G White -- the Myth and the Truth
by Å. Kaspersen
-The Shut Door
seven years Ellen White, her husband, and several other adventist pioneers,
believed that the door of mercy had been shut on October 22, 1844, and that
there was no more mercy to obtain for the world and for sinners after that date.
Ellen White claimed to have received visions confirming that.
This was the so-called "Shut Door". For seven years the early adventists worked
solely within their own circle, which they called "the Little Flock", or "The
Remnant". There is no documentation showing that these early adventists worked
for outsiders. They thought it was useless, because the door of mercy had been
shut to them.
About 1848 quite a few adventists had abandoned the "Shut Door" theory, but
James and Ellen held on, mainly because of her "visions" and the theories of
Joseph Bates, who had written in a tract that seven years of mediation in The
Most Holy in heaven would pass for "The Little Flock", from October 1844 to
October 1851. But the door of mercy had been shut for the world during this
About 1850 the "Shut Door" started creaking, and James and Ellen White made
a small opening to let some outsiders in - mainly the pioneer's own children
who had been born after 1844, and then some outsiders who wanted to join "the
Little Flock". Finally, about 1851, James and Ellen swung the "Shut Door" wide
open to the world in general. At length they had discovered that something was
wrong with their "Shut Door" theory.
But the episode had created quite a problem, not least to Ellen White, whose
"visions" had confirmed the heresy. What were they going to do now? Her revelations
about the "Shut Door", had been put on print in publications like The Day Star,
the broadside To The Remnant Scattered Abroad, A Word to the Little Flock and
Present Truth. Should these visions now be denied?
These early writings made the basis for later
publications, and an easy solution would be editing - removing - all statements
with reference to the "Shut Door". By no means would they be allowed to appear
in books like Christian Experience and Views and Early Writings, books mostly
made up from material from these early publications which were replete with
references to the "Shut Door". To preserve the image of the emerging prophetess,
this embarassing matter ought to be forgotten as soon as possible. By this time
it had dawned for the early adventists - James and Ellen White inclusive - that
the "Shut Door" theory was a gross error. But what about Ellen's visions, which
confirmed the error? If her early visions were from God, then later visions
were also from God, but if her early visions were not from God, neither her
later visions were from God. Obviously, they were caught in the horns of a dilemma.
Ellen White would not step back and say, "I was
wrong. These visions did not tell the truth". People would then say, "So? Then
the visions were not from God. You are a false prophet". Such retreat would
of course be honorable, but damaging for her credibility as a prophet.
The simplest solution would be to remove all spurious
statements from her visions an let the whole episode disappear quietly into
a secluded grave.
We are going to check out a few testimonials from
early adventists regarding the "Shut Door".
"We have done our work in warning sinners and
in trying to awake a formal church. God in his providence has shut the door;
we can only stir up one another to be patient" (William Miller inAdvent Herald,
Dec. 11, 1844). Miller did, however, not hold to this theory for long.
In December 1844, Ellen Harmon received her first
vision, which, among other things, supported the theory on the "Shut Door".
However, this vision was not published until January 1846. Here Ellen Harmon
describes the narrow path they (the Advent people) walked on on their way to
the heavenly city. The ungodly, however, shared another fate,
"The light behind them went out leaving their
feet in perfect darkness, and they stumbled and got their eyes off the mark
and lost sight of Jesus, and fell off the path down in the dark and wicked world
below. It was just as impossible for them to get on the path
again and go to the City, as all the wicked world which God had rejected."
(A Word to the Little Flock (1847), p. 14. Emphasis supplied. Compare Early
Writings, p. 15, where the sentence ". . .It was just as impossible for them
to get on the path again and go to the City, as all the wicked world which God
had rejected, had been removed).
This was her first vision. Later Ellen White was
having still more "visions" which confirmed her first vision.
One early Adventist who witnessed such "visions"
in his home, was John Megquier,
"We well know the course of Ellen G. White,
the visionist, while in the State of Maine. About the first visions
that she had were at my house in Poland. She said God had told her in
vision that the door of mercy had closed, and there was no more chance for the
world, and she would tell who had got spots on their garments; and those spots
were got on by questioning her visions, whether they were of the Lord
or not. Then she would tell them what to do, or what duty to perform, to get
into favor with God again. Then God would show her, through a vision,
who was lost, and who was saved in different parts of the State, according as
they received or rejected her visions. She could put herself under
their influence, just the same as any mesmeric person would." (John Megquier,
quoted in Miles Grant, An Examination of Mrs. Ellen G. White's Visions (1877.
This is completely out of harmony with Scripture.
Nowhere does the Bible say that people would be saved or lost on account of
their belief in Ellen White's "visions". This is utter nonsense.
Lucinda Burdick knew Ellen White well. At several
occasions she held Ellen's head in her lap while she was in vision. Later in
her life, Lucinda Burdick wrote her testimony in two different publications.
"I became acquainted with James White and Ellen
Harmon (now Mrs. White) early in 1845. . . .Ellen was having what was called
visions: said God had shown her in vision that Jesus Christ arose on the tenth
day of the seventh moth, 1844, and shut the door of mercy; had left
forever the mediatorial throne; the whole world was doomed and lost, and there
never could be another sinner saved. (The True Sabbath, p. 72. Emphasis
"Ellen was having what was called visions:
said God had shown her in vision that Jesus Christ arose on the tenth
day of the seventh moth, 1844, and shut the door of mercy; had left
forever the mediatorial throne; the whole world was doomed and lost, and there
never could be another sinner saved. . . . If these visions which she
now has are of God, the first were; and if the first were of God, the
door of mercy was close din 1844, and woe to the poor sinners this
side of there. We know that God does not lie; and some of them did lie,
to my certain knowledge. God does not contradict himself, and her visions
have contradicted each other. I have been told that they deny on this coast
that she ever saw the door of mercy closed; but there are thousands of living
witnesses who know that a blacker lie could not be invented, and I am one of
the number." (Lucinda Burdick in Isaac Wellcome's book, The World Crisis,
1874. Emphasis supplied.
In 1908 she repeated her testimony, this time
confirmed by the Notary Public.
"I first heard of Miss Ellen G. Harmon (afterwards
Mrs. Ellen G. White) In the early winter (Jan. or Feb.) of 1845 when my uncle
Josiah Little came to my father's house and reported that he had seen one Ellen
Harmon in the act of having visions which she claimed were given her of God.
He said that she declares that God revealed to her that the door of
mercy was closed for ever, and that there was henceforth no salvation for sinners.
"This caused me great uneasiness and anguish of
mind for I had not been baptized and my youthful heart was much disturbed as
to my salvation if the door of mercy was really closed. During the year 1845
I met Miss Ellen G. Harmon several times at my uncle's house in South Windham,
Me. The first of these meetings was in the month of May, when I heard
her declare that God had revealed to her that Jesus Christ would return to this
earth in June, the next month. During the haying season. I again met
her in company with James White at the same place, and heard my uncle ask her
about the failure of the Lord to appear in June, according to her visions,
she replied that she had been told in the language of Canaan which she did not
understand but that she had since come to understand that Christ would
return in September, at the second growth of grass instead of the first.
"During the autumn of 1845 I was again visiting
at my uncle's Josiah Little, South Windham, Me. One Saturday night in October
a party of six came to my uncle's house for entertainment over Sunday; among
them James White and Ellen G. Harmon. That night I roomed in company with Miss
Mary E. Bodge and Miss Harmon. Ellen talked much about her visions and I expressed
an earnest desire to see her have one. The next morning (Sunday) in the presence
of myself and others, Miss Bodge reproved James White for travelling about with
Ellen Harmon and charged him with bringing reproach and scandal upon the cause
of Christ by persisting in such a course. He defended his course by claiming
it his duty to carry her about that she might declare her visions. He angrily
resented Miss Bodge's reproof, and disclaimed any intentions of marrying 'that
little deform thing' which were his exact words as he pointed to her sitting
in a chair. . . .
"Some time after the close of this afternoon service,
Mary E. Bodge, Ellen G. Harmon and I went to a near by grove for a season of
prayers, while I was engaged in prayer, suddenly, Ellen Harmon became rigidly
prostrate upon the ground, Miss Bodge immediately sent for James White who she
said, was the only one that could talk with her while in one of these spells.
He and many others hurried to the spot and he immediately began to ask her a
great variety of questions. . . .
"During this trance condition I heard Ellen G.
Harmon declare that Jesus Christ had risen from the mercy seat and entered the
Holy of Holies in Heaven, and that the door of mercy was shut forever
and that the world was helplessly doomed. She also declared that
the devil had taken possession of the mercy seat and was deceiving the people
who were praying for the Holy Spirit, by casting upon them certain exhilarating
influences which they mistook for the Spirit's power. These utterances she repeated
"This trance condition lasted more than an hour
and some one suggesting that the gathering dew would cause them to take cold,
White said, 'I guess it will be the will of the Lord to bring her out', and
immediately she arose and assumed her normal behavior." (Lucinda Burdick, Sept.
26, 1908. Emphasis supplied.)
Otis Nichols believed in Ellen White's visions,
and he personally witnessed several of them,
"Her message. . .encouraged them to hold on to
the faith, and the seventh month movement; andthat our work was done
for the nominal church and the world, and what remained to be done was for the
household of faith. (Otis Nichols to William Miller, April 20, 1846,
DF 105. (Taken from A.L. White, The Early Years, Volume 1, pp. 75-76. Emphasis
Gilbert Cranmer was another early Adventist who
made the same claim,
"The "shut-door" doctrine formed a part of the
doctrine of the church; that is, Mrs. White had seen in a vision that
the day of salvation for sinners was past, and those that fully believed in
her visions as coming from God, also accepted that doctrine." (Gilbert
Cranmer, 1854. Quoted in R. Coulter, The Story of the Church of God, pp. 12-13.
Owen R.L. Crosier, who was the originator of the
Adventist sanctuary teaching, confirms this,
"I kept the seventh day nearly a year, about 1848.
In 1846, I explained the idea of the sanctuary in an article in an extra double
number of the Day Star, Cincinnati, O. The object of that article was
to support the theory that the door of mercy was shut, a theory which
I and nearly all Adventists who had adopted William Miller's views, held from
1844 to 1848. Yes, I know that Ellen G. Harmon now Mrs. White - held
the shut door theory at that time. Truly yours, O.R.L. Crosier." (Owen
R. L. Crosier to D. M. Canright, Des. 1, 1887. Emphasis supplied.)
Israel Dammon says,
"We were formerly acquainted with Mr. and Mrs.
White, and for a time had confidence in her visions, but for a good many years
have had none at all. When we saw that they conflicted one with another,
we renounced them altogether, and betook ourselves to the word of the
"It has been some twenty years or more since we
were associated with Mrs. W.; but we remember very perfectly that her
first visions or vision was told both by herself and others (especially by Mrs.
W.) in connection with the preaching of the "shut door," and went to substantiate
the same. While under that influence, and preaching the visions, she,
in vision, saw N.G. Reed and I. Damman, in the kingdom in an immortal state,
and crowned. After that, she saw them finally lost. How could both
be true? I think one was just as true as the other, and that God never told
her any such thing." (Israel Damman, quoted in Miles Grant, An Examination of
Mrs. Ellen White's Visions (1877). Emphasis supplied.)
Pastor Isaac C. Wellcome tells,
"I have heard her relate her visions of these
dates. Several were published on sheets to the effect that all were lost who
did not endorse the '44 move, that Christ had left the throne of mercy,
and all were sealed that ever would be, and no others could repent.
She and James taught this one or two years." (Quoted in Adventist Currents,
Vol. 3, No. 1, April 1988. Emphasis supplied.)
In fact, James and Ellen White taught this, not
for "one or two years", but for seven years, from 1844-1851.
In 1980 a letter which Ellen White wrote to Joseph
Bates in 1847, was "discovered". Parts of this letter has previously been released
by the White Estate, but the rest of it had been kept secret for obvious reasons.
The whole meeting which Ellen White describes in her letter, has a strong savor
"While in Exeter, Maine in meeting with Israel
Dammon, James, and many others, many of them did not believe in a shut
door. I suffered much at the commencement of the meeting. Unbelief
seemed to be on every hand. There was one sister there that was called very
spiritual. She had traveled and been a powerful preacher the most of the time
for twenty years. She had been truly a mother in Israel. But a division
had risen in the band on the shut door. She had great sympathy, and
could not believe the door was shut. (I had known nothing of
their differences.) Sister Durben got up to talk. I felt very, very sad. At
length my soul seemed to be in an agony, and while she was talking I
fell from my chair to the floor. It was then I had a view of Jesus
rising from His mediatorial throne and going to the holiest as Bridegroom to
receive His kingdom. They were all deeply interested in the view. They all said
it was entirely new to them. The Lord worked in mighty power setting
the truth home to their hearts. Sister Durben knew what the power of
the Lord was, for she had felt it many times; and a short time after
I fell she was struck down, and fell to the floor, crying to God to
have mercy on her. When I came out of vision, my ears were saluted with Sister
Durben's singing and shouting with a loud voice. Most of them received
the vision, and were settled upon the shut door." (EGW to Joseph Bates,
July 13, 1847. Emphasis supplied.)
This is a revealing letter indeed. Here
Ellen White plainly says that she received a "vision" to confirm the people
who were present at this particular meeting, including Israel Dammon, in a heresy
- that the door of mercy had been shut on October 22, 1844. Was this
a vision from God? Perhaps someone will say, "Ellen White misunderstood the
vision, and conveyed this misunderstanding to the others who were present. What
she in reality saw, was that Jesus arose from the throne of mercy and went into
the Most Holy. For that reason, she believed that the door of mercy had been
shut". Apart from the fact that the Bible nowhere says that Jesus went into
the Most Holy in 1844, she clearly says that the purpose of the vision, was
to confirm "the Shut Door", and accordingly, lead people into a heresy. These
are not the fruits of a genuine, heavenly vision from God. The "revised" vision
one will find in Early Writings, where these early visions are "edited". The
fact that these visions are "revised" (eg. parts of them are deleted), casts
a strange light over them. Genuine visions from God are in no need of "revision"
and deletions. The very fact that they have been "revised", should tell every
knowledgeable person that something was wrong with these visions in the first
place. If she simply "misunderstood", then there was nothing wrong with the
vision, as such, and it should not be revised. Who has the right to delete portions
of a vision from God? The plain fact is that there was no "misunderstanding"
at all. It eventually dawned, both to James and Ellen, that portions of her
early visions was not in harmony with the Bible. For that reason, they
"revised" these visions and deleted the offensive parts from them.
Since the visions contained heresies, they were of course not genuine.
Ellen White wrote similar statements in other
"I saw that Brother Stowell of Paris was
wavering upon the shut door. I felt that I must visit them. Although
it was fifty miles off and very bad going I believed God would strengthen me
to perform the journey. We went and found they needed strengthening. There had
not been a meeting in the place for above two years. We spent one week with
them. Our meetings were very interesting. They were hungry for present truth.
We had free, powerful meetings with them. God gave me two visions while
there, much to the comfort and strength of the brethren and sisters.Brother
Stowell was established in the shut door and all the present truth
he had doubted." (EGW to Br. and Str. Hastings, March 24-30, 1849. Letter 5,
1849. Emphasis supplied.)
Here too, two years after she wrote her letter
to Joseph Bates, Ellen White had "visions" to confirm the "Shut Door".
Ellen White's articles in The Present Truth from
the years 1849-1850, are full of references to the "Shut Door". The following
is an example, where she in fact places this teaching as a central part of the
"There I was shown that the commandments of God,
and the testimony of Jesus Christ, relating to the shut door,
could not be separated. . . . My accompanying angel bade me
look for the travail of soul for sinners as used to be. I looked, but could
not see it; for the time for their salvation is past." (The
Present Truth, August 1849. Emphasis supplied.)
In 1847 James White published a pamphlet, entitled
A Word to the Little Flock. In this pamphlet we will find some of Ellen White's
earliest visions - unedited.. In one of these visions she saw the advent people
on a narrow path, on their way to heaven. Some fell off the path, and she says,
"It was just as impossible for them to get on
the path again and go to the City, as all the wicked world which God
had rejected." (A Word to the Little Flock, p. 14. Emphasis supplied.)
This last sentence was cleverly removed when this
vision was republished in Early Writings(1882).
The so-called "Camden vision" from 1851, is replete
with "Shut Door"-ideas. In addition, Ellen White "saw" how we should "love"
"Then I saw that Jesus prayed
for his enemies; but that should not cause US or lead US to pray for
the wicked world, whom God had rejected - when he prayed for his enemies,
there was hope for them, and they could be benefitted and saved by his prayers,
and also after he was a mediator in the outer apartment for the whole world;
but now his spirit and sympathy were withdrawn from the world; and our
sympathy must be with Jesus, and must be withdrawn from the ungodly.
I saw that God loved his people - and, in answer to prayers, would send rain
upon the just and unjust - I saw that now, in this time, that he watered the
earth and caused the sun to shine for the saints and wicked by our prayers,
by our Father sending rain upon the unjust, while he sent it upon the just.
I saw that the wicked could not be benefitted by our prayers now
- and although he sent it upon the unjust, yet their day was coming. . . .Then
I saw concerning loving our neighbors. I saw that scripture did not
mean the wicked whom god had rejected that we must love, but he meant
our neighbors in the household, and did not extend beyond the household; yet
I saw that we should not do the wicked around us any injustice; - but,our
neighbors whom we were to love, were those who loved god and were serving him."
(The Camden Vision, June 29, 1851. Emphasis supplied.)
It becomes very obvious why this vision is being
reckoned as dubious by persons who want to bury some less flattering parts of
adventist history. But the "Camden vision" is in full harmony with other early
visions by Ellen White which definitely are from her.
In June 1865, some fourteen years after the "Shut
Door" had been opened, there was a private meeting, where James White, his wife
Ellen, and B.F. Snook were present. "The Camden vision" was the subject under
discussion. James and Ellen White admitted that the vision was genuine, but
tried to explain it away by claiming that it only had "limited application".
In the winter the same year, they claimed that the vision was only "partially
genuine", and in 1867, they claimed that it was "not genuine". (H.E. Carver,
The Claims of Mrs. E.G. White). This was the usual procedure, which had to do
with editing away all previous statements about "the Shut Door".
The White Estate claims that the "Camden vision"
is dubious, but both J.N. Andrews and Uriah Smith claimed it to be genuine.
At least it is in full harmony with what both Ellen White and other pioneers
believed at that time.
In 1850, Joseph Bates published a tract, entitled
The Typical and Anti-typical Sanctuary, in which he claimed that the atonement
of Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary would last seven full years, from October
1844 to October 1851, and that it would culminate with his second coming. He
claimed that the last seven months of this atonement was the gathering of the
Because both James and Ellen White had great confidence
in Joseph Bates' knowledge, and needed his influence, they accepted without
hesitation his theories. This is clearly being reflected in Ellen White's visions
betweeen 1850 and 1851.
In September 1850, one year before Bates' seven
years would end, Ellen White had a vision, which clearly reflects her belief
in the theories of Joseph Bates,
"Some are looking too far off for the coming of
the Lord. Time has continued a few years longer than they expected; therefore
they think it may continue a few years more. . . .I saw that the time
for Jesus to be in the most holy place was nearly finished and that time can
last but a very little longer." (Early Writings, p. 58. Emphasis supplied.)
Because they believed that Jesus went into the
Most Holy in October, 1844, six years had passed when she received this vision.
It therefore remained one year of the seven years. This was in accordance with
the theories of Joseph Bates, which were published a few months before she received
this vision. What she "saw", was not a revelation from heaven, but what she
had learned from Joseph Bates. Some insight into the hidden parts of early Adventist
history, explain the true meaning of these, and other similar statements from
the same years in the book Early Writings.
In another vision from 1850 (June 27), she was
a little bit more specific,
"In a view given June 27, 1850, my accompanying
angel said, 'Time is almost finished'. . . .But now time is almost finished,
and what we have been years learning, they will have to learn in a few months."
(Early Writings, pp. 64-67. Emphasis supplied.)
It is quite obvious that Ellen White had been
deceived by Joseph Bates' erroneous theories to the effect that "time was finished"
in October 1851, and that she received "visions" to confirm these erroneous
At this time - about 1849 - while they still were
involved in the "Shut Door" theories, James began publishing a paper which he
called The Present Truth, in which he and other Adventist pioneers advocated,
among other things, these errors.
"About the same time he began to publish a small
sheet entitled, The Present Truth. . . .always before preparing them for the
post office, we spread them before the Lord, and with earnest prayers mingled
with tears, entreated that His blessing might attend the silent messengers."
(Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 88.)
Later, when the "Shut Door" had been opened, it
became necessary that these Present Truthpapers from 1849-1850 they had been
praying for, and the pamphlet A Word to the Little Flockfrom 1847, be buried
and forgotten as soon as possible, because they had been teaching gross errors.
A few months before the ending of Bates' seven years, in October 1851, it dawned
to James and Ellen White that the theories they had been advocating had been
wrong, and must be buried. But this is not what Ellen says in her testimony,
In September 1851 they published a small book,
entitled Christian Experience and Views. James and Ellen White had taken material
from A Word to the Little Flock and The Present Truth, without mentioning with
a single word from where they had been copying the material. InChristian Experience,
all references to the "Shut Door" and other dubious things had been edited away.
The pamphlet A Word to the Little Flock, and The
Present Truth from 1849-1850, not to mentionThe Day Star and the 1846 broadside
To The Remnant Scattered Abroad, had been buried so well that not even
Uriah Smith knew of their existence until 28 years later. A Word to the Little
Flockcame to his attention in 1868, 19 years after it had been written. These
writings had been kept secret, that only few of the leading brethren knew about
them, and the rest of the church had never heard of them at all. It was important
to keep them secret because they contained heresy, supported by Ellen White's
The book Early Writings was published in 1882
by the Review and Herald. The president of the General Conference, George I.
Butler, wrote the following in the Review,
"The enemies of this cause, who have spared no
pains to break down the faith of our people in the testimonies of God's Spirit
and the interest felt in the writings of Sister White, have made all the capital
possible from the fact that her early writings were not attainable. They have
said many things about our 'suppressing' these writings, as if we were ashamed
"Some have striven to make it appear that there
was something objectionable about them, that we feared would come to the light
of day, and that we carefully kept them in the background. These lying insinuations
have answered their purpose in deceiving some unwary souls. They now appear
in their real character, by the publication of several thousand copies of this
'suppressed' book, which our enemies pretended we were very anxious to conceal.
They have claimed to be very anxious to obtain these writings to show their
supposed error. They now have the opportunity." (G.I. Butler, Advent Review,
Des. 26, 1882.)
Shortly after Early Writings had been published,
A.C. Long published a tract, entitledComparison of the Early Writings of Mrs.
White with Later Publications. Says Long,
"From the above quotations we gather the following
points: First, these 'Early Writings' of Mrs. White were published under her
eye and with her full approval. Second, they contain ALL her early visions.
Third, those who have claimed that certain portions of her early visions were
'suppressed' are liars, since they are now all republished." (A.C.
Long. Emphasis supplied.)
We are going to see that in this case, both Butler
and Long are the ones who are the liars - probably because they did not know.
Already in the first vision, as related in Early
Writings, four lines after 33 lines had been removed. After 72 lines, 22 lines
had been removed, and a little further down two lines had been removed, an still
further down, eight lines, and then nine lines had been removed. Most of the
material which had been removed, had to do with the "Shut Door", but also other,
dubious things. The original, unedited vision was printed in The Day Star, January
24, 1846, the broadside To The Remnant Scattered Abroad (April 6, 1846), and
A Word to the Little Flock (1847).
The "Camden vision" has been completely omitted
from Early Writings. This entire vision was replete with "Shut Door" ideas,
and editing away that material would be next to impossible. It would be almost
A vision which was related in Present Truth (August
1849), has been inserted in Early Writings, but eight lines, which had to do
with the "Shut Door", had been removed.
In Present Truth, November 1850, three columns
were devoted to another of Ellen White's visions. Two columns from this vision
were omitted from Early Writings.
The statements from G.I. Butler and A.C. Long
to the effect that Early Writings contained all the early visions, and that
nothing had been removed, are clearly erroneous. Everyone who has A
Word to the Little Flock and the Present Truth from 1849-50 can check this out
for himself by comparing them with Early Writings. But how many SDA's have heard
about this writings, not to say, have read them?
Ellen White denies
In 1874, and later, Ellen White denied having
had visions about the "Shut Door",
"Dear Brother Loughborough:I hereby testify in
the fear of God that the charges of Miles Grant, of Mrs. Burdick, and others
published in the Crisis are not true. The statements in reference to my course
in forty-four are false. With my brethren and sisters, after the time passed
in forty-four I did believe no more sinners would be converted. But
I never had a vision that no more sinners would be converted. And am
clear and free to state no one has ever heard me say or has read from my pen
statements which will justify them in the charges they have made against me
upon this point" (Letter 2, 1874. Emphasis added).
She does not tell the truth in this statement.
In A Word to the Little Flock and Present Truth, she had stated exactly what
she now denied - and these early statements were based on "visions",
"There I was shown that the commandments
of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ, relating to the shut door,
could not be separated. . . . My accompanying angel bade me look for
the travail of soul for sinners as used to be. I looked, but could not see it;
for the time for their salvation is past." (The Present Truth, August
1849. Emphasis supplied.)
Please note that she says that sinners could no
longer be saved. Ellen White does not tell the truth in her statement from 1874,
and she takes heaven as witness to that.
"It was just as impossible for them to get on
the path again and go to the City, as all the wicked world which God
had rejected." (A Word to the Little Flock (1847), p. 14. Emphasis
This was her first vision, as related in A Word
to the Little Flock from 1847 and earlier publications. Why did she
remove the sentence about God having rejected the wicked world from her vision
when she put it into Early Writings in 1882? Why did she remove all objectionable
sentences about the "Shut Door" etc. from her early visions when this material
were being put into later books? Some will say, "We cannot find something
about this". No, but go to the original writings from 1846-1850,
and you will find it there. Why remove all this material from "heavenly visions"
if she had clean hands? A genuine vision from God is not to be manipulated
that way. When God gives visions, the prophet is duty-bound to relate
the vision so plainly that none are being led into heresies because the prophet
had "misunderstood the vision", making it necessary to "edit" the vision.
"And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the
vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it" (Hab.
In addition, Ellen White has a number of witnesses
against her. All of them are saying the same thing, and probably several others
who were not asked. On account of the mouth of two or three witnesses, a case
shall be established,
"One witness shall not rise up against a man for
any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two
witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established"
The "Shut Door" became an embarassing matter for
James and Ellen White and the early Advent movement. To save Ellen's reputation,
it became a necessity to brew up a way of escape, and "editing" the visions,
was for them the the best solution.
L.L. Howard tells,
"I was at Geo. Barker's house, in Norridgewock,
Me., in 1869, when I asked Mrs. Ellen White, in the presence of several ministers,
if she ever had a vision showing that the door of mercy was closed? She answered,
'I never did.' Soon after, Elder C. Stratton came into the
room and asked the same question, and received the same answer.
I affirm this to be true" (L.L. Howard, Boston, Sept. 28, 1874).
We are to note that Ellen White would never come
up with a public denial against the charges the witnesses aimed
at her, only private denials, in private letters. Consequently, the credibility
goes in favor of the witnesses.
It is honorable when a person admits having made
an error, after being shown what is truth. Ellen White never did that. She was
squeezed into a corner, because an admission would have put heavy strain upon
the credibility of her visions. She never admitted that the visions about the
"Shut Door" were false, and even vehemently denied having had such visions.
In stead, she allowed her husband and others to "edit" her early visions and
remove all objectionable "I saw"-statements regarding the "Shut Door". Her position
as God's true prophet among Seventh-Day Adventists was to be preserved at any
In reality the idea about the "Shut Door" did
not originate with Ellen White. She only received "visions" to confirm what
she already was familiar with. In December 1844, Joseph Turner and Apollos Hale
published a tract, trying to explain the "great disappointment" in October the
same year, and in January, 1845, they published a pamphlet, entitled The Advent
Mirror, where they proclaimed that "the door was shut", and that there was "no
more mercy for the world". It is not possible that Turner and Hale could get
this idea from Ellen White. She received her first vision in December 1844,
but it was not published until February, 1846, in The Day Star Extra. Turner
and Hale published their Advent Mirror in January, 1845, only a month after
Ellen White's first vision. Joseph Turner was a friend of the White family.
He was also a leader of fanaticism, and at one occasion, in April 1845, he was
in fact arrested in the home of John Megquier.
In her letter to Joseph Bates (July 13, 1847),
Ellen White says,
"I know not what time J. Turner got out his paper.
I knew he had one out and one was in the house, but I knew
not what was in it, for I did not read a word in it. . . . Very early next morning
J. T. called, said he was in haste going out of the city in a short time, and
wanted I should tell him all that God had shown me in vision. It was with fear
and trembling I told him all. After I had got through he said he had
told out the same last evening. I was rejoiced, for I expected he was
coming out against me. . ." (EGW to Joseph Bates, July 13, 1847. Emphasis supplied.)
From this revealing letter, we are to note the
1. Ellen White admits that she knew of Turner's
pamphlet, and that they had it in their home.2. She denied having read it.3.
Joseph Turner did not knew of Ellen White's vision, so he called
for her in order to ask about the vision.4. After having heard Ellen White relate
her vision, he told her that he did say exactly the same the evening before.5.
Ellen White rejoiced when she learned that Joseph Turner believed the same as
As we have seen, the rest of the letter describes
a meeting, where several people were attending. Some of them did not believe
in the "Shut Door". Then Ellen White recieves a vision, confirming them into
this theory, and most of the doubters "accepted the vision and were confirmed
in the belief in the Shut Door".
Ellen White's denial of having read Turner's pamphlet
is of no consequence in this connection. The "Shut Door"-doctrine was gross
heresy, and Ellen's vision, confirming into it those who doubted this heresy,
was certainly not from God. Joseph Turner had proclaimed the "Shut Door" prior
to Ellen White. Because Ellen White did not receive this vision from God, she
must have gotten the ideas from someone else. Possibly she had read Turners
Advent Mirror after all, or she may have heard someone in the house relate its
contents. She admitted having Turner's pamphlet in the house. It has been claimed
that the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith in reality was the first to proclaim the
"Shut Door" doctrine, and that the millerittes shut the door in 1844.
In 1883 Ellen White tried to "explain" the "Shut
Door" blunder in 1844-1851,
"For a time after the disappointment in 1844,
I did hold, in common with the advent body, that the door of mercy was then
forever closed to the world. This position was taken before my first
vision was given me. It was the light given me of God that corrected our error,
and enabled us to see the true position." (Selected Messages, vol 1,
p. 63. Emphasis supplied.)
Once more, Ellen White is being caught in a lie.
We have seen that it was the very first vision that led Ellen White
and other early adventists into the "Shut Door" heresy. It is simply
not true that the first vision "corrected" the error, as she
claims. It was this very vision that brought them into the error!
The documentation on this is very clear, but one will have to go to the original
writings to see this, and not the edited books.
We have also seen that several other,
and later, visions confirmed the "Shut Door". The letter to Joseph
Bates tells about one such vision, and a letter to Br. and Str. Hastings tells
about two such visions. In addition there were some visions related in The Present
Truth from the years 1849-1850. We have already mentioned this. All these subsequent
visions, after the first vision, were calculated to confirm doubting persons
into the "Shut Door" heresy. It is absolutely clear that Ellen White does not
tell the truth in her statement from 1883. The "Shut Door" visions had become
an embarassing matter to Ellen White, and in order to save her credibility,
she did not recoil from telling untruths. However, this only weakens her credibility
If we are to accept her statement from
1883, then another question arises: If the first vision from December 1844 "corrected"
the "Shut Door" error, as she claims, then why did Ellen White and the other
early adventists continue to cling to the "Shut Door" for seven years after
the first vision, which allegedly "corrected" the error? This is well worth
considering. In this matter, is is absolutely clear that Ellen White contradicts
herself and the documented facts, and does not tell the truth.
Later, Ellen White apologists have been trying
to "explain" the "Shut Door" blunder and her failed visions from the early years
of Adventism, by "re-interpreting" her visions about the "Shut Door". They say
that Ellen White "misinterpreted" these visions, eg. she believed that
what she saw in vision, was that the door of mercy had been closed for the world
in 1844, while in reality what happened at that time, was that "the door" to
the "first apartment" in the heavenly sanctuary had been closed, and the "door"
to "the second apartement" had been opened. They say that Ellen White "misunderstood"
the vision. However, this does not solve the problem, in fact, it only adds
to the confusion, because a new error is being launched to kill the old. Nowhere
does the Bible say that the "door" to the "first apartment" was shut in 1844,
and that Jesus went into "the Most Holy" at that time. This is a misinterpretation
of Revelation 3:7 and 11:19. This view is not in harmony with Paul in the Book
Ellen White's visions about the "Shut Door" was
a blunder that did not come from heaven, but from more or less fanatical millerittes.
This blunder from the part of Ellen White caused sensible, thinking persons
to ask questions about her visions. But when such questions were being raised,
she always denied having read any material she obviously must have read or have
known something about. Another example of this, are the "health reform visions"
from 1863. More on this later.