Ellen White's False Gospel Message
By Dirk Anderson, Jan. 2024
Seventh-day Adventists [SDAs] have adopted the missional fervor of their charismatic leader, Ellen G. White. However, the SDA understanding of mission work is substantially different from the understanding of most churches. Whereas most churches view mission work as seeking the salvation of lost souls who do not know Christ, the SDA sect has historically focused its missionary efforts on converting other Christians to join the sect.1 SDAs spend millions of dollars on literature, evangelistic crusades, and TV programs that are geared specifically toward convincing Sunday-keeping Christians to adopt the Sabbath and the SDA sect's other distinctive doctrines. In recent years, the sect has spent enormous amounts of money in an effort to give out one billion copies of Ellen White's book Great Controversy, a book geared toward convincing Christians to leave their churches and join the one and only true remnant church, the SDA sect. SDAs believe they have been commissioned to spread the "Three Angels' Messages" to all the world. The messages are defined by modern SDAs as follows:
This is said to be the "everlasting gospel," but is it? In Rev. 14:6, the word "everlasting" derives from the Greek word for perpetual. Thus, the gospel being preached by the angels is the perpetual, unchanging, eternal gospel that was taught by Christ, the apostles, and men and women of God, such as Martin Luther, throughout the Christian era. There is no hint in this verse of a new message. However, the SDA message is new in every regard. The Investigative Judgment was not even conceived of until after 1844, to explain away the failure of Christ to return as planned. The idea of calling Christians out of fallen churches was started by the Protestant churches calling people out of Roman Catholicism during the Reformation. The practice has continued unabated since then, until there are now tens of thousands of denominations. This was never a part of Jesus' teaching. He established one Kingdom and one Faith (Eph. 4:5). The idea that Sunday keeping is the Mark of the Beast and Sabbath keeping is the Seal of God was concocted by Joseph Bates in 1845. None of these ideas was part of the eternal and perpetual gospel preached by Jesus and the apostles. Therefore, the SDA message could not possibly be the "everlasting gospel" message.
The True Everlasting Gospel
To understand the definition of a false gospel, one must first understand the true everlasting gospel message. Jesus came to earth preaching a new kingdom that was received by faith (Mark 1:5; John 1:17, 3:16,36, 5:24, 6:47, 20:31; Acts 16:31). Paul described the gospel as "the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Rom. 1:16). Paul preached "Jesus Christ, and him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:2).
When a person accepts the good news of Jesus' atoning sacrifice for their sins, they are born again into a new life. They are sealed with the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13). While God expects believers to manifest good works (Matt. 5:15; James 2:17), those works are not the cause of salvation. Paul taught that "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth" (Rom. 10:4; also Acts 13:39, Rom. 4:5). Paul did not teach a gospel that could be earned by obedience to Old Covenant laws. He preached the "word of faith," which he described as follows:
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. ... For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Rom 10:9,10,13).
The good news of salvation is that it is by faith in Christ alone, through grace alone and not of human works or attainment (Eph. 2:8-9; Acts 15:11).
After His resurrection, Jesus gave his disciples the Great Commission, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel" (Mark 16:15). The disciples went throughout the world, teaching the good news of salvation from sin through faith in the completed work of Christ. This the true "everlasting gospel" message.
Ellen White's Different Gospel
Ellen White taught a different gospel. This began as early as October of 1844, when Ellen White, along with many Millerites, adopted the idea that a door of probation closed in 1844 to all who did not accept William Miller's false message about the Return of Christ. The vast majority of Millerites, including Miller, quickly abandoned this false view by early 1845. They once again began actively working for the salvation of the lost. However, a small minority of about 50 people2 held onto the belief that the world was lost, the door of salvation was shut, and that no work remained for the world. This view was taught by Joseph Bates and James White. It was confirmed by the visions of Ellen White. As evidence of this, Otis Nichols, an Adventist shut-door believer in Ellen White and a witness to her visions, wrote thus to William Miller:
Her [Ellen White's] message...encouraged them to hold on to the faith, and the seventh month movement; and that our work was done for the nominal church and the world, and what remained to be done was for the household of faith.3
Thus, it can be seen that Ellen White was fully onboard with ceasing work for the lost and concentrating their evangelistic efforts on their fellow Advent believers. As early as 1845, Joseph Bates began preaching that the Adventists were in a seven-year period of testing where God was sifting his people based upon whether or not they would adopt the seventh day Sabbath.4 At the end of those seven years, Christ was supposed to return to destroy Christians who went to church on Sunday and save the Sabbath keepers. James and Ellen White soon adopted his views and the group became known as the "shut-door" Adventists. For a period of nearly seven years, they continued to believe and teach that the door of salvation was shut on the world, and that the only work remaining for them was to convince the other former Millerites to adopt the Sabbath doctrine.5 One can only wonder how many lost souls failed to hear the true gospel because Ellen White and her associates failed to give it. Perhaps the most astonishing aspect of this is that the so-called prophetess of God was unable to detect this gross theological error for a period of nearly seven years, but instead taught this same error from her visions!
The teachings of the shut-door Adventists were addressed at the 1845 Albany Conference of Millerite leaders. The larger body of Adventists voted to reject these fanatical teachings, reaffirming their belief in the true gospel of Jesus Christ:
That we have no fellowship with any of the new tests as conditions of salvation, in addition to repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and a looking for and loving his appearing.
The Advent leaders strongly rebuked those who, like the Whites, stopped preaching the gospel to the lost:
Resolved, That we can look with no approbation upon those who, under the cloak of the Advent doctrine, seek to distract the brethren by questions that gender strife, or to alienate their minds from the great principles and duties of the Gospel, by speculative fancies and doctrines of men.7
In what appears to be a swipe at the visions of Ellen White, the Advent leaders outright rejected new light misaligned with the Scriptures:
Resolved, That we have no confidence in any new messages, visions, dreams, tongues, miracles, extraordinary gifts, revelations, impressions, discerning of spirits, or teachings, etc., not in accordance with the unadulterated word-of God.8
Despite these denunciations from the leaders of the Millerite movement, the shut-door Adventists continued on. In the late 1840s, Joseph Bates and Ellen White taught that those who kept the Sabbath received the Seal of God and those who rejected it received the Mark of the Beast. The SDA sect continues to teach this today. After 1851, shut-door Adventists opened the door to include those outside of the Millerites who had not rejected William Miller's false message about Christ's return. However, they continued to view it as their special mission to call people out of Catholic and Protestant churches into the SDA sect. Whereas Jesus came "to seek and to save that which was lost," the SDAs came to convert saved Christians to SDA doctrines (Luke 19:10). Following the writings of Ellen White, the SDA sect views all Sunday-keeping churches as Babylon or the daughters of Babylon, and they focus nearly all of their evangelistic efforts on calling people to leave Babylon and join the SDA sect.
Sunday-Keeping Churches are Babylon
The following quotes show that Ellen White considered all Sunday-keeping churches and denominations to be "fallen" or "Babylon." She fostered the expectation that her followers would expend their evangelistic efforts in recruiting saved Christians to leave their home churches and join the SDA sect.
I saw the nominal churches had fallen, coldness and death reigned in their midst.9
In summary, according to Ellen White:
A Twisted Commission
While none can accuse Ellen White of being uninterested in lost souls after 1851, the main thrust of her ministry was to call Christians out of Catholic and Protestant churches to join her sect. Saving lost souls was not her primary focus, as can be seen from the majority of her writing which is directed towards Christians of other faiths. According to Ellen White, the focus of the SDA sect is on delivering the Three Angels' Messages, the second of which entails calling people out of Babylon. Mrs. White redefined the meaning of "saving souls," "mission," and the "gospel commission" to refer not to the salvation of the lost, but to indoctrinating saved members of other churches with SDA teachings. For example:
As God’s people we have been entrusted with the work of saving souls. Upon us is shining wonderful light. In years past the first and the second angels’ messages have been proclaimed, and now the third angel’s message is being given to the churches that have fallen.21
Mrs. White speaks of the work of "saving souls." What is the nature of that work of salvation? It is for SDAs to proclaim the light of the third angel's message to "fallen churches." In other words, she views Christians in non-SDA churches who have accepted Jesus as their Savior to be in an unsaved condition. She views it as the sect's duty to communicate SDA truths to these people so their souls can be saved.
Ellen White also redefines the traditional meaning of "mission":
Every Christian mission is to be put in operation, every message is to be taken up by the churches of today who have the last message of mercy to give to the fallen churches.22
Notice, the "message" of SDA missions is not directed toward lost souls, but to saved members of the so-called "fallen" churches.
Below, Mrs. White even redefines Christ's gospel commission as a directive to work for other Christian churches:
A special work is to be done for the churches. The commission is given by Christ to His disciples: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” [Matthew 28:18-20.] (See also Mark 16:14-18.)23
Thus, Ellen White has twisted the meaning of working for the lost, missionary work, and the Great Commission to be a work that is primarily focused on converting other saved Christians to SDA beliefs. This is contrary to Biblical teaching.
Sabbath Observance Required for Salvation
For Catholic and Protestant churches to be fallen, there must be an element within them that is preventing the salvation of their members. What is that element? Ellen White taught her followers that Sabbath observance is a salvation issue that divides the true believers from the false believers:
It means eternal salvation to keep the Sabbath holy unto the Lord.24
Ellen White elevated the Sabbath to a salvational issue that divides the righteous from the unrighteous. However, if the Sabbath was so important that one's salvation depended upon its observance, then why did not Jesus or the apostles ever give any indication in the New Testament that Sabbath observance was required for salvation? Jesus never mentions Sabbath observance as being a requirement for salvation. Paul advised the members of the Church of God at Rome not to judge each other on the observance of days (Rom. 14:5-6). In Colossians, Paul told believers not to judge others on their keeping of the Sabbath (Col. 2:16).28 No other apostle writes anything in favor of Sabbath observance in the New Testament.29 The silence on this subject speaks volumes. Paul's primary theme was salvation. Why would he be totally silent on the Sabbath issue if that was indeed the great line of demarcation between loyal and disloyal believers? One would think he would at least mention it to his readers, seeing as how so much was riding on this issue!
Jesus Christ was the One who taught Paul the true gospel (Gal. 1:11-12). Paul wrote, "for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain" (Gal. 2:21). In the book of Galatians, Paul was adamantly opposed to people seeking salvation through obedience to Old Covenant laws. In the same book, he admonishes Christians to engage in many acts of righteousness, but he never mentions the necessity of Sabbath observance, either here, or anywhere else in his writings. If Paul, who received the gospel from Jesus Christ, who wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, did not make Sabbath observance a "test" or a even part of the gospel message, then why should anyone?
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed (Gal. 1:8).
Paul did not preach a gospel that included Sabbath observance. Anyone can read the writings of Paul and determine this for themselves. If Paul did not preach the gospel of Sabbath observance, then according to Paul, it is a false gospel, and those who do so are "accursed." Thus, Ellen White and the SDA sect are "accursed" for preaching a gospel that Paul didn't preach.
Health Message a Part of the Everlasting Gospel
Ellen White also elevated her health teachings to be a part of the third angel's message:
The health reform, I was shown, is a part of the third angel's message and is just as closely connected with it as are the arm and hand with the human body.30
Neither Jesus or the apostles ever advocated health reform or a vegetarian diet as part of the gospel message. On the contrary, Paul advised the members of the Church of God in Rome not to judge one another on the subject of diet (Rom. 14:1-4). Once again, Ellen White's gospel is different from the gospel taught by Paul.
Ellen White's gospel is fundamentally different from the true everlasting gospel taught by Jesus Christ. In Mrs. White's fake gospel, she labeled Catholicism and Protestantism as "fallen" and urged believers to come out of those churches. She warped the meaning of the Gospel Commission to consist of converting other believers in Christ to accept SDA doctrines. Rather than working with Catholics and Protestants for the salvation of lost souls, the followers of Ellen White work against them, labelling them as Babylon or the Daughters of Babylon. She even added health reform to the gospel message. Over the decades, the SDA sect has spent millions of hours and millions of dollars trying to convince other believers to join their sect. What a travesty that all this time and energy was not spent on delivering the true gospel message to unbelievers. Ellen White's promotion of a false gospel provides evidence that she was a false prophet.
"Satan works with his crooked, deceiving power, and through strong delusions... Through his subtlety he gives to his soul-destroying errors the appearance of truth. Herein is their power to deceive." (Ellen White, 2MCP, 699)
1. The Mormons and Jehovah's Witness are other examples of sects that recruit their members largely from other Christian churches.
2. Publishers, Early Writings, xvii, online edition from the White Estate. Unless otherwise noted, all Ellen White quotes are from the White Estate's online library.
3. Otis Nichols to William Miller, April 20, 1846.
4. Dirk Anderson, National Sunday Law: Fact or Fiction? (self-published, 2023), chapter 1.
5. For a complete chronology of shut-door statements made by the Whites and their associates during this seven year period, visit https://www.nonsda.org/egw/chrono.shtml. The White Estate only admits that Ellen White was deluded three years, until the end of 1847: "...evidence suggests that as late as the summer of 1847 she likely still believed that evangelistic work for the unconverted world at large was no longer necessary." Publishers, The Ellen G. White Letters and Manuscripts, vol. 1 (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2014), 49.
6. "Proceedings of the Mutual Conference of Adventists" (New York: Joshua Himes), Apr. 29 - May 1, 1845, 20, 26-27.
7. Ibid., 30.
9. Ellen White, Letter 9, 1853.
10. Ellen White, Spiritual Gifts, vol. 1 (Battle Creek, MI: Seventh-day Adventist Publishing Association, 1858), 140.
11. Ellen White, Early Writings, (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1882), 261.
12. Ibid., 278.
13. Ellen White, Great Controversy, (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1888), 384.
14. Ellen White, Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4 (Battle Creek, MI: Seventh-day Adventist Publishing Association, 1884), 232.
15. Ellen White, Manuscript 139, 1901.
16. White, Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, 237.
17. Ellen White, Signs of the Times, Nov. 19, 1894.
18. White, Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, 239.
19. Ellen White, Manuscript 110, 1904.
20. Ellen White, Review and Herald, Sep. 12, 1893.
21. Ellen White, Letter 12a, 1910.
22. Ellen White, Manuscript 151, 1906.
23. Ellen White, Manuscript 52, 1900.
24. Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1901), 356.
25. Ellen White, Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of Seventh-day Adventists, (Basle: Imprimerie Polyglotte, 1886), 234.
26. Ellen White, Selected Messages Book 3, (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1980), 423.
27. Ellen White, Review & Herald, April 23, 1901.
28. Paul uses the same Greek word that is used for the Sabbath of the Fourth Commandment in the LXX (Ex. 20:8, 35:3; Deut. 5:15; Isa. 58:13).
29. Some have suggested the author of Hebrews taught that a Sabbath rest remained for the people of God, and this refers to keeping the seventh-day Sabbath. The context of the passage does not support that view for several reasons:
30. Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1 (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1855) 486.
31. Ellen White, Testimony for the Church, no. 22, 1871.
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