Ronald Leslie Numbers died on July 24, 2023. He was 81. In honor of his legacy, Spectrum is republishing this interview with him from 2008 when a new edition of Prophetess of Health: A Study of Ellen G. White was released by Eerdmans.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/interviews/2023/republished-2008-interview-ronald-numbers
When “Prophetess of Health” was about to come out, the Adventist Forum chapter in Atlantic Union College (and the Boston area) planned a meeting about it. They approached several faculty members in Adventist colleges, but not one was willing to be involved with what was already being talked about as a challenge to the church. So, out of the blue I got a call from the chapter president inviting me to give a response to the presentation that Ron was going to make at the forum. The book is not in my field of study, so I was a bit reluctant, but I accepted. This meant that I had to read the book before the meeting, and the book had not yet come out. So, I was sent the text in manuscript form to read before the meeting at AUC. It turned out that the administration would not allow the Forum to have their meeting in one of the college’s building.
The president of the local chapter had also asked the White Estate to have one of their staff give a response to Ron’s presentation, but the Estate refused and thought that the meeting would not take place due to lack of a venue.
The meeting was schedule for a Sabbath afternoon at the auditorium of the local High School. On the previous Friday the White Estate learned that the meeting was to be after all. Immediately they arranged for Ron Graybill, one of the members of its staff to travel Sabbath morning from Washington to AUC, be at the meeting, take notes and report back. He kept himself very quiet and out or sight as much as possible.
My response to Ron’s presentation was very simple and concise. Finally, we are getting to know that Ellen G. White was a human being!
It is so sad to read about all the jewels of Adventism that were unnecessarily lost to us because of close minded people, and because the church did not deal honestly and respectfully with the information about Ellen White at the 1919 Bible Conference, but chose to bury it and force the church to suffer so much 50 years later. Behavior has consequences. We must be careful about how we respond to those we don’t see eye to eye with. “He who does not love, does not know God.” Pushing people out of the church is not loving. The religion of Jesus is inclusive, not exclusive. We as a church have done what the Jews did in Christ’s day. Unfortunately, much of what Christ spoke of in Matthew chapter 23 against the Pharisees and rulers of His day, could be said about some of the leaders of Adventism over much of its history, including now. We badly need to learn to not sit in judgement of our fellow human beings, but to love them even unto death, just as Jesus did and does. Thanks for this reprint, it reminds me to be more vigilant about being loving. Dave
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