Ellen White Letter Discovered at Pacific Union College; Experts Confirm Authenticity


(Spectrumbot) #1

A previously undocumented letter penned by Ellen G. White, co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, has been discovered in the archives at Pacific Union College. Last week, several scholars reviewed the letter and confirmed the incomplete document was indeed in Ellen White’s handwriting.

“Judging from the scholarly stir that followed, I would say that is a significant historical find,” says Katharine Van Arsdale, PUC’s official archivist and the document’s discoverer.

Four years ago, Van Arsdale found what appeared to be a letter from Ellen G. White in a small metal cabinet designed to store maps. She noted the letter, dated May 9, 1882 — one month after PUC began officially holding classes — was incomplete and lacked a signature, although someone had written in pencil the author was Mrs. White.

“I regularly took that letter with me into classes as one of several artifacts illustrating the history of PUC and the stores of its archives,” Van Arsdale says. “I would show it to the students as something ‘probably’ written by Ellen White.”

Last week, Van Arsdale presented to a class of freshmen for James Wibberding, associate professor of applied theology and biblical studies. During the class, she asked Wibberding if he happened to know, from the course of his studies, if it was actually an Ellen White letter.

“He immediately took a picture of it and sent it off via text to Michael Campbell, a friend of his at Southwestern Adventist University, who is widely read in Mrs. White’s correspondences,” Van Arsdale says. This move proved to be instrumental in authenticating the letter; Campbell, associate professor of religion at SWAU, immediately recognized the Adventist leader’s distinctive style, penmanship, and spelling.

“Within 24 hours, the newly recovered letter was being analyzed, transcribed, and even discussed in classes across the country,” reported Eric Anderson, professor emeritus of history and director of PUC’s Walter C. Utt Center for Adventist History, which is collecting significant historical materials relating to the history of the college. Scholars were quick to notice the larger context of this letter, addressed to Adventist evangelist and missionary John Orr Corliss. White was discussing criticism of her life and writings among Seventh-day Adventists, and she wrote at a time when she faced several significant challenges, including a debate about whether her “testimonies” to church members could be corrected or revised.

Scholars who confirmed the document include Ronald Graybill, retired professor, formerly of the White Estate, and author of several books about Ellen White; Kevin Morgan, pastor and Ellen White author; and Tim Poirier of the White Estate.

“Within recent years, historians have been showing significant interest in this ‘American prophet,’” Anderson says. “You don’t have to be an Adventist to be fascinated by a nineteenth-century woman who accomplished so much.” In 2014, the Smithsonian Institute named Ellen White one of the 100 Most Significant Americans of All Time in the “Religious Figures” category. She was one of only 22 women on the list.

A display featuring the newly discovered letter, among other related artifacts from the PUC archives, is available for viewing in the Maxwell Reading Room of the Nelson Memorial Library on the campus of Pacific Union College. For library hours, visit puc.edu/library. For additional information about the letter itself, contact Van Arsdale at kvanarsdale@puc.edu.

See a scan of the original document:

This article was written by Becky St. Clair and originally appeared on the Pacific Union College website.

Image courtesy of PUC.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9394

(George Tichy) #2

Just checking if anyone can anwser this question with 100% of assurance,

Did the WE already publish EVERYTHING that EGW wrote that is in their vault?


(James J Londis) #3

Are we permitted to read a clearly typed rendition of the letter? Its contents seem quite relevant to our own discussions this century or more later.


(Carlo Schroeder) #4

That is a very good question, and what else might be lost in that vault?


(Harry Elliott) #5

Strange business: a messenger who becomes rich selling the messages entrusted to her for faithful delivery.

I notice that in this item she keeps referring to the things she writes as the testimonies of the Spirit of God, but withholds them and modifies them at will. Are we crazy?


(Thomas J Zwemer) #6

Ellen left a negative balance not a fortune… The White Estate Recouped largely by compilations. Messages to Young People, Diets and Foods. Prophets and Kings completed by staff.etc.


(efcee) #7

Perhaps in her mind, the messages were free, but the ink, paper, and distribution had a cost? She did die in debt due to her extravagant purchases of properties on which to build the institutions that exist today. If she had kept that money, she would have died debt free.


(Cfowler) #8

Do you have a reference regarding how much money she spent on property for the church?

She did have a large staff for quite a few years before she died at Elmshaven. Did she pay them, or did the SDA church?


(Cfowler) #9

Agreed…

Are we crazy? Mmmm…Yes? :wink:

Seems pretty crazy to me! But, for lots of reasons, people keep on keeping on.


(Harry Elliott) #10

Yep, her estate went directly into the hands of a bankruptcy trustee. She didn’t leave a fortune because she spent a fortune–and was reportedly generous. She bought a retreat in Colorado and that gorgeous property called Elmshaven and had a small army of servants. When she traveled, she took the most lavish suites and staterooms. She found that church members were proud to lend a prophet mucho dinero which was paid posthumously with funds provided by the church after she died. I don’t recall the title of the booklet that summarized all of the numbers.


(Cfowler) #11

She lived very large and lavishly. This is, of course, is not really part of the “myth” of EGW. Thankfully, we have so much more info available at the touch of our fingertips.


(Thomas J Zwemer) #12

A very cultic enthusiasm. An Elmshaven knee jeck.


#13

Here is my attempt to transcribe the letter. Where I could not make out a word, ??? is inserted.
The original is missing some punctuation. I have added periods and divided into paragraphs. They may require altering.

I’ll be happy to edit the following if someone is able to establish the missing words.

The original document is scanned as a PDF here:

=======================================

Hanford, Tulare Co, Cal May 9, 1882

Dear Bro. Corliss - I received your letter this morning and was glad to hear from you. I am pressed with much writing but felt inclined to drop you a word. We are in the midst of our campmeeting. The Lord has strengthened me to bear a straight forward powerful testimony which has impressed the people. This people have had but few religious privileges and they have had but little preaching. It was a feast to hear their testimonies this morning. They had something to say. Intelligent words of experience came from many that showed the Lord was working upon their hearts.

Our work is to talk much upon practical godliness. The great danger with our people who have had great light is to not prize their privileges and opportunities and as blessings from God of the highest value. The disciples did not appreciate their high privilege of having Jesus in their midst until his blessing was removed from them. Jesus then was missed. They did not know what he was to them until to late. Just so with us all. We do not know or appreciate the sacrid gift of God in the light the opportunities he grants us.

If the testimonies of his spirit were prized as the voice of God to men in warnings and councils in reproof our people would not be as cold and lukewarm as they are today. It is their growing xxofxx unbelief in the testimonies of the spirit of God which leaves the people in darkness.

Let us consider this matter. Is this the voice of God? Has he signified his will? Has he warned of danger? Has he presented before his people what they must do and what they must not in order to be saved?

But the people pay no heed. Some who profess to be leaders explaining the scriptures to are indifferent to the word of God ??? ???. What if they treat them with disrespect? How much easier will this unbelief and this disrespect be accepted than expressed faith and why because the natural heart is in accordance with this unbelief.

It pleases the carnal heart to be undisturbed in their errors and sins and if they can find the least excuse to xxthroughxx demerit the value of these testimonies they feel easier in their selfish indulgence. O how easy for a little leven of unbelief to leven the lump. But suffering these testimonies are indeed the voice of God to the people.

Then how can we regard the work and influence of these who will not acknowledge the voice of God in the testimonies borne, but who have braced their hearts against them, whose voice is never heard among the people urging them to give attention to the light from the throne of God. How will their work stand in the judgment? How many have these ministers drawn with them to pay no heed to the voice of God. ???Why??? his work is of that character that it would have been better for the people of God in the end if their voice had never been heard as a watchman on the walls of Zion.

He placed greater confidence in his own finite judgment than in the words that God sends. But time will come that the people will see this in its true bearing but it will be too late to undue the past. They charge upon these ministers the loss of their souls. And these ministers are among us to day. These men are exalting their own ideas and plans above the clear light God has given them. These men allow self to come in between them and the people and to shut out heavens rays of light given to the people.

Where there is no vision the people perish. How easy for the people to look to their minister rather than to go to God for themselves and serve him concienciously ???learning??? what is of God for themselves. One hint of disrespect in regard to the light given in testimony will go further with minds unenlightened by the special grace of God than fifty sermons to prove their validity.

Those who sow unbelief will reap the harvest. They have sown the seed will spring up and bear fruit a harvest of unbelief. He may have his faith confirmed and then wish to gather up the seed he has sown of unbelief and infidelity, but can he gather it up - no indeed. He might work with all his might from day to day but he cannot gather up the seeds of doubt of questioning he has sown. Some of our ministers choose to disbelieve because they have most earnest work to do to correct the faults in their characters and to purify their lives.

It is a big job. If they can only quiet their consciences that the testimonies are not from God they feel at ease to go on on in their wrongs. I tell you there xxarexx is licenciousness in our ranks that is fearful. There is want of virtue and honesty. Just destroy the confidence of the people in the testimonies of the spirit of God and we shall see a demoralized state of things that we do not dream could exist.


(Carsten Thomsen) #14

Finally something that transcends the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls!


#15

Waiting to see the “pen of inspiration.”


#16

And???

Other than creating debates and questions


(Caddy) #17

The poor girl, fiftyfive years old and still didn’t understand the Gospel.
We gladly renounce the evils of the lower nature and joyfully follow the leading of our Savior because we are saved, not to get saved. She puts the “cart before the horse”. This is the confusion that persists in SDAism.


(Kevin Luke Morgan) #18

George, What is published is that which has been transcribed. BTW, this wasn’t in the vault. New letters and manuscripts are discovered periodically.


(Kevin Luke Morgan) #19

The official transcription will also be released, filling in the words you were unable to decipher.


(Kevin Luke Morgan) #20

Actually she lived very frugally. The reason she died in debt was because she leveraged income from her publications to fund new institutions like Loma Linda.