Ellen White's Confusion about Slavery - Q&A

By Dirk Anderson

The "Sin" of Slavery

Your Question: "Hold on a second. Maybe Mrs. White was not talking about slavery itself being a sin. Could she have meant the mistreatment of slaves?"

Our Answer: Some slaves were mistreated horribly, and others, such as George Washington's slaves, were treated humanely. Certainly, the mistreatment or abuse of any human being is sin. There are a myriad of laws against this in the Old Testament, including specific laws against mistreatment of slaves (Exodus 21:20-26).

Is "mistreatment" the "sin" that Ellen White was referring to? Ellen White was saying that the institution of slavery itself was a sin, not the treatment of slaves. Even if Ellen White was talking about the treatment of slaves, there is no evidence American slaves, on a whole, were treated any better or worse than Israelite foreign slaves. In fact, Christians of the South defended their actions by claiming they modeled their treatment of slaves according to Old Testament law.

What is sin? The Bible says:

"Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." (1 John 3:4)

Ellen White wrote:

"What is sin? 'The transgression of the law.'"1

If sin is transgression of the law, then where in the law of God is slavery forbidden? It is not. In fact, the law permitted the Israelites, and even the priests of Israel, to buy and own slaves. Slavery was no doubt not part of God's perfect will, but He tolerated it. Thus, it is incorrect to describe slavery as a "sin."

Slavery to Revive in the South

Your Question: "I've seen proof slavery has revived in Florida as a fulfillment of Ellen White's prophecy. I read there are immigrant workers from Central America who work picking oranges in Florida orange groves. What say you?"

Our Answer: Yes, some migrant workers are abused by their employers and those employers are criminals who are arrested and jailed for their activities. It would take a huge stretch of the imagination to believe these criminal activities constitute a "revival" of slavery in the Southern USA. This type of criminal activity has been going on ever since slavery was abolished, so it can hardly be described as a "revival". Whenever it is uncovered, it is stamped out. Furthermore, Mrs. White specifically said that the system of "slavery will again be revived in the Southern states" and for that reason, pastors must be careful how they preach to the negro race. Are exploited migrant workers the reason that SDA pastors are told to be careful how they preach to the negro race? Of course not! The exploitation of migrant workers is a completely different subject. This "explanation" by Adventist "spin-doctors" takes her statement completely out of the context in which she made it and mocks the intelligence of the Adventist people. Mrs. White was clearly confused about the revival of slavery in the USA and her prophecy utterly failed.


Mrs. White says some ignorant slaves will go to neither heaven nor hell while the Bible says that "all" will go to one or the other. She further contradicts the Bible by saying that slavery is a "sin". Finally, she prophesied that the institution of slavery would again be revivied in the Southern USA and it has not and will never again be revived. You be the judge. Was Mrs. White divinely inspired about slavery? Or was she the author of confusion?

See also


1. Ellen G. White, The Kress Collection, p. 147.

Category: Confused Teachings
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