Perhaps the greatest test for any prophet is the requirement that teachings be in harmony with the Bible. In my opinion Ellen White fails this test miserably and we will look at only a few such examples in this chapter.
Mrs. White had several visions about the Ten Commandments. This is a rather interesting item involving the physical description of the Ten Commandments on the tables of stone.
"Then there appears against the sky a hand holding two tables of stone folded together ... The hand opens the tables and there are seen the precepts of the decalog traced as with a pen of fire." (Great Controversy, p. 560)In another vision describing the Ten Commandments as seen in heaven, Mrs. White wrote,
Picture in your mind the description she is giving with the tables closed, nothing of the precepts visible, and then, when the tables are opened up: there are the Ten Commandments all visible. Please reads Exodus 32:15 which describes the Ten Commandments written on both sides of both tables of stone. Here we can see that Mrs. White did not see the real Ten Commandments. It also brings up the very logical question as to whether she really read all of the Bible?
God had the commandments written on two tables of stone. If the writings covered only one side of each of the two tables of stone, it really makes you wonder what God was doing. Why didn't He just write on the front and the back of one table of stone so poor Moses wouldn't have to carry those two heavy pieces down from the mountain on two different occasions?
In Matthew 24:14, Jesus promised all of us that when the Gospel of the Kingdom had been preached in all the world that the end would then come. It seems that this was to be the last sign to be fulfilled before His coming. Mrs. White tends to make a liar out of Jesus however, by indicating that the Gospel has already been preached to the entire world (but Jesus has not come yet). In Education, p. 93 we find, "To every nation under heaven was the gospel carried in a single generation." Acts of the Apostles, p. 48 says, "The glad tidings of a risen Saviour were carried to the uttermost parts of the inhabited world." In the same book on p. 578, she says, "The gospel of the Kingdom was sounded to all inhabited parts of the earth." It is true that in Colossians 1:23, Paul said, "The gospel which was preached to every creature which is under heaven". It is quite evident here that Paul is using a figure of speech impressing the people as to how far the gospel had spread in the known world of that day. Mrs. White is saying something entirely different. It is impossible that the gospel went to the Eskimos, the jungles of Africa, the island of Japan, etc. Mrs. White's words in the above quotations leave no doubt as to her meaning and she obviously carried Paul's statement too far and again gave herself away.
Let us now look at another blatant Bible contradiction. We find, "True knowledge has decreased with every successive generation." (Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 4, p. 154) This does not agree with a real prophet that is a favorite of many of us. We find in Daniel 11:4, "Even to the time of the end, many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." Some people with whom I have discussed this point like to get into a diversionary tactic of philosophizing on the meaning of the words 'true knowledge'. However, I believe that honesty will indicate the contradiction in the above statements.
Mrs. White's story about the adulterous woman does not agree with the Bible rendition. In Desire of Ages, Chapter 20, p. 404, Mrs. White says that the Pharisees were convicted of their sins by reading what Jesus had written in the dust. John 8:9 however, gives a different picture. "And they which heard it being convicted by their own conscience" is John's testimony. John was present on the scene and said they were convicted by hearing. Mrs. White would like to make the story more romantic and says they were convicted by reading their sins written in the dust. Do you think God would change the story to a prophet two thousand years later? I tend to believe John's version. How about you, Adventists?
There is one very bothersome prediction of Mrs. White's which did not come true. It must have been very distressing for people who were aware of this prediction. It can be likened to the situation in the very early church where people believed mistakenly that Christ would return the second time before any of the Christians died. They became distressed when the saints began dying and Paul had to write a special letter to the Thessalonians to reassure them. He pointed out that the people in the grave who died in Christ would be the first to rise and then the others would join them in the air to meet Christ. (1 Thes. 4:16, 17) Mrs. White was at a conference sitting around the table with some people in 1856 and she said,
"I was shown the company present at the conference. Said the angel, 'Some food for worms, some subjects of the seven last plagues, some will be alive and remain upon the earth to be translated at the coming of Jesus.' (Testimonies, Vol. 1, p. 131)All these people are dead: none of them went through the seven plagues; and none were translated to heaven.
Some people tend to dismiss this point by indicating that in the above quotation, Paul used the word 'we' (which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with Him in the clouds). Many people say that Paul felt that he would be alive at Jesus second coming. I think if you study the writings of Paul you will find that he was quite aware that the second advent was to be quite some time in the future. Among other things, he talks about the great falling away first and son of perdition being revealed. This 'we' that Paul uses is very similar to the 'you' Jesus uses in Luke 21:31, "So likewise you, when you see these things come to pass, know you that the Kingdom of God is nigh at hand." Certainly when Jesus used the word 'you' there, he knew that none present that day would see any of the signs which he was predicting in the very distant future.
Besides Paul was quite well rounded in Scripture and knew the prophecies of Daniel. He knew that there was a long time period left in the 2300 day prophecy. There is little doubt that Ellen White actually believed that Jesus was coming during the lifetime of some of the people around that table. Of course, this prediction ties in with the doctrine of your being able to delay or hasten Jesus' coming. The date of the second coming is fixed and one cannot use the excuse that Mrs. White's prediction was conditional. Anyway, she did not lay any conditions on that prediction. She was certainly trying to impress the people sitting around that table.
In her book The Acts of the Apostles, p. 153, Ellen White says: "Angels are constantly bearing the prayers of the needy and distressed to the Father above." This belief is not in the Bible. In fact, it is contrary to 1 Tim. 2:5 which states "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." I have certainly always been under the impression that God heard prayers directly and it is a silly fantasy to imagine angels picking up my prayers and carrying them up to the Father.
Mrs. White also has a strange idea as to the nature of the greatest sin. In Ministry of Healing, p. 163, she says, "The inhumanity of man towards man is our greatest sin." There is not doubt that all sin is bad but my Bible points out that there is one great sin. That is the sin against the Holy Spirit. In fact, our rotten treatment of fellow human beings is not in itself a sin, but the result of sin. It results from our failure to follow the commandment, "Love thy neighbor as thyself."