The Life of Ellen White by D.M. Canright

Chapter 17 - Influenced to Write Testimonies

That Mrs. White was influenced to write her testimonies to individuals by what others told her is easily proved. She denied this, and sought to make her followers believe that she received her information direct from heaven - that "the angel of God" had spoken to her and revealed their cases to her. (See "Testimonies," Vol. III., pp. 314, 315; Vol. V., pp. 65, 683). But the facts to the contrary are too plain. Note the following illustrative examples:

Rebuked the Wrong Man

About the year 1882, two Adventists ministers, E.P. Daniels and E.R. Jones, were laboring together in Michigan. In giving a health talk one of them had made some remarks quite offensive to esthetic tastes.

Not long afterward Elder Daniels received a testimony from Mrs. White, rebuking him for the offense, which she said took place at Parma, Mich. But, as the event turned out, she rebuked the wrong man, and the incident did not occur at Parma, but at another place.

Instead of Mrs. White acknowledging her mistake, Elder Daniels, the man wrongly accused, was induced to make the following statement:

"Through a misunderstanding, I happened to be the person rebuked, in the place of the one for whom the rebuke was intended, and who justly merited it. Were all the facts known, it would leave no room for even the slightest disrespect for the motives that influenced her, as she has, as she supposed, the best of reasons for believing that her informant had told her the truth. And, indeed, he had, but he made a mistake in the name of the person. All that he had said was true of another, though the incident did not occur at Parma" (Review and Herald Supplement, Aug. 14, 1883, p. 10).

At best this is "a lame apology for an inspired blunder." It demonstrates beyond question that in this instance at least Mrs. White was influenced to write the testimony in question by some one reporting to her; that her "informant" was not "an angel from heaven" speaking to her, as she had claimed, but an erring mortal; and that, between them, this "informant" and Mrs. White got things badly mixed up, both as to person and place.

When God rebukes a man he does not rebuke the wrong man. When he sent the prophet Nathan to David with the message, "Thou are the man," he hit the right man.

Continuing his explanation, Elder Daniels said: "Mrs. White told me plainly that this report came from a gentleman whose acquaintance they had formed when traveling in the West."

This again proves the falsity of her claim that she was not influenced to write testimonies by reports carried to her by various individuals.

This testimony was written by Mrs. White while she was in Colorado. Had Elder Daniels, the one to whom it was addressed, been the guilty party, he probably would never have questioned its origin; and the church elders would have reasoned as they so often had reasoned in regard to other of her testimonies: "How could Sister White know so far away what Elder Daniels was doing at Parma, Mich., if the Lord had not shown it to her in vision?" But the mistake revealed its origin. The best that could be done from Mrs. White then was to shift all the blame unto the man who gave her the report.

In basing her communication as she did on the testimony of one man, she disregarded a plain principle laid down in the Bible: "Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses" (1 Tim. 5:19). But this she did almost constantly in her testimony work. Her ear was ever open to hear reports.

The writer was well acquainted with Elder Daniels. The mistake Mrs. White made in this case shook his faith in her testimonies, so much so that he came nearly leaving the work then. The writer had a long conference with him, trying to relieve his doubts; but they always stuck to him, and opened his eyes to other mistakes of Mrs. White. Finally, after years of struggle, he withdrew from the denomination, and opposes it now, the same as hundreds of other Adventist ministers, officials and honest laymen have done; and their numbers are bring added to constantly.

"What Called it Out"

Take another case. For a number of years certain irresponsible and independent workers in the South made a practice of going among church members in some of the Northern states and collecting tithes and donations for their work. Elder George F. Watson, president of the Colorado Conference, objected to this being done in his conference. Before long he received a testimony from Mrs. White, dated Jan. 22, 1906, defending this irregularity, and admonishing him to silence. In it she said:

"It has been presented to me for years that my tithe was to be appropriated by myself. . . I have myself appropriated my tithe to the needy cases brought to my notice. . . It is a matter that should not be commented upon; for it will necessitate my making known these matters, which I do not desire to do. . . And if any person shall say to me, 'Sister White, will you appropriate my tithe where you know it is most needed?' I shall say, 'Yes,' and I will and have done so. I commend those sisters who have placed their tithe where it is most needed. . . For years there have been now and then persons who have lost confidence in the appropriation of the tithe who have placed their tithe in my hands. . . I have taken the money, given a receipt for it, and told them where it was to be appropriated. I write this to you so that you shall keep cool and not become stirred up and give publicity to this matter, lest more shall follow their example."

This communication from Mrs. White flatly contradicted what she had written ten years before. In the Review and Herald of Nov. 10, 1896, she had said:

"Let none feel at liberty to retain their tithe to use according to their own judgment. They are not. . . to apply it as they see fit, even in what they may regard as the Lord's work. . . The minister. . . should not feel that he can retain and apply it according to his own judgment because he is a minister. It is not his. . . Let him not give his influence to any plans for the diverting from their legitimate use the tithes and offerings dedicated to God. Let them be placed in his treasury."

In 1909 this and other matter of similar import were gathered together and published in Volume IX of the "Testimonies." At a General Conference committee council meeting held behind closed doors in Washington, D.C., Oct. 27, 1913, after reading these two contradictory statements, Elder Watson, holding up one in each hand, said he could not believe that both were written by the same person. He said he had charged J.E. White, Mrs. White's oldest son, with being the author of the 1906 communication; had told him he believed it was "a product of his own evil brain." For nearly eight long years he said he had been left in the dark as to whether it was a genuine testimony or not, and asserted that hundreds of thousands of dollars had been diverted from the regular channels by the use that had been made of it.

Finally, in that same meeting, Elder W.C. White, in response to what Elder Watson had said, made the following statement regarding it:

"The letter was written by my mother, and was duplicated, and a copy was sent Brother Watson, and another copy, very unwisely I believe, and I am sorry to say, to my brother. What called it out was a letter from my brother to my mother. I am very sorry that the letter was written."

Notice some important facts:

1. Here we have two "inspired" testimonies from Mrs. White squarely contradicting each other.

2. She was influenced by one of her sons to write one of these, as the other son confesses. This disproves her claim that she was not thus influenced to write testimonies.

3. Notice also her duplicity. In her printed testimonies for the church she forbids others to use their tithes as they thought best. All must be strictly paid into the treasury. But she herself used not only her own tithes, but those entrusted to her by others, just as she pleased, placing none in the treasury as she required others to do. Privately she encouraged confiding ones to send their tithes to her, contrary to her published testimonies. When this was found out she admonished Watson to keep the fact concealed, lest she should be compelled to make an explanation, and others should be influenced to follow her example and the example of those whose course she commended! What shall we say of such manifest duplicity in a professed prophet of God?

4. If it was proper for one of her sons to be "sorry" for a testimony which she had been inspired to write by a letter she had received from the other son, why would it not be perfectly proper for the whole church to be sorry for many other things she was influenced to write in the same way?

All along Mrs. White was influenced in this way by her sons and by leading men in the denomination to write testimonies to individuals and churches. Both she and they tried to conceal the fact that her testimonies originated in this way. In later years, some, like Elder A.G. Daniells, president of their General Conference since 1901, when desiring a testimony from her against some one, would write to her son, W.C. White, and he would read their communications to his mother. Then, when asked if they had written to Mrs. White about the individuals concerned, they would deny it, which was technically true, but false altogether in fact and effect, for they had written to her through her son. To such unworthy subterfuges both she and they resorted to shield her in her work and defend her testimonies. No gift, profession or observance prevented either her or them from practicing deception.

As early as 1867 Mrs. White herself admitted that she was influenced to write a testimony by letters received from the brethren. See latter part of the chapter, "Brief Sketch of Her Life," pages 77, 78. Of what use, then, was it for her to deny the fact in later years?

Led by Dr. Kellogg to Deny the Resurrection of the Body

All Adventists hold strongly to the material resurrection of the body which goes into the grave. In 1878, Dr. Kellogg advocated the theory that the dead body would never be raised, but that all that was left of a person at death was a record of his life kept in heaven. At the resurrection an entirely new body of new matter would be formed like the old one, and made to think that he was the same person as the old one! Dr. Kellogg influenced Elder James White to advocate this new view. Kellogg presented his new theory before the General Conference, Oct. 8, 1878, and later published it in a book called "Soul Resurrection." It met with strong opposition; but Elder White used all his influence for it. He invited Elder J.N. Andrews and myself to a private conference with himself and wife, hoping to win us to his side. But he failed to answer our objections. Then he asked his wife is she had any "light" on the subject. She promptly declared that the Lord had showed her that not a particle of the old body would ever be raised, but that a new body of new material would be formed. I asked her how about Christ's body which was raised. She said he dropped it all when he ascended. As the Lord had settled it, we dared say no more, though not convinced. Then she went before the conference and made the same positive statements as to what the Lord had "shown" her.

A young minister asked her how she reconciled her present statement with what she had written previously about angel's "watching the precious dust of Wm. Miller." Of course she could not answer. Instead, she denounced the minister as a little upstart, and set him down summarily. The rest of us kept still.

Here we see how she was influenced by Dr. Kellogg and her husband to confirm what they wished. It illustrates how easily she was influenced, how readily she adopted any new or wild theory advocated by her associates, and how prompt she was to put upon it the stamp and sanction of divine inspiration and approval.

But this speculative theory about the resurrection did not take with the body of her people, so it was soon dropped. Notwithstanding Mrs. White's strong statements to the contrary, her church still believes and teaches the old doctrine of the resurrection of the material body which goes into the grave. This is only one of the many things which Mrs. White once taught as of divine revelation from God which her church no longer believes.

For many years in her published testimonies criticizing, reproving and accusing individuals, the names of the individuals were published; but this finally became so objectionable that in 1883, when her testimonies were revised, these names were omitted, and the persons referred to were indicated by letters of the alphabet. One of her testimonies incriminating a certain individual provoked a $50,000 suit for damages. The suit was settled out of court. But if it was proper for her to publish these names thus at first, why did she not continue to do so? The omission of these names in this way is an open confession on the face of it that she was not inspired by God to put them in in the first place. Her "inspiration" to write these numerous and voluminous epistles came from another source, as has already been shown.

While she lived, every one in the denomination was liable to an attack, a cutting reprimand, or to dismissal from office from her if he chanced to be reported or complained of by some one to her. No one was safe from her ever ready and caustic pen. One denunciation from her meant a stigma on one's character and standing in the denomination for life. She was at the same time both the dread and the idolized oracle of the denomination.

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