Ellen White and her writings

Ellen White and her writings PowerPoint PPT Presentation


Thus in a very religious, and apparently wise, way he was presenting matters in ... 1. Cinema and videos. 2. Radio programs. 3. Television. 4. Contraception ...

Download Presentation

Ellen White and her writings

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Presentation Transcript


Ellen White and her writings How to make sense of old books Denis Fortin The Writings of Ellen G. White The need for correct interpretation Any sacred text, such as the Bible, written years ago require that some basic rules be used in order to understand what was written. Time, culture, geography, and language create barriers that sometime make it difficult to understand what someone wrote. What is hermeneutics? Hermeneutics is the science and methodology of interpretation. “What does the prophet mean by what the prophet says?” What the words mean and do not mean.

Slide 3:The goal of hermeneutics is to 'rightly divide the word of truth' (2 Tim 2:15). The guiding purpose is twofold: To achieve balance and to avoid distortion.The goal of hermeneutics is to 'rightly divide the word of truth' (2 Tim 2:15). The guiding purpose is twofold: To achieve balance and to avoid distortion.

The importance of hermeneutics “Listen as for your life to ‘what saith the Scripture.’ It is of supreme importance that you hear aright. . . . Your salvation depends on you hearing aright, and receiving with meekness the engrafted Word” (UL 50). Jesus was misinterpreted "He [Judas] would introduce texts of Scripture that had no connection with the truths Christ was preaching. These texts, separated from their connection [context], perplexed the disciples, and increased the discouragement that was constantly pressing upon them. Yet all this was done by Judas in such a way as to make it appear that he was conscientious. (continued)

Slide 5:The earthly ministry of Jesus was made unnecessarily difficult because he was so frequently misunderstood. By the religious leaders of his day: (1)"The envious Pharisees misinterpreted the acts and words of Christ which, if properly received, would have been beneficial to their spiritual understanding" (1SM 30). (2)"When Christ was in our world, He said to the Pharisees and scribes, ‘Why do ye not understand my words and appreciate them?' They were continually placing their own construction upon the plain words of truth that fell from His lips" (UL 236). By his own disciple, Judas Iscariot (see slide).The earthly ministry of Jesus was made unnecessarily difficult because he was so frequently misunderstood. By the religious leaders of his day: (1)"The envious Pharisees misinterpreted the acts and words of Christ which, if properly received, would have been beneficial to their spiritual understanding" (1SM 30). (2)"When Christ was in our world, He said to the Pharisees and scribes, ‘Why do ye not understand my words and appreciate them?' They were continually placing their own construction upon the plain words of truth that fell from His lips" (UL 236). By his own disciple, Judas Iscariot (see slide).

Jesus was misinterpreted "And while the disciples were searching for evidence to confirm the words of the great teacher, Judas would lead them almost imperceptibly on another track. Thus in a very religious, and apparently wise, way he was presenting matters in a different light from that which Jesus had given them, and attaching to His words a meaning that He had not conveyed." (DA 719). Ellen White was misinterpreted "Many men take the testimonies the Lord has given . . . picking out a sentence here and there, taking it from its proper connection [context], and applying it according to their idea. Thus poor souls become bewildered, when could they read in order all that has been given, they would see the true application, and would not become confused. Much that purports to be a message from Sister White, serves [only] the purpose of misrepresenting Sister White." (Selected Messages 1:44) “Those who are not walking in the light of the message, may gather up statements from my writings that happen to please them, and that agree with their human judgment, and, by separating these statements from their connection, and placing them beside human reasoning, make it appear that my writings uphold that which they condemn. I charge you not to do this work. To use my writings thus . . . is misleading and inconsistent." (Letter 208, June 29, 1906) Ellen White was misinterpreted Cases of misinterpretation a. "Health Reform" b. Diet c. Dress d. Recreation/Amusement e. Education: theory/practice f. Religious experience/practice g. Racial issues h. Cultural issues i. Debt j. Homemaking

Slide 9:Cases of misinterpretation Most cases of misinterpretation and extremism concerning the writings of Ellen White have to do with these areas of her writings.Cases of misinterpretation Most cases of misinterpretation and extremism concerning the writings of Ellen White have to do with these areas of her writings.

Dangers of interpretation Danger #1 : That in explaining, we "explain-away" Rules of interpretation can be a cloak under which to hide a watering down of the clear intent of the word of God, by spiritualizing the obvious intent of the passage.

Slide 10:In fairness, we must admit that there are dangers with rules of interpretation. There is a potential problem. Ellen White warned of this danger: "And now, brethren, I entreat you not to interpose between me and the people, and turn away the light which God would have come to them. Do not by your criticism take out all the force, all the point and power, from the Testimonies. Do not feel that you can dissect them to suit your own ideas.... For Christ's sake, do not confuse the minds of the people with human sophistry and skepticism, and make of none effect the work that the Lord would do" (5T 691). A good example of this watering down of Scripture is the Corban policy and practice of the Jewish leaders (Matt 15:6, DA 396-397).In fairness, we must admit that there are dangers with rules of interpretation. There is a potential problem. Ellen White warned of this danger: "And now, brethren, I entreat you not to interpose between me and the people, and turn away the light which God would have come to them. Do not by your criticism take out all the force, all the point and power, from the Testimonies. Do not feel that you can dissect them to suit your own ideas.... For Christ's sake, do not confuse the minds of the people with human sophistry and skepticism, and make of none effect the work that the Lord would do" (5T 691). A good example of this watering down of Scripture is the Corban policy and practice of the Jewish leaders (Matt 15:6, DA 396-397).

Danger #2 : The "everything-is-gray" syndrome In endeavoring to correct one extreme view, there is always the potential danger that, in reaction, one will go to the opposite extreme. In attempting to correct the erroneous view that all things in life are black-or-white, we may, unwittingly, create the wrong impression that nothing is clear, or absolute. Dangers of interpretation

Slide 11:For indeed there are moral absolutes in the Christian walk. Moral purity is an absolute, adultery is always wrong. It is always wrong to lie, cheat, or steal. But in some matters (like for example diet), there are gray areas. All is neither right or wrong. We do well to remember what Ellen White said about diet: "There other members of my family do not eat the same things I do. I do not hold myself up as a criterion for them. I leave each one to follow his own ideas as to what is best for him. . . . It is impossible to make one rule for all to follow" (To G. A. Irwin, Lt. 127, 1904, in CD 4).For indeed there are moral absolutes in the Christian walk. Moral purity is an absolute, adultery is always wrong. It is always wrong to lie, cheat, or steal. But in some matters (like for example diet), there are gray areas. All is neither right or wrong. We do well to remember what Ellen White said about diet: "There other members of my family do not eat the same things I do. I do not hold myself up as a criterion for them. I leave each one to follow his own ideas as to what is best for him. . . . It is impossible to make one rule for all to follow" (To G. A. Irwin, Lt. 127, 1904, in CD 4).

Reasons for rules of hermeneutics 1. Intended meaning of some words may not be obvious. 2. A figure of speech may distort the intended meaning. 3. Words in any language evolve and change meaning. Reasons for rules of hermeneutics 4. Cultural factors and circumstances may affect meaning. 5. The same word in different contexts may mean something different. Rules of Interpretation Many suggestions of rules of interpretation of the writings of Ellen White have been suggested. Comprehensive Index to the Writings of Ellen G. White, vol. 3, pp. 3211-3216. George Knight, Reading Ellen White.

Slide 14:There are many rules of interpretation that have been suggested by various authors. The three that I offer today are I believe the most basic ones. Other rules are found in: Robert W. Olson also lists 21 "Guiding Principles in the Interpretation of the Bible and the Writings of Ellen G. White" (see Sourcebook, section D-2). Herbert E. Douglass in his Messenger of the Lord: The Prophetic Ministry of Ellen G. White suggest 16 rules of interpretation (pp. 386-407).There are many rules of interpretation that have been suggested by various authors. The three that I offer today are I believe the most basic ones. Other rules are found in: Robert W. Olson also lists 21 "Guiding Principles in the Interpretation of the Bible and the Writings of Ellen G. White" (see Sourcebook, section D-2). Herbert E. Douglass in his Messenger of the Lord: The Prophetic Ministry of Ellen G. White suggest 16 rules of interpretation (pp. 386-407).

Rules of Interpretation Rule #1 : Study all the applicable counsels before drawing your conclusions. Rule #2 : The time, place, and circumstances of the giving of certain messages should be considered. Rule #3 : One should try to discover the principle involved in any specific counsel. First rule Study all the applicable counsels before drawing your conclusions Nothing to say 1. Cinema and videos 2. Radio programs 3. Television 4. Contraception 5. Abortion 6. Cremation 7. Organ transplant Little to say On other topics she had little to say: 1. Life insurance 2. Two special resurrections

Slide 18:Life insurance : There is only one statement on this subject, written in 1867, and found in 1T 549-551. a. For a correct understanding of what she wrote, however, one must first employ another important hermeneutical rule: study the context, internal and external, in order to better understand the contemporary situation she addressed. (1) The insurance industry in her day was almost totally corrupt and fraud-ridden, unregulated by any government agency. (Today, by contrast, it is probably the most regulated.) (2) (For further help to understand this issue, see the document "Seventh-day Adventists and Life Insurance", available from the EGW Research Center.) 2.Wedding band There is only one statement, written in 1892, just after Ellen White arrived in Australia, found in TM 180-181. (Anecdotes) 3.Two special resurrections: a.On Easter Sunday (Mat 27:52,53) (See Appendix A) b.Immediately prior to the second coming (Dan 12:1; Mat 26:64; Rev 1:7; 14:13; EW 285; GC 637): (1) Ellen White identifies three categories of individuals, two of which will be brought back to life only temporarily: (a) SDAs who have died, since 1844, under the Third Angel's Message, keeping the Sabbath. (b) The unsaved crucifiers of Jesus. (c) The most violent opponents of Christ and his kingdom in all ages. (2)The various facts she contributes to our understanding to these two special resurrections are "extra- biblical", they provide information in addition to that found in the Bible. It, however, is not "anti-biblical", contrary to what the Bible reveals. This distinction is crucial. Life insurance : There is only one statement on this subject, written in 1867, and found in 1T 549-551. a. For a correct understanding of what she wrote, however, one must first employ another important hermeneutical rule: study the context, internal and external, in order to better understand the contemporary situation she addressed. (1) The insurance industry in her day was almost totally corrupt and fraud-ridden, unregulated by any government agency. (Today, by contrast, it is probably the most regulated.) (2) (For further help to understand this issue, see the document "Seventh-day Adventists and Life Insurance", available from the EGW Research Center.) 2.Wedding band There is only one statement, written in 1892, just after Ellen White arrived in Australia, found in TM 180-181. (Anecdotes) 3.Two special resurrections: a.On Easter Sunday (Mat 27:52,53) (See Appendix A) b.Immediately prior to the second coming (Dan 12:1; Mat 26:64; Rev 1:7; 14:13; EW 285; GC 637): (1) Ellen White identifies three categories of individuals, two of which will be brought back to life only temporarily: (a) SDAs who have died, since 1844, under the Third Angel's Message, keeping the Sabbath. (b) The unsaved crucifiers of Jesus. (c) The most violent opponents of Christ and his kingdom in all ages. (2)The various facts she contributes to our understanding to these two special resurrections are "extra- biblical", they provide information in addition to that found in the Bible. It, however, is not "anti-biblical", contrary to what the Bible reveals. This distinction is crucial.

In a sermon in the Battle Creek Tabernacle on March 6, 1869, Ellen White raised the question of inconsistency in the practice of health reform in relationship to daily Christian living. Eggs anyone? "You place upon your table butter, eggs, and meat, and your children partake of them, . . . and then you come to meeting and ask God to bless and save your children. How high do [you think] your prayers go?" (Testimonies 2:362) Eggs anyone?

Slide 20:Regarding God’s refusal to hear our prayers because of our attitude and actions, Ellen White expressed a different view point while writing to her grand-daughter Mabel White in 1905. In Letter 313, 1905 (UL 320) Ellen White expressed the following thought : “The Lord would have us trust fully and entirely in Him. Then we will, in the simplicity of our faith, believe that Christ will do for us all that He has promised. Let all come to the Saviour in the full assurance that He will do all that He has promised. We cannot please our Saviour more than by having faith in His promises. His mercies can come to you, and your prayers can come to Him. Nothing can break this line of communication. We must learn to bring all perplexities to Jesus Christ, for He will help us. He will listen to our requests. We may come to Him in full assurance of faith, nothing doubting, for He is the living Way.”Regarding God’s refusal to hear our prayers because of our attitude and actions, Ellen White expressed a different view point while writing to her grand-daughter Mabel White in 1905. In Letter 313, 1905 (UL 320) Ellen White expressed the following thought : “The Lord would have us trust fully and entirely in Him. Then we will, in the simplicity of our faith, believe that Christ will do for us all that He has promised. Let all come to the Saviour in the full assurance that He will do all that He has promised. We cannot please our Saviour more than by having faith in His promises. His mercies can come to you, and your prayers can come to Him. Nothing can break this line of communication. We must learn to bring all perplexities to Jesus Christ, for He will help us. He will listen to our requests. We may come to Him in full assurance of faith, nothing doubting, for He is the living Way.”

Eggs anyone? That same year (1869) she also wrote a letter to a "Brother and Sister E." In a simple sentence she stated flatly: "Eggs should not be placed upon your table." Why? "They are an injury to your children" (2T 400). Eggs anyone? This raises a logical question: Is "your table" to be understood in the singular, referring specifically (and only) to the table of Brother and Sister E or Does "your table" refer collectively to the tables of all Seventh-day Adventists?

Slide 22:You will find equally sincere, intelligent and dedicated Seventh-day Adventists on both sides of this issue. The application of Rule #1 demonstrates that – at least for her day – the use of eggs was not banned across-the-board by Ellen White. You will find equally sincere, intelligent and dedicated Seventh-day Adventists on both sides of this issue. The application of Rule #1 demonstrates that – at least for her day – the use of eggs was not banned across-the-board by Ellen White.

"In some cases the use of eggs is beneficial" (Testimonies 7:135) "In some cases of persons whose blood- making organs are feeble [e.g., anemia] . . . milk and eggs should not be wholly discarded." (Ministry of Healing 320) Eggs anyone? Eggs anyone? "While warnings have been given . . ., yet we should not consider it a violation of principle to use eggs from hens that are well cared for and suitably fed. Eggs contain properties that are remedial agencies in counteracting certain poisons" in the body. (Testimonies 9:162) Eggs anyone? What, then, precipitated this warning to Brother and Sister E? An examination of the internal context (Rule #2) reveals that both of the adolescent sons in the "E" family were unable to keep their sexual passions under control.

Slide 25:What, then, precipitated this 1869 warning to Brother and Sister E? a. An examination of the internal context (Rule #2) reveals that both of the adolescent sons in the "E" family were unable to keep their sexual passions under control. b. God had revealed to EGW that eggs rank high in arousing human sexual desire. c. And so EGW was saying, in effect: as far as the control of sexual appetite is concerned, if one has a problem here, he or she should not unnecessarily aggravate the situation by using substances which generally tend to do just that.What, then, precipitated this 1869 warning to Brother and Sister E? a. An examination of the internal context (Rule #2) reveals that both of the adolescent sons in the "E" family were unable to keep their sexual passions under control. b. God had revealed to EGW that eggs rank high in arousing human sexual desire. c. And so EGW was saying, in effect: as far as the control of sexual appetite is concerned, if one has a problem here, he or she should not unnecessarily aggravate the situation by using substances which generally tend to do just that.

Eggs anyone? One example of extremism happened in the life of Dr. Daniel Kress who became anemic from his abstinence of all animal products without a proper wholesome diet in replacement. Eggs anyone? Ellen White recommended that he change his eating habits and eat a raw egg in a glass of grape juice two or three times a day in order to receive "the nourishment that he greatly needed." (Letter 37, 1904, in Counsels on Diet and Foods, 367) Eggs anyone? Relevant for us today is the warning, with its promise, penned in 1901. She declared that "the time will come" when we will need to discard from the diet all animal products; but "when the time comes . . . God will reveal this. No extremes in health reform are to be advocated" (Letter 37, 1901, to Bro. and Sister D.H. Kress, in CD 358, 359).

Slide 28:At the turn of the century there were in our midst sincere but misguided members who advocated health reform "in its most extreme form"--with the result that "harm" was being "done." Attempting to bring in balance, EGW, while continuing to advocate the discontinuance of flesh-foods, tea, and coffee, nevertheless held that urging abstinence of dairy products (mild, cream, and butter) and poultry products (eggs) by all, was still going too far at that time. She declared, further, that "the time will come" when we will need to discard from the diet all animal products; but "when the time comes . . . God will reveal this. No extremes in health reform are to be advocated" (Letter 37, 1901, to Bro. and Sister D.H. Kress, in CD 358, 359).At the turn of the century there were in our midst sincere but misguided members who advocated health reform "in its most extreme form"--with the result that "harm" was being "done." Attempting to bring in balance, EGW, while continuing to advocate the discontinuance of flesh-foods, tea, and coffee, nevertheless held that urging abstinence of dairy products (mild, cream, and butter) and poultry products (eggs) by all, was still going too far at that time. She declared, further, that "the time will come" when we will need to discard from the diet all animal products; but "when the time comes . . . God will reveal this. No extremes in health reform are to be advocated" (Letter 37, 1901, to Bro. and Sister D.H. Kress, in CD 358, 359).

She did not tell when that time would come, nor how God would then reveal it to his people; but the implication is clearly left that intelligent persons, sincerely and earnestly desirous of doing God’s will, will clearly understand when that time has fully come. Eggs anyone?

Slide 29:When should we give up eggs? Has "the time" come? Since opinions differ, certainly this is a question that each one must settle for himself/herself, but not press one's own personal views upon others. "Let every man [and woman] be fully persuaded in his [her] own mind" (Rom. 14:5). Part of the problem with the Battle Creek church and Brother and Sister E in 1869 was a strong spirit of defiance on their part and unwillingness to follow God’s counsels on the health reform. The Battle Creek church was rebellious and reluctant to follow EGW’s counsels to them. Hence, their mindset prevented them from being in tune with God’s will for them at that time. EGW speaks of a similar thing in Confrontation, p. 83-84: “God will no more receive a sacrifice from the hands of those who thus pollute themselves, and offer with their service the incense of tobacco and liquor, than He would receive the offering of the sons of Aaron, who offered incense with strange fire. // God has not changed. He is as particular and exact in His requirements now as He was in the days of Moses. But in the sanctuaries of worship in our day, with the songs of praise, the prayers, and the teaching from the pulpit, there is not merely strange fire but positive defilement. Instead of truth being preached with holy unction from God, it is sometimes spoken under the influence of tobacco and brandy. Strange fire indeed! Bible truth and Bible holiness are presented to the people, and prayers are offered to God, mingled with the stench of tobacco! Such incense is most acceptable to Satan! A terrible deception is this! What an offense in the sight of God! What an insult to Him who is holy, dwelling in light unapproachable!”When should we give up eggs? Has "the time" come? Since opinions differ, certainly this is a question that each one must settle for himself/herself, but not press one's own personal views upon others. "Let every man [and woman] be fully persuaded in his [her] own mind" (Rom. 14:5). Part of the problem with the Battle Creek church and Brother and Sister E in 1869 was a strong spirit of defiance on their part and unwillingness to follow God’s counsels on the health reform. The Battle Creek church was rebellious and reluctant to follow EGW’s counsels to them. Hence, their mindset prevented them from being in tune with God’s will for them at that time. EGW speaks of a similar thing in Confrontation, p. 83-84: “God will no more receive a sacrifice from the hands of those who thus pollute themselves, and offer with their service the incense of tobacco and liquor, than He would receive the offering of the sons of Aaron, who offered incense with strange fire. // God has not changed. He is as particular and exact in His requirements now as He was in the days of Moses. But in the sanctuaries of worship in our day, with the songs of praise, the prayers, and the teaching from the pulpit, there is not merely strange fire but positive defilement. Instead of truth being preached with holy unction from God, it is sometimes spoken under the influence of tobacco and brandy. Strange fire indeed! Bible truth and Bible holiness are presented to the people, and prayers are offered to God, mingled with the stench of tobacco! Such incense is most acceptable to Satan! A terrible deception is this! What an offense in the sight of God! What an insult to Him who is holy, dwelling in light unapproachable!”

“The Lord would have us trust fully and entirely in Him. Then we will, in the simplicity of our faith, believe that Christ will do for us all that He has promised. Let all come to the Saviour in the full assurance that He will do all that He has promised. We cannot please our Saviour more than by having faith in His promises. His mercies can come to you, and your prayers can come to Him. Nothing can break this line of communication. We must learn to bring all perplexities to Jesus Christ, for He will help us. He will listen to our requests. We may come to Him in full assurance of faith, nothing doubting, for He is the living Way.” God Hearing Our Prayers

Slide 30:Writing to her grand-daughter Mabel White in 1905 (Letter 313, 1905 in UL 320): Writing to her grand-daughter Mabel White in 1905 (Letter 313, 1905 in UL 320):

Second Rule The time, place, and circumstances of the giving of certain messages should be considered General Principles Regarding the Importance of Context 1875: "That which can be said of men under certain circumstances cannot be said of them under other circumstances" (3T470).

Slide 32:General Principles Regarding the Importance of Context 1884: "In order to sustain erroneous doctrines or unchristian practices, some will seize upon passages of Scripture separated from the context, perhaps quoting half a single verse as proving their point, when the remaining portion would show the meaning to be quite the opposite. With the cunning of the serpent they entrench themselves behind disconnected utterances construed to suit their carnal desires. Thus do many willfully pervert the word of God" (GC 521). General Principles Regarding the Importance of Context 1884: "In order to sustain erroneous doctrines or unchristian practices, some will seize upon passages of Scripture separated from the context, perhaps quoting half a single verse as proving their point, when the remaining portion would show the meaning to be quite the opposite. With the cunning of the serpent they entrench themselves behind disconnected utterances construed to suit their carnal desires. Thus do many willfully pervert the word of God" (GC 521).

1904 : “God wants us all to have common sense, and He wants us to reason from common sense. Circumstances alter conditions. Circumstances change the relation of things.” (3SM 217). General Principles Regarding the Importance of Context 1911: "Regarding the testimonies [of Ellen G. White], nothing is ignored; nothing is cast aside; but time and place must be considered" (1SM 57). General Principles Regarding the Importance of Context Is the voice of the General Conference the voice of God? 1875: "When the judgment of the General Conference, which is the highest authority that God has upon the earth, is exercised, private independence and private judgment must not be maintained, but be surrendered." (Testimonies 3:492) 1895: "The voice of the General Conference has been represented as an authority to be heeded as the voice of the Holy Spirit. But when members of the General Conference Committee become entangled in business affairs and financial perplexities, the sacred, elevated character of their work is in a great degree lost." (Ms 33, 1895, in MR #1118) Is the voice of the General Conference the voice of God?

Slide 36:However, in the 1890s two situations, in particular, began to develop; and Ellen White now took a position diametrically opposed to that of 1875:However, in the 1890s two situations, in particular, began to develop; and Ellen White now took a position diametrically opposed to that of 1875:

Is the voice of the General Conference the voice of God? 1896: "The voice from Battle Creek which has been regarded as authority in counseling how the work should be done, is no longer the voice of God." (Letter 4, July 1, 1896) 1898: "It has been some years since I have considered the General Conference as the voice of God." (Letter 77, August 26, 1898) Is the voice of the General Conference the voice of God? Is the voice of the General Conference the voice of God? However, at the General Conference session of 1901, following all the administrative changes made to the structure of the church, Ellen White began a further change in her position. She went back to her 1875 position regarding the authority of the General Conference.

Slide 39:Is the voice of the General Conference the voice of God? However, at the General Conference session of 1901, following all the administrative changes made to the structure of the church, Ellen White began to a further change in her position. She went back to her 1875 position regarding the authority of the General Conference.Is the voice of the General Conference the voice of God? However, at the General Conference session of 1901, following all the administrative changes made to the structure of the church, Ellen White began to a further change in her position. She went back to her 1875 position regarding the authority of the General Conference.

"The people [in the church] have lost confidence in those who have the management of the work. Yet we hear that the voice of the Conference is the voice of God. Every time I have heard this, I have thought it was almost blasphemy. The voice of the Conference ought to be the voice of God, but it is not, because [1] some in connection with it are not men of faith and prayer, they are not men of elevated principle. . . . [2] Two or three voices are not to control everything in the [whole world] field." (Ms 37, April 1, 1901, pp. 1, 8) Is the voice of the General Conference the voice of God?

Slide 40:On April 1st, the day before the Session officially opened, Ellen White twice addressed church leaders who had gathered early for this landmark occasion. (And no change in the 1890s negative stance is yet discernable.) In a morning talk, in the Review & Herald chapel, she said: [NOTE: When the GC Committee was created, in 1863, it consisted of but three members. Some 20 years later it increased to five. In 1887, seven; in 1889, nine; in 1893, 11; and by 1899, there were 13 members. But, these 13 were widely scattered, and the full committee seldom met: six were "District Leaders" (Union Conference presidents), scattered across the USA; two were based overseas; and only five were resident in Battle Creek, plus the GC Secretary-Treasurer, and thus available to transact most of the business of the world church.]On April 1st, the day before the Session officially opened, Ellen White twice addressed church leaders who had gathered early for this landmark occasion. (And no change in the 1890s negative stance is yet discernable.) In a morning talk, in the Review & Herald chapel, she said: [NOTE: When the GC Committee was created, in 1863, it consisted of but three members. Some 20 years later it increased to five. In 1887, seven; in 1889, nine; in 1893, 11; and by 1899, there were 13 members. But, these 13 were widely scattered, and the full committee seldom met: six were "District Leaders" (Union Conference presidents), scattered across the USA; two were based overseas; and only five were resident in Battle Creek, plus the GC Secretary-Treasurer, and thus available to transact most of the business of the world church.]

Is the voice of the General Conference the voice of God? "That these men should stand in a sacred place, to be as the voice of God to the people, as we once believed the General Conference to be, that day is past. What we want is reorganization. We want to begin at the foundation, and to build upon a different principle.”(1901 GC Bulletin, p. 25)

Slide 41:The session opened on April 2 with 267 delegates, representing 75,000 members. On April 2 (opening day), she addressed the delegates immediately after the first item on the agenda: the address of the GC president. And she was still very clearly in the 1890s mode of opposition. The session opened on April 2 with 267 delegates, representing 75,000 members. On April 2 (opening day), she addressed the delegates immediately after the first item on the agenda: the address of the GC president. And she was still very clearly in the 1890s mode of opposition.

Is the voice of the General Conference the voice of God? "I was never more astonished in my life than at the turn things have taken at this meeting [Session]. This is not our work. God has brought it about. Instruction regarding this was presented to me [as the Session progressed], but until the sum was worked out at this meeting, I could not comprehend this instruction. God's angels have been walking up and down in this congregation."

Slide 42:When the Session finally closed, on April 23, with a "Missionary Farewell Service" at 3 p.m., EGW noted with amazement, and deep personal satisfaction: "Wrongs – serious wrongs -- have been committed in Battle Creek. I did not know how we would get along at this meeting. The Lord gave me instruction regarding this. . . . "Who do you suppose has been among us since this Conference began? Who has kept away the objectionable features that generally appear in such a meeting? Who has walked up and down the aisles of this Tabernacle?--The God of heaven and His angels. . . . They have been among us, to work the works of God. . . . "Angels of God have been at work here. The Lord knew our needs, and sent us food, . . . showing us how we should work. We have been trying to organize the work in right lines. The Lord has sent His angels, . . . telling us how to carry the work forward. "I was never more astonished in my life than at the turn things have taken at this meeting [Session]. This is not our work. God has brought it about. When the Session finally closed, on April 23, with a "Missionary Farewell Service" at 3 p.m., EGW noted with amazement, and deep personal satisfaction: "Wrongs – serious wrongs -- have been committed in Battle Creek. I did not know how we would get along at this meeting. The Lord gave me instruction regarding this. . . . "Who do you suppose has been among us since this Conference began? Who has kept away the objectionable features that generally appear in such a meeting? Who has walked up and down the aisles of this Tabernacle?--The God of heaven and His angels. . . . They have been among us, to work the works of God. . . . "Angels of God have been at work here. The Lord knew our needs, and sent us food, . . . showing us how we should work. We have been trying to organize the work in right lines. The Lord has sent His angels, . . . telling us how to carry the work forward. "I was never more astonished in my life than at the turn things have taken at this meeting [Session]. This is not our work. God has brought it about.

Is the voice of the General Conference the voice of God? With the changes [1] in leadership personnel (many new leaders were elected; many former leaders were changed, or retired), and [2] in organizational structure, it now becomes clear that Ellen White is reverting to her 1875 position, and now is opposed to the 1890s position (which she initially brought into the 1901 GC Session). Is the voice of the General Conference the voice of God? Only two months later (June 1901), Ellen White became aware, and very concerned, that her eldest son, J. Edson White, was now erroneously taking pre- 1901-Session statements of his mother, and misapplying them in the post-1901- Session milieu. "Your course would have been the course to be pursued, if no changes had been made in the General Conference [Session just closed]. But a change has been made, and many more changes will [yet] be made [and they were, at the 1903 Session, and subsequently], and great developments will [yet] be seen. No issues are to be forced.” Is the voice of the General Conference the voice of God? Is the voice of the General Conference the voice of God? "It hurts me to think that you are using the words which I wrote prior to the Conference [to apply them now]. Since the Conference great changes have been made.” Is the voice of the General Conference the voice of God? "A terribly unjust course has been pursued in the past. A want of principle has been revealed. But in pity to His people, God has brought about changes. . . . The course of action which before the Conference might have been a necessity is no longer a necessity, for the Lord Himself interposed to set things in order. . . ." (Letter 54, June, 1901) Is the voice of the General Conference the voice of God? 1909 – “God has ordained that the representatives of His church from all parts of the earth, when assembled in a General conference [session], shall have authority” (9T 261).

Slide 48:By 1909, Ellen White is clearly out of the 1890s mode and definitely back in the 1875 mode. By 1909, Ellen White is clearly out of the 1890s mode and definitely back in the 1875 mode.

Is the voice of the General Conference the voice of God? 1911 – "God has invested His church with special authority and power which no one can be justified in disregarding and despising, for he who does this despises the voice of God” (AA 164).

Slide 49:And she never changed her mind again, as far as the record evidences. Thus, we note in summary, that "Time" factors do make a difference. In 1875 Ellen White took a position; in 1895, in 1896, in 1898, and in early 1901, she totally reversed the 1875 position. But after the 1901 GC Session, after significant changes had been made in both leadership personnel and operating machinery, she now reverted to the former 1875 position. And in 1909 and in 1911 she is clearly back in the 1875 mode, having abandoned the positions of the 1890s. "Time" factors are sometimes quite crucial when a prophet says something that may make a difference; for things true at one time may well not be true at another!And she never changed her mind again, as far as the record evidences. Thus, we note in summary, that "Time" factors do make a difference. In 1875 Ellen White took a position; in 1895, in 1896, in 1898, and in early 1901, she totally reversed the 1875 position. But after the 1901 GC Session, after significant changes had been made in both leadership personnel and operating machinery, she now reverted to the former 1875 position. And in 1909 and in 1911 she is clearly back in the 1875 mode, having abandoned the positions of the 1890s. "Time" factors are sometimes quite crucial when a prophet says something that may make a difference; for things true at one time may well not be true at another!

Riding a bicycle 1894: "There seemed to be a bicycle craze. Money was spent to gratify an enthusiasm. . . . A bewitching influence seemed to be passing as a wave over our people there. . . . Satan works with intensity of purpose to induce our people to invest their time and money in gratifying supposed wants. This is a species of idolatry. . . . There were some who were striving for the mastery, each trying to excel the other in the swift running of their bicycles" (8T 51-52). Riding a bicycle Understanding the context of the time when Ellen White made this comment is crucial to properly understand her thought. The fad of buying bicycles showed (a) poor stewardship of time and money, and (b) gave rise to competition, rivalry and strife for supremacy.

Slide 51:Commentary: a.Because of rapid strides in technology and manufacturing, in a few years after the invention of the bicycle, it became the most economical means of transportation. b.Under these circumstances, the 1894 testimony would not stand in the way of a proper use of this now-inexpensive vehicle.Commentary: a.Because of rapid strides in technology and manufacturing, in a few years after the invention of the bicycle, it became the most economical means of transportation. b.Under these circumstances, the 1894 testimony would not stand in the way of a proper use of this now-inexpensive vehicle.

Riding a bicycle "Toward the end of the last century the American people were swept with a consuming passion which left them with little time or money for anything else.... What was this big new distraction? For an answer the merchants had only to look out the window and watch their erstwhile customers go whizzing by. America had discovered the bicycle, and everybody was making the most of the new freedom it brought. . . . Riding a bicycle "The bicycle began as a rich man's toy. Society and celebrity went awheel.... The best early bicycle cost $150, an investment comparable to the cost of an automobile today.... Every member of the family wanted a ‘wheel,' and entire family savings often were used up on supplying the demand." (Frank Tripp, "When All the World Went Wheeling," The Readers' Digest, December 1951, pp. 121-23) General Principles Regarding the Importance of Context 1911: "Regarding the testimonies [of Ellen G. White], nothing is ignored; nothing is cast aside; but time and place must be considered" (1SM 57). GOAL Balanced View And Practice of truth A Reluctant & Hesitant 5 miles B Eager & Zealous 2 miles GOAL Balanced View And Practice of truth A Reluctant & Hesitant 5 miles B Eager & Zealous 2 miles Ellen White sent to Church A a 5 mile testimony Church B received A 2 mile testimony BUT By mistake, the testimonies were switched and each church received the wrong testimony. Yet, each church followed faithfully the testimony it received. A B Still 2 miles to goal Now 3 miles beyond goal Caution on going too fast 1872 – "We should be very cautious not to advance too fast, lest we be obliged to retrace our steps. In reforms we would better come one step short of the mark than to go one step beyond it. And if there is error at all, let it be on the side next to the people" (3T 21). James White’s words of caution "She works to this disadvantage, namely: she makes strong appeals to the people, which a few feel deeply, and take strong positions, and go to extremes. Then to save the cause from ruin in consequence of these extremes, she is obliged to come out with reproofs for extremists in a public manner. (continued) James White’s words of caution "This is better than to have things go to pieces; but the influence of both the extremes and the reproofs are terrible on the cause, and brings upon Mrs. W. a three-fold burden. Here is the difficulty: What she may say to urge the tardy, is taken by the prompt to urge them over the mark. And what she may say to caution the prompt, zealous, incautious ones, is taken by the tardy as an excuse to remain too far behind" (Review and Herald, March 17, 1868). Caution about the use of context While context clearly is of very important consideration for our understanding of background, cause-effect relationships, etc., context, too, can be misused. We must be exceedingly careful that we beware of too much explaining, lest in the end we wind up by doing too much excusing. Rules of Interpretation Rule #1 : Study all the applicable counsels before drawing your conclusions. Rule #2 : The time, place, and circumstances of the giving of certain messages should be considered. Rule #3 : One should try to discover the principle involved in any specific counsel. Third rule One should try to discover the principle involved in any specific counsel, and its applications What’s a principle? Definition: A principle is an unerring, unchanging rule of human conduct or behavior. What’s a principle? The characteristics of a principle are: - Universal: a principle applies to all men and women in all places (the horizontal aspect). - Eternal: a principle applies to all historical time periods and never changes (the vertical aspect) Jesus’ commandment “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This is a universal and eternal principle. Counsels and applications Eternal and universal principles are applied to particular contextual situations through specific counsels. Applications of principles may change as the circumstances which call them forth change. Driving and harnessing a horse In 1903, Ellen White wrote this counsel to young women: Girls who "could learn to harness and drive a horse . . . would be better fitted to meet the emergencies of life" (Ed 216-217). Driving and harnessing a horse What shall we do with this counsel and how shall we understand it in our modern society? Is it imperative that our Seventh-day Adventist schools teach a girl how to harness and drive a horse? Driving and harnessing a horse Internal Context: Ellen White is urging girls, as well as boys, to obtain a practical education (the principle), in order to be better fitted to meet life's emergency situations. External Context: Rural communities of 1903. Driving and harnessing a horse Application today: Learn important skills that every one needs to cope with life. Basic auto care and maintenance, minor tune-ups

Slide 71:Application today: a.In our industrialized and technologically advanced society, one may not need to learn to harness or drive a horse today but learn important skills that every one needs to cope with life and not always depend upon technology. Ex.: basic auto care and maintenance, minor tune-ups b. Ellen White's concern for practical education extended as well to boys, who – in this same chapter – were urged to learn how to wash their own clothes, cook, and perform other necessary household duties!Application today: a.In our industrialized and technologically advanced society, one may not need to learn to harness or drive a horse today but learn important skills that every one needs to cope with life and not always depend upon technology. Ex.: basic auto care and maintenance, minor tune-ups b. Ellen White's concern for practical education extended as well to boys, who – in this same chapter – were urged to learn how to wash their own clothes, cook, and perform other necessary household duties!

“Since both men and women have a part in home-making, boys as well as girls should gain a knowledge of household duties. To make a bed and put a room in order, to wash dishes, to prepare a meal, to wash and repair his own clothing, is a training that need not make any boy less manly; it will make him happier and more useful. And if girls, in turn, could learn to harness and drive a horse, and to use the saw and the hammer, as well as to rake and the hoe, they would be better fitted to meet the emergencies of life.” (Ed 216-217) Driving and harnessing a horse

Slide 72:Ellen White's concern for practical education extended as well to boys, who – in this same chapter – were urged to learn how to wash their own clothes, cook, and perform other necessary household duties!Ellen White's concern for practical education extended as well to boys, who – in this same chapter – were urged to learn how to wash their own clothes, cook, and perform other necessary household duties!

How shall we pray? “I have received letters questioning me in regard to the proper attitude to be taken by a person offering prayer to the Sovereign of the universe. Where have our brethren obtained the idea that they should stand upon their feet when praying to God?” How shall we pray? “One who has been educated for about five years in Battle Creek was asked to lead in prayer before Sister White should speak to the people. But as I beheld him standing upright upon his feet while his lips were about to open in prayer to God, my soul was stirred within me to give him an open rebuke. Calling him by name, I said, "Get down upon your knees." This is the proper position always” (2SM 311).

Slide 74:How shall we pray? (After quote from 2SM 311) (1) Does this mean, then, that it is never appropriate to sit, or to stand, while prayer is being offered? (2) Ellen White's use of that little word "always" would seem to indicate just that. (3) But does "always" always mean "always"?How shall we pray? (After quote from 2SM 311) (1) Does this mean, then, that it is never appropriate to sit, or to stand, while prayer is being offered? (2) Ellen White's use of that little word "always" would seem to indicate just that. (3) But does "always" always mean "always"?

How shall we pray? Rule #1 – Study all available information "Both in public and private worship, it is our privilege to bow on our knees before the Lord when we offer our petitions to Him" (GW 178).

Slide 75:The internal context is "public and private worship." The presence of the expression "it is our privilege," and the absence of that word "always," are interesting, and may even be helpful; do they allow a little leeway in the matter?The internal context is "public and private worship." The presence of the expression "it is our privilege," and the absence of that word "always," are interesting, and may even be helpful; do they allow a little leeway in the matter?

How shall we pray? "There is no time or place in which it is inappropriate to offer up a petition of God. . . . In the crowds of the street, in the midst of a business engagement, we may send up a petition to God. . . . We should have the door of the heart open continually and our invitation going up that Jesus may come and abide as a heavenly guest in the soul." (Steps to Christ 99)

Slide 76:"Crowded streets" and "business engagement" might suggest that kneeling, here at least, might be not only inappropriate, but even potentially dangerous to personal safety! "Crowded streets" and "business engagement" might suggest that kneeling, here at least, might be not only inappropriate, but even potentially dangerous to personal safety!

How shall we pray? "We may commune with God in our hearts.... When engaged in our daily labor, we may breathe out our heart's desire, inaudible to any human ear." (Gospel Workers 258) How shall we pray? "We must pray constantly, with a humble mind and a meek and lowly spirit. We need not wait for an opportunity to kneel before God. We can pray and talk with the Lord wherever we may be" (3SM 266). How shall we pray? "You cannot always be on your knees in prayer, but your silent petitions may constantly ascend to God for strength and guidance." (Counsels on Health, 362) "It is not always necessary to bow upon your knees in order to pray." (Ministry of Healing, 510-511)

Slide 79:(1) And now, superficially at least, we are faced with an apparent contradiction: (a) In 2SM 311: "This is the appropriate position always." (b) But, in MH 510, 511: "It is not always necessary to bow upon your knees...." (2) Does "always" always mean always? (Does "only" only mean only?) (3) And we answer, YES -- within an immediate context.(1) And now, superficially at least, we are faced with an apparent contradiction: (a) In 2SM 311: "This is the appropriate position always." (b) But, in MH 510, 511: "It is not always necessary to bow upon your knees...." (2) Does "always" always mean always? (Does "only" only mean only?) (3) And we answer, YES -- within an immediate context.

How shall we pray? Examples from Scripture: 1. The unconverted Pharisees apparently were not the only ones who, upon occasion, would "pray standing" (Matt. 6:5). How shall we pray? Examples from Scripture: 2. Solomon, at the dedication of his Temple: knelt, for a prayer of confession (1 Kings 8:54) and also stood, for certain other prayers, including certain "blessings," and for the benediction (vs. 14, 22, 23, 55). How shall we pray? Examples from Ellen White’s practice: 1887 – In one occasion, in Europre, she instructed the people to remain seated for the prayer (Diary, Feb. 20, 1887, cited in 1SM 147 and 3SM 267-268). How shall we pray? Examples from Ellen White’s practice: 1909 – In one prayer, she and the congregation knelt, after first standing in consecration (RH, Mar. 11, 1909, cited in 3SM 267). How shall we pray? Examples from Ellen White’s practice: On some other occasions, she stood, and invited the people to stand with her: * Mar. 7, 1908, at Oakland, CA (3SM 268-269). * Feb. 8, 1909, also at Oakland (3SM 269). * May 18, 1909, at a GC Session in Takoma Park, MD (3SM 269, 270). How shall we pray? D. E. Robinson, one of Ellen White's secretaries (1902-15), wrote on Mar. 4, 1934, "I have been present repeatedly at camp meetings and General Conference Sessions in which Sister White herself has offered prayer with the congregation standing, and she herself standing" (3SM 267, footnote). How shall we pray? Arthur L. White: "That Ellen White did not intend to teach that on every prayer occasion we must kneel is made clear both by her words and her example. To her there was no time or place where prayer was not appropriate. Her family testified that in her home those at the dining table bowed their heads and not their knees.” How shall we pray? “She was not known to kneel for the benediction at the close of services she attended. The earnest counsel on kneeling would seem to have its principal application in the worship services in the house of God and private devotions at home. In public ministry [e.g. evangelistic meetings] there were times when she stood for prayer" (3SM 270, footnote). How shall we pray? "I was not able to bow my knees in the opening prayer or when I entered the desk [pulpit] as I usually do, but the form is not the essential part. My heart went up to God in earnest prayer and He did help me and I believe gave me a decided message for the people assembled." (Ms 29, 1892, emphasis supplied)

Slide 88:In her personal diary she finally makes her intended meaning explicit. On Feb. 13, 1892, in Melbourne, Australia, she mentions having to be carried up a long stairway to a meeting hall in the arms of her son and a layman, because of being "compassed with infirmities" [rheumatism, and possibly arthritis]. And she lamented: (quote on screen) In her personal diary she finally makes her intended meaning explicit. On Feb. 13, 1892, in Melbourne, Australia, she mentions having to be carried up a long stairway to a meeting hall in the arms of her son and a layman, because of being "compassed with infirmities" [rheumatism, and possibly arthritis]. And she lamented: (quote on screen)

How shall we pray? Principle: Reverence for God "There should be an intelligent knowledge of how to come to God in reverence and godly fear with devotional love. There is a growing lack of reverence for our Maker, a growing disregard of His greatness and His majesty" (Ms 84b, 1897, cited in 2SM 312). How shall we pray? Principle: Dependence upon God "Both in public and private worship it is our duty to bow down upon our knees before God when we offer our petitions to Him. This act shows our dependence upon God" (2SM 312). Cooking on the Sabbath "Cooking upon the Sabbath should be avoided" (6T 357). "On Friday let the preparation for the Sabbath be completed. See that ... all the cooking is done" (6T 355).

Slide 91:Although many of Ellen White's counsels pertaining to the detailed specifics of proper Sabbath-observance (e.g., 6T 349- 68; 2T 701-5) are widely ignored by many Sabbath-keepers today, three in particular trouble Adventists who genuinely seek to follow her counsels. Cooking on the Sabbath, taking a bath, and shaving.) There should be no "cooking" during the Sabbath hours; all meal preparation should be done on Friday, the Preparation Day (6T357; 355). a."Cooking upon the Sabbath should be avoided" (6T 357). b."On Friday let the preparation for the Sabbath be completed. See that ... all the cooking is done" (6T 355).Although many of Ellen White's counsels pertaining to the detailed specifics of proper Sabbath-observance (e.g., 6T 349- 68; 2T 701-5) are widely ignored by many Sabbath-keepers today, three in particular trouble Adventists who genuinely seek to follow her counsels. Cooking on the Sabbath, taking a bath, and shaving.) There should be no "cooking" during the Sabbath hours; all meal preparation should be done on Friday, the Preparation Day (6T357; 355). a."Cooking upon the Sabbath should be avoided" (6T 357). b."On Friday let the preparation for the Sabbath be completed. See that ... all the cooking is done" (6T 355).

Cooking on the Sabbath Context: In Ellen White's day "simple" cooking was itself a very complex, time-consuming operation requiring lots of work. Even "simple" cooking required "work." Cooking on the Sabbath Principles: 1. Nothing that could be done on the previous six working days should be left to Sabbath hours (6T 354). 2. All unnecessary "work" should be avoided. Cooking on the Sabbath Application of the Principles: 1. Self-timing ovens and microwave ovens. 2. Cooking is no longer the time-consuming, labor-intensive chore of yesteryear. 3. Whatever preparation that can be done on Friday should still be done on Friday.

Slide 94:The same principles likely apply to other counsels she gave on Sabbath observance. Taking a bath on Sabbath: "On Friday let the preparation for the Sabbath be completed. See that all clothing is in readiness and that all the cooking is done. Let the boots be blacked and the baths taken" (6T 355). Shaving or trimming beards on Sabbath (ST, May 25, 1882). Preparing one's Sabbath clothesThe same principles likely apply to other counsels she gave on Sabbath observance. Taking a bath on Sabbath: "On Friday let the preparation for the Sabbath be completed. See that all clothing is in readiness and that all the cooking is done. Let the boots be blacked and the baths taken" (6T 355). Shaving or trimming beards on Sabbath (ST, May 25, 1882). Preparing one's Sabbath clothes

Taking a bath on the Sabbath "On Friday let the preparation for the Sabbath be completed. See that all clothing is in readiness and that all the cooking is done. Let the boots be blacked and the baths taken." (6T 355) Three simple rules 1. Take into consideration all that has been written on the subject before drawing some conclusions. 2. Consider the context, the time, the situation, and the circumstances. 3. Find the principles behind the specific counsels. Following these three simples rules will help us avoid extremism in our understanding of Ellen White’s writings. Properly understanding these writings is what matters most. Seeing the truthfulness of the message that will transform our lives is a precious experience.
  • Login