Adventist Idol

(Tim Teichman) #62

They were fundamentally the same. They covered books and similar works. They have been expanded to cover new inventions like movies and software, and also works like books in different formats, such as electronic formats.

(Frankmer7) #63

Your high view of EGW seems to color your views of her plagiarism, and just what the 19th c. view of it was. You might want to check out the story behind her Sketches of the Life of Paul if you have the chance. The denomination was confronted with a lawsuit by the authors whose text she freely lifted for her own work, with no acknowledgment. They settled, and the book was pulled from distribution. If there were no ethical or legal concerns about plagiarism during that time period in America, this would never have happened. Nor would the church have issued a warning in the Review concerning the plagiarizing of material from its pages. In light of EGW’s practice, quite a hypocritical stance.

You also might want to check out Fred Veltmann’s report concerning her literary borrowing. He was a source critic commissioned by the GC in 1980 to examine the issue. He studied a fifteen chapter segment of the DofA for eight years, and found that 31% of it was plagiarized by thought or word from other sources… without acknowledgment or admission by her. Veltmann concluded that this struck at the ethical heart of her character and ministry.

And, there is the heart of the problem. Ellen White, aside from the forward to the Great Controversy, never admitted dependence on any other sources other than God and her visions for her output. This is just categorically untrue. This isn’t even in the same universe as the biblical writers, who lived in oral cultures, with no concept of private intellectual property. This concept, however, was firmly entrenched in 19th c. America, even if copyright laws were not the same as they are now.

This presents a major problem for the Adventist church, that has never been fully and openly dealt with. Probably because it would cause a major revision of the view and status of EGW that would have to follow if it was. After all, she’s viewed as a mark of Adventist exceptionalism…and her books are a steady stream of income for the denomination.



(dale) #64

That statement is incorrect no angels switched allegiances at the cross and there is no where in the writings of Ellen White that even remotely comes even close to suggesting that. So that statement about switching at the cross is incorrect information.

Matthew 4:4-10 KJV
[4] But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. [5] Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, [6] And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. [7] Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. [8] Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; [9] And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. [10] Then saith Jesus unto him, Get c thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. …

John 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

John 8:28-29 KJV
[28] Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. [29] And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. …

So where in those scriptures of the temptation did Jesus say that I am the son of God you cannot tempt me? Jesus depended upon his father while he lived as a man on earth.

When a Israelite man married he and his wife became one flesh, in the Old Testament the word used for one is echad, which was also used to refer to the people at the Tower of Babel when God said that they were one. It didn’t mean that a man and a woman became fused into one person nor did the people at the Tower of Babel fuse into one person. It has a meaning of united as one, one in purpose. When Jesus spoke in John 17 asking for the disciples to be one with him like him and his father were one he was reinforcing the unity with him that he was pointing his disciples to and then prayed to the father for it.

(dale) #65

So then my next question is do you believe that Ellen White was inspired or not and are you a seventh Day Adventist or not.

(dale) #66

This article is a must read for anyone interested in the plagiarism charges and Ellen White.

Attorney Vincent Ramik’s Lawyer’s Brief: In the autumn of 1981, Attorney Warren L. Johns, then chief legal counsel in the General Conference’s Office of Legal Counsel, using private funds, engaged the services of Attorney Vincent Ramik, senior partner of the Diller, Ramik, and Wight, specialists in patent , trademark, and copyright law. Attorney Ramik was provided for his research: 1) All of the allegations of plagiarism, historically, from first to last; 2) copies of all denominational polemical defenses against these critical charges; 3) the relevant EGW books which were the target of the charges. Ramik spent more than 300 hours in researching more than 1,000 cases in American literary law (1790-1915). He produced a 27-page legal opinion Lawyer’s Brief (17 pages online; see above link) containing 53 source citation footnotes, in which he concluded that EGW was not guilty either of copyright infringement or of literary theft. It should be pointed out that Ramik was not a Seventh-day Adventist.

Was Ellen White a Plaigiarist? (PDF) A reprint of articles published in the Adventist Review, September 17, 1981, featuring an interview with Attorney Vincent L. Ramik, Senior Partner of Diller, Ramik & Wight, Ltd., Washington, D.C.

Below are several notable comments from Ramik (the paragraphs are taken from pages 3-5 in the article, “There is Simply No Case: Interview about Ellen White with Attorney Vincent L. Ramik”):

There is no reason why Ellen White could not use the ideas of others in expressing the thoughts she wished to convey. It’s not even rational to expect someone writing on a theological subject, for example, to write in the abstract without researching what others who have gone before—or even contemporaries— have said on the subject. In the middle of the nineteenth century—just when Ellen White was begining to write for print, 1845—in the legal case of Emerson v. Davies, Massachusetts Circuit Justice Story in effect exonerates a writer who has used other men’s words and ideas and woven them into his own composition. In effect, Judge Story says, Only fools attempt to do that which has been done better in the past; no one really ever builds a language exclusively his own. In other words, the words themselves have been there for years and years. The crucial issue is how you put them together, and the effect you wish to produce from those words. Now, if someone in the past, according to Judge Story, has written something that is splendidly written—something that is historical, something that is a common, everyday human experience or occurrence— why should you break your back trying to say it better than someone else has already said it? For those types of writings, there is absolutely nothing wrong or incongruous. On the contrary, it’s the sensible man, the wise man, who makes use of that which was done in the past, when it was done well. Somewhere in one of our legal archives there is an inscription over the door, “Past Is Prologue.” I believe that applies to writings, too. Ellen White used the writings of others; but in the way she used them, she made them uniquely her own, ethically, as well as legally. And, interestingly, she invariably improved that which she “selected”!

The situation is something like the builder who wishes to build a house. There are certain basic, essential units of building materials that are available to him—windows, doors, bricks, and so on. There are even certain recognizable kinds of textures and styles that have been created by various combinations of these different materials by earlier builders. The builder brings together many of these and uses them. Yet the design of the house, the ultimate appearance, the ultimate shape, the size, the feel, are all unique to the immediate, contemporary builder. He individually puts his own stamp upon the final product—and it is uniquely his. (And he doesn’t say—or need to say—I got this brick here, that door there, this window there, either!) I think it was that way with Ellen White’s use of words, phrases, clauses, sentences, paragraphs, yes, and even pages, from the writings of those who went before her. She stayed well within the legal boundaries of “fair use,” and all he time created something that was substantially greater (and even more beautiful) than the mere sum of the component parts. And I think the ultimate tragedy is that the critics fail to see this.

I started out, I think, basically neutral on the literary charges. But, somehow, as I read one particular Adventist-authored defense of Mrs. White, it left me with the feeling that she was not, in fact, very well defended. Well, I came back thinking that Mrs. White was, if I may use the expression that has been used by others, a literary “borrower.” And that she had borrowed a lot and that she had borrowed with something less than candor and honesty! In other words—and this was before I had delved into her works themselves—I became actually biased against her in the sense that I thought she was what some people, such as her latest critic, Walter Rea, had alleged— guilty of plagiarism. REVIEW: Once you got into her writings themselves, was this negative impression reinforced or altered in any way? Ramik: I gradually turned 180 degrees in the other direction. I found that the charges simply were not true. But I had to get that from her writings; I did not get that from either the people who said she was a plagiarist, or the people who said she was not. I simply had to read her writings and then rid my mind of the bias I had already built into it— prejudice. And, in the end, she came out quite favorably. But it took more than 300 hours of reading—including case law histories, of course. REVIEW: So it was reading her writings that changed your mind? Ramik: It was reading her messages in her writings that changed my mind. And I think there’s a distinction—a very salient difference—here. REVIEW: Would you describe the distinction that you see? Ramik: I believe that the critics have missed the boat badly by focusing upon Mrs. White’s writings, instead of focusing upon the messages in Mrs. White’s writings. REVIEW: What did you find in her messages, Mr. Ramik? How did they affect you? Ramik: Mrs. White moved me! In all candor, she moved me. I am a Roman Catholic; but, Catholic, Protestant, whatever— she moved me. And I think her writings should move anyone, unless he is permanently biased and is unswayable.

The message is what is crucial. The critic reads a sentence, and receives no meaning from it—he may, and often does, even take it out of context. But read the entire message. What is the author’s intent? What is the author really saying—where the words come from is really not that important. What is the message of this? If you disregard the message, then even the Bible itself is not worth being read, in that sense of the word.

The bottom line is: What really counts is the message of Mrs. White, not merely the mechanical writings—words, clauses, sentences—of Mrs. White. Theologians, I am told, distinguish here between verbal inspiration and plenary inspiration. Too many of the critics have missed the boat altogether. And it’s too bad, too! I, personally, have been moved, deeply moved, by those writings. I have been changed by them. I think I am a better man today because of them. And I wish that the critics could discover that!

REVIEW: Attorney Ramik, how would you sum up the legal case against Ellen White as far as charges of plagiarism, piracy, and copyright infringement are concerned? Ramik: If I had to be involved in such a legal case, I would much rather appear as defense counsel than for the prosecution. There simply is no case!

(Darrel Lindensmith) #67

I think you are correct here. I too respect Ellen White and have been blessed by so much of what she has written. However some of the things she borrowed (I do not mean ‘lifted wording’) or incorporated into her expositions from some authors was not correct. Most of her sources for GC were from “Reformed” historians. “Primary” sources found in Anabaptist historians would have corrected some of the historical errors in GC. One prime example is the Decree of Speyer that Ellen White has as a milestone in Religious Liberty, which could not be further from the truth.

(reliquum) #68

Was Ellen G. White a Plagiarist?
Author: Vincent L. Ramik
Interview from 1981 with a leading copyright authority. Mr. Ramik describes himself as a Roman Catholic, but not seriously religious.Here is the parent R&H article Mr Rich is relying upon.

Here is an article on why the article was prepared by Mr Ramik at behest of GC general counsel.

I am somewhat amused by how often it is stated that Mr Ramik is

but no mention of the byline, where it is revealed he (Mr Ramik) is in fact, nominally, a Catholic.
This does not bother me, however to me it appears Mr Rich has become a “respecter of persons”, first because White must be revered because of her role as co-founder of our church, but that we ought accept Mr Ramiks “opinion” simply because he was a patent attorney, and a senior partner at that.

I suggest there are more credible and informative, researched, factual “must reads” regarding this issue than this spurious screed.

(reliquum) #69

Trying to get the gist of what I am attempting to express is made more difficult by my inability to elucidate the thoughts which my senses impress upon me. I’m sorry you missed it.

(John Lee) #70

Is it possible that craving for idols shows lack of realization that a God created me special, and I do not need to be with an idol to be accepted.

(Bruce Clements) #71

—we have to remind each other that Christ should be the one who deserves our accolades as opposed to any human being.

This statement describes the essential idolatry that underlies Adventism, and the entire Cult of Christianity. To elevate Jesus to the status of something other than human is not merely to miss the point of his teachings but is to make his supposedly perfect example moot to mortal men. That is, if Jesus was not, first and foremost, human, nothing he did or said could possibly be applicable to our lives, as he cannot, by definition, have anything in common with us.
Fortunately, this is not how Jesus saw himself, though, as he insisted that anyone could be as “at one” with His Abba—“dad”—as he was. But in the 2,000 year process of deifying him, this most essential tenet has been ignored by, or is lost on those who are primarily impressed with the celebrity Jesus attained by performing his purported miracles, rather than accepting that they, too, are god’s daughters and sons; that is, all humans, no matter how allegedly flawed and ultimately finite, are god-ish, in nature.
Does this mean that any of us is perfect? If we are the spitting image of our divine parentage, how could it be otherwise? But if nature is teaching us anything, it is that creation is all about the process of perfecting, as opposed to trying to hold onto some unobtainably permanent celebrity status. To paraphrase a quote from Alan Alda, “We’re perfect. Let’s make ourselves better.”

(Tim Teichman) #72

Not sure on both accounts, but also not relevant to the thread. My personal beliefs have no bearing on the history of copyright law and whether or not she and her staff of editors stole from other authors.

(Beverley Joseph ) #73

Praise God for your comments. The message of Sister White’s writing should be our focus and not on where the words she used came from. There are lots of questions that I am not able to answer regarding the Bible and the Godhead. However, I do not discredit either. The same is true regarding the writings of Ellen White. I do not know why she “borrowed” the writings of others without stating so. I will have to wait until I get to heaven for the answer.

As SDAs, there are many amongst us who despise her writings and her prophetic gift. The sermon by Randy Skeete, “Esau was a Seventh-day Adventist” clearly makes this point. I thank God for this gift that He has given to His remnant church. What would we have to hold the church together to prevent it from being splintered in these last days?


Beverley, I say this with kindness to you, but your statement troubles me. For me, the fact that Ellen borrowed without attribution reflects negatively on her character and motives. That she would be dishonest in this way makes me question the righteousness of her influence.

My other point is, is it really better that the church not “splinter?” And, if that is to be prevented, wouldn’t the power of the Holy Spirit be the best, and really the only way to make that possible?

Points to ponder.

(Dr Miguel Crespo Fernández Calienes) #75

Before doing any comment I would like to hear or read the whole sermon or at least the paragraph within the context of Elder Batchelor statements. Here I have only an opinion or declaration of the article writer.
I do see the doctrine of the Godhead: Father, Son and the Holy Ghost as the 3 persons that joins together de whole Deity. It is clearly understandable from the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy of our modern times fully agrees with the biblical explanation. All we can know about is strictly what has been revealed neither one comma less nor one comma more. The rest is human speculation.
I´d like to have his very words in context before uttering any judgement on his opinion.
Somebody might please give me the link? Thanks in advance.

(Tim Teichman) #76

So you’re OK with your prophet being a thief. Wow. Are there any other crimes that are also OK with you?

(Elmer Cupino) #77

When EGW says “I was shown…” why would she need to use “the ideas of others in expressing the thoughts she wished to convey” on a vision she saw that they did not see? How could this make sense?

(Tim Teichman) #78

Sure, their ideas. But not their words and not without acknowledgements and permission. Otherwise, it’s called stealing.

(Cfowler) #79

Not only did she not give credit, she claimed that every word came from God.

The evidence is overwhelming.

(dale) #80

That is an inaccurate statement. That is not how inspiration works nor revelation. No one is God’s pen, they are his pen men. God doesn’t give every word to a prophet. He shows/inspires them and they write it in their own to say that she claimed that every word came from God is false.

(dale) #81

The gospel of Mark borrowed 90 % if it’s material from Luke and Matthew. 90% is the Gospel of Mark not valid because it borrowed 90% of its material? The bible writers borrowed, it isn’t a reason to say someone isn’t inspired because for that argument you must logically throw out your bible as well.