Ellen White and Prophetic Authority


Adventist Fundamental Belief #18 states:

The Scriptures testify that one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and we believe it was manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White. Her writings speak with prophetic authority and provide comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction to the church. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/views/2023/ellen-white-and-prophetic-authority

Oddly enough, any philosophical theory that cannot account for the problem of “error” betrays a fundamental weakness in its structure. This is even more critical in religious claims to knowledge and/or authority that cannot be challenged. On Socrates/Plato and divine commands, I would argue it is neither. We possess, like mathematics and a sense of beauty, a moral insight already given us in creation by God. Kant and many others insisted this be seen for what it is: a gift. This means we can challenge God when we think the divine is wrong, as Abraham did over destroying so many innocent people in the condemned city, or Job did when he demanded to know how God could justify his suffering if he has not sinned! We recognize moral truth innately, even if it descends (or claims to descend) from on high.


The"everyday use" of EGW . - Assuming that every word (in print - as one once defined it) of Ellen G. White is so to say a Divine command our local Union president explained the idea of small home churches / congregations / Sabbathschools / sermons / worships as a new concept for church growth here in Austria.

A good idea. Not so new.Around 1930 . Here a number of such congregations meeting at ones large kitchentables were quite common.

Well, to give this idea a special authoritative sound - so to say as a divine command - he had some scholars ( ? ) supporting him with EGW quotations about the importance of “social meetings” for a local church/congeregation., here interpreted as small congregation, small wrorshipping amenities, small Sabbath services - -

Just accidently I know about EGWs attempts when she insisted on a special “social meeting” on Sabbath aftrenoon after her sermon in the morning - in her diary on the visit to Vohwinkel / Germany on May 28, 1887 - She herself in her reports wrote for “R&H” about such events in Switzerland : Weeping, kissing,embracing, confessions - “the fallow ground of hearts was broken up” - - ( quoted in “Ministry” September 1971)

About “good and evil” as biblical concepts - it would be nonsense to say that God has to live up to the “right/good”, rather than God defining “the right”. Where, then, does right/good come from, as a norm… Is there a third "creator of the concept of what’s good and evil?

The Adventist idea that the “universe is waiting with bated breath to see if God will be fair or not in this experiment on earth, is ridiculous. First, if the universe still isn’t sure, then they need a savior as well; secondly, there must be a universal idea of “good/right” outside of the"creator of the universe” - not logical.

The only challenge we can level, is on consistency. Is God living up to His own idea of good/right; and, we can’t know that because we can’t see the “end from the beginning”.

Biblically speaking, if man was created in God’s image, humanity was given the concept of good, but not evil. Evil is the intruder, by permission of man.


If the creation story is correct, god created the intruder, so he is ultimately to blame for evil.

Supposedly, humans perpetuate that “mistake” by allowing themselves to be open to evil, but the atheist’s argument in the regard is irrefutable.

If an all powerful god does exist, he is a monster who created an evil monster like Satan.

The theist’s only option is to accept that if the creator is real, he, she or it is obviously not omnipotent and did not have the ability or the option of making a world where sin and death were impossible.

IOW, the idea that anyone, including god, has anyone sort of free will may be merely religious dogma, as opposed to demonstrable fact.

The OT actually did believe that God delivered “blessings and curses”.

I did say “biblically” speaking - at least how traditional Christianity accepts it. It’s not about God “creating” evil. Question is, is evil merely the absence of good? Or, are these concepts universal “cause and effect” dumbed-down for us, who use merely 10% (or less) of our brains.

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Speaking of intruders - so, I’m watching a spider who’s been hanging outside my window when suddenly he captures some other insect in its web and starts wrapping it up for a future meal; and we call it nature. Increase the size of the spider and its web and have it between the bushes along a hidden path… Nature does have a dark side. Unless the Devil is also a CREATOR…?

The issues involving EGW and Prophetic Authority are much deeper than what has been revealed in this article While the article does make for interesting reading, much of the contention over the role of EGW which also incorporates supposed prophetic authority has indeed been addressed by scholars, such as the late Dr Ronald Numbers and Dr. Walter Rea.

In essence these men discovered among other things:
a. There was extensive borrowing, some would say outright stealing or plagiarism by White in that she used the words and the works of others but never gave the credit to the authors she used.
b.I n the case of Numbers, he points out that much of the ideas she used as it relates to health were not original or new, but were already in existence and highlighted by other medical practitioners some of whom lived before her time as well as concurrently with her.
The situation is worsened because the church, rather than admitting that what White did was immoral and very wrong, sought to deny, re-word and twist the information to make it appear as if White had done nothing wrong. Additionally they sought to vilify these men. In the case of Rea stopping his sustentation which he eventually recovered via the legal process. The latest research into EGW is carried on by Dr Steve Daily who takes his research even further, and delves into the very character of White from a psychological standpoint.

White herself, when alive also compounded the problem by certain dogmatic statements in relation to the acceptance / rejection of what she wrote in various cases. For her if anyone challenged her writings, they were under the control of Satan or would feel the wrath/ anger/ fury of God because God had communicated ‘light’ and truth’ through her and none one was to question, let alone reject this.
What the present SDA church must do, is to admit the errors of the past , demonstrated by White in her behaviour and attitude, inn her plagiarism and denunciation of people who did not see issues or matters and she did and actually spoke about this.
Secondly they must seek to understand the Bible independent of EGW or any other individual asking God for guidance and using proper research to arrive at sound evidenced conclusions!
To knowingly perpetuate the myth of EGW inspiration, and so called authority, when they know the opposite to be true is to trade in deceit. It matters little what White says in any of her books. The important thing is to determine what God has said in His word!
I suspect that many within the Adventist church know that the entire denomination would collapse if the average member knew the true history- important events such as the ones I described above in the SDA church and demanded accountability from their leaders! Church leaders can invent all types of methods to spin or colour history, but they cannot do anything against the truth. It always has a away of rising and exposing those who seek to hide or destroy it!. Sooner or later, whether in the life tine of people who are involved in the deception or after their lifetime, the truth emerges , unstopped by those who would seek to conceal it!

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Why, pray tell, would one consider the words of mostly anonymous men to be the words of a god? The Bible is simply a collection of stories and pronouncements, often contradictory, written by mostly persons unknown, mostly offering no claims of special authority (inspiration), and collected from other writings by persons unknown because they most closely corresponded to the beliefs of said persons.

The concept of inspiration is simply vacuous and entirely lacking in sufficient evidence. In the end, it is simply taking someone’s word on faith. Using the Bible as a fallback authority is a sand castle facing an incoming tide.


I took several courses from Robert E. Lee Francis (always dressed in Confederate gray) in the 1970’s. First, he did not possess a doctoral degree. He lacked any ability to engage in critical thinking. He was totally committed to a position of inerrant inspiration vis a vis the Bible and Ellen White. He denigrated reason at every opportunity, making it take second place to his perception of revelation. Passing his classes required answering all questions through this filter. He would include questions on his tests with a proposition giving a choice, 1. Divine revelation 2. Human reason. Opting for #2 would result in a failed grade. I would characterize him as a fanatic with no ability to consider alternative concepts except to denigrate them.


Speaking biblically, one can believe whatever he wants.

The Bible is like a map which can show an infinite variety of routes to countless destinations but never defines the “correct” or “true” path.

Thus the phrase “traditional Christianity” is meaningless as there are any number of denominations who claim this appellation despite having diametrically opposed dogmas.

For example, the ambiguous nature of the Bible explains why it has been used to rationalize both slavery and liberation theology.

IOW, the true nature of our creator has not and cannot be determined by studying the Bible or any other scripture and any claim by any prophet must be considered tentative unless and until our maker’s existence, motivations and capabilities are fully understood.


Prophets are always doubted and hated. I’m not specifically talking about EGW…all the biblical prophets were hated, criticized, attacked and many killed.

The example the author uses about EGW and creation is actually a criticism of the Bible. It’s arrogant to take the vast amount of all knowledge out there and say that because we don’t see how something can be true that it isn’t. We’re basically telling God, if I don’t understand how you did what you said you did…then it can’t be true. We’re limiting God to our extremely limited mental capabilities, we’re dwarfing God to our stature.

This article really isn’t about EGW it’s about the Bible and how we take what it says. Scientifically, God couldnt create man from dust and give him life, Jesus couldnt resurrect, a cripple couldn’t be healed, a sea couldn’t part etc etc etc

Do you love Mohammed and Islam?

Or Joseph Smith?

Or David Koresh?

None of them were perfect people, either, but each of them-and countless others-have claimed to be prophets of god.

Thus, if you reject their claims, you are guilty of the same hatred and arrogance of which you accuse the author of the article.

It cannot be simpler.

We always see in other people our own shortcomings and sins.

Remember that text about how we are judged by our judgments of others?!?!


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No, the limitations are on the self-styled prophets; those who claim to have special knowledge telepathically transmitted through mystical means—knowledge not available through normal means of observation and validation. We are dwarfing those making extraordinary claims without evidence. They, along with their claims, should be dismissed. This is especially so when there is clear evidence falsifying their claims or when evidence which should be there if their claims were true, is absent.

  • God is perfect order, God created Earth perfect (nature as you call it) and placed it under Adam’s power
  • Man chose to move away from God
  • God allows the Earth to follow man’s decision a.k.a. “cursed it”, entropy begins
  • Entropy has been increasing since then (I believe spiritual entropy has increased faster than physical entropy).
  • Man blames God for the results of his own decision

"Do you know the ordinances of the heavens, Or fix their rule over the earth?
“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?”


What evidence is there of the resurrection? What verifiable evidence is there of the divinity of Jesus?

There simply is a boatload of evidence about EGW’s dishonesty and the coverup engaged in by her and the denomination for generations. To blow that off is to actually reject what is truthful and to endorse unethical behavior.

The transmission, reception, and the dissemination of the messages themselves are under this unethical cloud. The title of prophet means nothing and is actually undercut by all of this.

Deal with the evidence…



In my own research for an illustration to show the adult SS class I teach, I put together a lengthy comparison of statements by Ellen White regarding righteousness by faith vs. righteousness by works. You can definitively prove either position from her statements. This is precisely why older SDAs have no confidence in their salvation. Don’t believe me? Ask your pastor to request a show of hands of all who believe they are saved…the result will shock you.

To me, that tells the story. And I remain unconvinced by those who say her opinions moderated as she grew older. Was she inspired earlier, or only later? It makes no sense. And I am uninspired by the institutional church’s continued efforts to persuade us to abandon critical thinking. It’s the moral equivalent of ‘gaslighting’.


I don’t know why that would shock anybody the Adventist church came out of the Arminian tradition,
" While Calvinism emphasizes God’s sovereignty, Arminianism places the emphasis on man’s responsibility and claims that he has a completely free will. Jacob Arminius was ordained in 1588. The latter part of his life became full of controversy for which he would be known throughout history. During a season of his life when he was called to bring charges of heresy against a man, he began to question his understanding of the doctrine of predestination, which led him to question his stances on the nature and character of God. He thought predestination was too harsh for a loving God. He began to promote a “conditional election” that allowed both man and God to take part in the salvation process." What Is Arminianism Theology? (The 5 Points And Beliefs)

The SDA church to my knowledge has never asserted EGW as infallible, so I wish people would stop using that language. But they do assert her as an inspired commentator. Which is likely even worse as it places her above the book she is commenting on. If they just said commentator that would be great, the problem comes by saying inspired commentator.

As Morris Vendon wrote in his book “The Pillars”: “The gift of prophecy is not an authority over the Bible, but it is an authority on the Bible. Some people have trouble with the phrase, evidently coined by F.D. Nichol, ‘inspired commentary.’ But if you accept the inspiration of the gift of prophecy and realize the fact that it is also a commentary on the Bible, and then put the two together, you have an inspired commentary.” (page 104)." Adventist Media Response and Conversation: Progressive and Traditional Adventists Examined

I find that I gain more out of the Bible if I read it critically - meaning that I try to place it in context of place/time/culture/language and the world views that probably prevailed at the time. That does not mean it was not “inspired” in some way, but it does allow for a much more thoughtful reading.

Not a bad approach for EG White or any other author for that matter…