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Ellen G. White: The Early Elmshaven Years: 1900-1905 (vol. 5)

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    Denominational Or Undenominational?

    Another deep concern on the part of Ellen White was regarding the position that Dr. Kellogg was taking and advocating, that the Battle Creek Sanitarium was undenominational. This was being heard more and more frequently. Its seeds went back for almost ten years, when Kellogg began to envision the medical work being done by Seventh-day Adventists as a great Christian benevolent work, not particularly denominational in its character. In 1893 the Seventh-day Adventist Medical Missionary and Benevolent Association had been formed to succeed the earlier Health and Temperance Association. But in 1896 the name had been changed, dropping out the words “Seventh-day Adventist” and adding the word “International” (The Story of Our Health Message, 293).5BIO 159.5

    Writing in 1898, Dr. Kellogg declared of this organization that it was developed to “‘carry forward medical and philanthropic work independent of any sectarian or denominational control, in home and foreign lands’” (Medical Missionary, January, 1898; quoted in Ibid., 293). (Italics supplied.)5BIO 160.1

    The following year at a convention of the association it was declared the delegates were “‘here as Christians, and not as Seventh-day Adventists.’” Nor were they there “‘for the purpose of presenting anything that is peculiarly Seventh-day Adventist in doctrine.’” In other words, it was defined as “‘simply the undenominational side of the work which Seventh-day Adventists have to do in the world.’”—Medical Missionary Conference Bulletin, May, 1899, Extra (quoted in Ibid., 293).5BIO 160.2

    This growing number of declarations on the part of Dr. Kellogg and his close associates provided sound basis for alarm, and of this Ellen White also spoke in midsummer, 1902:5BIO 160.3

    It has been stated that the Battle Creek Sanitarium is not denominational. But if ever an institution was established to be denominational in every sense of the word, this sanitarium was.5BIO 160.4

    Why are sanitariums established if it is not that they may be the right hand of the gospel in calling the attention of men and women to the truth that we are living amid the perils of the last days? And yet, in one sense, it is true that the Battle Creek Sanitarium is undenominational, in that it receives as patients people of all classes and all denominations.—Letter 128, 1902 (The Story of Our Health Message, 298).5BIO 160.5

    And she pointed out: 5BIO 160.6

    We are not to take pains to declare that the Battle Creek Sanitarium is not a Seventh-day Adventist institution; for this it certainly is. As a Seventh-day Adventist institution it was established to represent the various features of gospel missionary work, thus to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord.— Ibid.

    She was distressed, too, when Dr. Kellogg did not abide by the absolute truth in certain statements he made. She sent a confidential warning to Elder Daniells on September 5:5BIO 161.1

    Do not let him beguile you by his statements. Some may be true; some are not true. He may suppose that all his assertions are true; but you should neither think that they are, nor encourage him to believe that he is right. I know that he is not in harmony with the Lord. Do not sanction his effort to gather from every source all the means possible for his line of the work; for God does not favor so great an outlay of means as is now being made in Battle Creek.—Letter 138, 1902.5BIO 161.2

    In a council meeting held at her home on October 19, 1902, attended by Elder Daniells and some others, she again made reference to her deep concern for the doctor. Tying in with her work first, she said:5BIO 161.3

    I am writing on the life of Solomon. And I wish to write more on the case that I have so many times brought before Dr. Kellogg as illustrative of his own dangers—the case of Nebuchadnezzar. Over and over again I have warned the doctor not to follow the course of this king, who said, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built ... by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?” Dr. Kellogg is now pursuing a similar course in Battle Creek.— Manuscript 123, 1902.5BIO 161.4

    Then she added an interesting comment:5BIO 161.5

    I am told that he made the remark that he was glad that the old sanitarium buildings burned down. Brethren, those buildings burned down as a reproof to him, but instead of taking it thus, he has given place to self-exaltation.— Manuscript 123, 1902.

    In a rather interesting sidelight, she had discovered that in order to reduce the expenses of the institution and to gather the funds with which to finance the new plant, Dr. Kellogg had used strong persuasive powers to encourage the young people in training and the nurses working at the institution to either work free, or, if they did receive wages, to accept an amount “so small that it is nearly all used in paying for board, room rent, and incidental expenses”’ (Manuscript 123, 1902). This was rather characteristic and showed up in contracts she would later mention, between the Medical Association and young people in training. She emphatically declared that “this is not right in the sight of God” (Manuscript 123, 1902). She emphasized the individual stewardship of the wage earner.5BIO 161.6

    Through the early months of 1903 the work of building the Sanitarium continued. There were 296 patient rooms in the new edifice. Costs soared far above the estimates, adding financial problem on financial problem. The Medical Missionary for June, 1903, presented “Facts From the New Building“:5BIO 162.1

    In the structure of the new main building there were used 4,101,000 bricks, 7,400 bbls. of lime, 15,000 bbls. of cement, and 700 tons of iron and steel. There are 16,250 feet of steam pipes, 14,000 feet of water pipes, and 14 1/2 miles of waste pipes. There are 22 1/2 acres of plastering, and 25,500 loads of sand and gravel were used. Over 4,000 sacks of marble chips were used in forming the seven acres of mosaic floor. There are 1,200 veneered doors, finished with American mahogany stain. The gymnasium has 82 windows. The building has 3,500 electric lights, 200 bath and treatment rooms, 132 full bathtubs, and 400 telephones.5BIO 162.2

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