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The Truth About The White Lie - Contents
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    J. N. Andrews is said to have doubted Ellen White’s prophetic gift because he saw similarities between Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost, and Ellen White’s writings. Did Mrs. White borrow from Paradise Lost and did J. N. Andrews question the gift? 6The White Lie, pp. 33, 66, 133, 200.

    In 1858, after hearing Ellen White give an account of her vision of the great controversy, J. N. Andrews asked her if she had read Milton’s epic. She assured him she had not, so he brought a copy to her home. This was not at all unusual. On several occasions the studious Andrews made gifts of books to the Whites. Interestingly, although The White Lie alleges again and again that Ellen White borrowed from Milton, the book provides no evidence to substantiate the claim. Scholarly studies have noted some similar thoughts, but no literary dependence. 7Elizabeth Burgeson, “A Comparative Study of the Fall of Man as Treated by John Milton and Ellen G. White” (Master’s Thesis, Pacific Union College, 1957). Burgeson notes the similarities between Ellen White and John Milton on extra-Biblical information, and wonders why two authors, living two hundred years apart, would be in such agreement. But unless direct literary dependence is demonstrated it cannot be said that Mrs. White actually read Milton’s poem. The ideas of Milton, the great Puritan poet, permeated New England theology for generations. The fact that Mrs. White uses a phrase from Milton in Education, 150 [as noted by A. L. White, “Supplement to the Reprint Edition: Ellen G. White’s Portrayal of the Great Controversy Story,” in Ellen G. White, Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4 (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald, 1969 reprint), p. 536], does not of itself indicate literary dependence, since memorable lines of Milton were as current in her time as those of Shakespeare.TAWL 5.7

    As for J. N. Andrews, early in his experience he found that his parents and in-laws were critical of James and Ellen White, and in a moving confession, said:TAWL 5.8

    My influence against the visions has not been from a multiplicity of words against them.... But I confess I have not stood up for them and borne testimony in their favor. 8J. N. and Angeline Andrews to James and Ellen White, Feb. 2, 1862, cited in Ron Graybill, “John Nevins Andrews as a Family Man,” p. 16.

    Later, after he had spent time in the Whites’ home and seen the anguish and tears which accompanied the writing of counsels and reproof, he wrote:TAWL 5.9

    My convictions that the testimonies of Sister White are from Heaven, have been greatly strengthened by the opportunity which I have had to observe the life, and experience, and labors of these servants of Christ. 9J. N. Andrews, “The Labors of Bro. and Sr. White,” The Review and Herald, March 3, 1868, p. 184.

    Shortly afterward, he wrote of the important contribution made by the testimonies:TAWL 5.10

    Their work is to unite the people of God in the same mind and in the same judgment upon the meaning of the Scriptures. Mere human judgment, with no direct instruction from heaven, can never search out hidden iniquity, nor adjust dark and complicated church difficulties, nor prevent different and conflicting interpretations of the Scriptures. It would be sad indeed if God could not still converse with His people. 10J. N. Andrews, “Our Use of the Visions of Sr. White,” The Review and Herald, February 15, 1870, p. 64.

    Like all of us, the pioneers were people who in their human weakness sometimes struggled with pride and doubt even as we do today, but, with a very few exceptions, those who knew Ellen White best came to believe firmly in her inspiration.TAWL 6.1