“The Great Controversy” Shackles Adventist Theology

I like you and Vandieman already. The points you both bring out are absolutely correct. Actually the author of this article gives out more than he intends to accomplish. He admits that the KJV is the only one that has it correct - willingly admitted or not. And some still wonder why it is so obvious that the Vatican has had a busy hand in altering manuscripts through the centuries to suit themselves.

They don’t want a correct understanding of DAN 8:14, of 2 PET 2:9, DAN 9:24-27 for instance. They don’t mind if we cease to believe in a literal young earth creation. They believe that evolution is responsible for us being here. I would like to know why this guy is helping them, now that’s a question that deserves an answer.


Thanks for this excellent and concise comment. It can’t be more clear than you made it.
This passage of prophecy is one of the very few in Bible which has an immediate explanation. And this explanation sounds to be an angelic one. The Adventist way of interpretation tends to be more accurate than one from the mouth of a celestial being. I can’t grasp it because Adventists always claim that we should let the Bible explain it by itself.

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I think there are other issues in GC that astute readers would find disconcerning.

  1. Chapter 18 is dedicated to the American Reformer, William Miller. A name that would not carry any weight with students of history.
  2. Several chapters explain the meaning of 1844, the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary: as the blotting of confessed sins, work of investigation and judgment, examination of heavens books to see who is “entitled to the benefits of His atonement.” This was the closing work of atonement preparatory to His coming.
  3. “Those who are living upon the earth when intercession of Christ shall cease…are to stand in the sight of God without a mediator…purified from sin.” Those who cease to sin even in the slightest way, have “renounced the world,” will be privileged to be alive when Jesus returns.
  4. A whole chapter is directed against the RC church. Calling it “most dangerous foe to civil and religious liberty.” Their worship of images is a “device of Satan.” The RC church is a “mammoth system of deception,” created by “the prince of evil.” Etc. Etc.

Since the 1911 edition of The Great Controversy was published, the Roman Catholic Church has in no way altered the doctrinal positions and practices that evoked protest from the original Reformers and the founders of Adventism. Such recent popes as John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis have all affirmed such practices as the elevation of tradition about the Bible, the forgiveness of sins by priests, and the sale of indulgences.

As Ellen White wrote in The Great Controversy, in its most recent edition, “It Is the boast of Rome that she never changes” (GC 581).

Those objecting to such distinctive Adventist doctrines as the investigative judgment and 1844 do so on the basis of both evangelical salvation theology (with its limited consideration of Bible truth) and the higher-critical approach to Scripture. Both of these stand in violation of Biblical authority, and Adventist adherence to our classic teachings is in deference to the whole of Scripture, which the rest of Christendom refuses to acknowledge.

Any compromise with evolution on the part of the church is an attack on the plan of salvation itself, which recognizes Adam not as a symbol for collective mankind but as a historical personage who brought sin into the world as Christ was subsequently constrained to bring salvation (Rom. 5:12-19). Any attempt to make Adam and Eve symbolic or mythic figures thus collapses the entire Biblical message.

And regarding our young people supposedly not reading the King James Version, the author of this article obviously hasn’t been to GYC or mingled with the thousands of young people who attend there. The old King James Version remains exceedingly popular among those young people that are likely to be active in the church in years to come.


Ellen White was in favor of new editions. She insisted on higher royalties than anyone else and special promotion by colporters. When the publisher didn’t jump at the the idea of yet another edition, she complained to her son that they didn’t realize how much they hurt her financially. The GC was a cash cow.


I’ve often wondered-lets publish some books-on health and stuff I know little about.
Lets build our own publishing houses and binderies.
Get colporteurs for cheap to sell our own magazines, books, tracts, libraries
then lets make some schools that these colporteurs can now afford to attend for degrees and skills based on the content of my books.
Lets indoctrinate these colporteurs to indoctrinate others so that we continually increase our revenues, gain baptisms, and earn tithes to pay for all the administration we will have to do.
Lets paraphrase some books, rewrite some others, create compilations from letters etc
then lets build some sanitariums to hire these hungry ex-colporteurs.
Then lets keep making bigger schools, and some hospitals and systems
to put more of them to work for us, while we make profit from our non prophet status.
Lets do this until we own gigantic worldwide hospital systems,
where we continue the mission of increasing our churches so we can build bigger schools, bigger taj machurches, bigger hospitals until…well, till …until kingdom come,
whenever thats going to be.

I do not dispute the good that has been done (nor the bad we’ve hidden not too well)
I do not dispute that our dear mother Ellen was inspired.
I do not disparage the graduates and students, the staff and managers of our schools and hospitals-I do, however, question, was the trajectory of our church from its inception more the devisings of men, than purely the leading of God?

Given present state of affairs of our entire system of religion, educational, publishing, healthcare institutions and the attendant paraphernalia, is it possible that we could have trusted more and manhandled (even the truth) less? How have we lost our relevance? Can we regain it, institutionally? In the core mission-to serve the widows and orphans, lost, enchained, hopeless,
have we “won”?


WOW! It looks like the original edition was not as reliable or friendly as one would thought about a book like that.

If it was OK to make a revision at that time, would it be appropriate to update the book on a routinely basis? Who should should be in charge ofdoing it?


Are you referring to the book, or to the GC=General Conference?
Asking just to make sure, because the idea actually applies to both… :wink:

Now…, this is an intriguing statement…

As a young(ish) person who left the church at least in part because of YEC, I beg to differ a bit with this. Uniformitarianism in modern geology is a conclusion, not an assumption or premise. It is based on absolute methods such as radiometric dating. In fact, catestrophism and a YEC view used to be the default assumptions by everyone in science! Do you really think they changed their minds because of some shifting anti-religious culture? They became, slowly, convinced by evidence. That’s the way science works (albeit slowly). In the early part of the 20th century most cosmologists were believers in some form of past-eternal or steady-state universe, which fit comfortably with atheism. When Hubble started turning up evidence of an expanding universe which implied a potential cosmic “beginning” of sorts, it looked way too close to a creation event for some. So they didn’t want to believe it! But, of course, over time evidence built up and the Big Bang eventually became commonly accepted, despite human preconceptions against it.

Catastrophes such as volcanism, floods etc. have clear markers throughout the geologic column, and they HAVE played a role in the geologic history of earth. YECers tend to muddy the waters by insisting in this either/or dichotomy, when the reality is much more subtle.

On the other hand, if by uniformitarianism you’re referring not just to slow geologic processes but the fundamental physical laws of the universe, and are claiming it’s an assumption that those laws (i.e. the rate of nuclear decay) have been consistent through time, then yes, that’s an assumption. But without that assumption no science of any sort could take place. If physical laws could magically change over time, than we lose all ability to logically infer truths about the physical world.

As to the question of “origins” I’d suggest you’re participating in some unclear presentation yourself. Evolution and the origins of life are NOT the same thing. We have very, very little evidence for how life originated. Some hypotheses, certainly, but the best of them (RNA world) has a lot of problems, and is already falling out of favor. On the other hand, the evidence that life has evolved in a branching path of shared descendants (regardless of the specifics of the mechanisms of evolution) is constantly being demonstrated by new data from fields Darwin couldn’t have dreamed of, such as modern genetics.

If you believe all life came about 6,000 years ago, what is your model? How does that fit with the evidence we see? How do you explain observed bio-geography in the context of Noah’s flood? What do you do with the entire field of archaeology, which confidently pushes much farther back than 6,000 years. How do you explain neanderthals, or the many other species we find who are definitely not anatomically human, yet show signs of tool use and culture? How do you explain vestigial organs in humans, or poor “designs” such as a single throat used for both respiration and ingestion–a feature that is the fourth leading cause of accidental injury death in the U.S.? Did humans have two passages before the “fall” or did food just magically never get stuck in Eden? Come to think of it, what would a “perfect” and “deathless” eden even look like, hypothetically? There would have to be plant death, certainly, in order for metabolism to function. There would have to be a micro-biome in Adam’s gut, helping him digest the tasty fruit of the garden. Was it a deathless place for bacteria? For cells? I don’t think so. Life without cell death is, literally, cancer. What would a “deathless” ecosystem look like biologically? Do you go along with Answers in Genesis and think that evolution is such a powerful mechanism for creating genetic diversity that it could have created all the biodiversity we see from the limited ancestral “kinds” in just the last 5,000 years since the flood??

I’ve read the competing models from various YEC camps, and frankly I don’t think most SDAs would admit to believing in any one of them, when pinned down to the details. And I doubt that most have even thought about potential answers to those very basic questions above. Instead what I see are hand-wavey dismissals like yours, above, that are hard to pin down to any specific models or claims. Kind of makes sense. Claims can be disproved. Better to leave it vague, speak with authority, and give folks something comforting they already want to hear.


Fred Veltman reported that such printed admissions were “too little and too late” and were probably not from her pen. They were added to reduce the embarrassment of church leaders. His summary was that she never ceased copying and never ceased denying it.

In the suppressed 1919 conference minutes, A. G. Daniels regretted that the church had not come clean about her long before that. It ain’t gonna happen.


Desmond Ford, from chapter 2 of the GV Ms.:

Adventists have not been wrong in emphasizing our Lord’s heavenly ministry as our High Priest. It is a much neglected theme in Christendom despite the emphasis upon it in both Hebrews and the Apocalypse. We have not been wrong in seeing in “the cleansing of the sanctuary” an eschatological event. But we have erred in not seeing that Hebrews is plain and clear that the cross itself was eschatological and that the time of the end came then. “Once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (9:26).
The author could quote from Habakkuk: “For yet a little while, and the coming one shall come and shall not tarry” (10:37). Compare also his reference to his own time as “these last days” in 1:1.
The apostolic penman like his other brethren who wrote for God expected the contemporary church to take the gospel to the world. He knew from the promise of Matt. 24:14 that the only thing holding up the Second Advent was the global proclamation concerning the cross. What now awaits to be consummated, could have been consummated then.
In 1844 Adventists were brought to the same place. Confronted by the sanctuary through Dan. 8:14, and the inspired visions of Ellen G. White, we were intended to see the significance of the ark, the mercy seat, the sprinkled blood, and our Melchizedekan Priest-King by the throne. We were meant to grasp the very truths that inspired the soul of the author of Hebrews—the truths summed up in Heb. 8, 9, 10. Hiram Edson was not wrong in thinking heaven was directing our attention to these Scriptures. In the sanctuary the great truths of the gospel are enshrined—substitution, representation, imputation—all evoked by man’s rebellion against the eternal law—the testimony of God’s will and nature enshrined forever in the Most Holy Place. Instead, we repeated the error of the early church which within less than a century after the death of the apostles had lost the gospel, and the Sabbath which symbolized both that gospel and the rest it brought through Christ’s finished work.

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Desmond Ford—2 from chapter two of the GV. Ms

We, like the Reformers in the 17th century settled down to arguing about doctrines, and in carving meticulously the spokes of the Christian message we lost the hub of the cross. No wonder our wagons have travelled slowly and with many an accident.
When once more the glory of the good news dawns upon us, and we perceive that all He did we have been counted as doing — the perfect life, the atoning death, the triumphant resurrection—all put to our account, so that we are ever “accepted in the beloved,” “seated in heavenly place,” “the sons of God,” “without condemnation,” ever the recipients of unmerited continuous justification—then Seventh-day Adventists will do to their world what the apostles began to do for theirs. Riots and revivals like those of Acts will ensue till the climax is reached in Antichrist’s last fling as predicted in Rev. 13. When all men judge themselves by their own reaction to the everlasting gospel of Rev. 16:6, then our High Priest will reaffirm their own decision, and cease His intercession. Then that pre-Advent judgment will be manifested by resurrection or translation to life everlasting, or a thousand years later resurrection to damnation. But all whose names are in the Lamb’s Book of Life have no fear of judgment because “as he is so are we in this world”—as precious, righteous, as accepted—and saved for evermore. They are found written in the book, and Michael stands up to deliver them from their wretched mortality, and causes them to shine as the brightness of the stars for ever and ever.
The sacrificial work has been performed, and the High Priest no longer “standeth ministering.” The words “sat down” add to the priestly imagery that of kingly state.—F.W. Moulton.
Now think what this means. It means this: that there is no miracle that God was unwilling to do to procure the salvation of man, for what miracle can be compared to the Incarnation of Christ? There is no sacrifice which God is unwilling to make to procure the salvation of the world, for what sacrifice can be compared to the cross of Calvary? But when it comes to the proclamation of that gospel, God is willing to sit down and wait; willing to sit down all these centuries, because God is not willing to do your work and my work. Here is the awful responsibility which rests upon us.—E. A. Stuart.


Gill Ford, thanks to Matt (on YEC). The accusation that YEC is the same as evolution is ridiculous. God bless.

This article is the reason why Desmond lost his job…his Antiochus Epiphanese theory didnt match up either…and carbon dating has been shown to be very inaccurate…if you have a problem with the creation narrative…your argument is not with EGW…its with scripture…


My problem with EGW’s GREAT CONTROVERSY, is her infatuation /obsession with God’s “VINDICATION”.

She repeatedly states that the whole scenario/raison d’être for the GC is to persuade/convince/cajole the “universe” that God is
good and Satan is evil, thereby “.vindicating “ God.

Her “universe.” comprises the “good “ Angels and the “unfallen” beings on other planets.

We assume that to be effective, these jurors of the great controversy, would have had “live streaming “ of events on planet Earth from creation until the present era.

Over the ensuing millennia, they have been forced to witness countless genocides, (including the Holocaust ), multiple wars, famines, pestilences, plagues,and other anguished atrocities, ad nauseum.

Are the inhabitants of “unfallen worlds” of the mental status of the movie, PLANET OF THE APES, that they still have not yet accepted/approved/adopted God’s goodness, despite this accumulation of atrocities??

God is not yet “vindicated” despite all the cumulative catastrophes?

Likewise for the “good “ Angels —are they mere automatons/robots, without feeling, nor compassion that they can witness so much human horror without having yet reached a compatible conclusion ?

Why have the “good “ angels, and the “unfallen beings”. not clamored to God, centuries ago, to culminate mankind’s misery and FAST FORWARD the Second Coming?

EGW’s whole premise for the GC is pathetically problematic .

If the “good “ Angels and “unfallen beings” were astute, analytical, apt, all there, and AWAKE, they aeons ago would have exonerated God and indicted Satan. Her whole theology does not “hold water “.


This an excellent article.
But it stops too short. What about the last chapters of GC?? Can you really believe that John the Revelator was sitting on the Island of Patmos (which is beautiful, by the way, been there twice) and the primary thing God was telling him was that someday the true “remnant” (a word also dependent on a 1611 translation) church would rise up in America and be the SDAs, who would have the last great prophet (“spirit of prophecy,” also dependent on KJV), and be the only true Christians, who prove it by worshiping on Saturday, but the terrible Catholic church, who is the Beast, will take over the world politically and force all people to worship on Sunday, which is the Mark of the Beast, thus the Adventists, the only true church (all others are “Babylon”—which has been “fallen” for over a century—including the church i started 22 years ago, Grace Place…I digress), will be hunted and persecuted during a horiffic time of trouble (how’s that for a long sentence, like Paul in Ephesians 1😉)?
REALLY? How arrogant is that??? Regardless of being impossible to responsibly support biblically!
Yes, it stops short. SDAs need to repent and dump the Great Controversy all together. Or let people read it in the original books the good parts were copied from.
I left Adventism 20 years ago and feel more blessed to be free of it every year!
But I still have family and friends in that church who i love and respect very much. Most of them seem to ignore all the embarrasing things EGW said, and treat the rest as a Max Lucado devotional.
No offense intended SDAs.
(Forgive typos. Typing on phone)


In Genesis it means literal days of 24 hours. In Daniel 9 it means prophetic days where each day represents a year.

Just within this context that you present as truth… why would they mean something different?


I couldn’t have said it better, Robin. I, for one, have always had a problem with 1844, and all the last generation theology (LGT) on which EGW’s bases her ideas about the saints being perfect and sinless to stand in the time of trouble, to vindicate God. You can’t believe EGW last several chapter in GC without being a LGT believer. People who argue for her GC account and claim they don’t believe in LGT are not owning up to it.


Danny, Two problems come to mind.

Number 1 - Genesis 3 says that the serpent talked because it was craftier than any of the creatures the Lord made, (and therefore it had the intrinsic ability to talk). Should we believe the Bible or should we believe Ellen when she says that Satan fooled Adam and Eve (and the author?) into thinking the snake talked. Which one is telling literal truth?

Nuumber 2 - The two creation narratives have different orders and durations. The problem is IN the scripture–if we don’t acknowledge that they can’t both be literally true.

25 And God made the BEAST of the earth after his kind…
27 So God created MAN in his own image,
2 And on the SEVENTH DAY God ended his work

4 … in THE DAY that the Lord God made the EARTH AND HEAVENS
7 And the Lord God formed MAN of the dust of the ground,
and to the FOWL of the air,
9 And out of the ground **made the Lord God to grow every TREE
19 And out of the ground the Lord God formed every BEAST of the field

Which order and duration is not literally true?