p. 154) She was 37 years of age at that time and we can see from later pictures that she was markedly overweight. Perhaps she was ill when she lost the 25 pounds but it seems quite obvious that she was unable to control her appetite and ate too much resulting in her obesity. How can she possibly claim to be a health reformer inspired by God and expect to retain her credibility'? How gullible does she think people are?