The Church, like Israel, has Fallen into Idolatry

"You shall have no other god besides me” (Exodus 20:3).

“The battle is not between faith and unbelief but between faith and idolatry” (Kierkegard).

The focus of this article is neither idolatry in terms of how it was experienced and practiced in biblical times (and to some extent even today in religious systems like Hinduism), nor is the focus on money, popularity, fame, entertainment, pornography, etc. which Christians often define as modern forms of idolatry.

This article is concerned about a far more subtle form of idolatry that prevails within the closely guarded confines of the Adventist family and the church. As a matter of observation, the two often blend because in the minds of many, it is the Church that defines the behavior of the Christian family at home and in the Church. The idolatry referred to in this article is the many beliefs and practices derived from the writings of Ellen G. White and subtly enforced by the church as having the same authority as God’s Word. Perhaps even more dangerous is the not-acknowledged but real belief that salvation is conditional to accepting everything that she wrote.

In a symposium that focused on the differences between Protestantism and Catholicism, the main presenter made a statement that despite its brevity accurately defines the core difference. Two words, he said, suffice to determine the difference: The word ‘ONLY’ and the word ‘AND.’ Protestantism is founded on the concept of the Bible ONLY whereas Catholicism is founded on the concept of the Bible AND the Apostolic Tradition which gives authority to the church to make official statements that at times supersede the Bible. Then, the presenter went on to elaborate on his statement.

Reading the report of the symposium got me to critically examine our standing as an authentic Protestant denomination. I began to wonder about the true possibility that the Seventh-day Adventist Church may have a closer link with the Catholic approach than to the Protestant one. Indeed, I find a number of ANDs that have become core values specific to our church.

The following is my list of ANDs. I am sure readers may come up with their own version.

  • The Bible AND Ellen G. White
  • The Bible AND the Church Manual
  • The Bible AND dietary practices
  • The Bible AND our peculiar view of the Sanctuary (difficult to defend biblically as many of our own scholars have concluded)
  • The Bible AND Sabbath Observance practices (they vary from country to country)
  • The Bible AND the official, and sometimes not-so-official, statements of the General Conference

What is of great concern to me is not that those added items are wrong in and of themselves, but that they provide water to the mill of those who contend that Adventism is built on the Bible AND. It is not only non-Adventists who raise the issue. There is a growing number of people within our own rank who now dare to express their concerns on the matter. Especially in Western Europe.

Many scholars from the Protestant family raise questions about our standing as a genuine Protestant body. Their point of contention is our hard-to-conceal reliance on the writings of Ellen White to prop up biblical truths. One must acknowledge that our official statement of belief does much to dispel any idea that her writings are at par with the Bible. But there is much discrepancy between what the official document states and what one hears in the pulpit or what the membership at large believes. There is no doubt that for many, Ellen White is the final word on any number of issues. Two that come to mind amongst others are the heavenly sanctuary and science.

Most believers find it easier to quote her writings to defend their understanding of the heavenly sanctuary doctrine than to present the belief from a purely biblical perspective. Indeed, one is hard pressed to find more than half a dozen verses on which to build the doctrine that many Adventists consider as being the unique contribution of Seventh-day Adventism to theology. It is therefore so much easier to fall back on a “The Spirit of Prophecy says” argument.

It is also no secret that the intelligentsia within the church are having a hard time reconciling the recent scientific findings relating to our universe as well as to other matters with the traditional teachings of the church. Notwithstanding her ignorance in the field of science, Ellen White’s writings are often used to bring the conversation to an end. Whether she is right or not is not the issue; that the Church uses her statements in that manner is. This inevitably feeds the criticism that the Seventh-day Adventist Church has an AND added to the Bible.

The church appeals to her for other beliefs and practices as well.

It cannot be denied that the church has relied far too much on the writings of Ellen White to support biblical truths that could and should stand on their own feet. It seems that most teachings and opinions put forward by the Church end with a quote from her writings. This was for a long time particularly true with the Sabbath School lessons. The format was simply a question answered by a quote from Scripture inevitably followed by Ellen White’s comment on the topic. Lately, some most welcome change has occurred.

It has been pointed out many times before but it needs to be said again: the biggest disservice and damage the Church has done to the credibility of God’s messenger for the last days are the numerous compilations of writings and statements mostly taken out of context and made to fit into and to support the ideas that the compilers wished to get across. White’s personal letters to individuals and her statements made in private conversations were never intended to be gathered into a nine-volume set titled Testimonies to the Church. The same thing can be said of many other publications covering a range of subjects, quoted under the heading: “The Spirit of Prophecy says.” The overall weakness of compilations is that the immediate context of the statements chosen and published are never described. It is obvious that any context surrounding a personal statement made to someone or to a small group is, rarely if ever, that of the Church at large.

The effect on the minds of the believers has been negative, if not devastating, in the sense that individuals who read and try to apply the “counsels” to their lives have simply been overwhelmed by their sheer number. This creates a sense of utter discouragement for many. Another problem is the use of the Testimonies and other compilations as tools to judge the genuineness of the Adventist faith of fellow believers. The most extreme example of this is the stand taken by the Reformed Seventh Day Adventists.

In our own meetings, ministers – unintentionally I would hope – try to get their points across by lacing sermons and Bible studies with quotes from the writings of EGW. She is quoted more frequently than Scripture. The more conservative the speaker, the higher the number of quotes. One unintended negative result is that imperceptibly Ellen White is confirmed as having higher authority than the Bible. Another is that many ministers do very little Bible research preferring to fall back on EGW, which is the exact thing she so vehemently decried and warned against.

Another matter of concern is that many of her statements are not corroborated by the Bible. A case in point is the statement that only those that have given up eating flesh will be translated. That may well prove to be true, but one is hard-pressed to find biblical support for it. One can find many more statements which similarly have no clear biblical support. That EGW said such things to individuals is perfectly acceptable (whether inspired or not), but when these are given the status of official Adventist beliefs and practices, EGW has then subtly been given equal status with God. Would it be too strong to say that as Catholicism has made of Mary the intercessor between humanity and God, Adventism has made of EGW the final interpreter of God’s Word, although we say that the Bible is self-explanatory?

A tempest is brewing in the French Polynesian field over the fact that the French translation of the Testimonies do not contain everything that the English version does. A very vocal group is creating a lot of fear about personal salvation because the incomplete translation leaves the members in the dark about things they ought to know and do. The ripple created is gathering momentum and will create a scission if not nipped in the bud.

Maybe the glaring weakness in the way our Church promotes and uses the writings of EGW is to be found in the fact that whereas Adventists believe in studying the Bible exegetically, we seldom do so with the writings of EGW. Most certainly not outside scholarly circles. In a recent Spectrum article, Dr. Charles Scriven pointed to the fact that the Church has often applied to Ellen White statements that should apply to God only. He pointed out that it is time to tell the truth about her and the misuse of her writings.

If we do not, we should not complain if people see us as having, like Catholicism, the Bible AND… approach to ultimate truth.

Eddy Johnson is the director of ADRA Blacktown in New South Wales, Australia, and a retired pastor.

Image Credit: Photo by Ben White on Unsplash.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8141

Notice the wording of the Gift of Prophecy Fundamental Belief:

The Gift of Prophecy Z18
The Scriptures testify that one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church
and we believe it was manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White. Her writings speak with prophetic authority and provide
comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction to the church. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all
teaching and experience must be tested. (Num. 12:6; 2 Chron. 20:20; Amos 3:7; Joel 2:28, 29; Acts 2:14-21; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17;
Heb. 1:1-3; Rev. 12:17; 19:10; 22:8, 9.)

What is being asserted when one claims: “Her writings speak with prophetic authority?” In most SDA documents on Biblical Inspiration and Authority, prophetic “inspiration” is the basis of that authority, meaning that the process by which the biblical prophets received their revelations (dreams, visions, ) is the process by which ALL biblical writers received their revelations (which is manifestly untrue). If the same rationale for Scripture’s authority is used to justify Ellen White’s authority, why would not the average member assume they were equal in “fact,” even if denied in “theory?”

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Sabbath afternoon ni the Mid - Fifies was covered with a dark, theratening clouid. OK, we went to “Jugendstunde” and we liked to be togeher once in the week . Then the program came : Mainly endless discussions - no : indoctrinations ! - by studying “Messages to Young People”, word by word, and then exchanging our impressions : “What did I learn out of our todays study ?” An uneasy question or remark - for instance wrong translation into “Ruf an die Jugend” - and you were condemned :This is the sin against the Holy Ghost, you’re going lost !!.

Out of this goup I am the only one still in the SDA Church.

And the leader - he was blessed with an nsually long liufe - was deeply disturben in his hope to once neter the Heavenly Gtes . "You konw, three times I have read all the EGW writings avauilable in German. But what when i Mmissed something _ did notfpperfectly and completely all her advices ?

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If you don’t like the prophet, time to leave the church. I challenge you on that. The issues raised are easy to deal with and have been done to death. If the author believes Ellen White’s prophetic writings have no place, then he can leave. It’s simple. Because the rest of the church believe her writings are prophetic and do have a place.

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Ellen G. White’s prophetic gift and the way the church has accepted it, used it, and ignored it, will always define the unique role Seventh-day Adventists have in in these turbulent time of earth’s history. There is much to learn of Sister Ellen’s adaptability, flexibility and openness by the way she presented her book in Spanish Great Controversy to the world. Many would choose this book as her most defining literary work in church history, eschatology, and prophetic interpretation. That is why her decision to insert a this chapter dealing with The Reform In Spain (Chapter 13 in the Spanish Great Controversy) demonstrates her clear intention to present helpful material for Spanish readership. She correctly gave credit to H.H. Hall, and Clarence Crisler. For writing the material. She did not write it.

The following statement by the White Estate regarding this chapter 13, (unedited) is included here:

“Is The Great Controversy Missing a Chapter?”
_Return to White Estate Vault Feature _
Readers comparing the Spanish edition of The Great Controversy to the English original may be surprised to learn that the Spanish version contains an additional chapter—chapter 13. The origin of this chapter is explained in The Later Elmshaven Years, [vol. 6 of the Ellen G. White Biography series,] p. 377, as follows:
As the work of the church was broadening to take in many countries and many languages, steps were taken to translate the new book so that the peoples of many tongues might read. One of the first was the Spanish, undertaken almost immediately. As this work was entered upon, it was observed that no place had been given to the reformation in Spain. As counsel was taken with Ellen White, it was decided it would be well if in the Spanish printing, a supplementary chapter compiled by competent writers could be added. Thus, the Spanish Great Controversy carries forty-three chapters in place of the forty-two in other printings. Chapter thirteen in that book, titled The Awakening in Spain, is clearly designated as a work of “collaboration” and has a footnote stating:
_This chapter was compiled by C. C. Crisler and H. H. Hall, and was inserted in this book with the approval of the author.–Page 252. _
Consequently, there has never been any missing chapter from The Great Controversy. This non-Ellen White material has always been available in the Spanish edition, and it was never intended by her to be a part of the original English edition.

This statement raises the following questions for me.

  1. The Chapter 13 in Spanish is historically interesting and gives a good context for understanding politics and policies of the Catholic church in Spain. Why is this chapter not included officially and translated in English? The church is now almost one third in number of members who speak Spanish and this chapter about how the inner workings of reform impacted Catholicism should be of interest to all of us. Where is the original English translation of this Chapter 13?
  2. Why was this chapter “…never intended by her (E.G. White) to be a part of the original English edition.”?
  3. Is a work of “collaboration” to be considered as inspired as the rest of the book?
    Did Ellen G. White include in this important Spanish book material that she understood and believed in to be relevant and helpful for Spanish speaking believers? If she “collaborated” with others in including this chapter what do we define as “collaboration” and what is the rationale, boundaries and application of this practice.
    The Bible is inspired by God. Everything else, including the Ellen G. White writings and this well written Chapter 13 Spanish Great Controversy, is not the Bible. When we speak of the Bible being authoritative, it means that it is God’s accurate revelation of Himself to humanity. This is because all Scripture was God-breathed. God had His hand on the production in such a way that we can accept the entire Scripture as being trustworthy. Consequently, the Bible cannot be categorized with other literature that causes the human heart to be challenged or inspired.
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While generations of Adventist adolescents have been castigated by EGW’s comments on "secret vice " , Ellen had her own “secret vice” practiced behind closed doors and in the dead of night.

I speak of her extensive plagiarism, which her family, husband, sons, all vehemently denied. Obviously she took pains to NEVER openly copy from other authors, in the presence of family members, otherwise how could they have so vociferously denied it?

This was something she did in secret and not beholden by human eye, otherwise exposés of her copying would have been LEAKED at the time.

Regrettably, unlike Donald Trump, there were no contemporary LEAKERS in her day.

Decades later it took courageous Walter T Rea, author of THE WHITE LIE to expose the many decades of deceit practiced by Ellen.

Surely the most compelling, potent, and practical reason to question EGW’s authenticity and authority, is that we never know which phrase/paragraph/passage/page was original/authentic and which was surreptitiously copied, in the dead of night, as she prolifically purloined/"borrowed " — her own "secret vice "!

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I just looked up FB 1 on the scriptures which has been changed because this FB 1said when I was baptised the scriptures were the ONLY rule of faith and practice for the christian. The word ONLY is no longer used.

I believe Eddy did a good job in this essay and may I add 'The bible and the spirit of Prophesy ’ to the list. We could also add The General conference in session, Ted Wilson with his dogmatic approach , The Remnant church and the 28 fundamentals. All these issues are a problem because they are in my mind very cultic more so than other mainline churches. It’s a sort of superiority complex to secure members but because of their small size they feel inferior.
Churches such as the Christian Science uses a similar format to the SDA church to study the bible. A bible passage and a commentary by Mary Baker Eddy the infallible interpreter of scripture
We should all pray for the SDA church to leave its cultic attitudes and come closer to what it claims in being the culmination of the reformation and the gospel of grace.

According to the 1965-66 yearbook of the SDA Denomination Baptismal statement 1 That the holy scriptures of the old and new testaments were given by inspiration of God contain an all sufficient revelation of his will to men and are the ONLY unerring rule of faith and practice 2Tim 3-15-17

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In the mind of the average church member this is true. But there is an even more troubling problem - which shows up here, in various discussions. Ellen White has, in essence, paraphrased the Bible - not in the sequence most Bibles have been written, but within various themes. The Bible passages that have been lumped together tell a story that Ellen White wanted to tell; therefore, all her assertions can be found in the Bible - to be quoted as proof that everything she said is true - because “it’s all in the Bible”. This is also the method by which the Bible (EGW’ paraphrased version)_ is studied in Sabbath School and in other venues. If followed true to form, anyone studying the Bible in this way, never gets to read in context, and with an open mind. The Biblical connections, for any subject, have already been made. In the “mind” of the Adventist church, this is acceptable because obviously, it’s the Holy Spirit that is leading us to truth through Ellen White.

This circular reasoning keeps faithful members reading and understanding the Bible as the SDA church wants them to understand it. There can be no arguing that what we have is not “Biblical”. Anyone who breaks out of this template for Bible study, ends up leaving, or living with an impossible situation.

The bottom line - to be a faithful Adventist, the belief in Ellen White’s authority as God’s spokes person comes first, before anyone can legitimately approach Bible study. Does this not place EGW ahead of the Bible as our authority?

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Bibliolatry itself is alive and well, when misinterpretations of scripture AND improper hermeneutic are used to divide and exclude, dis-invite members. Even here, on these forums.

But I digress. Scripture AND EGW both say “scripture AND the other book”, ie nature.
Nature is studied via science AND poetry, just like “the life of Christ AND holy writ”

When exactly did God displace the real and multi-dimensional life of Christ and replace it with a dry one dimensional reading of a two dimensional metaphor, ie “words” (and KJV only)?
When did we first begin to believe the delusion that a caricature of our life, self-affirmed by merely claiming belief and adherence to a ever-changing, ever-expanding set of ink written beliefs on a block of wood (or the writings of a vis-a-vis venerated prophet) took precedence over the WAY THAT WE LIVED, OUR SELFISH MOTIVES AND HIDDEN INTENTIONS, and WHETHER OUR TESTIMONY WAS WITHOUT GUILE.

Did your words and your life rhyme?
Did your head and your hand dance with the music he wrote in your heart?

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There is no more truth in words than there is moisture in a photo is a waterfall.

To think that one can find true religion in any book is tantamount to trying to comprehend the ocean by staring at a drop of water.

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Of course they will deny it. But, I think it’s naive to believe that they weren’t aware of what was happening, certainly James White did. How could you not know that your wife was up in the dead of night, copying thousands of pages of material. That is just not believable. I think James was actually doing a lot of the writing in the beginning, and then later more help was brought in.

The sons tried to cover up any exposure of her copying in later years. As children, I wouldn’t think they would be aware early on. When did they know? Probably sooner than we might think.

The other reason to question any authority from EGW is that she is outside of orthodox Christianity, teaches legalism on every issue imaginable, and plenty of other reasons. Once again, “borrowed” is a nice term the SDA church uses…unfortunately it isn’t borrowing in any way, shape or form.

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We have to REMEMBER. It was the Church Fathers who put Ellen on the Idol pedestal of PROPHET.
If I recall correctly, Ellen ALWAYS said she was just a “Messenger”. She herself never to my knowledge used the term PROPHET nor hinted that she was one.
the Church used the Revelation text “Spirit of Prophecy” and so it was stamped on her writings.And one still hears the term “spirit of prophecy” when referring to her, without mentioning her given name.
And so in the 21st Century [also the 20th Century] Ellen is usually quoted more often in SDA Sabbath morning sermons than are Bible texts. In our Adult S.S. Lesson Quarterlies Ellen is quoted to give authority to what the Editors put down as the meaning of the texts to be read. Those are read in Adult S.S. study groups at least in North America, and used to cut off ANY discussion to the contrary.
So “Sabbath School” NO LONGER becomes a SCHOOL where members share ideas, thoughts, and inspiration. It becomes another weekly lecture series by one person – reading.

Barry – SDA Believe, 1988 Edition of FB#1 – The Word of God. The Holy Scriptures, Old and New Testament, are the written Word of God, given by divine inspiration through holy men of God who spoke and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. In this Word, God has committed to man the knowledge necessary for salvation. The Holy Scriptures are the infallible revelation of His will. They are the standard of character, the test of experience, the authoritative revealer of doctrines, and the trust worthy record of God’s acts in history. [page 4]
Under FB#17 The Gift of Prophecy it has this closing statement. Ellen White “also makes clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested.” [pg 216]
NO. The FB’s DO NOT come out and say, Seventh day Adventists are a Sola Scriptura Denomination.
And I would say that knowledgeable SDAs who have been around a while, subconsciously understand that we probably ARE NOT 100%.
Like Episcopalians, we have 1. Scripture. 2. Tradition. 3. Reason. BUT our Tradition and Reason is based on Spirit of Prophecy. We have nothing earlier than 1846 to about 1850 with T and R to fall back on. And probably ended 1915.

Tony – Thanks for the update. So would she have rather we continue to call her a “prophet”, or stay with the term “messenger”? It sounds like perhaps she felt the term “prophet” was somewhat limiting. That perhaps “Messenger” would be much more inclusive to what her writings encompassed.

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Steve, you have more than once made that statement. But you do it in such a way as to confuse the matter. A question to the Ellen G. White Estate:

I am an Adventist and have heard from a couple of my church members that Ellen White said “I am not a prophet.” I have searched her site yet can’t find any statement like that. Did she say that and where?

You can read the reply, in full, here: http://ellenwhite.org/content/file/did-ellen-white-said-i-am-not-prophet#document

However, I will quote this one section:

The Work of a Prophet and More

During the discourse, I said that I did not claim to be a prophetess. Some were surprised at this statement, and as much is being said in regard to it, I will make an explanation. Others have called me a prophetess, but I have never assumed that title. I have not felt that it was my duty thus to designate myself. Those who boldly assume that they are prophets in this our day are often a reproach to the cause of Christ. {1SM 35.6} My work includes much more than this name signifies. I regard myself as a messenger, entrusted by the Lord with messages for His people.–Letter 55, 1905. {1SM 36.1} I am now instructed that I am not to be hindered in my work by those who engage in suppositions regarding its nature, whose minds are struggling with so many intricate problems connected with the supposed work of a prophet. My commission embraces the work of a prophet, but it does not end there. It embraces much more than the minds of those who have been sowing the seeds of unbelief can comprehend.–Letter 244, 1906. (Addressed to elders of Battle Creek church.) {1SM 36.2}

She gives us 2 reasons as to why she never called herself a prophet, 1) “Those who boldly assume that they are prophets in this our day are often a reproach to the cause of Christ.” And 2) “My work includes much more than this name signifies.”

If you do not wish to believe she is a prophet, then that is up to you. But lets be fair now Steve, and not make her say things she never meant.

Edit:

I had to delete my original response. I forgot I already had 1 comment on this thread. This should clear things up:

In Summary: Two things were left out of the evidence: 1) EGW’s statement about Paul receiving revelation and conviction by Jesus Himself, and 2) The Bible text (Acts 9:6) which has Christ telling Paul to go into the city to learn from the believers what he should do next. There is no contradiction when these portions are included.
http://ellenwhite.org/content/file/did-paul-receive-gospel-independently-apostles#document

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this is an interesting, well-argued article, but i think it misses the existential relationship that egw must forever sustain with the adventist church…the remnant church is identified in the bible, not on the basis of being obedient and having a bible, but on the basis of being obedient and having the living agency of prophets,
Rev 12:17, which at this point boils down to the sole ministry of egw…from the beginning of adventism, and even before it, the visions of egw, and not the pronouncements of theologians, were instrumental in shaping our doctrines, working policies, infrastructure priorities, mission focus and day to day lifestyle…this is not to say that we didn’t have theologians, or that members weren’t encouraged to study their bibles…in fact it is the case that egw was the biggest and most influential proponent of bible study…but it is the important reality that everything about our pioneer church was passed through the filter of egw…even on questions on which she had received no particular revelation, her word was final…i think it is fair to say that had our pioneer church fully adopted the culture of ancient israel, anyone crossing egw would have been instantly stoned to death…

to retreat or veer from the primacy of egw is not venturing into a new, more authentic, iteration of adventism…instead it is casting adventism aside altogether…adventism derives from the model of the people of god, depicted in the bible, which consists of a group of people led by a prophet who receives direct instruction from god through supernatural means…in the antediluvian world, the known prophets were abel (Luke 11:50-51), enoch and noah…after the flood, and as far as we know, the line of shem carried on the tradition of obedience, although we don’t see a clear prophet emerge until shem’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandson, abraham…another notable lapse occurred between joseph and moses, although this lapse was accounted for by the vision of abraham, Gen 15: 12-16…other lapses occurred at various points up until john the baptist, who was at least a partial fulfillment of the final prophecy recorded in the old testament, Mal 4:5-6…

of interest is the fact that prophets tended to appear when events of importance to the church were imminent or occurring, and the people of god needed clear direction…that is, whatever sacred writings may have existed and were readily available, and whatever traditions may have arisen from those writings, the living, or most recent, prophet was the voice of god for that time…that voice superceded in relevance and importance any and all instances of inspiration known to have occurred before…for this reason, relying on the promised prosperity depicted in parts of moses, david and even isaiah was a false escape from the doom pronounced and predicted by jeremiah for the contemporary church…the people living during jeremiah’s ministry would have all been better off setting aside whatever conceptions of inspiration they had learned through personal study or oral tradition in order to focus solely on jeremiah’s message…similarly, in john the baptist and paul’s day, the people around them would have benefited greatly by setting aside their moses bibles in order to listen to the present truth messages presented to them…in the case of paul, the people who used their bible to discredit his message, and fervently believed they were defending the precious faith committed to their fathers, were in fact fighting against the god who had given them their bibles in the first place…and in the case of john the baptist, of course, the people who used their bible to discredit his message ended up rejecting god…

to reiterate, the importance of the message of a prophet uttering present truth to the church has always superseded whatever divine instruction existed before…there was never a time in the history of the people of god, or his true church, when the voice of a contemporary prophet was disregarded with impunity, even when that disregard stemmed from a supposed correct adherence to what was universally regarded to be prior inspiration…in terms of this model, chronicled evidently throughout the bible, our church is not derelict to make egw, and any future prophet, a prominent fixture…in fact it could be argued that for the good of the world, in addition to the church, the message of the most recent prophet should be made even more prominent…this is because that message is what matters uniquely for our time, until a new prophet emerges, and inserts the thread of supernatural instruction given into a new time and context…with all of this in mind, it is probably significant that isaiah lays down the gauntlet for testing and ascertaining truth in terms of both the law and the testimony, Isaiah 8:20…that is, it isn’t only the outline of the law that matters…it is also the nuances of the testimony that must be taken into account…translation: any future prophets will need to square with both the bible and egw in order to be accepted by our church…

as already alluded to, the adventist church is the remnant church because we occur as the tail-end of the biblical model of the people of god, which is characterized by obedience and the ministry of specific prophets…contemporary denominations, even protestant ones, who claim to be following the bible and the bible only, yet who have no prophets in their history, cannot qualify for remnant church status…this is because they are not cast in the mold of the people of god from the beginning of time…that is, they lack a prophet, or a direct, supernatural line of communication from god to them…what is significant is the fact that, in the bible, we don’t really see a true end-time church which isn’t the remnant church…in other words, one is either part of the remnant church of Rev 12, or part of the false church, or babylon, of Rev 17…why it would occur to any of us to be even remotely concerned about the views of those who obviously aren’t part of the remnant church is beyond me…this is an academic concern that has no nexus with real importance…if the truth of this matter must be known, this academic concern likely flows from what i believe is an idolatrous and erroneous fixation with the term, “sola scriptura”…

to be clear, and in the first place, in the reformers day, when the phrase “sola scriptura” was coined, it was important to distinguish between the authority of the bible and the authority of the church…this is because these authorities were very evidently chiral, or non-superimposable, nor were they even remotely parallel…that is, the church was plainly and hopelessly corrupt when measured by the yardstick of the bible…but “sola scriptura” was never intended to pit inspiration against inspiration…it was always and only intended to pit inspiration against non-inspiration…“sola scriptura” therefore has no authentic meaning when considering extra-biblical sources of supernatural inspiration…this is because there is no such thing as headship and submissive levels of inspiration…those who have attempted to diminish egw’s importance and scope through such non-biblical epithets as “pastoral prophet” are speaking to themselves for their own purposes…in the bible, and if the relative value of prophetic messages must be measured, it is the message from the most recent prophet that always assumes precedence…

but in the second, more important, place - and this is the argument our pioneer church used regularly - the bible provides for and even encourages the gift of prophecy in the church, 1Cor 1:4-7; 14:1…possibly the most useful outline of this argument is found in egw’s introduction to her 1911 “Great Controversy”…here we see that, far from being an extra-biblical phenomenon, the gifts of the spirit, including the gift of prophecy - second in importance only to the gift of apostleship, 1Cor 12:28 - are promised in the bible, and are meant to extend to the end of time…in particular, the gifts of the spirit are for the perfecting and unifying of members in the church, Eph 4:12-13, which are obviously continuing processes that extend far beyond the apostolic church…most significantly, egw is clearly saying that her gift is part of the fulfillment of christ’s promise in John 16:13 to send the holy spirit in order to teach the church and reveal to it future events, GC:viii…of necessity this is saying that there will be things in her writings that surpass what is found in the bible…

the significance and import of this pioneer church argument is that something provided for in the bible cannot be pitted against the bible and assigned a less binding orbit…if the bible is supreme, it’s provisions are also supreme…therefore the real and only question can be whether egw systematically attacks the bible or upholds it…if she upholds the bible, and there is abundant evidence that she does, it means her gift is included in the bible’s supremacy, and part of its mantle of authority in the church…

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Well said. I definitely could not have said it better myself.

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Who will you believe, the Bible or Ellen White?
From Stephen Baxter
PAUL LEARNED THE GOSPEL FROM THE DISCIPLES
EGW: “Paul must receive instruction in the Christian faith and move accordingly. Christ sends him to the very disciples whom he had been so bitterly persecuting, to learn of them. … Now Paul was in a condition to learn of those whom God had ordained to teach the truth. Christ directs Paul to His chosen servants, thus placing him in connection with His church. The very men whom Paul was purposing to destroy were to be his instructors in the very religion that he had despised and persecuted” (Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 430).
BIBLE: “I want you to know, brothers, that the Gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. … I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus. Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles – only James, the Lord’s brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie” (Galatians 1:11-12, 16-20).
Any replies will have to be over in the Lounge section.

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Good article. I am getting a little more mellow about these things after looking into matters to MY satisfaction. My book has been accepted by some tertiary institutions, and I hear thatv students are reading it…But I DO NOT hold myself out as an Adventist scholar at all as I would not want to be involved in compromising the official views of the SDA Church. So no one c urrently knows I am SDA. I am inclined to be more appreciative of the work of SDA Prophetess EGW. What do we expect of her? Plagiarism and all, she did what she could , and considering her early brain damage she served excellently as a messenger of Yahweh to the extent of co-founding the great SDA institution which has assisted world development in so many areas- education, health, teaching of morals/ ethics and so on. I use my own judgment as to what to hold and what to discard, and I do my best to ;live up to the MAIN commandment which is “Do unto others…” Keeping the sabbath as a rule is of course indispensable to hold the entire organisation together bound by common practice and tradition, so I have no beef with that. BUT I do not suport the idea that sabbath is kept in heaven or that “sanctuaries” exist in heaven. For what reason would these be neccessary to the very advanced beings who inhibit that blessed place where sin is now NOT tolerated. The luciferian rebellion was mistake enough ; never again will such behaviour be allowed to arise in heaven. Paul, a short, bowlegged littleman has wrfitten extensively in the Christian Testament but I don’t see where he had any greater light than Mrs White , all things considered. They both made errors, some severe, But EGW has overall held her own and may God bless her soul for that. MY MOM was a great fan of hers and once(long ago) recieved a prize from the church of two or so dozens , of EGW’s books/writings for bringing in the most amount of money for Harvest ingathering. consistently… Of course MOm has long died and I am not so sorry about that ,since she would fret and disagree with almost all my current perspectives on spiritual and other matters.

difficult to defend biblically as many of our own scholars have concluded

Name the SDA scholars.

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The author implies that the Church shouldn’t use Ellen White’s writings to settle questions, without question, on biblical texts involving science (e.g., the Bible AND what EGW says about a six-day Creation). I agree, but he writes that the SDA “intelligentsia . . . are having a hard time reconciling the recent scientific findings relating to our universe . . . with the traditional teachings of the church.” Wouldn’t considering such scientific findings when trying to understand what the Bible really is saying about the time frame of Creation in effect be doing the same thing: The Bible AND recent scientific findings about . . . . Yes, the article’s topic revolves around using Ellen White in addition to Scripture, but let’s not, then, use other extra-biblical sources to say things that the Bible clearly is not. If the traditional teachings of the Church have clear biblical support, nothing—not even “recent scientific findings”—should have to be used, or should be used—just as Ellen White’s writings should not.

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Have recently come to the same conclusion myself, at the age of 73. The church of my birth fortunately first learned the Seventh Day Sabbath message from Seventh Day Baptists. Their Christ centered, core Christian beliefs, including individual “freedom of thought under the guidance of the Holy Spirit” and their church fellowship have recently brought much peace and joy into my life. Am so happy to finally get to know and worship with my spiritual cousins! So sad that I waited so long. As Christ said: “By this shall they know if ye are my disciples, if ye love one another”. For me, this is getting to know, love and worship with Christ’s other sheep. They certainly know His voice too!! I witness this each week that I can attend, including earlier today.

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