Ellen White’s Afterlife: Author Interview with George R. Knight

(Nathan Robinson) #22

Knight claims that detractors of EGW follow a pattern: Those who are now critical of and reject EGW were at one time true believers in her authority on all topics and had an emotional, almost visceral, reaction to what they discovered about her writings (Knight, 2019, p.40) (don’t you just love APA formatting).

Is this true? I don’t think it fits me. What about you?

(Frankmer7) #23

She denied being a commentator on Scripture…partially. When she felt that the church’s core pillars were under siege, she became the voice of defense, the arbiter of meaning, if you will. It didn’t matter if Canright or Ballinger presented biblical rationale and evidence to contest the highly contestable. They were deemed agents of Satan. She offered no Scriptural rebuttal. She claimed the Holy Spirit’s leading in the formation of the pillars, and in her own testimonies. That was the deciding factor. In these cases, she, and Adventist traditional belief, were the ultimate arbiter of Scriptural meaning.

Additionally, her claims of total originality in the bulk of her writings are well documented. James White made the same claims. This gets soft-soaped today… along with her endorsement of the shut door error for six years, which she never admitted to, and other imbalanced and erroneous statements that she offered as the voice of God to his church.

Pointing to all the good she did, and there is plenty of good, without real admission of these real problem issues amounts to, as you said, simply watered down hagiography. It helps explain why many have exited. The emperor having no clothes comes to mind. My apologies to George Knight.



(Ikswezdyr) #24

I don’t believe in infallibility. At the same time I don’t see such denial as a big part of what EGW wrote. The preface to GC seems to negate such an idea. Is this denial based on one comment that could be taken different ways? It would seem to be a small percentage of her “quotes” or opinions. Yet the skeptic in us wants to ignore the good to obsess on this one statement(s). I can’t imagine feeling I had a legitimate message to give, and then having everyone think every off-hand remark, defensive or otherwise was inspired and feel betrayed if it weren’t. Obviously she took at face value the misinfromation of the age such as the cause of earthquakes. How many today accept everything that comes down the road from science without question?

The poor woman couldn’t seem to have a personal opinion. Has anyone ever written about the persona/psychological side of being a “prophet” a term she never used. Yes, one’s character and caring works do outweigh defensive comments probably made to protect the “message.”

Her detractors tend to be adversarial and that is a red flag. Suppose a new church came together today and saying God told them to follow certain health protocols similar to what is out there now? Would that negate their inspiration on the subject? Numbers thought so in his book that should have been scholarly and balanced but turned out to be adversarial and a stepping stone to a successful career in the secular history world who found quaint religions interesting targets. I am sure Mormons experience the same. Just looking for some rational fairness!

My opinion–we still don’t understand the meaning of inspiration.

(Ikswezdyr) #25

I see it as a generalization but probably true in many cases.


The questions for me re EGW revolve around her statements about angels showing her (“I was shown…”) then what follows is directly and obviously “borrowed.”

(Nathan Robinson) #27

Just finished the main part of Knight’s book, and one conclusion he draws is that EGW critics and supporters have tended to both argue from a flawed perspective of perfectionism (Knight, 2019, p.62).

I think that the point is a good one. I should evaluate my own understanding of inspiration more cautiously, and use my own lens to view EGW, not necessarily the same lens that Rea or Numbers, or even her supporters, might employ.

In the end, my basic problem with having such a huge body of EGW writings is that they just don’t seem necessary, useful, or even approachable any more. I know that statement might raise some hairs on the neck, but bear with me.

If professional historians spend their entire careers shaping and reshaping their views on inspiration in order to figure out what is what with EGW, is it reasonable to expect the average 9 to 5 Adventist with a career in a completely unrelated field to develop a theory of inspiration in order to safely and appropriatly use EGWs writings?

I barely had time to download and rush through a reading of Knight’s book. In a couple hours I will be back to nursing research, not a study of inspiration, much less a reading of EGW. I triage my time, and EGW is no longer a priority intervention.


It is so ironic that perfectionism-based ctitiques are a foundation Knight works from, just when we are marking the death of Des Ford, a major critic of perfectionism who lost his credentials and is still excoriated by officials for this. What webs we weave…

(Anne Marbury) #29

How, exactly, can anyone question Ellen White without their motives or character or something else being brought into the equation?

Nathan may have a point, EGW is simply too complicated to deal with (my interpretation). Leave her to history and move on. Who’s going to make the announcement?

(Frankmer7) #30

Even if one views her writings, as she claimed, as a lesser light pointing to the greater, Christ and the Scriptures, the obvious question is why would one need the light of a candle (in the form of 100,000 pages), when the sun is already shining? The gospel of Jesus Christ pre-dated and post-dates EGW. Begin with him, end with him, and the rest falls into place. Didn’t he say the same? “Seek first the kingdom of God, and everything else will be added to you,” implying God’s rule through him? Or, “Mary has chosen the best (choice) part (sitting at Jesus’s feet), and it will not be taken from her?”



(JRStovall) #31

My perspective…What if she was ‘shown’ where to look for the info? Possible. I don’t know because the rules for copying or quoting others was not the same then as it is now. My belief is that ‘good’ can come from many sources.

I have many talks with a family member who also struggles with EGW and how the church used her. My advice is always to try and get beyond what you learned and seek for yourself. I am a believer in the what we call the Holy Spirit and tell others to let that be your guide. No, I will not quibble on the ‘come back’, how do you know it is the HS. Go to your Bible, study, seek guidance from others if needed, use your life experience and live it the best you can.

EGW was a human just like us and made mistakes. Her understanding of many things changed over time. Doesn’t it for all us?

(JRStovall) #32

I would be willing to bet EGW agrees with you! Did she really intend for everything she wrote to be disseminated the way it has been by the .org?? I don’t believe it.


I am a law professor. I teach copyright. This is a myth that copyright rules were “not the same.” It is plagiarism to offer someone else’s words and work as one’s own. Withdrawal of her book on Paul is proof that threatened lawsuits for copyright infringement were definitely at play in response to her copying.

God and the Holy Spirit would not urge violation of law on stealing.

(Kim Green) #34

Of course…”Be the change you want to see”.
Nonetheless, this does not adequately answer my question.

(Nathan Robinson) #35

I agree, and it is this issue of ethics that troubles me most about EGW and the SDA church. On issues relating to law and society, we should at least give to caesar what is caesar’s, at least as far as conscience will allow.

I can understand if a few upstate farmers and a down Maine girl didn’t understand copyright law, but as the organization grew they had little excuse.

(JRStovall) #36

Could you give us more specifics on when copyright laws came into being and if they were enforced in her day and time? I’ve read much debate over the years on this subject so it would be helpful to hear from someone who teaches/practices in that field. Since there seems to be quite a bit of borrowing/copying in her writings, why would the publishing houses or her have not been sued?

(Cfowler) #37

Doesn’t fit me…

(George Tichy) #38

All you said reinforces my position on it. I believe that the only safe way to move on is to become a Church based on the “Sola Scriptura” principle.

However, I am not expecting such a change to happen. The SDA Church is based on Ellen White, therefore there is no hope of change. We, as individuals, can make a decision like this in our private lives. But the church is not going to do it.

(George Tichy) #39

In my opinion, the only way to I reach this (educational) goal would be starting to produce sabbath-school-lessons based only on the Bible and after a few years, maybe, just maybe, the cultura will be changed. I see no other way to revert the damage done. But, honestly, I don’t think this is going to ever happen.

(George Tichy) #40

If being adversarial is not acceptable, what would be the proper method used to deal with deliberate missnformation and denial of evident facts?

(Carlo Schroeder) #41

I would like to read this book, but I believe that it will never ever be published here. The writings of EG White are still regarded as important here in Mexico, so to attack her writings will not help us in fighting injustice in the church structure, because that is what we use. Secondly, perfectionism philosophy is rife here, mainly to the bad influence of people misinterpreted scripture and her writings, and so we need books and materials that will bring a balance approach to what it means to be a follow of God. I hope that this will be something positive in fight against the madness that reigns in the church today.