The Truth about Ellen White

ellen whiteIn October of 1844, two months after the Great Disappointment that rocked the Christian churches in America, a 17-year-old girl by the name of Ellen Harmon was given a vision. It was the first of more than 2000 documented visions that she witnessed between then and her death in 1915. She became Ellen White when she married a young Adventist preacher named James White.

An Accomplished Woman of Our Time

Though skeptics have often ridiculed her because of her sex, lack of education, and physical debilities, her ministry and visions are worthy of investigation as they have been critical to the formation of the only movement that fits all of the criteria for being “the remnant of her seed” (Revelation 12:17). Throughout her life, she:

  • Protected the Advent movement from non-biblical doctrines and fanatical influences, and established the pillars of their faith by confirmation or correction.
  • Shaped the Adventist organizational structure and evangelical emphasis on the Three Angels’ Message.
  • Established the Adventist publishing work and aided in its universalization.
  • Nurtured the formation of the Seventh Day Adventist educational system, one of the largest Protestant educational systems in the world, with more than 5,700 schools, including 86 colleges and 15 universities.
  • Formed Adventism’s worldwide health message, recognizing the importance of physical health as well as spiritual health. Adventists run one of the largest non-profit, Protestant health care systems in the world.

Despite her disadvantages and frailty, Ellen White not only accomplished the things mentioned above, but also became one of the most prolific writers of our time, despite debilities that made it impossible for her to write. No other woman author has produced as much published religious material as Ellen White, authoring more than 40 books and 5000 periodicals in her lifetime (approximately 50,000 manuscript pages).

She is the most translated woman writer in the entire history of literature, and the most translated American author of either gender. Recently she was named by Smithsonian magazine as one of 100 most influential Americans of all time.

A Vital Question

There’s no doubt that Ellen White was one of the best known women in the world, traveling extensively and lecturing to large audiences in many countries. Neither is there any doubt of her crucial part in establishing and mentoring the Seventh Day Adventist church. The vital question is: Was she a prophet of God, or a deceiver? We’ve listed the tests of a true prophet on this website, but does Ellen White stand the test?

The Testing of a Prophet

  • Did She Exalt the Word of God?

Ellen White never intended her writings, collectively known a the Spirit of Prophecy, to take the place of the Bible. They are intended to simplify the truths already given in the Bible, to exalt them and draw all to see their beauty. She describes the purpose of her writings clearly:

“The written testimonies are not to give new light, but to impress vividly upon the heart the truths of inspiration already revealed. Man’s duty to God and to his fellow man has been distinctly specified in God’s word, yet but few of you are obedient to the light given. Additional truth is not brought out; but God has through the Testimonies simplified the great truths already given and in His own chosen way brought them before the people to awaken and impress the mind with them, that all may be left without excuse.…The Testimonies are not to belittle the word of God, but to exalt it and attract minds to it, that the beautiful simplicity of truth may impress all” (2Testimonies 605-6).

Again and again Ellen White lifts up the preeminent position of God’s Word. She taught that it was peerless.

“The Holy Scriptures are to be accepted as an authoritative, infallible revelation of his will. They are the standard of character, the revealer of doctrines, and the test of experience” (Great Controversy d.4).

  • Did Her Predictions Come True?

Although most of Ellen White’s predictions had to do with biblical prophecy, she did warn of some disasters well before they occurred. The most striking was her foretelling of the great San Francisco Earthquake of April 18, 1906. In 1902 she warned that, “not long hence these cities will suffer under the judgments of God. San Francisco and Oakland are becoming as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Lord will visit them in wrath” (Evangelism 403-4).

She wrote widely on health issues and made unbelievable predictions in this field that were far in advance of the time she lived in, indeed, most are only being confirmed today. A tangible result of her advanced health knowledge is evidenced in articles like the one published in 2009 by US News & World Report. In the article, entitled 11 Health Habits That Will Help You Live To 100, one of those habits is to “Live like a Seventh Day Adventist.”

In 1864, when medicine was using tobacco as a cure for lung ailments, she said this:

“Tobacco is a poison of the most deceitful and malignant kind, having an exciting, then a paralyzing influence upon the nerves of the body. It is all the more dangerous because its effects upon the system are so slow, and at first scarcely perceivable. Multitudes have fallen victims to its poisonous influence” (Counsels on Health 84).

It took science until 1957 to conclude that smoking caused lung cancer.

In another prediction that was ahead of her time, she stated that the use of animal products in the diet was harmful (Counsels on Diets and Foods 338) and that it would get worse as time went on. Only now is research confirming her statements. The link between eating meat and the diseases Ellen White listed is well documented. It is clear now that vegetarians have a lower age specific relative risk of disease, at least for cancer.

The fulfillment of the predictions of Ellen White are amazing to all, both scientist and layman, who are aware of them. The abundance of these predictions, given for the benefit of mankind, are so accurately fulfilled that she most certainly measures up to the prophetic criterion that a prophets predictions must come true.

  • Did She Edify the Church?

The intent of the visions of Ellen White was to lead the church into greater understanding of God’s word and to keep it from going in a wrong direction. As you can see above, the formation and development of the Seventh Day Adventist church would have been impossible without her counsel. Beyond that, her lifetime of testimonies are so extensive that in them can be met the need of all who should live till the end of time.

In her own words:

“I said that I did not claim to be a prophetess. I have not stood before the people claiming this title, though many called me thus. I have been instructed to say, “I am God’s messenger, sent to bear a message of reproof to the erring and of encouragement to the meek and lowly.” With pen and with voice I am to bear the messages given me. The word given me is, “You are faithfully to reprove those who would mar the faith of the people of God. Write out the things which I shall give you, that they may stand as a witness to the truth till the end of time” (The Review & Herald, January 26, 1905).

  • Did She Exalt Christ as the True Son of God?

Jesus is the all-pervading theme throughout all of Ellen White’s writings. All one need do to come to this realization is to read her book, The Desire of Ages. It is one of the greatest books ever written on the life of Christ, and divine inspiration flows freely from the first words to the last.

Her words not only tell of Christ, but also place our relationship with Him in the right perspective. Justification and sanctification are seen in proper context and the end-time message of righteousness by faith—that men can have the mind of Christ and overcome sin just like Jesus did, by trusting in God—is contemplated in all its significance.

There is no doubt she exalted Christ throughout her life.

  • Did She Speak with Authority?

On this subject, I love what Walter Veith says in Truth Matters:

Ellen White had to wage a constant battle against those who maligned her and ridiculed her message. She faced her toughest challenges when she was still young and frail and humanly speaking there is no way in which she could have exercised the authority she did without the direct intervention of God. God chose the weakest of the weak to confound the strong. The authority she had was the authority of God. The word of God did the cutting, not the servant. Without this authority, the pillars of the advent faith would have long hence been torn down, but they are sustained by the Word and will stand until the end of time. She wrote:

“I am instructed to say to those who endeavor to tear down the foundation that has made us Seventh-day Adventists: We are God’s commandment-keeping people. For the past fifty years every phase of heresy has been brought to bear upon us, to becloud our minds regarding the teaching of the Word—especially concerning the ministration of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary, and the message of heaven for these last days, as given by the angels of the fourteenth chapter of Revelation. Messages of every order and kind have been urged upon Seventh-day Adventists, to take the place of the truth which, point by point, has been sought out by prayerful study and testified to by the miracle-working power of the Lord. But the waymarks which have made us what we are, are to be preserved, and they will be preserved, as God has signified through His word and the testimonies of His Spirit. He calls upon us to hold firmly with the grip of faith, to the fundamental principles that are based upon unquestionable authority” (4Manuscript Releases 246).

  • Did She Bear Good Fruit?

In each of her some odd 50,000 manuscript pages Ellen White can be seen as one who knew and loved Jesus. Even her reproofs were given, like Christ’s, with tears in her eyes. Her object was ever the uplifting of souls. In this, she was not only a messenger, but a missionary, doing her part in the spreading of the good news of Jesus.

The fruits of her long life (listed above) testify to a genuine, congruent, and noble character. When she died at 87 years of age, the media testified to this truth:

“She was absolutely honest in her belief in her revelations. Her life was worthy of them. She showed no spiritual pride, and she sought no filthy lucre. She lived the life and did the work of a worthy prophetess” (The New York Independent, August 23, 1915, cited in Bio., vol. 6, p. 444).

“The life of Mrs. White is an example worthy of emulation by all. Though of limited education, for the greater part of her long life in poor health, she never faltered, but for seventy-two years carried and preached the message of Jesus Christ, as understood by her, to the farthermost corners of the earth. She was a humble, devout disciple of Christ, and ever went about doing good. Her writings have been published in books, papers, and periodicals. She was revered by all the members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and honored and respected by all who appreciate noble womanhood consecrated to unselfish labor for the uplifting and betterment of mankind. Her death marks the calling of another noted leader of religious thought, and one whose almost ninety years were full to overflowing with good deeds, kind words, and earnest prayers for all mankind” (Editorial in the St. Helena Star, July 25, 1915).

  • Did She Exhibit the Necessary Physical Signs?

The most compelling test of a true prophet is whether the physical signs laid out in the Bible are present while in vision. This is because these signs are so incredible that they are impossible to counterfeit. In His wisdom, God knew it would be necessary for His prophets to exhibit impossible symptoms that could only be explained by supernatural intervention.

The four physical signs are found in Numbers 24:4 and Daniel 10:7-17. They are as follows:

  • The prophet falls down weak
  • The prophet is strengthened by God and raised up
  • The prophet’s eyes are wide open during the vision
  • The prophet does not breathe during the vision

God established the authenticity of the ministry of Ellen White publicly with these physical signs in the early years of her calling. She would go into vision in public meetings where skeptics and physicians could examine her before hundreds of people. These eyewitness accounts are astounding and verify beyond doubt that Ellen White exhibited all of the physical criteria outlined in the Bible.

A Light for Our Time

There is no other man or woman in modern history who measures up to all the biblical criteria for a prophet of God. The voluminous instruction and reproof of Ellen White, if heeded, is sufficient to guide God’s remnant to the end of time.


For more information, here is an informative and well structured website on Ellen White.

Go here for answers to charges that Ellen White was a plagiarist.

Go here for answers to a list of accusations that attempt to prove that Ellen White made statements contradicting the Bible.

 


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