Adventist Scholar Caught in Plagiarism Scandal

Following multiple acts of plagiarism and retractions from publishers, an Adventist scholar and retired pastor faces continued scrutiny for copying others’ work, sometimes word for word—a recently discovered record dating back at least seven years.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at
1 Like

This confession and realization came after being cornered, and not before, as in the case of Achan. Sure God forgives, a deliberate sin as was that of David, but the consequences are inevitable.

1 Like

Mistakes,…this seems to be a misapplication of the term. Mistakes are usually considered accidental or unintended. Dishonesty and cheating are not mistakes, they are choices.
I believe in the Ten Commandments and one of them is a commitment to not steal and another says to not bear false witness. Minds clouded by personal gain sacrifice principles until caught and exposed. Minds clouded by evil will fight against the honorable principles until they have the born again light of God experience.

Maybe God showed him from which sources he should quote. You know…literary borrowing.

Where have we heard this before?



Yes, Ellen “borrowed”…others plagiarize. :smirk:


So, how do you square this with EGW’s copied writings? Also, do you view her as the Spirit of Prophecy? In other words, how do you view EGW?


This is a very serious situation. I would hope that readers would view this as a breach of professional ethics, of which the individual in question was negligent - not once, but many times over a period of years.

Fair questions to ask of me.
EGW’s copied writings,…I inquired of this years ago and tend to understand that plagiarism in her day was not regarded or even discussed much among authors. I believe she would view plagiarism a very serious matter today. In her day and with the subjects she wrote about, I tend to believe that she thought she was sharing light with humanity and that was the importance that mattered. Was she questioned on plagiarism during her days of writing? I am asking you and others, since I do not know.
Do I view her as the Spirit of Prophecy? Did she view herself as the Spirit of Prophecy? I do not know where she makes such a claim, so I believe likewise. Does the SDA leadership claim she is SOP? They do, but I do not need to believe as they say to.
I view EGW as a modern day apostle. She did missionary work and wrote for the growth of Christianity. Her books on education and health are helpful for mankind, and likewise are other authors. I like to view the teachings of many and glean the good out of it rather than beat the tar out of it. Many have stated that they have left the SDA church because of EGW. I don’t make such a claim because I don’t jump overboard simply because of a few leaks. Leaks can be repaired before a ship sinks if the proper tools and materials exist in the maintenance room below deck. I also will hang onto the baby before I dump the bath water.
I hope that is helpful.

1 Like

We now know that it would have served no useful purpose for any of the passengers to pack a “big ship leak kit” in with his luggage. Titanic was doomed the moment it left the dock in Southampton due to the mindset of the owners and captain combined with structural flaws in its design.

I’m convinced history will continue to show that the same is true of all organized religions.

There is no substitute for a direct personal relationship with one’s creator and I see it as being a life threatening decision to board or stay with a ship full of pirates, profiteers, prophets and priests who insist they have a map treasure island!

1 Like

Sadly, you are drinking the bath water.

1 Like

How do you know what I am drinking? Not sure of why you would twist the point I was making. Sadly, some commenters miss the logic put into explanations.

So you equate the SDA church to the Titanic? Or you missed the point, which is most likely.

Thank you for your response. It was helpful in understanding your SDA/EGW world view.

Copyright was addressed by the U.S. Constitution, well before EGW. Plagiarism was a well known issue during her day. If it wasn’t, then why, at that time, did the Adventist Review caution others to give proper attribution if they were borrowing from its contents?

Additionally, the church itself ran into potential legal trouble from the authors of the book from whom EGW knowingly plagiarized when compiling Sketches From The Life Of Paul. There was also the question of her plagiarism being dealt with in the public press in Healdsburg, California in the late 1880’s. She was essentially being questioned as a plagiarizing prophet. It created a mess. It seems that it was after this that the brethren sent her off to Australia (I welcome correction if this is inaccurate). The usual story is that they got rid of her because she and her visions were a thorn in their sides. The seemingly more accurate emendation is that they sent her away in order to tamp down the public embarrassment that the issue of plagiarism was causing.

Iow, EGW, unless she was deaf, dumb, and blind, knew what plagiarism was, knew that it was viewed as unethical behavior in her time, even if the legal treatment of it morphed later on, kept it hidden as best she could, and never admitted the problem or its extent. The denominational apologists, from 1919 on, have either ignored, downplayed, hidden, made excuses for, or sugarcoated the issue. If taken seriously, it strikes at the very heart of her and the denomination’s prophetic claims, and puts her entire written corpus under a cloud of unethical behavior, and even false claims of origin.



Sharing, at what cost? Stealing and lying, of which she was well aware and was questioned, but denied.

Without a shadow of a doubt, she did! The church creed enforces it.


God himself told her she could ‘copy’, after all, all truth belongs to God!

1 Like

I’m not surprised.:yawning_face::yawning_face::yawning_face:

You don’t get the analogy and assume that I’m missing the point.

Gaslight much?

she was, but she never saw it as the crime it is now, even though she eventually yielded to the scruples of those around her…she always maintained that her inspiration gave her her message, but that it was her responsibility to come up with the words to express that message…i think she scoured the books in her library for suitable language to use in her writings in order to save time, and express things eloquently…it is also possible that reading things on a particular topic sparked fresh inspiration on that topic, so that using words that had sparked that inspiration seemed natural to her…

her literary borrowings, generally found in her narrative works, aren’t plagiarism because her final product is always characteristic and distinct from her sources…in particular, her eye witness quality and infusion of the invisible world, together with her consistent placement of even seemingly minor details into eternal terms, are unique…it’s notable that she always left much more of her sources outside of her writings than she actually used, and in some cases, her sources borrowed so freely from each other, it’s difficult to determine who she actually borrowed from…

i think this plagiarism issue is the perfect stumbling block for those who want a reason to reject egw…it’s similar to christ’s illegitimate birth, his childhood in Galilee, and his life-long poverty, which not a few stumbled over at the time…i think it’s curious why she was never reproved or counselled through a vision on the subject…but then it’s also curious why neither David, nor any of the OT heroes, were ever reproved or counselled through a vision on adultery, which is an actual commandment they all would have been aware of…i think the most reasonable conclusion is that god doesn’t always deign to save people from themselves, but uses them despite their obvious faults and even sins…it does make one wonder what is wrong in our own lives that we have no inkling on…


I hadn’t heard that church leadership was aware of EGW’s plagiarism issue before 1919.

I do know Dr. Kellogg, among other substantive issues, was sounding the “copy cat” alarm before he was excommunicated early in the 1900’s, as has been documented. But the demonization of him by the denomination as being a pantheist was so thorough by that point that his voice was easily ignored after he was shown the door while never having had the chance to address his accusers in open debate.

So I’m not saying you’re wrong as I’ve done no further research (never read Rea’s), but I do know it’s an historical fact that there was a huge rift between EGW and the church leadership at the 1888 GC session over the faith/work issue, EGW coming down firmly on the “pro-faith” side of the equation.

However, without the the “works” carrot to dangle in front of the membership, GC leadership must have feared that the church roles and tithe revenues were sure to decline. So rather than go to all out war with her, it seems silencing their prophetess on the subject was probably at least a tacit factor leading to EGW’s banishment to the other side of the world, despite her clearly stated reticence to undertake such an upheaval given her advancing age…

It seems ironic to me, then, and given so many questions on which she was overly legalistic, decidedly unChrist-like or even demonstrably wrong, that Ms. White actually came down on what I think most Protestants would agree is correct, non legalistic side of THAT question.

Another “stopped clock” scenario, perhaps?!?!

1 Like

If you think ignorance of the law excuses anything, try explaining away your excessive speed by telling the cop that you didn’t notice the sign! :rofl::rofl:

Or maybe say, “I didn’t see 250 kph on the TCH as being a crime!.”:rofl::rofl::rofl:

As to the notion of EGW’s writings and her penchant for “borrowing without asking” being used as excuse for abandoning SDA-ism, I obviously cannot speak for anyone else. What I can say, however, is that I had long conversations with many Adventists I respected, including two SDA pastors, before recanting my baptism into the cult and asking that my name be removed from the church books.

And to my recollection there was absolutely no discussion of Ms. White, or any other individual church member for that matter, in any of those talks, as my differences with Adventism, and organized religion in general, are much deeper than that.