This story was published in Mirror, Friday November 14, 2003
An Expose by: Derson Charles
Caribbean Union College (CUC), an institution owned by Seventh-Day-Adventist (SDA) Church Organization, which is located in the scenic Maracas Valley, St. Joseph was thrown into the media spotlight recently. The college has been serving the community of the Caribbean and the also the wider world, offering a wide range of religious, business, education, science and technology graduate and post graduate programmes for decades. Over the years, however, there have been persistent reports and allegations of financial irregularities in the management of the college’s affairs. And the matter came to a head recently, when several officials from the business department were suspended following another shocking discovery that over $1 million in students’ fees were spirited away from the college. And the man behind the suspensions, according to a well-placed source, was the college’s newly appointed president Paul Van Putten, a US citizen. However, Van Putten’s efforts to clean up the college’s business affairs ran into a snag. Word began circulating that Van Putten himself, who according to reports was well-liked among the student population, was appointed to the top position on the basis of a fake PhD degree from an unaccredited internet-based University. Consequently, Van Putten’s tenure as president came to an abrupt end when his resignation was accepted by the Board of Management of CUC a few weeks ago.
But even as the SDA organization grapples with the CUC fake president controversy, another long standing issue regarding the authenticity of its so-called prophetess and prolific writer Ellen Gould White (EGW) is forcing the wider membership to take a long hard look at their church organization. Most of the church’s doctrines and teachings have their genesis in EGW’s expansive library of books and articles, dated from the 1840’s to early 1915. These books also form a critical part in the way the organization’s educational institutions are operated. SDA’s have almost been brain-washed into holding up her treasured writings as inspired from God. However, extensive research by several SDA scholars and theologians that date back to the early 80’s, have unearth[ed] a tremendous body of evidence that undermines White’s literary credibility. The research findings are now available via the internet and members have been literally blown away by the shocking revelations that pit EGW as a deluded false prophetess and brazen plagiarist. Some have been suggesting that the time has come for the church to debunk the myth of EGW’s prophetess status that continues to hold her as the leading authority on its system of beliefs.
There is a growing lobby within the church that is calling for it to break free from EGW fables and re-evaluate its entire spectrum of beliefs on the bible only. Instead, the church leadership is presently engaged in a titanic struggle to maintain its control on the hearts and minds of its members to keep the faith in its prophetess. They continue to claim that EGW’s writings embodied the “spirit of prophecy” criteria referred to in the bible. Lengthy letters from the head of the SDA church organization have been sent out to all the churches to be read from the pulpit urging the membership to resist the “divisive elements” that were shaking the confidence in EGW writings.
Walter T Rea, a former SDA minister of 35 years provides a most compelling and scathing insight into the prophetess claims of EGW in his book “The White Lie.” Rea, in the introduction of his book confesses that he was once a fanatical devotee of White and her writings and was engaged in a life-long project while working as an SDA minister, of gathering her “inspired” quotes, as it related to bible characters. He would compile several bible commentaries based on her writings. Rea revealed though, that he ran into problems, when he attempted to collaborate with the White Estate, an organization that was set up to manage the massive body of literary works by EGW, to have his collection published. “They let me know in no uncertain terms that they held the ‘heavenly franchise’ and that they would look with disfavour on anyone getting into their territory,” wrote Rea. He then related how by shear coincidence, he was able to make a shocking discovery that would change the focus of his research into the writings of EGW. According to Rea, an SDA member, who pioneered the medical ministry of the church, gave him an old book written by Ellen White that was published in 1883 entitled “Sketches in the Life of Paul,” which was never reprinted. He was told by another member that the reason why the book was never reprinted was because of its close similarity to another book written by Alfred Edersheim. Fascinated, Rea began to make his own comparison and found the criticism to be true. He was able to also discover remarkable similarities between the seven volume History of the Old Testament by Edersheim and the book “Patriarchs and Prophets,” also written by EGW. According to Rea he found, in volumes one to four, that Edersheim's chapter titles, subtitles, and page headings paralleled and were many times almost identical with the chapter titles of EGW’s book. “Time and study made it obvious that Mrs. White had obtained liberal help from these additional Edersheim works. Further investigation would reveal that Edersheim had written also a New Testament history on the life of Christ, and in this too there were additional similarities with another of Mrs. White's book “The Desire of Ages,” said Rea. A more exhaustive research project by Rea that was initially supported by the hierarchy of the SDA organization revealed that the extent of EGW copying from other authors amounted to a whooping 80 to 90 percent of all her books. Even her vision claims were found to be copied from books written by other authors. “The fact of EGW's borrowing or plagiarizing has been documented and acknowledged by recognized representatives of the SDA Church over the years. But the information revealing the extent of her literary dependence has been deliberately kept from lay members until independent researchers began to make the facts public,” noted Rea. And besides Rea’s book, there is an incredible volume of information chronicling all EGW’s claims, her failed prophecies and how her early visions that contradicted the bible were deliberately suppressed by the White Estate.
There are written testimonies from people who lived in her time about her lavish lifestyle and indulgent meat-eating habits that went contrary to her own rigid counsels and guidance on health and life-style reform. The disturbing issue of racial segregation that is deeply embedded within the SDA organization with separate White and Black SDA Conferences even to this day is based on EGW teachings. Her writings shockingly espouse a dubious theory that “certain races” came as a result of “amalgamation” between man and beast (known today as bestiality). It was believed that the certain races spoken about in EGW writings referred to people of African descent.
Mirror contacted the Executive Secretary of the South Caribbean Conference of SDA Pastor Robert Liverpool about these contentious issues. He requested that a list of all the issues be sent to him so he could respond. This was done three weeks ago with followed up calls but to date there have been no response. One local minister speaking on condition of anonymity admitted to Mirror that the matter was actively engaging the attention of the pastoral leadership of the church but doubted whether any meaningful decision would arise, despite the well-documented and undisputed revelations that destroy the credibility of White’s prophetess status in the church. “You have to understand that her books have generated a billion-dollar industry worldwide,” he remarked. “You are striking at the very heart of the SDA church foundation, which could have serious and disastrous repercussions on the survival of the present structure of the organization,” declared the minister soberly.
This article was published in Mirror, December 19, 2003
By: Derson Charles
Seventh-Day-Adventist (SDA) officials have maintained a deafening silence on Mirror's recent expose on its founding member and so-called prophetess Ellen Gould White. Mirror was finally able to contact Executive Secretary of the South Caribbean Conference of SDA Pastor Robert Liverpool during an inaugural conference of the SDA membership in the sister-isle recently. The session was held to finalize the organizational separation of the local SDA church in TnT. The Tobago Mission of SDA has now been given the authority to run the affairs of the over 30 churches, 4 primary schools and 1 high school in the island. It was a rather hesitant Pastor Liverpool, who told Mirror that the Church was "advised" not to comment on the explosive issue that is threatening to drive a deep rift among the rank and file of the local SDA membership. But pressed, Liverpool admitted that the church may soon have to deal with the issue head on as it kept resurfacing over the years. "The official position of the church is that EG White satisfied all the biblical credentials of a prophet," he declared. Told that White had in her early visions claimed and taught that the "mercy door" for the world was shut in 1844 and that no one could be "saved" after that time, Liverpool jocularly replied that it was possible that she did not understand the vision. Another SDA Minister speaking on condition on anonymity agreed that the time had come for the church to take an objective review of all the research conducted by its own scholars on the issue. "The research findings are there and they point us in a certain direction but instead we have been harsh, vindictive and oppressive to those who have done the work," confessed the minister. "Over one hundred of our ministers in the worldwide church have been ostracized and fired from the organization for taking a stand against White," confided the minister. But one incensed minister chided Mirror for bringing the issue into the public domain. It was his view that the matter could have been fully ventilated using the literary organs of the church. "What did you hope to achieve by letting the public know that White was a plagiarist and a racist and that she ate meat? This thing has brought great emotional stress to me and I am disappointed that something that broke over 20 years ago, when Walter Rea tried to do a job on God's Church is being rehashed here again," contended the minister.