The Great Controversy: Sowing Confusion or Conviction?

On 28 October, 2022 NBC news published an article on its website titled Controversy or Confusion? A religious book showing up at homes across Vermont where it reported that thousands of copies of the book, The Great Controversy were mailed to Vermont homes. In response residents of the state took to social media to voice their frustration and share their reactions. Their thoughts on the books ranged from using it to start a barbeque fire to saying it made great toilet paper, but the most common action was that of throwing it away for possible recycling. Clearly, the book sowed more confusion than conviction, which has also been the case in other places such as New York, Philadelphia, Denver, and Nashville.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Apparently the GC are slow to learn.


Sure, lets cut those trees down a print a book that basically says the Pope is in bed with the devil. I’m sure that is going to change people’s minds. And as for the current president being a Catholic, perhaps you are missing the fact that the other side are the ones who are laying hands on the previous president saying he was anointed by God. You might also be missing the fact that the previous president’s party is the one who is spreading the idea of Christian Nationalism. But, of course, how bad could that possibly be? If anything, that should be of far greater concern than a president that has defied his church on several issues including abortion and has stood firmly for the separation of church and state. Too bad we can’t say that for the appointment of the three justices appointed by the previous president, all of them Catholic and all of them very actively promoting Catholic dogma on this country with absolutely no recourse.

So let’s go ahead and distribute billions of copies of a book that basically tells 99% of the world that they are worshiping at the altar of the wrong religion. I’m sure that can’t possibly turn out bad. Let’s tell all those 1 billion plus Catholics that they are all part of the mark of the beast….how bad could that possibly end? And since Jesus is not going to come back one microsecond sooner because of something we do down here, I’m sure that all these people we have disparaged with this book will be understanding. I can’t imagine that they will want to extend the persecution spoken about in this tomb one minute longer than necessary.


Here are some fun comments from the recipients, on Facebook:

And a couple of local news articles:

South Burlington resident Henry Fiacco was confused when a book he didn’t order showed up at his home.

“Did a quick Google search, found the author, found the book and some information on it,” Fiacco said. “I read maybe a page and was ‘like this is tough to follow.’”

“I’m sure there’s a motive behind it otherwise they wouldn’t have done it,” Fiacco said. “Whether it’s to polarize people, I don’t know.”

“We reached out to Remnant Publications for comment but have not received a response.”

A few Montpelier recipients bemoaned the waste of paper and said they would be writing “return to sender” on their copy and dropping it in the mail. One declared it should be burned.

Montpelier resident Dave Allin had different advice.

“You can’t put ‘return to sender’ on junk mail,” Allin advised his neighbors on Wednesday. “Just throw the scary Jesus book in the recycling and get on with your day. Our postal carriers are overworked as it is.”

Good Job, Remnant Publications. Sheesh.


The sad part is that the official SDA church refuses to admit that “The Great Controversy” is a work of fiction and the product of a delusional author.


It is kind of funny to read the article where he says: "In a world contending with abject poverty, inequality and various social ills, nothing is more insulting that handing over a 600 page book to a person who is hungry. " The fact is that the standard of living not just in the USA but much of the world is far better than in the 1880’s! What that tells me is that people see what they want to see and use what they see real or imagined to their own objectives. Consider at one time Adventists would say that there were ever increasing natural disasters and that showed the end is near. Now the same natural disasters are supposedly caused by Global Warming ( I don’t say climate change because the climate always changes) When the Adventists made the claim, there was, in fact, no increase in natural disasters, and they are not occurring now either no matter what the climate alarmists say. They are simply propaganda methods for a particular point of view. That is what the Great Controversy is as well. It never does much to point out how wrong the propaganda is to the ones spreading the propaganda though.


Exactly! But the narrative from SDAs and other conservative Christians is that the world is getting worse and worse. The truth is that things have never been better.


Our air quality is better than ever due to cars whose exhaust is cleaner than the air that enters the intake manifold.

Medicine has made advances that would have been unthinkable even 30-40 years ago.

Technology has made communication between any two places on the earth as common place as party lines of the 50’s and 60’s.

Yes, we have a long way to go in almost every aspect of human life so the naysayers will always have a soap box from which to spew their “Chicken Little” alarmist doomsday invectives.

But from another, more objective perspective, it is impossible to deny that these are the good old days.


in some respects better than ever. But in key areas, it is possible to see how things could go bad very fast and be the worst of days. The big difference is that practically none of it would be due to natural disasters! It was the best of times it was the worst of times…all over again.

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History repeats itself.

Hence no need to watch the news which is always bad or else people who don’t remember the past wouldn’t consider it news.

But this is also the key to avoiding the trap of thinking that everything is going wrong when even the most cursory review of the statistics show that life is either overwhelmingly neutral or in many cases is actually good.

Take the recent “pandemic” which 99.997% of the world survived.

That’s the good news.

But the “real”, “hard” news has moved on, as they always do, and found other scary stories to use as their tried and true, “We’re All Gonna Die” Headline pieces.

History in fact never repeats itself. More accurately it rhymes. similar things happen through time. What one has to watch out for is " Normalcy bias is one of these dangerous tendencies of our mind. It is a tendency to believe that everything will continue to be ‘normal’ even though there are warning signs that point to the contrary. As a result, we underestimate both the likelihood of calamity and the possible consequences . It is in line with thinking that nothing terrible will ever happen." Normalcy Bias - What Is It and Why Should I Care? #SimplySurvival

normalcy flies out the window in places like Ukraine and Venezuela at amazing speed. Canada in a day froze bank accounts without warning for people supporting the trucker strike, and threw pastors in jail for holding church services. In this country people who ordered a new car can’t get it for a year, and not a tesla either that is not normal at all. Disaster is something we can’t ignore and today the more likely disaster is done by the actions of people.


I read Samuel Clemons, too, and would never quibble with his insistence that history is a poem with a repeating refrain.

And I also keep up, somewhat, on current affairs.

So I understand that their messages are essentially one message.

Be afraid.

Be very afraid.

After all, that’s the only normal way to live according to them.

But you know what else is “normal” according to my paraphrase of a George Carlin bit?

A dog shaking water out of its fur after having gone for a swim.

So one day, the world or the cosmos will shudder and shake and humanity will be no more.

But the planet and the cosmos will carry on-or will perhaps collapse in a Big Implosion-and either way, we’re told all things work together for good.

Of course, no one has to believe that and there’s certainly no conclusive reason to do so.

Just as no one need doubt or question the rationale and sanity of that belief, if that is one’s preference.

(BTW, after further research, I’ve learned Mark Twain never said that history rhymes and that this quote should instead be originally attributed to Theodor Reik…who ever he was!)

Are these distributions GC approved, or sponsored (i.e. GC pays for it)? I suspect this is private money donated for this purpose, printed at a press disconnected from the church, and the money buys the silence of the GC which does not wish to discourage donations. In no universe I can imagine, would tithe be used in this public relations nightmare manner.


Not Mark Twain it appears. Interesting history in search of the origin found here: History Does Not Repeat Itself, But It Rhymes – Quote Investigator

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History is a lot like prophecy. Events only appear inevitable after they’ve already happened. In 1970 it was easy to see the roots of WWII in the Versailles settlement and the late 1930s policy of appeasement. In 1937 this was far from obvious. In 2007 it was facile to see the roots of the September 2001 terrorist attacks in the US support for the Mujahideen against the Soviet Union. In 1983 this was not obvious.

It’s similar with Daniel. Daniel does a good job “predicting” the Babylonian, Medo-Persian and Alexandrian empires, since the book was written well after those events. Daniel has a rather poor record in predicting events after its writing.

It’s similar with the silly “538-1798” interpretation. Nobody in the 1600s would have dreamed of picking 538 as the start of the papal “reign”, since the events of 538 were insignificant in the history of the papacy and the Western church. And no one in 1798 thought anything significant happened on that date either in terms of the overall power and influence of Rome.

Uriah Smith, EGW and their fellow travelers were mistaken in thinking that Daniel and Revelation were predicting 19th and 20th century events. Accurate predictions are hard to make, especially about the future. It’s no wonder “The Great Controversy” got most of it wrong.

Nor will plumbing the historical record allow us to predict the outcome of the Ukrainian-Russian conflict or let us know how North Korea will play out. In 1987, no one seriously thought that communism was in its last years - yet in 1991 Germany was unified - and pundits then claimed to have foreseen it.


Pulp publication of the Great controversy and their mass mailing is a mistake. In the Philippines, which is predominantly Catholic (80%) the book is sold by colporteurs as a companion volume to another book that might appeal to first time contacts.

i fail to see the problem with mass mailings of Great Controversy, or any other text, just because it doesn’t appear to achieve what onlookers believe the mailers involved hope…i get mass mailings of flyers and numerous other mailings in my mail each and every day…i’m not feeling concerned that the people sending me these things are wasting their money or their time, or my time or my mailbox space…first of all, i get to choose what i keep and read, and what i throw out…i’m not being physically hurt or emotionally abused because i’m not interested in buying chicken or pork at a discount price at a retailer i’ve never shopped at in my entire life…i take it all in stride, and move on, without thinking twice about it…i accept it all as a normal part of emptying my mailbox every day…

the fact remains that we don’t have precise statistics on how many people receiving a mass mailing of Great Controversy actually read it vs. how many who don’t…so we can’t make the pronouncement, as this article from Botswana on Vermont, of all things, appears to be making, that the mass mailing efforts involving Great Controversy are an abysmal, if not harmful, failure…to try to frame recipients’ “confusion” in terms of 19th century anachronisms, or more especially to concerns about American hegemony, is an unwarranted stretch, in my view…do we have evidence that any of this is the reason apparently many copies of Great Controversy were thrown out in Vermont, beyond no immediate interest in the title of the text or its apparent content…the answer to this question is no…

i don’t think we need to imagine that anyone doing a mass mailing is under any illusion that more than only a very small percentage of recipients would venture to read a 600-page book involving fairly heavy subject matter…and i don’t think there’s any cause for concern that anyone’s evangelism budget is being wholly consumed in mass mailings of Great Controversy…in fact i think this entire subject is a giant nothing burger…obviously the people who have a problem with egw have a problem with Great Controversy, and the people who have a problem with Great Controversy would likely have a problem seeing it mailed out through a mass mailing…

but until mass mailings are illegalized, and until individuals doing mass mailings, out of their own volition, decide to quit, or run out of funds, mass mailings of Great Controversy should be encouraged to continue, as one of many evangelistic efforts…the fact remains that mass mailers are doing something with their time and funds that has a theoretical chance for success…this cannot be denied…nor can it be denied that there have been baptisms that have resulted from the reading of Great Controversy.

and as for using this issue of mass mailings of Great Controversy in Vermont to impact the way a GC president operates, as if the GC is at all influenced by the way individual members think, this is the real stuff of conspiracy thinking, if you ask me…as so many have said, “dream on, bud, it ain’t gonna happen”…


If the confused persons read more of Ellen White’s writings in an attempt to clear up their confusion, they would likely find themselves in a maze of contradictory statements, some that Christians from other denominations might find horrific and blasphemous:

I turned to look at the company who were still bowed before the throne; they did not know that Jesus had left it. Satan appeared to be by the throne, trying to carry on the work of God. I saw them look up to the throne, and pray, “Father, give us Thy Spirit.” Satan would then breathe upon them an unholy influence; in it there was light and much power, but no sweet love, joy, and peace. Satan’s object was to keep them deceived and to draw back and deceive God’s children. EW 56.1

And this passage.

Satan has his evil angels around us; and though they cannot read men’s thoughts, they closely watch their words and actions. GW92 417.3

I would like to suggest a toll free hotline for callers who have questions about the contradictions in the EGW books to be added to the list of ways the GC giveaway money would have been better spent.

quote=“spectrumbot, post:1, topic:23322”]
Nevertheless, those behind it remain relentless because Ellen White[i] said,

This reminds me of those chain emails from years ago that threatened a curse upon those who didn’t forward the email to so many more people.



That’s where I heard about Reik.

(Turns out he was a protégé of Sigmund Freud.)

there aren’t contradictions in egw’s books…it’s only newbies who get confused…and let’s face it, egw sentence structure can be a bit convoluted and complex for today’s video game mind-set, which is why books like Steps to Jesus are being published…