Crushing the Opposition: How Ellen White Treated Those Who Rejected Her
By Brother Anderson
Early in her prophetic career, Mrs. White exhibited a trait that was to follow her through her lifetime. When someone questioned her visions she would turn on them with a vengeance. Lucinda Burdick, a minister's wife who was very close to the Whites in the 1840s, witnessed these attacks. She explains how Mrs. White reacted in New England in the 1840s when many of the Adventist people began to question why her predictions had failed:
"People in all the churches soon began to get their eyes open, and came out decidedly against her visions; and, just as soon as they did so, she used to see them 'with spots on their garments,' as she expressed it. I was personally acquainted with several ministers, whom she saw landed in the kingdom with 'Oh! such brilliant crowns, FULL of stars.' As soon as they took a stand against the visions, she saw them 'doomed, damned, and lost for ever, without hope.'"1
Israel Dammon was an early associate of Mrs. White during 1845 and 1846. It was during this time that Dammon witnessed Ellen White's visions where she reportedly saw the door of salvation shut. Dammon soon came to the conviction that he must take his stand upon the "Word of the Lord" alone. Prior to this decision, Mrs. White had seen Dammon "in the kingdom in an immortal state, and crowned." After his decision to stand upon the Word of God she saw Dammon "finally lost."2
Charles P. Russell
In 1853, Charles Russell was a Sabbath-keeper who did not believe in Ellen White's visions. It was not long before James and Ellen White arrived at his church to deal with this renegade. Conveniently, Mrs. White had a vision that Russell was "the cause of great trial in the church, and that he must be cut off."3 He was subsequently disfellowshipped from the church for no other crime than he did not believe Ellen White's visions.
Snook and Brinkerhoff
In 1860, M.E. Cornell raised up a Sabbath-keeping church in Marion, Iowa. The church adopted a covenant stating:
...whose covenant obligation is briefly expressed in keeping the commandments of God and faith of Jesus, taking the Bible, and the Bible alone, as the rule of our faith and discipline.
Unfortunately, the harmony of the church was broken up a year and a half later when Cornell...
...held up, publicly, some other volumes by the side of the Bible, of a recent date, and averred that these recent publications were of equal authority, and binding forever with the Bible, and urged us to adopt their teaching also, as a rule of faith and discipline.4
The church in Marion was split in two over whether to accept the writings of Ellen White on an equal basis with the Bible. Later, the president of the Iowa conference, B.F. Snook, and the secretary, W.H. Brinkerhoff, began to openly question the divine inspiration of Ellen White. On November 30, 1865, the men withdrew their membership from the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The reason they gave for their departure was their inability to accept the visions of Ellen G. White. Later, they published a book revealing many errors in Mrs. White's visions.
Prior to their departure from the church, Mrs. White had only praise for Snook and his family:
Marion, Iowa, March 18, 1861.
After their departure, Mrs. White assassinates Snook's character:
When B. F. Snook embraced the truth, he was very destitute. Liberal souls deprived themselves of conveniences, and even of some of the necessaries of life, to help this minister, whom they believed to be a faithful servant of Christ. They did all this in good faith, helping him as they would have helped their Saviour. But it was the means of ruining the man. His heart was not right with God; he lacked principle. He was not a truly converted man. The more he received, the greater was his desire for means. He gathered all he could from his brethren, until he had been helped, through their liberalities, to a valuable home; then he apostatized, and became the bitterest enemy of the very ones who had been most liberal to him.6
In 1843, Elder Day is credited with bringing the Sabbath to the attention of many of the Millerite brethren when he published an article in the Midnight Cry. This occured many years before the Whites finally accepted the Sabbath. J.C. Day avoided the "shut door" fanatics and was never a big fan of the Whites. When he finally came out against the so-called "visions" of Ellen White, she unleashed her wrath upon this godly Sabbath-keeping pioneer:
Apparently, anyone who doubted Mrs. White's visions was a "co-worker with Satan."
In 1843, H.E. Carver heard the preaching of Millerite leader Joshua Himes and joined the 1844 movement. After the Great Disappointment, Carver moved to Iowa and began farming. In the early 1860s, Carver heard a presentation by J.H. Waggoner in Iowa City and accepted the Sabbath. For a while Carver associated with the Seventh-day Adventists, but decided to take his stand upon the Word of God alone in the spring of 1866. He founded the Christian Publishing Association, and in 1877, he published a number of highly embarrassing revelations about Mrs. White.
Apparently an Adventist minister attempted to defend Mrs. White, and in so doing, he inadvertently gave Carver's book more publicity then Ellen White wanted. She was obviously hoping the controversy would blow over without too much damage. She writes a stinging testimony criticizing the minister for attempting to reply to Carver:
Your time can be better employed in having a more general interest and giving to the people food, meat that will feed them now. While your time is employed in following the crooks and turns of Preble you are not wise. You are bringing to their notice a work which has but limited circulation, and interesting minds in objections that they would never have been troubled with. You manufacture a train of quibbles and doubts for thousands of people and present his work to those who would never have seen it. This is just what they [our opponents] want to have done, to be brought to notice and we publish for them. This is what Carver wants. This is their main object in writing out their falsehoods and misrepresentations of the truth and the characters of those who love and advocate the truth.8
Apparently Mrs. White preferred the evidence about her prophetic failures be suppressed rather than discussed and defended in a public forum.
In the mid-1850s, Adventist Riley Cooper came out against the Whites and Ellen's "visions." In 1855, she wrote a "testimony" tearing into him, labeling him a servant of Satan:
He has had much to say in regard to my husband and myself, and against the visions. ... He has not known whom he has been serving. Satan has been using him to throw minds into confusion.9
J.F. Chaffee was a Sabbath-keeper and a believer in the Word of God. However, he could not believe that Jesus entered the most holy place in 1844, and he did not believe the visions of Ellen White were from God. In 1862, Mrs. White responded to him with a testimony:
I was shown the case of Chaffee, that he professed to be sanctified and yet his heart was not right.10
Chaffee responded by claiming the vision was false: "I plainly told White and his wife, that I did not believe the visions, and that was the reason she had a vision about me...but I can say...I have never acknowledged it to be true."11
D.M. Canright, a member of the SDA Church for 25 years, was a close associate with James and Ellen White and held a trusted position of leadership in the Church. He was a high church official, an insider, whose position in the church allowed him access to very damaging information about the "prophetess" Ellen White. He left the church in the 1880s, and eventually published a book revealing the truth about Ellen White. D.M. Canright has been attacked and vilified by Seventh-day Adventists for over a century. Not even the Pope has taken as much abuse from Seventh-day Adventists as D.M. Canright. These attacks should be no surprise, however, because believers and critics alike agree that Canright's book, with its inside account of deception and cover-up, is the most devastating book ever written about Ellen White.
In 1880, when Canright was struggling over whether to leave the SDA church, Mrs. White wrote him a letter. She was apparently terrified about the damage Canright could do if he made the truth known, so she makes an urgent appeal for him to stay away from Seventh-day Adventists:
Battle Creek, Oct. 15, 1880
At one time Ellen White endorsed A.T. Jones as God's messenger. However, her tune changed when Jones and others began to question her prophetic ministry. In 1906, a number of serious concerns had been raised some of the brethren in Battle Creek regarding Mrs. White's prophetic ministry. Mrs. White wrote a letter to the brethren asking that their concerns be written out and sent to her, and she would respond. She wrote:
Recently in the visions of the night I stood in a large company of people. There were present Dr. Kellogg, Elders Jones, Tenny and Taylor, Dr. Paulson, Elder Sadler, Judge Arthur and many of their associates. I was directed by the Lord to request them and any others who have perplexities and grievous things in their minds regarding the testimonies that I have borne, to specify what their objections and criticisms are. The Lord will help me to answer these objections, and to make plain that which seems to be intricate.13
The brethren obeyed Mrs. White's request, and sent a letter detailing their concerns. Mrs. White then contradicted herself by pronouncing it was not the Lord's will for her to answer these questions. A.T. Jones questioned why Mrs. White said the Lord would help her answer their questions, but when the questions were written out and sent to her, she refused to answer them. Mrs. White responded to this questioning by attacking Jones:
July 3, 1906 J -242- '06
Here she writes a letter urging church members to avoid Jones and others skeptical of her calling. Apparently she is fearful of what they might say:
A. T. Jones, Dr. Kellogg, and Elder Tenney are all working under the same leadership. They are classing themselves with those of whom the apostle writes, "Some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils." In the case of A. T. Jones, I can see the fulfillment of the warnings that were given me regarding him.
Albion Fox Ballenger was a Seventh-day Adventist minister in England. While studying the book of Hebrews he discovered that he could not establish the SDA doctrine of the Sanctuary from the Scriptures. His conscience bothered him so much that he decided not to preach on the subject again until he could explain it from the Scriptures. After spending many months studying the subject, he became convinced the SDA position was in error. After making his studies public, he was expelled from the church. In a letter to Mrs. White, Ballenger explains the difficult position he was put in, being forced to choose between the Bible and Ellen White:
And now Sister White, what can I do? If I accept the testimony of the Scriptures, if I follow my conscientious convictions, I find myself under your condemnation; and you call me a wolf in sheep's clothing, and warn my brethren and the members of my family against me. But when I turn in my sorrow to the Word of the Lord, that Word reads the same, and I fear to reject God's interpretation and accept yours. Oh that I might accept both. But if I must accept but one, hadn't I better accept the Lord's? If I reject his word and accept yours, can you save me in the judgment? When side by side we stand before the great white throne; if the Master should ask me why I taught that 'within the veil' was in the first apartment of the sanctuary, what shall I answer? Shall I say, 'Because Sister White, who claimed to be commissioned to interpret the Scriptures for me, told me that this was the true interpretation, and that if I did not accept it and teach it I would rest under your condemnation?16
Rather than respond to the Biblical points raised by Ballenger, Mrs. White responded by denouncing Ballenger as being "led by" Satan because he did not believe in a doctrine found throughout her writings:
I declare in the name of the Lord that the most dangerous heresies are seeking to find entrance among us as a people, and Elder Ballenger is making spoil of his own soul.17
Stephen McCullagh was an SDA evangelist in New Zealand and Australia for many years. When Mrs. White was in Australia, she befriended McCullagh and the two worked closely together for years. In 1897, Ellen White's secretary, Fannie Bolton, met McCullagh and his wife in Cooranbong. She confessed to them that she was heavily involved in writing the books, articles, and letters that came out under Mrs. White's name, and that much of the material was plagiarized from other non-SDA authors.19 McCullugh soon revealed this truth to an entire SDA congregation. The truth about Ellen White's plagiarism spread rapidly around the city of Melbourne. Mrs. White soon became aware that Fannie had revealed this secret truth to McCullagh and his wife. Mrs. White was furious! She blasted Fannie, writing that "Satanic agencies have been working through Fannie Bolton."20
Not long after discovering Ellen White's writings were a fraud, elders McCullagh and C.F. Hawkins resigned from the SDA sect. Among the many reasons McCullagh cited for resigning were the following:21
Mrs. White castigated McCullagh for his apostacy. She told her family that McCullagh was "deluded" and Satan had "power over his mind."22 She wrote that he was "deceived by Satan."23 She was further enraged when McCullagh and his wife went to the homes of SDA members and unveiled the uncomfortable truth Ellen White's writings. Mrs. White complained that "the most wicked falsehoods came from the lips of Mr. and Mrs. McCullagh."24 She called their faithful testimony about Mrs. Whites deceptive practices "slime and filth, which Satan has poured forth against the servants of God."25
Anyone who doubts Ellen White
Ellen White was widely known for labeling non-SDA Christians as "babylon," "fallen," and "under strong delusion." As evidenced above, she believed anyone leaving the SDA sect was moving under Satanic control. Furthermore, she taught that anyone who dared to doubt her prophetic gift was under Satan's banner:
One thing is certain: Those Seventh-day Adventists who take their stand under Satan's banner will first give up their faith in the warnings and reproofs contained in the Testimonies of God's Spirit.26
Later, in Australia, she wrote of those who were "suspicious of the gifts the Lord has set in the church." Since she was the only one in the sect who was allowed to claim the gift of prophecy, she was no doubt referring to those who were suspcisous of her. She went on to say that being suspicious of her gift "is to follow the enemy," and those who criticize her "are serving under Satan’s banner."27 Thus, according to Ellen White, anyone who even doubted her was under the banner of Satan.
Ellen White caught in a web of lies
Most amazingly, Ellen White blasted a Christian man for making statements about the salvation of other people:
I know that God never gave mortal man such a message as that which Brother Nelson has borne concerning his brethren. It is not like our God. After the disappointment of 1844 there were those who would say to others, 'You are lost; you have gone too far to be saved.' Then I was brought to my feet to bid them in the name of the Lord to cease their condemnation. God has never empowered one mortal to say to another mortal, 'You are lost.'28
In 1901, Mrs. White claimed she rose to her feet to condemn such practices. Is this an accurate representation of her position and actions after 1844? Far from it! Mrs. White was one of the foremost in condemning as lost those who rejected William Miller. In fact, in her vision of the Advent people on the path to heaven, those who decided to depart from the Advent movement were described by her as follows:
Others rashly denied the light behind them, and said that it was not God that had led them out so far. The light behind them went out leaving their feet in perfect darkness, and they stumbled and got their eyes off the mark and lost sight of Jesus, and fell off the path down in the dark and wicked world below. It was just as impossible for them to get on the path again and go to the City, as all the wicked world which God had rejected.29
Later she reaffirmed those who rejected Miller were lost when she wrote:
My accompanying angel bade me look for the travail of soul for sinners as used to be. I looked, but could not see it; for the time for their salvation is past.30
In the following statement she writes out a vision in which she says Adventists who disagree with her shut door teaching will "die the death":
They said the shut door was of the devil, and now admit it is against their own lives. They shall die the death.31
In fact, for the rest of her life Mrs. White maintained that those who rejected William Miller's false time-setting movement in 1844 were lost. Here is what she wrote in 1883:
I was shown in vision, and I still believe, that there was a shut door in 1844. All who saw the light of the first and second angels' messages and rejected that light, were left in darkness. And those who accepted it and received the Holy Spirit which attended the proclamation of the message from heaven, and who afterward renounced their faith and pronounced their experience a delusion, thereby rejected the Spirit of God, and it no longer pleaded with them. Those who did not see the light, had not the guilt of its rejection. It was only the class who had despised the light from heaven that the Spirit of God could not reach. And this class included, as I have stated, both those who refused to accept the message when it was presented to them, and also those who, having received it, afterward renounced their faith. These might have a form of godliness, and profess to be followers of Christ; but having no living connection with God, they would be taken captive by the delusions of Satan.32
QUESTION: If, as she said in 1901, God never empowered any mortal to say to another mortal, "you are lost," then who empowered Ellen White to tell those who rejected Miller that they were lost?
You are lost!
Here are a few more of Ellen White's testimonies to ponder:
The Lord has a work for Brother Craig to do, but if he is overcome by these outbursts on the part of his wife, he is a lost man, and she is not saved by the sacrifice.33
It is apparent that Ellen White believed herself to be the Spirit of Prophecy. This belief is apparently grounded in her visions (hallucinations) which she felt were given to her by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, anyone who questioned her visions, her teachings, or her authority must be under the influence of the devil. Anyone who studied the Bible and arrived at a conclusion different from hers must be misapplying Scriptures. Anyone who rejected her authority must be lost, because they no longer accepted the "Spirit of Prophecy" (herself), and were therefore no longer a part of God's remnant church which had the Commandments of God and the Testimony of Jesus (her writings). Anyone even doubting her must be under Satan's banner because she was under Christ's banner.
Many more examples could be given. These are sufficient to show that belief in Ellen White as a prophet was considered essential for being a member of God's remnant church, and those who rejected her as a prophet were "doomed," "damned," and "lost."
1. Miles Grant, An Examination of Mrs. White's Visions, Boston: Advent Christian Society, 1877. As cooberation of Grant's statement, after an unsuccessful visit to Paris, Mrs. White wrote: "I saw that they had not heeded the visions that God had given them, and unless they did heed them they would pass through awful trials and judgments." (Letter 3, 1851, written Aug. 11, 1851, to Harriet Hastings. Full letter was released in The Ellen G. White Letters and Manuscripts, vol. 1, p. 300.
3. Sister Morrill, Messenger of Truth, Nov. 30, 1854, p. 4.
4. Hope of Israel, Sep. 7, 1864.
5. Ellen White, An Appeal to the Youth, pp. 63,64.
6. Ellen White, Testimonies, Vol. 2, p. 625.
7. Ellen White, Manuscript 2, 1858.
8. Ellen White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 13, p. 346.
9. Ellen White, Testimonies vol. 1 (1855), p. 333.
10. Ellen White, Manuscript 3, 1862, par. 14 (1LTMS). This letter was not released to the public until 2015.
11. J.F. Chaffee, Hope of Israel vol. 1, no. 8, Sep. 4, 1866, p. 63.
12. Ellen White, Letter 1, 1880, published in Notebook leaflets from the Elmshaven Library, pp. 73-75.
13. Arthur L. White, Ellen G. White Biography, Vol. 6, p. 90.
14. Ellen White, Kress Collection, p. 33.
15. Ellen White, Loma Linda Messages, pp. 276, 277.
16. Albion F. Ballenger, Cast Out for the Cross of Christ, (1909).
17. Arthur L. White, Ellen G. White Biography, (The Early Elmshaven Years), vol. 5, p. 409.
18. Ellen White, Manuscript 59, 1905. Manuscript Release #760, p. 4.
19. Ellen White to Fannie Bolton, Letter 24, 1897.
20. Ellen White to Fannie Bolton, Letter 25, 1897. It is interesting that Ellen White tells Fannie that Satanic agencies were working through her when it was Ellen White who was being deceptive about her writings and Fannie was being truthful. Satan is a "liar" and the "father of lies" (John 8:44).
The work which you have done has yielded a harvest which is widespread...You claimed that it was your superior talent that made the articles what they were. I know this to be a falsehood, for I know my own writings... Brother McCullagh has reported your words of misinformation from house to house, saying that I have very little to do in getting out the books purported to come from my pen, that I had picked out all I had written from other books, and that those who prepared my articles, yourself in particular, made the matter that was published... You can see by this what a harvest your leaven of falsehood and misrepresentation have produced. ..You surely did not know what manner of spirit you were of. Satanic agencies have been working through Fannie Bolton.
21. Stephen McCullagh resignation letter, March 23, 1897, DF 504b.
22. Ellen White to Edson, Emma, and Willie White, April 6, 1897 (Letter 152, pp. 1-2).
23. Ellen White, Manuscript 29, 1897.
24. Ellen White, Letter 14a, 1897.
25. Ellen White to the Brethren and Sisters in Adelaide, May 6, 1897 (Letter 3, 1897, pp. 9-11).
26. Ellen White, Selected Messages, vol. 3, p. 84.
27. Ellen White, Letter 126, 1897, para. 13. Released by the White Estate in 2014. After making disparaging remarks of those who were suspicious of her, ironically she wrote: "Our work is to stop surmising evil of our brethren."
28. Ellen White, Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, July 30, 1901.
29. Ellen White, A Word to the Little Flock, 1847.
30. Ellen White, Present Truth, Aug. 1, 1849.
31. Ellen White, Manuscript 11, 1850, pp. 3, 4, vision at Paris, Maine, December 25, 1850.
32. Ellen White, Selected Messages, vol. 1, p. 63.
33. Ellen White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 16, p. 304.
34. Ellen White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 15, p. 368.
35. Ellen White, Testimonies vol. 1, p. 428.
36. Ellen White, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 96.
37. Ellen White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 19, pp. 30-31.
38. Ellen White, Letter 30, 1850. The portion quoted is on file at the White Estate but it is unreleased by the White Estate as of Feb. 20, 2013. Other portions of this letter have been released in various volumes of Manuscript Releases.
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