Levterov Traces How Early Adventists Eventually Came to Accept Ellen White

All good questions, Sirje. My point was not focusing on tradition as much as the church being formed in a certain way. Herold Weiss once said, memorably, that Ellen White was “formative” for the church, not
“normative.” Any persons or documents that are formative (think the founders, the constitution and Dec. of Independence) possess authority automatically, but not ultimate authority or perfection. The constitution has been changed repeatedly and our perceptions of the founders have been altered and sharpened by historical research. The tradition is foundational, but not ultimate. In Protestantism, tradition is not as important as in Roman Catholicism, but it still wields a significant influence. Luther is more important to Lutherans and Wesley to Methodists because without them, the community would not exist. They have whatever authority the community grants them as the founders, but they are not so enslaved to that authority that it cannot be questioned or challenged. I argue the same is true with Scripture. There would be no Israel in the present without the writings and narratives of the Hebrew Bible just as there would be no Christian church without the New Testament. Each generation must decide for itself the level and pervasiveness of the authority that has been handed to it. Modern study of the Biblical writings, archaeology and history has dramatically altered our concept of the foundations of its authority, just as it has with Ellen White.

Perhaps a poor analogy will help: We are the children of our parents and for quite a while after they birth us (tradition, historical sources, authorities) their teachings and way of life dominate who we are and what we do. But not forever. We do break away and form our own identities and opinions. But no matter how much we change, as you know, we are the children of our parents for better or worse. So we, like it or not, cannot escape the influence of that which or who gave birth to our community – to “us.” Even the former Adventists I know (many at least) will tell you they can leave the community, but it doesn’t leave them. Fritz Guy once said that being Adventist is like being Jewish. You cannot escape your identity, who you are, even if you break completely with the tradition and community.

This is to say that your refusal to carry on, in every particular, what David or Jeremiah established, is quite correct. But you can never escape them completely, or even largely. We are the heirs of their faith, their spirit, their most authentic ethical teachings, and they have made us who we are.

Not meaning to rant, but hoped to illuminate your important reaction.


Hello everyone, my first post here. I usually just come by and read this forum for sport, but I felt like commenting today, and I hope my comments will be useful

In order to better understand the clear meaning of a Biblical passage, we can certainly benefit from “professional” tools like Bibleworks, etc. But a very helpful start is simply to read the context (what comes before and next), and go back/foward as much as we have to in order to uncover what the text is really saying. Moreover, why not look at the Bible as a whole and try to find the same idea in order places as well? Another simple strategy is just to read more than one version of the Bible. I personally like the YLT (Young’s LIteral Translation) when I’m trying to get as close as possible to the original meaning of a text. Sounds obvious, but it doesn’t benefit me until I actually do it.

Deut. 12:22, comes after vs. 15 which clearly explains what the clean/unclean is referring to… not the animals, but the person’s ceremonial state, obviously. If this was a loaded text it would certainly have been used by many to do away with the clean/unclean concept as applied to animals, and I don’t particularly see any evidence of that in the arguments we hear from opposers of the laws about food in the O.T.

In regards to wine, it would be hard to prove that the Bible prohibits it completely (and I don’t wish to add anything to the Bible), unless for specific individuals or groups performing a function (Nazirites, for instance, in Numbers 6 - an individual choice). However, the Bible and common sense will argue (like Solomon in Proverbs, eg. 31:4) that whoever wishes to remain in control of their mental faculties should abstain from it completely. Especially if you already have a propensity to go overboard… (children of Alcohol abusers are 4x more likely to follow same pattern… https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/FamilyHistory/famhist.htm)
Again, going back to the process, just doing a simple search of verses about wine/Strong drink in the Bible would be enlightening in order to capture the whole idea. Wine/strong drink, even with distillation methods (present, but not frequently used by Jews in the OT I should say) seem to have been available and used since long ago, but drunkenness/abuse were always discouraged, with abstinence being the higher call for those seeking to be in control of their faculties or on a special mission. Does this sound like a fair summary? I think the evidence points to it. EGW was speaking with the highest ideal in mind, but if you feel sure about your own personal limits, the Bible says what it says.

Going back to EGW, her authority, etc, I particularly see much light on George Knight’s approach (google it if you must). We frequently get into trouble when we go to either extreme of the argument. The perfectionists get into trouble pretty quickly when they are faced with some evidence that she made some mistakes, possibly used material from other authors, or gave incomplete/incorrect explanations. Inerrancy in EGW is hard (or impossible) to prove. The thing is, she never claimed it. G.K. has a balanced approach in explaining her limitations (Like David, Solomon, The apostles, and many (if not all) Bible authors) while still accepting her prophetic gift.
The other side of the argument, I believe, tends to ignore the difference in standards presented by EGW. There are visions, prophecies but also instructions, and counsels. They are NOT to be put at the same level. It takes some individual effort to do the right research in order to get to it, but it is not that hard to figure it out once we start looking at the context, instead of looking at short, disconnected passages and compilations. By ignoring these differences, they present the argument that she could not have been inspired. In short, a more global view of her ministry and the results of her influence can help in not throwing the baby out with the bath water.

In regards to her prophetic gift, we either accept it, or we don’t. And for this, we depend on a few types of evidence: 1) The testimony of those working with her, or present during her visions and supernatural experiences; 2) The evidence of her writings vs the Bible (the rule by which all prophets should be tested) and 3) The fruits of her ministry: The beautiful world church that we have which, although extremely faulty, has been a blessing in the lives of many (has completely change the course of my family’s lives for the better), and a light in this dark, confused world. Accepting her gift, doesn’t mean saying that she was infallible, far from it. In that sense, I subscribe to G.K.'s conclusion: She has the same seal of authority that the apostles in the Bible had, with the same limitations as they also had. And before someone says “So you’re saying she’s equal to the Bible?” no, I’m not, but can you deny the evidence of her ministry? Someone with little formal education being used by God to do so much good? There’s just so much to gain from her writings… But all in all, we ALL should honestly seek for the EVIDENCE to support what we believe (from more than just a handful of sources).

A comment on science and our sources of authority: Things are so dynamic when it comes to who we’re going to listen to… I believe a good approach should be to spend as much time thinking about how we structure our thinking (metacognition) as we spend reading/understanding new ideas. A comparative / critical approach (but with honest intentions at heart) is always useful.

Coffee, or no coffee? Wine or just grape juice? Science is a powerful (but limited - search for John Lennox for more on this) source of authority. But we should also approach it with a healthy degree of skepticism. We can prove pretty much anything we want through a specific scientist or body of research, right? (almost the same with the Bible). Therefore, I believe wisdom is found in a more balanced middle ground kind of approach. What does meta-research say about these subjects? Where is the “moving average” in terms of current research? Sometimes the questions are as important as the answers. Am I subscribing to some truth found in only one particular source? I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but in the debate: Is Coffee good or not, maybe this https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5445139/ would be a good meta-research to start with. As a general counsel, EGW was on the right track, right? (similar approach to drinking wine, perhaps?)

In summary, looking for the body of evidence, context, having good critical tools available before we even start trying to find the truth are good suggestions of strategies to have in the bag.

Blessings and peace!


Are there any other factors or behaviors that might be increasing the mortality risk for non-coffee drinkers and decreasing the mortality risk for coffee drinkers? Were the two groups of comparable ethnicities, for example? No funding for the study came from the coffee industry, right?


And in that account the “reporter” was anonymous and allowed for his reporting to not be entirely accurate. Why was it anonymous if the article was really above board? Was it commonplace back then for news reporters to write news stories anonymously? It’s not like the author’s name was just left off. He makes it clear that he is intentionally writing anonymously.

I did try to get the court record of the proceedings he was reporting about, from the archives in Maine, and could not. I was told that Israel Dammon’s trial might have been before a justice of the peace, and that’s why they couldn’t find any court records. It would have been nice to be able to verify at least some of the details the article gives, but I couldn’t.


The entire study population was British (UK) and zero funding from the coffee industry…


Deu 12:15 -
Notwithstanding thou mayest kill and eat flesh in all thy gates, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee: the unclean and the clean may eat thereof, as of the roebuck, and as of the hart.

Strong’s Definitions
בָּשָׂר bâsâr, baw-sawr’; from H1319; flesh (from its freshness); by extension, body, person; also (by euphemistically) the pudenda of a man:—body, (fat, lean) flesh(-ed), kin, (man-) kind, nakedness, self, skin.

Here is a tool I used for wine and strong drink-

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I noticed they were all from the UK, but that doesn’t tell us if they were all of the same ethnicity.

Any other factors that potentially could have affected results? Did the study attempt to verify that that there were no other possible factors?

Did you get to read the actual study? Did you see something that said there was no direct or indirect funding from the coffee industry?

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The question really is, HOW FAR BACK DO WE NEED TO GO TO GET THE PURE MESSAGE - the Reformation - the Nicene Council - Apostle Paul? What may come as a surprise for even faithful Bible readers is that even the Gospels were written after Paul had made Jesus into a theology.

At one point I had decided to go back to when Jesus walked the dusty roads, and meet Him as part of the crowd that was fed the “bread and fish”; or witnessed the healings. I found out quickly that that was not possible - for a number of reasons. Even if we read just the red print in the Bible, it still would not give us the original picture without some subsequent cultural influence - not to mention, theological influence. Going back in time is not what’s called for; but a deep search for meaning. Even there, is it meaning THEN or NOW, or BOTH?

This where Adventism is becoming a problem. Its fixation on 19th century cultural manipulation of the Bible is being heralded as PRESENT TRUTH that has long gone into the PAST - but we won’t let it go.
The sad part of that is, most Adventists, in their “heart of hearts” know what the basic kernel of their faith should be, but it keeps getting buried under a whole lot of insignificant stuff - what we eat - what we wear - who’s on top - who should preach - how long have we been here - how much longer do we have… None of that matters if our basic faith is in the cornerstone of the foundation of our Christianity.

When it comes to Ellen White, I have no problem relegating her influence to the history of Adventism, as long as we keep learning and growing. But change, of any kind, is seen as a threat rather than the prodding of the Holy Spirit, - AS IF Jesus would now be saying, “I have no more things to tell you - I have told to you everything through Ellen White, your badge of membership to the remnant”. And we all know that’s not true.

it’s all about picking and choosing. That’s how we get the many versions of the gospel and what to do with it. Once a belief is established, it’s almost impossible to stay open to change. The “status quo” is security. I know that to be true; but our security needs to come from something deeper than what some committee has accepted to be our belief. That includes the Nicene committee. It all does really come down to WHAT WE DO WITH GOD, BECOME MAN; and with that in mind, I give myself the right to also “pick and choose” what is good and what is not about the Adventist faith.


Hey Paul, thank you for the reply.

I’m not sure what your argument is here. But do you see anything different from what I’ve stated in regards to Deut 12:15 and on?

The whole issue being discussed in the chapter is NEVER what is a clean/unclean animal permitted for eating. But the author (believed to be Moses) was referring to the issue of necessity of taking ALL offerings to be offered/partaken of at the tabernacle. Here he’s giving a common sense (so needed still, right?) exception. Easier to understand in context: Even ceremonially unclean PEOPLE, unprepared for the formal sacrifice, could enjoy the meat / wine if they couldn’t, for practical reasons, make it to the proper place (for geographical reasons). The issue, again, was never which animal is permitted to eat (unless I’m REALLY missing something here).

The text should be better read: … the unclean, and the clean may eat of it “:” as of the gazelle and as of the deer; (ESV, within quotes added for emphasis). The gazelle and the deer are the description of what the ceremonially “unclean” people could partake of.

Here’s a short quote from the Bible Knowledge Commentary (I’ve found the same idea on all commentaries I could find)
Wild game animals [not intended for sacrifice, but still kosher] and animals acceptable for sacrifice could be eaten without taking them to the central sanctuary as long as they were not slaughtered for offerings. Since such an animal was not intended for sacrificial worship it did not matter whether the partakers of the meal were ceremonially unclean or clean. (Added text in brackets)

Deere, J. S. (1985). Deuteronomy. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 284). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Of course, even the Hebrew: ha-tame ha ta-hor yo-klen… (the unclean and the clean may eat of it) only makes complete sense in context. But I’m open to looking at other evidence on this. This is simply the best Occam’s razor (and otherwise) explanation I could find.

Since Robin is a MD…I believe that he is well aware. :slight_smile:

Welcome! I am glad that you decided to comment as you have a more “balanced” perspective. I completely agree that many times the questions are more valuable (important) as the answers. Unfortunately, Adventism has not taught this approach and thus has created the Right/Wrong paradigm.


The issue is simple. It is BEYOND IRRESPONSIBLE to accept someone’s claim to be inspired if THERE IS NO OBJECTIVE EVIDENCE that they are.



I just wonder what that “objective” evidence would look like. Perhaps an angel declaring its validity - but then, we have a text that puts that into doubt as well. Like J. Londis said, the church has accepted EGW legitimacy and that’s that. Fortunately she’s not a test of fellowship (I think I read that?); for my baptism, she was in the baptismal vow.

The truth is, there is no objective evidence for any of this. It needs to be left to each, individually, to react to it. It becomes a problem for me, only when her pronouncements are used to interpret the Bible, and then the Bible is used to legitimize her writings - seems a little circular. :thinking:


Have you read Wine In the Bible by the late Sam Bacchiocchi? It was published about 25 years ago and already addresses your objections and proves my earlier statement.

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Just because one is an MD doesn’t make one more knowledgeable beyond one’s specialty especially if one finished their residency 50 years ago and hasn’t bothered to update their knowledge. This is just in general and not directed towards any specific physician.

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Your link says nothing to disprove my statement. Now here is a link for you to read and ponder.

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Right. If we don’t authorize ourselves to decide every detail, we yield that authority to someone else. How irresponsible would that be!

I suspect that we’ve all tried to let God do all the deciding, only to realize it’s not that simple.


I agree JSKMD… and the same goes for THD’s

They could have got barely passing grades for their bachelor degree, narrowed the field of study for master’s and then narrowed even more the scope of education for their doctorate by writing some obscure thesis on a tangential irrelevant topic.

99% of THD’s in Christianity=deceived.

Church attenders are so gullible and 90% have not even read the bible through once.

Think of the JESUS made wine/booze claim.

You are at the wedding and the host is amazed at the best drink ever. So the crowd tastes it and says, “this is the best ever!!”. So they drink like they will never taste something like this again, and so if it is booze, most will end up falling down drunk, act silly or like idiots, and have terrible hangovers the next morning…

Just what JESUS wants…huh?

Hint: Earthlings=wicked, deceived, law trashing, God hating , truth trampling beings (Jer 17:9, Rom 8:7, 2 Thess 2)

BTW…Don’t bother me with Greek, Aramaic, different NT Greek texts. As far as I am concerned and EG White even supports… the bible is NOT the inerrant word of God.

Anyone care to join my Boozers are brain dead, barbarian Losers campaign?

Who thinks that EG White is the main handicap to the SDA church?