Ellen G. White Writings

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Ellen White: Woman of Vision, Page 14

Ellen White: Woman of Vision

By Arthur L. White
Copyright © 2000, Review and Herald Publishing Association

Table of Contents



Ellen G. White and Her Writings

Who was Ellen G. White, and why do millions consider her writings of special value and significance? In brief, she was a woman of remarkable spiritual gifts who lived most of her life during the nineteenth century (1827-1915), yet through her writings and public ministry has made a revolutionary impact on millions of people around the world.

During her lifetime she wrote more than 5,000 periodical articles and 26 books; but today, including compilations from her 55,000 pages of manuscript, more than 126 titles are available in English. She may well be the most translated woman writer in the entire history of literature, and the most translated American author of either gender. Her writings cover a broad range of subjects, including education, health, prophecy, nutrition, and cultural and ethnic-linguistic issues, creationism, and the origin of life. Her life-changing masterpiece on successful Christian living, Steps to Christ, has been published in more than 144 languages.

Seventh-day Adventists believe that Mrs. White was more than a gifted writer; they believe she was appointed by God as a special messenger to draw the world's attention to the Holy Scriptures and help prepare people for Christ's second advent. From the time she was 17 years old until she died 70 years later, God gave her approximately 2,000 visions and dreams. The visions varied in length from less than a minute to nearly four hours. The knowledge and counsel received through these revelations she wrote out to be shared with others. Thus her special writings are accepted by Seventh-day Adventists as inspired, and their exceptional quality is recognized even by casual readers.

As stated in Seventh-day Adventists Believe, “the writings of Ellen White are not a substitute for Scripture. They cannot be placed on the same level. The Holy Scriptures stand alone, the unique standard by which her and all other writings must be judged and to which they must be subject” (Seventh-day Adventists Believe [Washington, D.C.: Ministerial Association, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 1988], p. 227).

Yet as Ellen White herself noted, “the fact that God has revealed His will to men through His Word has not rendered needless the continued presence and guiding of the Holy Spirit. On the contrary, the Spirit was promised by our Saviour, to open the Word to His servants, to illuminate and apply its teachings” (GC, p. vii).

This book tells the story of this remarkable woman who, meeting all the tests of a true prophet as set forth in the Holy Scriptures, helped found the Seventh-day Adventist Church.


In 1913 F. M. Wilcox, editor of the Review and Herald, wrote of Ellen G. White: “The story of her life is the story of this movement. The two are identified in experience” (The Review and Herald, February 27, 1913). Being a seasoned evangelist, a church executive, and then editor of the general church paper, Elder Wilcox was in a unique position to make such an appraisal.

It was a busy and fruitful life that Ellen White lived from 1827 to 1915. It produced a story not fully told until the six-volume biography of Ellen White, written by Arthur L. White, appeared. True biographical sketches and several books had been published down through the years. These began with the seven pages devoted to her experience printed in July 1851 in her first book, a diminutive volume of 64 pages. They have included the 480 page Life Sketches, hurried into the field on her death in 1915. It had to be limited in detail.

In writing the six-volume biography, Elder Arthur White had before him 11 aims and objectives:

1. To write for the average reader, but in such detail and with such documentation as would meet the expectations of the scholar.

2. To leave the reader with the feeling that he or she had become acquainted with Ellen White as a very human person.

3. To portray accurately her life and work as the Lord's messenger in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, not by a slavish chronicle of each day of her active ministry, but by a selection from her experience of events and happenings that illustrate her lifework and make a contribution to the cause.

4. As far as possible, to keep these events in a year-by-year development, picturing her home life, her travels, her weaknesses and strengths, her burden of heart, and her earnest devotional life.

5. To select and present in detail significant events, two or three in a given year, that best illustrate her prophetic mission, depicting the interplay between the prophet and church leaders, institutions, and individuals, and recounting the sending of testimonies and the response to these messages.

6. To provide a knowledge of the principal points of the history of the church in a unique way as it was seen especially through the eyes of, or in relation to, the messenger of the Lord.

7. Not only to make the work an interesting narrative but to provide a selection of illustrative experiences with which readers might at times vicariously associate themselves.

8. To keep constantly before readers the major role the visions played in almost every phase of the experiences comprising the narrative.

9. Where convenient to the purposes of the manuscript, to let Ellen White speak in her own words, rather than providing a paraphrase. This would ensure an accurate conveyance of the unique and fine points of the messages in the very expressions of the prophetic messenger herself. Thus, many important statements are provided in a form that will be of value to all readers.

10. To provide a documented running account of the literary work done by Ellen White and her literary assistants in the production of her articles and books.

11. And in all of this, to present in the narrative, in a natural way, confidence-confirming features.

Mention should be made here of Ellen White's conversation with the angel in connection with the commission that she should present to others what had been opened up to her. Having observed the experience of some especially favored by God, she feared she might become exalted, but the angel of the Lord responded: “If this evil that you dread threatens you, the hand of God will be stretched out to save you; by affliction He will draw you to Himself and preserve your humility” (Life Sketches of James White and Ellen G. White (1880), 196).

The sources from which the author worked were voluminous. They included the Ellen G. White diaries, the tens of thousands of pages of her letters and manuscripts, her many articles as they have appeared in the Review and Herald and Signs of the Times and other journals, her books and pamphlets, the correspondence she and her office received through the years, and letters and historical articles in the White Estate Document File. Also, for general historical backgrounds, the Review and Herald in its entirety.

Arthur White's six-volume biography of his grandmother was given wide circulation throughout the world and was so well received that almost immediately requests began coming in to the White Estate for a single-volume abridged edition. Adventist publishers and church leaders throughout the world felt that a work of this kind would meet a real need. Thus, in retirement Elder White asked Mrs. Margaret Rossiter Thiele to reduce the six volumes to one. Her work was submitted to the White Estate, where it was edited by Kenneth H. Wood. If through this volume Ellen White becomes better known as an individual—a wife and mother, a neighbor and friend, as well as the messenger of the Lord, laboring tirelessly in the pulpit and on the public platform in declaring God's messages and in counseling often and writing incessantly, with influence felt the world around—the objectives of the author and of the White Estate will have been met.

The Trustees of the

Ellen G. White Estate.

Table of Contents

About The Author15
1. The Time Was Right15
2. Called To Be a Messenger26
3. Step By Step39
4. Expanding By Publishing56
5. Financial Support For The Cause Of God68
6. Seventh-day Adventists In Time Of War86
7. Learning A New Lifestyle101
8. James: Learning The Hard Way120
9. The New Health Institute137
10. First Annual Camp Meetings144
11. California—Here We Come160
12. Encouraging Prospects181
13. Time Of Mellowing198
14. Healdsburg College Opens And Battle Creek College Closes215
15. Ellen White Ventures Abroad225
16. The General Conference Session Of 1888245
17. Advances In Book Publication263
18. The Call To Australia274
19. Onto New Zealand291
20. The Avondale School306
21. Sunnyside—Ellen White's Farm332
22. The MedicalMissionary Work336
23. Writing “The Desire Of Ages”354
24. The Work InAustralia Comes Of Age361
25. Elmshaven, A HavenFor Ellen White371
26. The General Conference Session of 1901: Time for Change!383
27. The Battle CreekSanitarium Fire397
28. Elmshaven: Not A Rest Home404
29. The Review And Herald Fire416
30. The 1903 General Conference Session421
31. John Harvey Kelloggand “The Living Temple”433
32. The Round-TripTo Washington445
33. “I Was Shown”: Beautiful Properties!458
34. A Momentous Year:Ballenger, Jones, Kellogg475
35. Ellen White's Special Gift490
36. The General Conference Session Of 1909507
37. Loma Linda: More Than A Sanitarium518
38. The 1911 Edition of the Great Controversy Not a Revision525
39. Winding Down With Courage and Cheer540

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