The Separation of James and Ellen White

Dr. Benjamin Baker discusses the disagreement between James and Ellen White that resulted in a brief separation in May 1876.

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Dr. Baker, your video is 1 hour in length and appears to be well referenced… well done! I will take a closer look later this weekend. Question: Is this presentation a summary of previous articles (q.v.) or does it provide new highlights and interpretations?

Spectrum Magazine, published: December 1, 2011
“When James and Ellen White Separated” by Jeremy Brandeis (a pseudonym)
Andrews University Seminary Studies, Vol. 54, No. 2, 259–298.
“The Conjugal Experience of James and Ellen White: Meanings Builts by the Couple” by Demóstenes Neves da Silva & Gerson Rodrigues.


As an SDA of 50 years long, I have never heard or read of this marital problem between the Whites.!! This is such a wasteful teaching point!!
Did the church try to whitewash them? If so, it is unwise, indeed even hypocritical and reflects a lack if confidence in gow God chooses his prophets and leads His people. Wecneed to accept EGW - warts and all.


to the contrary, i think the separation of egw and james is an excellent teaching point…in the same way the apostolic church got to see the weaknesses of its leaders - the Council of Jerusalem; paul reproving peter; paul and barnabas separating; paul being essentially forced to yield to jerusalem jews to avoid wider trouble - we, the remnant church, should get to see the weaknesses of our leaders…

the presence of weaknesses in the lives of people that god is evidently using and leading is tremendous encouragement when we find these, and other, weaknesses in our own lives…in addition, the study of the etiology and effects of weaknesses in inspired and god-used people can effectively remove any veneer of unreality in our own experience…it can effectively modify our expectations…

what surfaces in a close study of the book of Acts and the letters of paul, but more especially of the writings of egw, is that brutal truth and honesty will never cease to be a part of the way god deals with us, and leads us…the effects of our fallen state will not magically disappear, or instantly transform, just because jesus is lord of our lives…we see that true christianity is not a mindless, escapist state…it is a life-long, progressive understanding and management of all aspects of the reality we find ourselves in, warts and all…


Actually the author is doing you an I a favor. We are instructed to test the spirits (prophets) to see if they are from God. Some would wish the numerous affairs of Joseph Smith would be kept quiet. Some justify his behavior because he was instructed by God. However to accept Joseph Smith as he is without inquiry as to his personal life and habits, is spiritually dangerous.

So likewise with EGW we should never stop on-going investigations into her life and teachings, lest we also be deceived.

As with all prophets, teachers and pastors–they are to be tested for integrity and faithfulness to Scriptures. To not do so, puts us at a huge risk of spiritual deception.


This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Marriage is a tough institution, I don’t know why we would expect it to be no less for James and Ellen. They were no angels and definitely not saints. They were fallible like the rest of us. EGW was not Jesus. So let her have a rocky marriage that’s on the verge of collapse (at least we know it didn’t). Let people draw life lessons out of it and maybe, just maybe we might have people who start putting their heads on straight before committing themselves to one another. Put this in syllabus, study it together with adventist home… just don’t hide the truth from the people. Let them make their own decisions about marriage, EGW, church and life.

I mean come on, how do two people who are married, living in two separate rooms not drift away from one another?

Anyway, my only gripe with this research is that I feel it could have come out sooner (if it was in anyway possible). Otherwise I’m not moved.


what’s especially interesting in this excellent presentation by dr. baker is the fact that the white’s son, edson, seemed to be most of the cause of friction between them…james felt egw shielded edson from the discipline james wanted to see meted out, while egw no doubt felt edson’s upbringing with nannies during the white’s extensive travels deserved some consideration…i think this dynamic is common in many families…of course it counters, at least somewhat, egw’s written advice to mothers to not take their children into agreed to confidence against their father…

thankfully edson turned out well…he did a lot of pioneer work in the south, especially with black americans…edson’s ark, or the Morning Star, was a floating school, sailing up and down the mississippi river…


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