|"We Discovered Ellen White Failed the Biblical Tests of a Prophet"|
for Real People
"Doubt and unbelief are cherished by those who do not walk circumspectly." --Ellen White, MS 1, 1883
While many of those who doubted Ellen White, such as A.T. Jones and Dr. Kellogg, left (or were expelled from) the SDA Church, others remained in the sect. Following is a list of SDA leaders who remained in the church while having reservations about Ellen White and her testimonies:
Joseph Bates, Adventist Pioneer - A witness to some of Ellen Harmon's early visions, Bates was, in his own words, "for a long time unwilling to believe that it [the visions] was any thing more than what was produced by a protracted debilitated state of her body." (A Word to the Little Flock, 1847, page 21) Later, Bates' doubts were erased when she conveniently had a vision on his favorite subject, astronomy.
"Elder Loughborough had been holding a series of lectures to us on the terrible cost of salvation for man. It meant that very God had to yield himself as a ransom. I think this is the belief by all Protestants today. He tells the story that the angels went to the Father to plead that they might die for the human race rather than Jesus die, and that God had said to them, 'No, if we would save man, God must die in his stead.' And that is a Biblical truth.
James White, Co-founder of the SDA Church - At times James seemed to have little interest in Ellen's testimonies directed toward him:
"I shall use the old head God gave me until he reveals that I am wrong. Your head won't fit my shoulders. Keep it where it belongs, and I will try to honor God in using my own. I shall be glad to hear from you but don't waste your precious time and strength in lecturing me on matters of mere opinions." (Letter quoted in Ellen G. White to Lucinda Hall, May 16, 1876).In later years, James was notorious for ignoring his wife's health testimonies. Mrs. White lamented that she could not take James along with her on her travels because he had "habits of eating and sleeping" that did not "impress the people correctly." (Letter 7, 1878) She felt that James undermined her authority:
"You do not mean to do it, but many times you lessen faith in my testimonies by unguarded expressions and views and feelings which you manifest." (Letter 19, 1880)
Other Family Members of Ellen White - Of Ellen White's seven siblings, only sister Sarah would formally join the SDA church. Brother Robert accepted the Sabbath, but died before the formation of the SDA church. Sister Mary expressed some interest in the church but never joined. Mrs. White lamented that her son Edson was "pursuing your own course of action independent of Willie's and my advice and counsel." (letter 57, 1892) Edson later wrote back to his mother saying, "I have no religious inclinations now in the least." (Edson to E.G. White, May 18, 1893) Later, when Edson made charges that his brother Willie was influencing the testimonies, Mrs. White retorted:
"I am cut to the heart when I think that my son gives occasion for disbelief in the testimonies that God has given me for his people, causing the confidence of some to be shaken." (Letter 209, 1905)She urged him to stop expressing his doubts regarding her testimonies:
"If you do not decidedly change your course of action, you will do more to weaken the confidence of the church in the integrity of the Testimonies than all other influences combined can do." (Letter 185, 1905)
Uriah Smith, Editor of the Review and Herald - Uriah Smith and his wife Harriet had their doubts regarding Mrs. White. Although he defended Ellen White early in his career, Uriah expressed his doubts in later years. He once wrote in a letter to a fellow Adventist minister, "It seems to me that the testimonies, practically, have come into that shape, that it is not of any use to try to defend the erroneous claims that are now put forth for them." (U. Smith to D.M. Canright, Mar. 22, 1883)
A.G. Daniels, General Conference President - Daniels was a close associate of the White family for over forty years. Despite that, he apparently had his own personal doubts about Ellen White and her testimonies. In 1919, he convened a secret conference with top SDA leaders to discuss the role of Ellen White in the church. Among his many comments he expressed some doubt regarding her health testimonies, "I have eaten pounds of butter at her table myself, and dozens of eggs. I could not explain that in her own family if I believe that she believed those were the Lord's own words to the world."
Ellen White, Prophetess - Yes, surprisingly enough, even Ellen White sometimes doubted her own mission. After the failure of her shut door visions in the early 1850s, Mrs. White became less prominent for a period of time. James decided not to publish her visions in the Review and Herald. With limited public exposure, her visions became less frequent, and finally, in 1855, she concluded her "work in God's cause was done," and she had "no further duty to do." (Review and Herald, 1856, p. 118)
She not only doubted her mission, but she apparently doubted her own testimonies. Her practices on eating meat, wearing jewelry, paying tithe, and other issues seem to indicate she sometimes had little regard for her own testimonies.
Not only did critics doubt Ellen White. Her closest associates and even her own family members had doubts about her. It was not just later generations who would doubt her. The people who knew her and heard her had their doubts about her. In a letter written in 1851 she lamented:
"The visions trouble many. They [know] not what to make of them." (Manuscript Releases, Vol. 5, p. 100)This widespread doubt is also mentioned from her article in 1883 where she admitted many had doubted her strongly enough to publicly question her calling:
"These attacks have been repeated hundreds of times during the past forty year..." (RH 8-28-1883)
These people had good reason to question and doubt Ellen White. After all, she failed six of the seven Biblical tests of a prophet.
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