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The Ellen G. White Writings - Contents
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    Factors That May Tend to Undermine Confidence

    But there are factors that may tend to undermine confidence in the authority of the E. G. White writings. These we cannot ignore. To some people these factors may be the “hooks” upon which doubts may be hung. We are assured that we may find them if we seek them, for God has not removed their existence.EGWW 71.2

    1. In historical account, there may be discrepancies in minor and inconsequential points.EGWW 71.3

    Some people may call to mind the often-quoted W. C. White statement, “Mother has never claimed to be authority on history,” referred to in Chapter I. A knowledge of the manner in which the light came to the prophets is very helpful in the consideration of this point. The W. C. White statement taken alone and out of context may seem to justify the dismissal of history delineated by Ellen White as without authority. The conscientious student is not likely to find it so as he studies the internal evidence and takes into account the full W. C. White statement and other similar statements, as well as Ellen White’s own statements. See the paragraph in question in Chapter 1 and Appendix C.EGWW 71.4

    In other statements quoted in Chapter 1, W. C. White emphasizes that it is not the basic historical account on which Ellen White desired that her writings not be taken as authority but minor inconsequential details that some might take to settle points of difference among historians.EGWW 72.1

    2. The question of the relevancy of certain counsels given long ago and our attitude toward such counsels.EGWW 72.2

    True, the counsel given by Ellen White was often couched in the framework of the current situation. So it was with Paul. Mrs. White counseled that girls should “learn to harness and drive a horse” (Education, 216, 217); that the “bicycle craze” in Battle Creek in the mid 1890’s was detrimental to those involved (see Testimonies for the Church 8:51, 52); and that the nurses in 1906 at Loma Linda should shorten their skirts.EGWW 72.3

    She also wrote:EGWW 72.4

    Regarding the testimonies, nothing is ignored; nothing is cast aside; but time and place must be considered.—Selected Messages 1:57.EGWW 72.5

    Behind the specific counsels that the lapse of time may have seemed to antiquate, there are principles. Principles do not change, although their application may change. This fact is discussed in Chapter 5, “Hermeneutical Principles in the E. G. White Writings.”EGWW 72.6

    In such cases, looking beyond a word or phrase, we may easily focus on the guiding principles and thus find “the instruction that was given in the early days of the message,” to be “safe instruction to follow in these its closing days” (Selected Messages 1:41).EGWW 72.7

    It should be noted that there are relatively few specific counsels that fall into the category of circumstances which have demonstrably changed.EGWW 73.1

    3. It has been suggested that Ellen White may have been influenced by her contemporaries or predecessors.EGWW 73.2

    On the surface, this charge may seem valid. However, if Mrs. White only reflected the thinking of those about her, the Spirit of Prophecy messages would carry little or no authority. The facts are that she was not influenced, and she took pains to prevent either being influenced or giving rise to the suggestion that she may have been influenced by others. Ellen White specifically refuted this charge when she wrote to a brother who thought she was influenced by others. She said: “You think individuals have prejudiced my mind. If I am in this state, I am not fitted to be entrusted with the work of God.” Selected Messages 2:63. This matter is explained in detail in Chapter 3, “The Integrity of the Prophetic Message.”EGWW 73.3

    4. The use of Scripture in a manner not in keeping with commonly accepted exegetical procedures.EGWW 73.4

    The manner in which Ellen White used Scripture reveals a keen insight and a source of information in common with the Bible prophets. It is true, however, that at times she employed texts homiletically in a manner that the text itself might not support. In doing this she is simply doing what the gospel writers and the apostle Paul did. This practice might be termed “the prophet’s exegesis.” Being a diligent student of the Word of God and intimately familiar with Bible terminology, it is altogether understandable that she in her thinking, speaking, and writing in an easy manner often partook of Bible phraseology, and as a matter of convenience at times employed scripture phraseology in her writing with little regard for context, couching what she wished to say in the phraseology of the familiar King James Version even though such use was known to her to have no direct bearing on the intent of the text from which she drew the words.EGWW 73.5

    An illustration of this usage may be found in Education on page 198 in the chapter titled “Physical Culture,” where she wrote:EGWW 74.1

    Among the first things to be aimed at should be a correct position, both in sitting and in standing. God made man upright, and He desires him to possess not only the physical but the mental and moral benefit ... which an erect bearing so greatly tends to promote.EGWW 74.2

    In this sentence she clearly couched what she wished to say in the words of Ecclesiastes 7:29. Elsewhere in her books she uses the phrase in proper context, such as in Patriarchs and Prophets, page 49:EGWW 74.3

    God made man upright; He gave him noble traits of character, with no bias toward evil.EGWW 74.4

    Careful students of the original Bible languages have often observed that the insights the visions gave to Ellen White led her again and again to catch meanings more in keeping with the original text than is reflected in the King James Version, which she constantly used. Her acceptance of the newer translations as they became available supports this point.EGWW 74.5

    5. There are statements in the field of science yet seemingly unsustained by accepted evidence. A pertinent illustration is her statement on the age of the earth.EGWW 74.6

    As this information is considered we must take into account the basic nature of her first declaration in 1864 in which she discusses special revelation and natural revelation, recognizing that geologists “reject the Bible record, because of those things which are to them evidences from the earth itself that the world has existed tens of thousands of years” (Spiritual Gifts 3:91, 92). Scientists generally, without regard to the Word of God and its account of Creation and the Flood, base their conclusions on an interpretation of their findings seen in the light of uniformitarianism. However, the Seventh-day Adventist Christian will await patiently evidences in support of the clear-cut statement that he accepts by faith.EGWW 74.7

    As he does so, he will not overlook the manner in which highly respected scientists at times reverse their conclusions. For instance, in the late 1930’s the world’s leading scientists reported that their studies demonstrated beyond all possibility of doubt that cancer was not germ caused, and, therefore, was not an infectious disease.EGWW 75.1

    This report was in direct conflict with Ellen White’s “cancer germ” statement in The Ministry of Healing in 1905. Some of our physicians considered the findings of science justification for the declaration that Ellen White was mistaken. Then in the mid 1950’s the break came. Most cancer research is now in the field of a virus—“a miniature germ.”EGWW 75.2

    Again, we cannot overlook the fact that in the mid 1930’s the American public was urged in large full-page advertisements to take a yeast cake a day as a good source of vitamin B. This was in direct conflict with the E. G. White statement in The Ministry of Healing that loaves of bread should be small and well baked, “that, so far as possible, the yeast germs shall be destroyed.” Questions difficult to answer were raised by some of our church members. Not so now. No advertisements appear urging the consumption of live yeast. Why not? Because live yeast is now known to be positively devastating, actually robbing the body of vitamin B. 8Note: Live yeast is not to be confused with “brewers’ yeast,” a recognized helpful food supplement.EGWW 75.3

    Perhaps one more example will suffice. In 1955 some people in our ranks were perturbed because the General Conference Committee on the basis of the Spirit of Prophecy counsels went on record in Fall Council action denouncing hypnosis in the treatment of disease. This was at a time when hypnosis was accepted in medical circles and a strong effort was being made to sell it to the American public. Have we been embarrassed for our action taken daringly in the face of scientific acceptance of the moment? No, and no one reads articles in the national journals today giving acclaim to hypnosis as a helpful adjunct in treating the sick.EGWW 76.1

    Something that we should always remember when we are faced with perplexing questions in the field of science is that although “the idea largely prevails that He [God] is bounded and restricted by His own laws” men do not realize “that the Author of nature’s laws can work above those laws” (Signs of the Times, March 13, 1884).EGWW 76.2

    In view of the foregoing facts, Seventh-day Adventists should be slow to accept so-called “scientific evidence” that seemingly runs counter to plain statements in the field of science by Ellen White. Patience may be called for; we may have to wait awhile for some answers. Some answers we may never get until Jesus Christ, the Author of the laws of science, gives us the explanation, but this is no reason to lose confidence in the Spirit of Prophecy.EGWW 76.3

    6. A natural resistance to and a hesitancy to accept counsels touching personal life that seem unreasonable, such as: (a) sacrificial giving; (b) the dietetic counsels; and (c) recreation.EGWW 76.4

    It is quite natural when certain counsels touch our personal lives for us to feel uneasy, and we are inclined to resist. This is a natural human tendency. However, is not this question one of conversion and of our willingness to accept what the Lord has made plain to us as affecting our lives physically, mentally, and spiritually? Some people in an attempt to escape just condemnation dismiss such counsels as being the opinion of the prophet. Ellen White wrote to one man who did this:EGWW 76.5

    You have talked over matters as you viewed them, that the communications from Sister White are not all from the Lord, but a portion is her own mind, her own judgment, which is no better than anybody else’s judgment and ideas. This is one of Satan’s hooks to hang your doubts upon to deceive your soul and the souls of others who will dare to draw the line in this matter and say, this portion which pleases me is from God, but that portion which points out and condemns my course of conduct is from Sister White alone, and bears not the holy signet. You have in this way virtually rejected the whole of the messages, which God in His tender, pitying love has sent to you....EGWW 77.1

    God presents to you His will and ways which are in marked contrast, in just that way which your case requires, and you are hereby tested whether you will accept the reproof, fall on the Rock and be broken, or will you become vexed over plain statements that come close to your soul, because it is the truth and condemns you, and then you feel at enmity with me. Hebrews 4:12. There is one back of me which is the Lord, who has prompted the message, which you now reject, and disregard, and dishonor. By tempting God you have unnerved yourselves, and confusion and blindness of mind have been the result.—Letter 16, 1888.EGWW 77.2

    Of those who follow this course, Ellen White asks:EGWW 77.3

    What reserve power has the Lord with which to reach those who have cast aside His warnings and reproofs, and have accredited the testimonies of the Spirit of God to no higher source than human wisdom? In the judgment what can you who have done this offer to God as an excuse for turning from the evidences He has given you that God was in the work?—Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 466.EGWW 77.4

    It has meant something to Seventh-day Adventists to have had a prophet in their midst. It means something to us today to have the benefit of the abundant counsel provided by a loving God, that we might enjoy this life and be better prepared for the life to come.EGWW 77.5

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