If Ellen White Were Present

The 1990 General Conference Session in Indianapolis was my first. At its end, I told a few friends that my experience at that event was the closest I had come to my impression of heaven. I left Indianapolis filled with elation and optimism, excited about what God would accomplish through his church during the years ahead.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11920

I suspect that EGW wouldn’t have attended any GC meetings after the 1903 decision to reinstate the office of the GC presidency, even if she had gone on living.

Her visions having slowed to a trickle, deeply in debt, at the doorstep of dementia and as disillusioned with the denomination she’d helped establish as the denomination was embarrassed by her and her “gift” for plagiarism, I think there would have been a public and tumultuous “parting of the ways” which probably would have led to the demise of SDA-ism.

The reality, however, is that all of these difficulties and differences were swept under the rug by the mutual, if tacit, agreement of all parties in order to present the illusion of “business as usual” and so that all of the emotionally invested could go on with their egotistical self-images intact. But much more importantly, the inertial decision was made to press on despite these disputes so that the financially invested could continue receiving all those millions of dollars that were pouring in, in the form of tithes and offerings.

(I know. Not very diplomatic eh, @Victor ! :wink:)


You know…how about if Jesus was present in the flesh? Why are there articles that spotlight what EGW would say and nothing about Jesus himself directly? While the intent is good, this speaks volumes to me about SDA culture…



Yes Frank, the attributes that Don gives towards EGW should be only given Jesus. She is not Him. If Jesus were present He would address these things on like note. There are multitudes of various things written by EGW that have sound biblical foundation, but that does not make her views on the same level as those of the mind and heart of Jesus on all she expounded upon and demanded all to follow. She borrowed of many well educated and Spirit filled, and many well intentioned, yet not infallible by any means. There are many encouranging and hopeful things written by her that would make many to cling to her treatises; (paraphrase) “There are many that were so far from the throne of God that will be closest to Him in the hereafter”. ( If you had lived the life that I once lived…) Yet, there is too much evidence of her doings contrary to the biblical narrative as to how one should treat others, and yet many things absolutely how one should not. The confusion never ends. And contrary to the Spirit of God, the deeper one gets into the spirit of EGW ( read the Testamonies) the more judgmental negatively one becomes towards others. Since the internet the exposure of vast inconsistencies, historical and present, away from the true Biblical import of the Gospel and working of the Spirit of God has brought about honest challenges to the status quo of denominational presence. The denomination’s growth is stagnant in the USA because the exposure of the highly questionable rhetoric that continues here. The enormous growth in membership of SDA’s around the world is due to the lack of information concerning the coverups on EGW’s deceptions and the true Biblical Gospel of salvation.


The church (machine) does follow ellen after all.
However we cut it, its real easy to have jesus having sharp words to say at these displays of power, religion.
Gc jesus ‘you’re all holding up the end times, second coming’
left leaning jesus, ‘you have prided yourselves on right views, your programs, politics (in church), made everyyhing about being part of the club, having theology prioritised over people which in effect a church without people is nothing’.
Right leaning jesus ‘socialism, communism is one and the same thing, going to divert all your attention from conservatism (the truth)’.

And EGW was made to say what was important to the author of the article, as well. All I’m saying is that it’s telling that EGW is the touchstone for what reforms need to happen…not Jesus or the gospels directly.



Very nice to hear from Don! I had the honour of serving on the British Union Conference Exec under his leadership some years ago. He was a wise man then and still is now.

I don’t think Don is pointing to EGW rather than pointing to Christ. I think he’d say the exact opposite. But it seems that the current GC leadership is intent on using EGW to beat us pew sitters into submission. Don is suggesting a necessary corrective - if you’re really going to take EGW seriously then you shouldn’t use her as a justification for your orthodoxy thought police. She wouldn’t like it.

Illegitimi non carborundum!


I wonder if EGW would repeat her instruction she has given to our health care hospital leaders? She wrote that of men physicians treating women and woman physicians treating men was abhorrent to God.

"It is a most horrible practice, this revealing the secret parts of women to men, or men being treated by women…

“Women physicians should utterly refuse to look upon the secret parts of men. Women should be thoroughly educated to work for women, and men to work for men. Let men know that they must go to their own sex, and not apply to lady physicians. It is an insult to women, and God looks upon these things of commonness with abhorrence.” EGW


As insipid as it is to hear Christians opine WWJD (What would Jesus do?) it is even more so when Adventist Christians offer their own version: WWED (What would Ellen do?)

That’s a good question. What would Jesus do? Would he clarify that Paul wasn’t speaking for him when he penned his misogynistic statements? Would he clarify to whom the “rich young ruler” parable was intended to apply? Would he clarify that EGW’s books most certainly are not the “spirit of prophecy”? Would he say what he really meant in Matt 16:18? (or would he let us know that the book of Matthew isn’t really an accurate record of Jesus’ short time on earth?) What about the irreconcilable contradictory genealogies in Matthew and Luke? Would he let us know what he meant by “this generation shall not pass” in Matthew 24:34? (or again would he let us know that Matthew isn’t a very good account of his teachings)?

How hard would he laugh at the teaching about him entering a “most holy place” on October 22, 1844? Would he clarify that Matthew 24:29 was not about a localized forest fire in NE North America, and the 1833 version of a periodically recurring meteor shower?

It would be a fascinating experience.


The 1990 GC session was my first, too. I was a young Adventist (eight years), and a husband of two years, along with a father soon to be, when in attendance with my very pregnant wife. I was there for the Ministerial meetings prior to the actual session but caught a little of it before leaving to my pastorate back in Utah. Fifteen years later I was a delegate in St. Louis, and with a decade and a half more behind me, the SDA Church’s humanness, and mine, had long taken the shine off her uniqueness. That 2005 session didn’t do anything to inspire me to find anymore shine anywhere. Bureaucracy and politics came into focus. Although I still feel honored and privileged to have been a delegate at that session, I have long acknowledged that our church is ossifying as other churches and movements before it. Thus, instead of looking to the Church, I now look only to Christ as the sure hope and the glory that truly captivates.

This session was more evidence of the ossification process. Rubber stamped elections of leaders, and reluctant token of insertion of women in “high places,” nor any hints of openness to reassessment of our process going forward was manifest. I keep praying for this segment of an organized and imperfect bride of Jesus in the hopes that we will be more of a societal influencer for Christ, than simply an expression of our inability to move forward in transformative mission.


men physicians treating women and woman physicians treating men was abhorrent to God.

Funny how Genesis left out this abhorrence, and got messed up on A and E’s nakedness. And the serpent’s wings, etc. Oh well, there’s always Paradise Lost, etc.

(And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.(Gen 2:25))


Let’s not miss the point of Don McFarlane’s article. McFarlane is using the SDA Church’s fixation on Ellen White’s authority to highlight the irony of using her writings to support its traditional positions while ignoring her views on current institutional and societal issues that our denomination refuses to acknowledge and address today. Yes, the article could have asked ‘If Jesus were present……’. but it probably would have less impact on a denomination that chooses to open the main GC service with Ellen White’s prayer rather than the Lord’s Prayer.


Yes, I get meeting them on their own ground. But, that’s not far enough. Go the next step and take the denominational leadership and much of the denomination itself to task openly for operating like a cult around a female founder, and resoundingly point to Jesus, the gospel, the gospels, and the NT, in no uncertain terms. Call Whitiism out as a cult like distortion of Christianity rather than allowing it to still stand as something viable, albeit refocused.

Call cultish behavior for what it is.



“Following the reading of a prayer of Ellen White’s during the Sabbath service, I started to imagine what Ellen White would have said if she were present at the session in person.”

I can see how this experience triggered the author’s imagination. I find it telling and pitiful, really, that instead of praying in a voice that is relevant to today and today’s issues, someone has to regurgitate a prayer from more than 100 years ago. It’s like it was a talisman. Sadly out of touch with our world today and its compelling needs, we are forced to hark back to some past fantasy of revelation.

I enjoyed the article immensely and thought the author raised very good points.


I wonder if she had already done that in her writings of her day?

I wonder what reforms she would think as being a benefit? Given today’s wild and crazy criminals she might encourage all households to have a firearm for protection so as to keep the family intact and able to continue spreading the gospel.
I wonder if she would, in her wisdom, come up with a plan to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals. We have not seen this yet.
I wonder if EGW were present at the recent GC how she would have addressed government control stepping on people’s God given freedoms?

Personally, I don’t see how the urogenital organs in a medical context could be considered abhorrent but EGW also mentioned dictator style leadership as ‘common’ and abhorrent.

The Results of Domination —The holy principles that God has given are represented by the sacred fire; but common fire has been used in place of the sacred. Plans, contrary to truth and righteousness, are introduced in a subtle manner on the plea that this must be done, and that must be done, because it is for the advancement of the cause of God. But it is the devising of men that leads to oppression, injustice and wickedness. The cause of God is to be free from every taint of injustice. It can gain no advantage by robbing the members of the family of God of their individuality or of their rights. All such practices are abhorrent to God…"
EGW Christian Leadership 31.1

It is amazing how such a simple article generated these kinds of responses

I am going out on a limb here and will suggest that most people here think that Ellen G. White had nothing of value to say and should be completely disregarded.

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