Ellen White's Stature and Her Authority in Photos

Today, the Gift of Prophecy Symposium, co-hosted by the Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University, the Ellen G. White Estate, the Biblical Research Institute, the Center for Adventist Research at Andrews University, and the Ministerial Association of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, begins on the campus of Andrews University. Scholars and administrators from around the world have convened there to discuss the life and ministry of Ellen White in light of the Gift of Prophecy.

One way of talking about Ellen White's significance--and her ongoing authoritative voice--within the Adventist community is through words, as the Gift of Prophecy Symposium will do. And as, in fact, Will Eva did in his recent Spectrum column, "The Challenge of Ellen White's Ongoing Spiritual Authority."

Another way of doing that is through images, which in their own way tell stories of Ellen White's significance and her authority within Adventism. The accompanying slide presentation does that. Among the images below, all of which come courtesy of the Ellen G. White Estate, are images of Sister White among various groups of workers, portraits of her at various times in her life, and images of her six ministerial credentials.

I exchanged messages briefly with the White Estate on the topic of her credentials. All of the credentials read "ordained minister," however the White Estate maintains that Ellen White was never ordained by the laying on of hands, and they provide some documentary evidence to support that idea. Nevertheless, she was given ordained minister credentials six times, which speaks to her authority as a licenced woman minister in her own day and age. The White Estate did not elaborate on what exactly her ordained minister credentials did mean.

Here are collected images from Ellen White's life that tell stories in their own ways.

The Authority of Ellen White in Photos by Jared Wright (Spectrum Magazine)

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7129

Sadly, it’s obvious that through the years The White Estate has been complicit in keeping the truth quiet about Ellen White’s ordination certificates and her documented ordination status as published in several editions of the SDA Yearbook.

Sadly, this fact was left out of required History of Adventism classes for thousands and thousands of academy and college students.

Who has wanted these facts hidden and why does truth have to be uncovered by others? Why hasn’t The White Estate been upfront about the authority she carried in our early church history? What else is being hidden about EGW in those sacred vaults? Past actions are the strongest predictor to current and future behavior. Not encouraging.

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Does this throw a giant monkey wrench in the anit-wo group’s stand on this? It will be interesting to see the responses to these ordination papers.

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Arthur White, Ellen’s grandson, in 1990 published a compilation of her letters and other writings written after she was 65. Once it was available in the ABC stores.

One interesting personal experience is recalled when in a dream, Ellen saw her husband who had died some years ago. She reported him saying that they had both pushed themselves too far, and that he told her to take time to rest and do more writing than using her voice.

The obvious question: was God speaking to her in both visions and dreams? And does God speak to all of us the same way? Did she have unusual access to God that only a prophet as acclaimed by her followers, or is that not possible for all?

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Contrary to what Harrpa says, the EG White Estate has ALL the documentation online - that’s where Jared got the photos of her credentials from, because they’re all there in digital form. What the White Estate has done is to make the relevant information availabel widely, rather than hiding it.
Jared doesn’t comment on the fact that “ordained” is crossed out in the second of the credentials. Or the fact pointed out in one of the Theology of Ordination STudy Committee Papers that ordination is a ceremony or rite, not just a piece of paper, and that there is NO report in church papers of Ellen White being ordained, even though, according to the TOSC paper, ordination ceremonies were pretty often reported in the church press.

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Dudley,

I point out in fairly clear terms, I think, that the White Estate maintains that Ellen White was never ordained by the laying on of hands. I also provide a link to the page in which the White Estate lays out the case against Ellen White having been ordained.

In advance of this article, I sent messages to representatives of all the U.S.-based White Estate offices asking about the ordination credentials in particular, and whether they would be a topic of conversation at the Andrews Symposium at all. In response, they pointed me to the page on the White Estate website linked above that discusses her credentials.

What that page does is to suggest what the credentials do not mean, at least in the White Estate’s understanding. The question that seems to remain unanswered is exactly what the six credentials did mean, both in terms of how Ellen White was understood within her community in her day and age (and indeed how she understood her own calling and ministry), and what her credentials might mean in light of current discussions about the role of women ministers in the Adventist Church. I also asked the White Estate leaders for comment on those points, but none of them responded to that query. Now to be fair, it is quite likely that I caught them at a bad time with the Andrews University Symposium getting underway this week.

I did receive a response from Theodore Levterov, who is the head of the White Estate Branch Office in Loma Linda, saying that he has been preparing a paper on that data that he’d be willing to share after the Andrews event. So I plan to follow up on that.

So how do we understand Ellen White’s ministerial credentials? I think that is still an open-ended question that deserves more attention from the scholarly community. One takeaway that seems fair is that they further establish the fact that Ellen White’s spiritual authority was recognized by her faith community, and her call was affirmed on multiple occasions. That seems instructive for contemporary discussions.

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If you have the credential aren’t you then considered ordained? I was “credentialed” , not ordained, and all I had to show for it was a card I carried. It had to be voted somewhere in order to issue Mrs. White a credential. To me that vote would carry the same weight as if she had a a ceremony with the laying on of hands. Seems to me this issue should have been brought up during the discussion of the ordination of women at the GC and clarified at that time rather than now. Something just doesn’t seem right about the stance of the GC on this.

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Thank you Jared.
The pictures are priceless and bring to mind the old idiom:
ONE PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS

More particularly, the SIX most explicit photographs showing official church documents that proclaim EGW a fully ordained minister!

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Church of England, crowned Queen Elizabeth II, and he/she will crown the next monarch.

EGW is Adventism’s “queen”, our prophet, founder, and councilor.
As the only prophet of God in two millenia, since the death of John the Revelator, who would be WORTHY to “crown” her?

If we accept EGW’s prophetic status, surely it was God Himself, who appointed her, anointed her, and ORDAINED her?

Which of her contemporary peers had sufficient hierarchy of rank to “lay on hands”?

Or did the mere possession of male genitalia confer that privilege on one of her male contemporaries?

I doubt that many Adventists could even name the general conference or local church administrators of her era. Any rank they had was ephemeral and trivial, and surely not sufficient to ordain/crown God’s only prophet/prophetess in two thousand years!

So why is the White Estate quibbling,and nit-picking, about which mere mortal man laid hands on her?

We should proudly proclaim that God Himself ordained her!

The word “ORDAINED” is crystal clear on multiple official documents and should be proof enough that EGW was “ordained”. What a travesty and lack of transparency that this has been concealed for so long!

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Appreciate all that info Jared. I will be looking forward to seeing what this paper has to say.

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Then why not let us do the same to our women ministers? Ordained Minister by certificate! And is it the ceremony which is important or the duties?

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The ordination credentials for EGW were simply official recognition as a speaker and minister for the SDA Church. No secret there. But it does speak to the fact the a woman was considered ordained in an official way with the denomination. It becomes increasingly apparent that there is something very incongruent with our working policy. Just like we call upon women to go to seminary and training to develop their gifts as pastor-teachers, and allow women to be ordained in local fellowships as elders, we then in the same breath deny women appointment, or recognition, of their said gifts through ordination. It’s increasingly making no sense magnified with the ordination credentials EGW held.

Working Policy, people. It is the Working Policy that continues to stir this tempest in the denominational tea pot and up to now we are relunctant to face the fact, and even deny the fact, opting rather to hide our heads in the sand and hope GC votes and Appeal papers will bring us all into line, into uniformity. In this process of denial we head toward an official split now that both sides see this as a moral issue.

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Why would she need a ceremony of laying on of hands from a lesser authority when she was already accepted as prophet of God for years by those who believed in her visions and teachings; one who was ordained by God’s hand laid upon her? The paperwork just confirmed mans acceptance. God only knows who and why they crossed the one certificate of ordination out.

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seems this approaching meeting has an agenda far different from that of the 1919 Bible Conference. as time has elapsed since 1919. it has become very clear that Ellen White was far more dependent upon human sources than divine. The issue of the unattributed use of sources is bland in comparison to the eisegetic understanding of Dan. 8:14 , , Hebrews p, abs Revelation.

My father came into Adventism through Methodism. my mother came into Adventism through Rome. Thus each had a different take on Ellen White. however, both came to a common ground ĂĽnder Des Ford.

Elken White was a mystic not a prophet in an era of Mystics. we now seem to be returning to a mystical approach to religion. for shame. tom Z

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The authority that Ellen White had as the Messenger of the Lord for the Remnant church cannot be used as a reason for other women’s right to be in leadership roles. Do not get me wrong, I am not against women in leadership roles. I am in support of equality, even in church matters. But Ellen White’s authority cannot be used as ammunition against the anti-women ordination camp. Her experience was a unique one that we cannot repeat by our own choices or the choices of the church. She was a prophet and we are not.

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This article and the “protests” by pastors asking to be commissioned rather than ordained says to me that the issue of WO in the Adventist church was not settled by a vote at SA, nor is it going to go away. The strongest decisions are those that have strong “ownership” by stakeholders. At least in NA and Western Europe, it seems increasingly evident that there is insufficient ownership for the “decision”. Lack of ownership for a decision within an organization is not rebellion, it is the right of stakeholders to disagree and thus not support a decision. Ted Wilson seems not to understand organizational behavior sufficiently, and to his peril and that of our denomination. Yes, “OUR” denomination - not Allen’s, etc. TW got the vote he wanted. However he did not achieve a sufficiently powerful decision to successfully implement it. Failure to understand this is a failure of leadership. Sadly, only time will demonstrate that to be true.

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Your argument would’nt be a proof for ordaining women in general then would it? Since women in general are not prophets on the level of EGW so whats your point?

Which being the experts on those subjects and times…puts them in a much more favorable position to know.

Hi Jared: Perhaps another useful question in light of EGW’s multiple credentials sans “laying on of hands” would be to see if ordained men from around those same time periods also had similar credentials also without having been “ordained” by “laying on of hands”. I.e. how carefully in the early church did ordination certificates correlate with an actual laying of on hands ceremony?

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Is there a report of James White and Joseph Bates being ordained through a ceremony of the laying on of hands? Could it be that with the trio of cofounders, the church did not see the need to go through the ceremonial recognition and identification of these well-known, widely-acknowledged leaders, but simply issued the paper credential acknowledging their call and leadership authority?

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The point is: if the “headship theology” (the only way to reason against WO) was right, God would have violated his own principle with Ellen White. The point is not, how special she was, the point is that she was ordained by God and she was a woman. God himself has ordained a women!

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God did ordain women to prophetic ministry, but never once to pastoral ministry; the former ordained directly by God, the latter directly by man. Headship theology is biblical ecclesiology.