There is little doubt that Jesus Christ was in fact the greatest 'heretic' of all time. The revelation of God, in the person of Jesus Christ, was not acceptable to the hierarchy of the Jewish Church at that time. His teachings of the laws of God as they should be practiced were continually rejected by the Scribes and Pharisees. When He preached 'love your enemy and turn the other cheek' as an improvement over the old law of 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth', He was misunderstood and harassed. In Luke 4:16-18, Jesus read aloud in the synagogue the prophecy of Isaiah and announced that He was this promised Messiah. The people's reactions were as recorded in verses 28-30. They were filled with indignant wrath when they heard Him say these things. They kicked Him out of the church and out of their city, and lead Him to the brink of a hill where they hoped to push Him over and end it all. However, He somehow escaped. As His teachings became more and more threatening to the Jews and when His 'heresy' could no longer be tolerated it became expedient for the Jewish leaders to have Him crucified.
The history of Christianity is repeatedly marred by examples of so called heretics being martyred by the church. The story of perhaps the first Christian martyr Stephen, is recorded in chapter 7 of the book of Acts. The story of the execution of Joan of Arc by the Catholic Church in France during the Middle Ages is well known to us all. The names of countless thousands of other martyrs down through the centuries have long ago been forgotten.
Another very famous 'heretic' deserves special mention here. Martin Luther, a Catholic priest, became obsessed with the tormenting thought that, despite all of his praying, fasting, and good works, he could not buy his way into heaven. From his study of the Bible and rediscovery of the doctrine of salvation by faith, rather than salvation by works, the Protestant Reformation was launched. But Martin Luther was not to be allowed the privilege of becoming a martyr. Apparently God had other plans for him. Throughout his long and painful mission he was continually tormented by the question "How can I be right and everybody else be wrong?" He was never to be confronted by a flash of light or God's voice comforting him through his difficult task. He had to forge ahead on faith alone. An excellent account of Martin Luther can be read in the book "Here I Stand" by Roland Bainton.
So called heretics are alive and well in the Seventh Day Adventist Church today. Let us be extremely thankful for that. The Adventist Church faces possibly the most difficult period of its history.
Sixty-five years after the death of its so called prophet, the controversy goes on. Courageous voices at this time are difficult to quiet. Witness the example of Desmond Ford, a well known evangelist of the Adventist Church. Recently he has done a voluminous amount of work on one particular subject, the sanctuary.
Ellen White's doctrine holds that, rather than appearing for his second advent in the year 1844, Jesus Christ supposedly entered the heavenly sanctuary to begin the awesome work of the 'investigative judgement'. Pastor Ford has been extremely noisy in pointing out the absurdity of this doctrine to the Adventist community. In Ford's own words "No scholar seriously believes that Jesus Christ is sitting in heaven turning pages to investigate Christian lives". He points out that this notion violates the orthodox Christian belief that Jesus' atonement for sin was completed by his death on the cross. "I am not a disloyal Adventist," Ford says, "I just believe the aberrant gospel should be pruned away". (Newsweek, Jan. 19, 1981)
Ellen White has long been criticized for her plagiarism. Adventists have always excused her stealing of other people's writings by saying that it is not the words that are inspired but the underlying principle. By this pronouncement Adventists hope to give Ellen White a license to copy ad infinitum. The impressive amount of her literary 'borrowings' have never really been assessed until now. An inquisitive Adventist Pastor of the Church in Long Beach, California, spent two long years studying the writings of Mrs. White in relation to known previous religious writings. He has discovered that as much as 80% of Mr. White's writings have been copied almost word for word from other authors.
Perhaps Ellen White's best writing is represented by the book Desire of Ages, a very readable book on the life of Christ. Douglas Hackleman (in Spectrum; Vol. 10, No. 4) writes:
"Walter Rea displayed a colour coded copy of the Desire of Ages showing parallels with six different non Adventist books. The committee did not have time to examine each passage, but they noted the Rea copy was almost entirely coloured. Toward the end of the second afternoon the committee was ready to acknowledge that the extent of borrowing surprised them . . . the evidence was of alarming proportions."
This represents some fairly startling news to the common everyday Seventh Day Adventist. The church leaders feel that the faithful need to be protected from such knowledge. Because of this, both Pastor Walter Rea and Evangelist Desmond Ford were unceremoniously defrocked by the Adventist hierarchy and are no longer allowed to preach in the Adventist Church, nor of course be paid from the tithe money of the Adventist community. It seems the message is loud and clear: 'don't look too hard for the truth and if you find any be sure you don't allow anyone else to hear about it, or else.' These two gentlemen have my deepest respect and admiration. As far as I know they remain loyal Adventists but I suspect there is to be a lot of religious growth for them in the immediate future.
Another casualty of truth in the ranks of Seventh-day Adventism is the interesting story of a brilliant author, Ronald L. Numbers. In 1972 he was teaching history of medicine at the respectable Adventist School of Medicine of Loma Linda University. He became curious and proposed a personal objective study of Ellen White's health reform counsel. The results of Number's labors were contrary to what he had hoped and there is no doubt that the reporting of his actual findings caused him considerable pain and temporary loss.
He was given a grant by the Adventist Institution to carry out this study. But following the production of his fascinating work he promptly lost his job and I am rather disappointed in that I do not know his final fate. His book entitled Prophetess of Health should be compulsory reading for all Adventists. Unfortunately it does not seem to be available despite just being published in 1976 by Harper and Row. I have inquired directly to the
publisher and they indicate they have no copies of the book in stock. I have not been able to buy one anywhere and I suspect copies are available only in a few large libraries. I fear that sometime in the near future the second last copy of his book will be burned by Adventists. The last copy I have; and I shall guard it with my life.
(Editor's Note: Although Number's book was apparently difficult to obtain when Dr. Hunt wrote this, the book has since been republished and is now easily obtainable. Click here to order)
In this impressive book, Numbers lists a large number of original references. Apparently he had almost total access to the original writings of Ellen G. White which are closely guarded in Washington, D.C. His brilliant detective work objectively exposes the marked influence of contemporary minds and authors on the works of Ellen White. She is here unmasked as a product of her time, taking most, if not all of her ideas from her contemporaries. Many bibliographies have been written about Ellen White but I feel this is the only one that even attempts to approach the real truth about her. Other writers tell the story like a fairy tale and that is about all the trust that one can afford these other writings.
In this book I have borrowed heavily from and am greatly indebted to Ronald Numbers' book. I am indebted to him for setting my wife and others free from the shackles of Seventh Day Adventism.
I would like to reproduce here one of the passages he discovered. This is directly from the pen of Ellen White addressed to Christian mothers in The Health Reformer. Here Mrs. White is very concerned about braids being pinned up over the back of the head and wigs being worn in that same position.
The Health Reformer,
October 1, 1871,
Article Title: Words to Christian Mothers on the Subject of Life, Health, and Happiness
The artificial hair and pads covering the base of the brain, heat and excite the spinal nerves centering in the brain. The head should ever be kept cool. The heat caused by these artificials induces the blood to the brain. The action of the blood upon the lower or animal organs of the brain, causes unnatural activity, tends to recklessness in morals, and the mind and heart is in danger of being corrupted. As the animal organs are excited and strengthened, the moral are enfeebled. The moral and intellectual powers of the mind become servants to the animal.
In consequence of the brain being congested its nerves lose their healthy action, and take on morbid conditions, making it almost impossible to arouse the moral sensibilities. Such lose their power to discern sacred things. The unnatural heat caused by these artificial deformities about the head, induces the blood to the brain, producing congestion, and causing the natural hair to fall off, producing baldness. Thus the natural is sacrificed to the artificial.
Many have lost their reason, and become hopelessly insane, by following this deforming fashion.
We have seen in a previous chapter where meat eating causes masturbation which leads to insanity. Here we see that wearing wigs on the back of the head also leads to insanity, and rather surprisingly also may produce baldness. Imagine, this is the revered prophet of the Adventist Church - her inspired counsel.
All of these men described above have much to lose for standing up for the truth. Jesus was crucified by his own; countless others were martyred for the truth. These 'heretics' of the Adventist Church, Desmond Ford, Walter Rea, and Ronald Numbers, all had a great deal to lose by their fearless revelations of the truth. They will be shunned by many of their long standing friends and 'brethren". They have lost their places of respect in the Adventist Church and along with this, their very livelihood. One can do no less than respect and admire such courage.
Many other 'heretics' remain within the Seventh-day Adventist Church trying to put forth the truth in a fashion which might hopefully be successful in reviving Seventh Day Adventists. I refer to the supporters and producers of the publication entitled "Spectrum; a Quarterly Journal of the Association of Adventist Forums". Here varied authors dare to reveal the true Ellen White. Her defenders are allowed equal opportunities to support her. Unfortunately this journal is not allowed much advertisement in Seventh Day Adventist congregations and I know that very few of the common folk realize it exists, let alone read it. For those Adventists who can not accept immediately the jolting evidence produced in my book, the publication 'Spectrum' offers a more gentle and less painful method of reconditioning or reverse brainwashing concerning Ellen White.
If you are an honest Adventist, you will subscribe to and read this journal and will make every effort to obtain and read the books described above.
Also, to be complimented here are many Adventist students who have the courage to take part in the debate concerning Ellen White's 'inspiration'. This new breed of Adventist college students will soon have to be reckoned with by the Adventist hierarchy. Many of course will escape the cult; hopefully others may finally be successful in transforming it.
It seems that the voices proclaiming Ellen White a false prophetess will not be stilled. I challenge honest Adventists everywhere to reconsider your position. Study your Bible, and allow yourself to be freed from the destructive philosophies of Ellen White. Do not be convinced by your leaders that this book and other books mentioned here are condemned readings.