G. White -- the Myth and the Truth
by Å. Kaspersen
is a matter of fact that several statements by Ellen G. White are self-contradictory.
We are going to take a look at some of these statements.
Deity did/did not sink
"The Deity did not sink under the agonizing torture of Calvary,
yet it is nonetheless true that 'God so loved the world, that he gave his only
begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting
life.'" (EGW in SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1129. Emphasis supplied.)
"The man Jesus Christ was not the Lord God Almighty, yet Christ and the Father
are one. The Diety did not sink under the agonizing torture of Calvary,
yet it is nonetheless true that "God so loved the world, that he gave his only
begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting
life." (Manuscript 140, 1903. Emphasis supplied)
God loves/does not love dishonest children
"God loves honest-hearted, truthful children, but cannot love those
who are dishonest. . . . When you feel tempted to speak impatient and
fretful, remember the Lord sees you, and will not love you if you do
wrong." (An Appeal to the Youth, pp. 42,62. Letter to W.C. White. Willie
was six years old at this time. Emphasis supplied)
"Do not teach your children that God does not love them when they do
wrong; teach them that he loves them so that it grieves his tender
Spirit to see them in transgression." (Signs of the Times, Feb. 15, 1892. Emphasis
The plan of salvation was laid before/after
the fall of man
"Sorrow filled heaven as it was realized that man was lost
and that the world which God had created was to be filled with mortals doomed
to misery, sickness, and death, and that there was no way of escape for the
offender. The whole family of Adam must die. I then saw the lovely Jesus and
beheld an expression of sympathy and sorrow upon His countenance. Soon I saw
Him approach the exceeding bright light which enshrouded the Father. Said my
accompanying angel, 'He is in close converse with His Father.' The anxiety of
the angels seemed to be intense while Jesus was communing with His Father. Three
times He was shut in by the glorious light about the Father, and the third time
He came from the Father we could see His person. His countenance was calm, free
from all perplexity and trouble, and shone with a loveliness which words cannot
describe. He then made known to the angelic choir that a way of escape
had been made for lost man; that He had been pleading with His Father, and had
obtained permission to give His own life as a ransom for the race,
to bear their sins, and take the sentence of death upon Himself, thus opening
a way whereby they might, through the merits of His blood, find pardon for past
transgressions, and by obedience be brought back to the garden from which they
were driven." (Early Writings, p. 126. Emphasis supplied.)
According to the above statement, the plan of salvation was laid after
the fall of man.
"Before the foundations of the world were laid, Christ, the Only Begotten
of God, pledged Himself to become the Redeemer of the human race, should Adam
sin." (Selected Messages, vol 1. p. 226. Emphasis supplied.)
According to this statement, the plan of salvation was laid before
before the creation of this world.
"While Moses was shut in the mount with God, the plan of salvation,
dating from the fall of Adam, was revealed to him in a most forcible
manner." (Ibid, pp. 231-232. Emphasis supplied.)
According to this statement, the plan of redemption was laid after
the fall of man.
"The words, "Mine hour is not yet come," point to the fact that every act of
Christ's life on earth was in fulfillment of the plan that had existed
from the days of eternity." (Desire of Ages, p. 147. Emphasis supplied.)
According to this statement, the plan of redemption was laid from the days of
eternity. All these statements are confusing, to say the least.
Proper position during prayer
"I have received letters questioning me in regard to the proper attitude to
be taken by a person offering prayer to the Sovereign of the universe. Where
have our brethren obtained the idea that they should stand upon their feet when
praying to God? One who has been educated for about five years in Battle
Creek was asked to lead in prayer before Sister White should speak to the people.
But as I beheld him standing upright upon his feet while his lips were about
to open in prayer to God, my soul was stirred within me to give him an open
rebuke. Calling him by name, I said, "Get down upon your knees." This is the
proper position always." (Selected Messages, vol 2, p. 311. Emphasis supplied.)
"I have been present repeatedly at camp meetings and general conference sessions
in whichSister White herself has offered prayer with the congregation
standing, and she herself standing." (D. E. Robinson letter, March
4, 1934.) At this time, Dores E. Robinson belonged to the staff in the White
"And when obliged to declare the messages, I would often soften them
down, and make them appear as favorable for the individual as I could.
. . .It was hard to relate the plain, cutting testimonies given me of God."
(Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 73. Emphasis supplied.)
"I take back nothing. I soften nothing to suit their ideas
or to excuse their defects of character." (Testimonies, vol 5, p. 19. Emphasis
Phrenology was a "science", developed by the Austrian physician Franz Joseph
Gall (1758-1828.) It claimed that the human brain was organized into the same
number of "organs" as there were propensities, emotions and abilities - which
all were different from each other. According to Gall, this would be reflected
in the shape of the cranium (head), and this in turn would give an impression
of the relative development of the "organs" of the brain. The phrenologist would
then be able to appraise the person's abilities, propensities etc., by touching
and feeling the head and its "bumps" and "dumps".
This pseudo-science was very popular in the United States in the middle of the
past century. One person who wrote about phrenology, but in a negative sense,
was Ellen G. White,
"I have been shown that we must be guarded on every side and perseveringly resist
theinsinuations and devices of Satan. . . .The sciences of
phrenology, psychology, and mesmerism are the channel through
which he comes more directly to this generation and works with that power which
is to characterize his efforts near the close of probation. . . .Satan
has come unperceived through these sciences and has poisoned the minds
of thousands and led them to infidelity. . . .He works cures, and is worshiped
by deceived mortals as a benefactor of our race.Phrenology
and mesmerism are very much exalted. They are good in their place,
but they are seized upon by Satan as his most powerful agents to deceive
and destroy souls. . . .The world which is supposed to be benefited
so much by phrenology and animal magnetism, never was so corrupt.
Satan uses these very things to destroy virtue and lay the foundation
of spiritualism. . . .Thousands, I was shown, have been spoiled
through the philosophy of phrenology and animal magnetism, and have
been driven into infidelity. If the mind commences to run in this channel, it
is almost sure to lose its balance and be controlled by a demon." (Testimonies,
vol. 1, pp. 290,296-297 (1862). Emphasis supplied.) This was written in 1862.
The same admonishment was repeated two years later (Spiritual Gifts, vol 4,
p. 80-87 (1864).)
This same year (1864) Ellen White warned against venturing on forbidden ground,
in particular the children,
"As Satan sees that he is losing control over the minds of your children, he
will strongly tempt them, and seek to bind them to continue to practice this
bewitching vice. But with a firm purpose they must resist Satan's temptations
to indulge the animal passions, because it is sin against God.They should
not venture on forbidden ground, where Satan can claim control over them."
(Appeal to Mothers, p. 22. Emphasis supplied.)
According to Ellen G. White's warnings from 1862, phrenology was one of Satan's
most effective methods to destroy souls.
However, this did not hinder Ellen White in taking her two sons to be examined
by a phrenologist in 1864 - just two years after her strong
statements on phrenology, and the same year she wrote that children should not
venture on forbidden ground. In other words, she herself had been venturing
on forbidden ground with her two children, thus violating her own counsel. She
herself had placed her children under "the science of Satan" - "the channel
through which he comes more directly to this generation", the method which "lay
the foundation of spiritualism." Here is the story:
In the autumn of 1864, James and Ellen White spent three weeks at Dr. James
Caleb Jackson's institute "Our Home". After a few days their two sons Edson
and Willie also arrived at the place. At that time they were 15 and 10 years
"Fascinating to Ellen White was the 'science' of phrenology,
which Dr. Jackson practiced at five dollars a reading. Soon after the
arrival of Edson and Willie she took them to the doctor for evaluations of their
'constitutional organization, functional activity, temperament, predisposition
to disease, natural aptitudes for business, fitness for corintibial and maternal
conditions, etc., etc.' Writing to friends, she could scarcely conceal her elation
with Jackson's flattering analysis: 'I think Dr. Jackson gave an accurate account
of the disposition and organization of our children. He pronounced Willie's
head to be one of the best that has ever come under his observation. He gave
a good description of Edson's character and peculiarities. I think this examination
will be worth everything to Edson.' Presumably she was not so pleased
with the doctor's diagnosis of her condition as hysteria." (Ronald
L. Numbers, Prophetess of Health, pp. 90-91. Emphasis supplied.)
"Her flirtation with phrenology seems to have begun during that first, critical
visit to Dansville in1864 when she took her two sons to Dr. Jackson
for head readings and physical examinations. Only two years
earlier she had denounced phrenology, along with psychology and mesmerism, as
a tool of Satan. Although 'good in their place,' these sciences became
in Satan's hands 'his most powerful agents to deceive and destroy souls.' In
the years following her contacts with Dansville, however, phrenological allusions
began appearing frequently in her writings. During her husband's extended
illness, for instance, she complained that his 'large and active' bumps
of 'cautiousness, conscientiousness, and benevolence,' all assets in
time of health, were in sickness 'painfully excitable, and a hindrance
to his recovery.' And in an 1869 testimony regarding a brother's inordinate
love of money, she attributed his problem to satanic excitation of 'his
organ of acquisitiveness.' (Ibid, pp. 148-149. Emphasis supplied.)
Had she forgotten all "I was shown" warnings from 1862?
When Dr. Ronald Numbers asked the White Estate for copies of letters to be used
as documentation for his book Prophetess of Health, there were two letters Arthur
White would not release. One of these letters dated from 1873, and described
a vacation trip in the Rocky Mountains, where Ellen White and her family dined
on deer-broth and wild ducks. In the other letter, Ellen White wrote about a
phrenological examinations of her two sons, Edson and William. These letters
(an perhaps scores of others), were somewhat embarassing for the madonna-image
the Adventist denomination had been erecting through the years. The truth that
the prophetess quite often went against her own counsels, visions and testimonies
were to be kept secret from the SDA people.
Influenced by others
It has been claimed that Ellen White by no means was influenced by other persons.
The truth is however, that she quite often was influenced by others to get convenient
"visions" they needed to collect money, to start certain projects or to blackmail
certain unwanted persons. A striking example of this kind of influence is the
Kellogg-case and "pantheism". We have covered this case in a previous chapter.
Ellen White allowed herself from time to time to be governed by other strong
leaders - in particular her youngest son William Clarence, "Willie".
Ellen's husband James complained from time to time that his wife was being influenced
by strong leaders, as the following letters tell,
"Elder Butler and Haskell have had an influence over her that I hope to see
broken. It has nearly ruined her." (Letter, James White to D.M. Canright, May
"Brother Canright, you are right in doing all you can to help me and others.
I see my errors more and more, and shall do all I can to help matters and things.
The pressure has been terribly hard upon my poor wife. She has been impressed
very much by Elders Butler and Haskell." (Letter, James White to D.M. Canright,
July 13, 1881.) At that time, George Ide Butler was the president of the General
Testimonies on demand
In the booklet "The Claims of Mrs. Ellen G. White", published by the Norwich
SDA-church, Conn. in 1890, it says that when Testimony No. 11 was to be published,
and Ellen White was working on No. 12, she received a letter from the publishing
house, informing her that the publishing of No. 11 would be postponed till she
could make a testimony to "influence" the brethren - a testimony which could
be inserted in No. 11. The leaders at Battle Creek were in
need of money, and the brethren were somewhat sluggish to donate. She complied
with their wishes, and the necessary "testimony" came. A "testimony" from "the
Spirit of Prophecy" had been ordered in advance to "influence"
the brethren to give money!
Ellen White's testimony and article in the Review during "the panteheistic crisis"
is another example of questionable testimonies made up to suit the needs of
crooked brethren - and there are other examples. Ellen White was indeed being
influenced to quite an extent by strong brethren to write testimonies when there
was a need, sometimes to "influence" brethren to support various projects with
money; other times to condemn this or that.Of course she denied this when she
learned of such charges.
In 1867 plans were laid to erect a sanitarium at Battle Creek, "The Health Reform
Institute". J.N. Loughborough and other pioneers commenced this planning while
James White was absent due to illness. But they needed money, so they went to
Ellen White and ordered a "testimony" to "influence" the brethren to donate
money to the project. The "testimony" was delivered in due time with several
"Here, I was shown, was a worthy enterprise for God's people
to engage in." (Testimonies, vol 1, p. 492. Emphasis supplied.)
The money came, and the first floor was on place when James White returned.
He became exasperated because he hadn't been consulted, and he saw to that everything
was teared down and rebuilt after his own plans - with a financial loss of some
Then a problem arose. Ellen White had received a "testimony" in the first place,
with a number of "I saw", and what happened next, put her in an embarassing
position. James demanded a new "testimony" to be sent out, in which she
claimed that the first testimony was somewhat "wrong", and that the next "testimony",
which was written according to the demand of James, was right.
"All along Mrs. White was influenced in this way by her sons and by leading
men in the denomination to write testimonies to individuals and churches. Both
she and they tried to conceal the fact that her testimonies originated in this
way. In later years, some, like Elder A.G. Daniells, president of their General
Conference since 1901, when desiring a testimony from her against some one,
would write to her son, W.C. White, and he would read their communications to
his mother. Then, when asked if they had written to Mrs. White about the individuals
concerned, they would deny it, which was technically true, but false altogether
in fact and effect, for they had written to her through her son. To such unworthy
subterfuges both she and they resorted to shield her in her work and defend
her testimonies." (D.M. Canright, The Life of Mrs. Ellen G. White.
Who told her?
Several of Ellen White's testimonies were being written to individuals - often
far away - in which she "discovers" and reproves their "sins and "mistakes".
"Well", we may think, "how could Ellen White know of these things she had been
writing about if God had not shown them to her?" Says Ellen White,
"God has been pleased to open to me the secrets of the inner life and
the hidden sins of His people. The unpleasant duty has been laid upon
me to reprove wrongs and to reveal hidden sins." (Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 314.
How could she know of the sins of others if God had not revealed them to her?
Possibly the adventist pioneer H.E. Carver has something to say to that effect.
He was associated with James and Ellen White in the 1860's and in his testimony
he describes no less than four distinct cases where Ellen White wrote testimonies
to individuals, based on information both he and others had provided her.
"At this point Eld. Cornell appeared amongst us, and attempted to settle the
agitation produced by Bro. Everett's efforts against the visions. In prosecuting
the case against Bro. E., Eld. Cornell manifested a most unkind, hasty, and
unchristian spirit, which was a source of grief to the entire church, and which
I took upon myself to communicate to Mrs. White. After having received
this information from me, she published in the next 'Testimony' that she
had been shown that Eld. Cornell had acted hastily in Bro. Everett's
case." (H.E. Carver, Mrs. E.G. White's Claims to Divine Inspiration Examined.
"Such was my state of mind at the time of the organization of the church at
Pilot Grove, Iowa, at which I was present and desired to become a member. But
as I could not express a full belief in the inspiration of the visions of Mrs.
White, it was thought best that I should not become a member at that time. .
"Deeply interested in the prosperity of the cause I had espoused, I
communicated all the facts in the case to Eld. White and wife, and
expected from them instructions or advice as to my case; but nothing was received
until the next vision was published, wherein she says she saw that a wrong use
was being made of her visions in Iowa. Here, then, were two instances
in which she claimed to see in vision things that I had communicated to her
myself." (Ibid., Emphasis supplied.)
"During a visit to our church, Eld. White and wife spent a portion of their
time in the family of a brother with whom I was intimately connected, and there
witnessed some of his peculiarities of demeanor, and which she afterwards
wrote to him as having seen them in vision, but which in fact were
apparent to any one who happened to spend a few hours in the household, and
of which we" were all aware from our own observation." (Ibid., Emphasis supplied.)
"The fourth and last case concerning individuals which has come under my personal
observation or knowledge, and which involves the inspiration of a vision, is
that of two members of the Pilot Grove church, the nature of which it is not
necessary to mention. This case produced a great commotion and trial in the
church, which was not quieted until a vision was received from Mrs. White, in
which she saw that the brother involved in the case, and who had been dismissed
from the church, should resume his place in it. This brother, in kindly attempting
afterwards to win me back to my allegiance to Eld. and Mrs. White, referred
to his own case as a remarkable and indisputable evidence of the divine inspiration
of the visions; for, said he, "she saw my case in vision." I told him I thought
Mrs. White knew of the case before she had the vision. This
he denied. I then told him that the other party implicated with him had positively
asserted in the presence of my family that Mrs. White did know all about
it, for the entire case had been written out and sent to her." (Ibid.,
Ellen White got information from others. That should be perfectly clear. On
the basis of this information, she wrote personal "testimonies" in which she
claimed to have seen his/her case in a "vision." Most problably these were not
the only cases when Ellen White was being informed in advance about individuals.
Such information served as basis for reproving "I saw"-testimonies. What she
saw, however, was not what God had shown her in "visions", but rather what other
people had informed her.
Of course, Ellen White denied this,
"In some cases it has been represented that in giving a testimony for churches
or individuals I have been influenced to write as I did by letters received
from members of the church. There have been those who claimed that testimonies
purporting to be given by the Spirit of God were merely the expression of my
own judgment, based upon information gathered from human sources. This
statement is utterly false." (Testimonies, vol 5, p. 683. Emphasis
The following quote is a bit stronger,
"Some are ready to inquire: Who told Sister White these things?
They have even put the question to me: Did anyone tell you these things?
I could answer them: Yes; yes, the angel of God has spoken to me.
. . .For the future, I shall not belittle the testimonies that God has given
me, to make explanations to try to satisfy such narrow minds, but shall
treat all such questions as an insult to the Spirit of God." (Testimonies,
vol. 3, pp. 314-315. Emphasis supplied.)
These are very strong words. According to Ellen White, those who ask,
"Who told you these things," insult the Spirit of God!
There are numerous examples which show clearly that someone had been informing
Ellen White certain details about individuals and other things - the Kellogg-case,
the Salamanca vision, personal testimonies and letters, etc. There were testimonies
which were spurious, which had been based on information given to her by others,
and not by heavenly revelations. There were numerous people who had been receiving
"heavenly" testimonies from Ellen White, reproving them for things they most
definitely were not guilty of. In such cases it is quite naturally that the
reproved individual asks some pertinent questions about a "heavenly testimony"of
that sort - a blatant lie - but in doing this, they insulted the Spirit
of God, according to Ellen White. This statement by the adventist prophetess
is very precarious, to say the least. Her habit of resorting to lies to save
herself out of the embarassing situations such false testimonies had caused,
is also very questionable. It is a matter of fact that she was very sensitive
when her own reputation as God's true prophet was at stake. In such situations
the end justified the means in order to silence individuals, who by their own
unpleasant experience with the adventist prophetess were obliged to ask certain
testing questions about her "visions and heavenly call".
We have already mentioned that she had been sending Dr. John Harvey Kellogg
a false, reproving testimony regarding some buildings in Chicago, buildings
which did not exist. This was pure and simple a false vision, based on a sensational
In a long letter to Ellen White, A.T. Jones says that she did often send out
testimonies containing false accusations. These false testimonies were often
published prior to the individuals in question having received them - and sometimes
they never received them at all. The case was unknown to them until they saw
their names and the false accusations publicly on print.
There were some grave cases that should have been revealed
to Ellen White if she indeed received revelations from heaven, but which were
unknown to her until the case became generally known. And then she wrote testimonies
with some "explanation" why God did not reveal the case to her. The Nathan Fuller
case was a typical example,
"Look at another case - that of Elder Nathan Fuller. Elder Fuller was a man
of commanding appearance, large abilities, and was highly esteemed by the Advent
people. There was a large church at Niles Hills, Pa. He lived near there, and
for years had the oversight of this church. About 1869 or 1870 Elder White and
his wife visited this church and stayed at the home of Mr. Fuller. Elder White
publicly praised Fuller as a godly man of much ability. Only a few days later,
by the confession of a conscience-stricken sister in that church, it came out
that for years Fuller had been practicing adultery with five or six of the women
in the church. All of them confessed, and Fuller had to own it himself. The
community came near mobbing him. The whole denomination felt the shock and shame
of it. But it hit Mrs. White the worst of all. She had been right there for
days in Fuller's home, in meetings with him, had met all these women, yet knew
nothing of all this rottenness. A little later I went there and held meetings
for two weeks, met all these people, and learned the whole shameful story. This
case exposed the falsity of Mrs. White's claim that God revealed to her the
'hidden sins' of his people. What could she say? As usual, after it was all
common knowledge, she had a testimony telling all about it. it is printed in
'Testimonies for the Church,' Vol. II., pp. 449-454. She says: 'The case of
N. Fuller has caused me much grief and anguish of spirit.' Yes, well it might,
as it so forcibly exposed her own failure. To excuse herself, she says: 'I believe
that God designed that this case of hypocrisy and villainy should be brought
to light in the manner it has been.'" (D.M. Canright, The Life of Mrs. E.G.
In Canright's book, Uriah Smith mentions several examples of a similar nature.
A leading preacher had seduced a number of women in several churches, and Ellen
White had attended meetings where this particular preacher was present. In spite
of that, she knew nothing about the case until it had been generally known (no
one had told her!)
Another leading minister had commited adultery for a longer period of time.
Neither in this case Ellen White knew about it until the case had been generally
known. And then she wrote a testimony, The Sin of Licentiousness.
Pastor E.P. Daniels once received a sharp testimony from Ellen White. Unfortunately
it showed up that she had reproved the wrong man! She had been informed beforehand
about the case, but the individual who informed her had mixed up the names.
This blunder from the informant caused the wrong man to be reproved, in spite
of the "testimony" being "inspired from a heavenly angel". During her ministry,
Ellen White's ears were always open to pick up reports about others - reports
which could serve as basis for reproving "testimonies", but from time to time
things went wrong. E.P. Daniels was shaken by the episode, and nearly left the
Some years before Ellen White's death, immorality was running rampant at one
of the publishing houses to the degree that it began to come into disrepute.
After the cases were discovered, some twenty persons were dismissed for adultery,
among them several faithful church-goers and tithe-payers. Ellen White didn't
know about all this.
Apparently she was quite helpless when no one told her, orally or by letter,
about the sins of others. In spite of this, Ellen White denied this to protect
her own image in the SDA-church as "God's true Prophet".