James White's Suppression of
Ellen's Shut Door Statements
"Yet no man has a right to add to, or subtract from, any other book written by inspiration of God."
(Early Writings, p. 137)
Compiled by D. Anderson
James deletes 19% of original visions
By 1851, James and Ellen White had given up their former teaching that the door of salvation was shut for all except the Millerites. Now they faced a problem. What were they going to do with all of the statements Mrs. White made indicating she saw the door of salvation shut in her visions? James solved this dilemma by reprinting Mrs. White's visions in late 1851 in a pamphlet entitled Experiences and Views. In so doing, he removed all of the damaging portions regarding the shut door, including whole visions.
As you can imagine, some of the members of the tiny church were aghast over the exclusion of whole visions, which they believed had come directly from God. Mrs. White describes how James defused this crisis situation:
"At one time in the early days of the message, Father Butler and Elder Hart became confused in regard to the testimonies. In great distress they groaned and wept, but for some time they would not give the reasons for their perplexity. However, being pressed to give a reason for their faithless speech and manner, Elder Hart referred to a small pamphlet that had been published as the visions of Sister White, and said that to his certain knowledge, some visions were not included. Before a large audience, these brethren both talked strongly about their losing confidence in the work.
"My husband handed the little pamphlet to Elder Hart, and requested him to read what was printed on the title page. 'A Sketch of the Christian Experience and Views of Mrs. E. G. White,' he read.
"For a moment there was silence, and then my husband explained that we had been very short of means, and were able to print at first only a small pamphlet, and he promised the brethren that when sufficient means was raised, the visions should be published more fully in book form.
"Elder Butler was deeply moved, and after the explanation had been made, he said, 'Let us bow before God.' Prayers, weeping, and confessions followed, such as we have seldom heard. Father Butler said: 'Brother White, forgive me; I was afraid you were concealing from us some of the light we ought to have. Forgive me, Sister White.' Then the power of God came into the meeting in a wonderful manner."
(Selected Messages, Vol. 1, p. 53)
Did James keep his promise?
Despite James White's greatly improved financial situation during the remaining 30 years of his life, he never did keep his promise to elders Butler and Hart. As the years passed and the church moved further away from its earlier shut door stance, its leaders began to even deny that such a view was ever held; and it became evident that the omissions and deletions in the 1851 printing were not coincidental.