Ellen G. White
|Ellen G. White|
Ellen White in 1899
|Born||Ellen Gould Harmon
November 26, 1827
|Died||July 16, 1915
Elmshaven (Saint Helena), California
|Occupation||Author and Co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church|
James Edson White
William C. White
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Ellen Gould White (née Harmon; November 26, 1827 – July 16, 1915) was a prolific author and an American Christian pioneer. Along with other Sabbatarian Adventist leaders such as Joseph Bates and her husband James White, she formed what became known as the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The Smithsonian magazine named Ellen G. White among 100 Most Significant Americans in an acknowledgement of her influence on religion.
Ellen White reported her visionary experiences to her fellow believers. James White and others of the Adventist pioneers viewed these experiences as the Biblical gift of prophecy as outlined in Revelation 12:17 and Revelation 19:10 which describe the testimony of Jesus as the "spirit of prophecy". Her Conflict of the Ages series of writings endeavor to showcase the hand of God in Biblical history and in church history. This cosmic conflict, referred to by Seventh-day Adventist theologians as the "Great Controversy theme", became foundational to the development of Seventh-day Adventist theology. Her book on successful Christian living, Steps to Christ, has been published in more than 140 languages.
White was considered a somewhat controversial figure by her critics, with much of the controversy centering on her reports of visionary experiences and on the use of other sources in her writings. She experienced her first vision soon after the Millerite Great Disappointment of 1844. Historian Randall Balmer has described White as "one of the more important and colorful figures in the history of American religion". Walter Martin described her as "one of the most fascinating and controversial personages ever to appear upon the horizon of religious history". Arthur L. White, her grandson and biographer, writes that Ellen G. White is the most translated female non-fiction author in the history of literature, as well as the most translated American non-fiction author of either gender. Her writings covered a broad range of subjects, including religion, social relationships, prophecy, publishing, nutrition, creationism, agriculture, theology, evangelism, Christian lifestyle, education and health. She advocated vegetarianism. She promoted and was instrumental in the establishment of schools and medical centers. During her lifetime she wrote more than 5,000 periodical articles and 40 books. As of 2015[update] more than 100 White titles are available in English, including compilations from her 100,000 pages of manuscript. Some of her most famous books she wrote include The Desire of Ages, The Great Controversy and Steps to Christ. Her work on successful Christian living, Steps to Christ, has been published in more than 140 languages.
- 1 Personal life
- 2 Ministry
- 3 Personality and public persona
- 4 Major teachings
- 5 Major writings
- 6 Historic legacy
- 7 Biographical writings
- 8 Debate regarding the prophetic value of her writings
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
Ellen and her twin sister Elizabeth, were born November 26, 1827, to Robert and Eunice Harmon. Robert was a farmer who also made hats using mercuric nitrate. Much of Ellen's youth was spent in the business pursuit of her father's hat making business. Ellen learned the simplest part of it, which was shaping the crown of the hat.
In 1999, Charles E. Dudley, Sr., published a book entitled, The Genealogy of Ellen Gould Harmon White: The Prophetess of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the Story of the Growth and Development of the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination As It Relates to African-Americans. In his book, Charles Dudley claims that Ellen White had an African-American ancestry.
In March 2000, the Ellen G. White Estate commissioned Roger D. Joslyn, a professional genealogist, to research Ellen G. White's ancestry. Joslyn concluded that she was of Anglo-Saxon origin. Joslyn found that Ellen's mother, Eunice (Gould) Harmon was the daughter of Joseph Goold/Gould, an American Revolutionary soldier. After the war, he moved from Kittery to Portland, Maine. His father was Joseph Gould of Kittery. His father, Ellen's great grandfather, was also named Joseph Gould. He settled in Kittery in the first decade of the 1700s and was probably from Taunton, Massachusetts. His father was John Gould of Taunton and probably the one born in Hingham, Massachusetts Bay Colony, son of Jarvis Gould, a 1635 immigrant from England. See her ancestral chart
At the age of nine, while running towards home with her sister Elizabeth and another friend, an older classmate shouted some angry words and threw a stone that hit Ellen on the face (The Early Years, page 28, Arthur L. White).
White would later write of her conversion experience that happened a few years after the incident:
- "This misfortune, which for a time seemed so bitter and was so hard to bear, has proved to be a blessing in disguise. The cruel blow which blighted the joys of earth, was the means of turning my eyes to heaven. I might never had known Jesus Christ, had not the sorrow that clouded my early years led me to seek comfort in him."
She felt that she might be dying, and believing she was about to die, the 9-year-old Ellen in simple faith confessed her sins. A few years after her injury, Ellen, with her parents, attended a Methodist camp meeting at Buxton, Maine, and there, at the age of 12, a breakthrough occurred in which she had a conversion experience and felt at peace.
In 1840, at age 12, her family became involved with the Millerite movement. As she attended William Miller's lectures, Ellen felt guilty for her sins, and she was filled with terror about being eternally lost. She describes herself as spending nights in tears and prayer, and being in this condition for several months. On June 26, 1842, She was baptized by John Hobart in Casco Bay in Portland, Maine, and eagerly awaited Jesus to come again. In her later years, she referred to this as the happiest time of her life. Her family's involvement with Millerism caused them to be disfellowshipped by the local Methodist church.
Marriage and family
Sometime in 1845 Ellen came into contact with her future husband James Springer White, a Millerite who became convinced that her visions were genuine. A year later James proposed and they were married by a justice of the peace in Portland, Maine, on August 30, 1846. James later wrote:
We were married August 30, 1846, and from that hour to the present she has been my crown of rejoicing....It has been in the good providence of God that both of us had enjoyed a deep experience in the Advent movement....This experience was now needed as we should join our forces and, united, labor extensively from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific....
Final years and death
Ellen White spent the final years of her life in Elmshaven, her home in Saint Helena, California after the death of her husband James White in 1881. During her final years she would travel less frequently as she concentrated upon writing her last works for the church. Ellen G. White died July 16, 1915, at her home in Elmshaven, which is now an Adventist Historical Site. After three funerals, she is buried with her husband James White in Oak Hill Cemetery, Battle Creek, Michigan.
From 1844 to 1863 White experienced between 100 and 200 visions, typically in public places and meeting halls. She had one that led to the writing of The Great Controversy at an Ohio funeral service held on a Sunday afternoon in March, 1858, in the Lovett's Grove (now Bowling Green) public school, a vision of the ages-long conflict between Christ and His angels and Satan and his angels was given to Mrs. White. In later life, the visions occurred at home during the night. From the time she was 17 years old until she died 70 years later, she had approximately 2,000 visions and dreams. The visions varied in length from less than a minute to nearly four hours. The knowledge and counsel received through these revelations are reflected in the books and many articles she wrote.
Physical phenomena during visions
J. N. Loughborough, who had seen White in vision fifty times since 1852, and her husband, James White, listed several physical characteristics that marked the visions:
- “In passing into vision, she gives three enrapturing shouts of “Glory!” which echo and re-echo, the second, and especially the third, fainter but more thrilling than the first, the voice resembling that of one quite a distance from you, and just going out of hearing.”
- For a few seconds she would swoon, having no strength. Then she would be instantly filled with superhuman strength, sometimes rising to her feet and walking about the room. She frequently moved hands, arms, and head in gestures that were free and graceful. But to whatever position she moved a hand or arm, it could not be hindered nor controlled by even the strongest person. In 1845, she held her parents 18.5 pound Family Bible in her outstretched left hand for half an hour. She weighed 80 pounds at the time.
- She did not breathe during the entire period of a vision that ranged from fifteen minutes to three hours. Yet, her pulse beat regularly and her countenance remained pleasant as in the natural state.
- Her eyes were always open without blinking; her head was raised, looking upward with a pleasant expression as if staring intently at some distant object. Several physicians, at different times, conducted tests to check her lack of breathing and other physical phenomena.
- She was utterly unconscious of everything transpiring around her, and viewed herself as removed from this world, and in the presence of heavenly beings.
- When she came out of vision, all seemed total darkness whether in the day time or a well-lighted room at night. She would exclaim with a long-drawn sigh, as she took her first natural breath, “D-a-r-k.” She was then limp and strengthless.
Mrs. Martha Amadon added: “There was never an excitement among those present during a vision; nothing caused fear. It was a solemn, quiet scene.“
In 1844, Ellen White experienced her first vision.
At this time I visited one of our Advent sisters, and in the morning we bowed around the family altar. It was not an exciting occasion, and there were but five of us present, all females. While praying, the power of God came upon me as I never had felt it before, and I was wrapt up in a vision of God's glory, and seemed to be rising higher and higher from the earth and was shown something of the travels of the Advent people to the Holy City...
In this vision the "Advent people" were traveling a high and dangerous path towards the city of New Jerusalem [heaven]. Their path was lit from behind by "a bright (light)...which an angel told me was the midnight cry." Some of the travelers grew weary and were encouraged by Jesus; others denied the light, the light behind them went out, and they fell "off the path into the dark and wicked world below." The vision continued with a portrayal of Christ’s second coming, following which the Advent people entered the New Jerusalem; and ended with her returning to earth feeling lonely, desolate and longing for that "better world."
As Godfrey T. Anderson said, "In effect, the vision assured the Advent believers of eventual triumph despite the immediate despair into which they had plunged."
Second and third visions
In February 1845, White experienced her second vision in Exeter, Maine known as the "Bridegroom" vision. Together with the third vision about the new earth, the visions "gave continued meaning to the October 1844 experience and supported the developing sanctuary rationale. Additionally they played an important role in countering the spiritualizing views of many fanatical Adventists by portraying the Father and Jesus as literal beings and heaven as a physical place."
Fearing people would not accept her testimony, Ellen did not initially share her visions with the wider Millerite community. In a meeting at her parent’s home when she received what she regarded as confirmation of her ministry:
While praying, the thick darkness that had enveloped me was scattered, a bright light, like a ball of fire, came towards me, and as it fell upon me, my strength was taken away. I seemed to be in the presence of Jesus and the angels. Again it was repeated, ‘Make known to others what I have revealed to you.’
Soon Ellen was giving her testimony in public meetings — some of which she arranged herself — and in her regular Methodist class meetings in private homes.
I arranged meetings with my young friends, some of whom were considerably older than myself, and a few were married persons. A number of them were vain and thoughtless; my experience sounded to them like an idle tale, and they did not heed my entreaties. But I determined that my efforts should never cease till these dear souls, for whom I had so great an interest, yielded to God. Several entire nights were spent by me in earnest prayer for those whom I had sought out and brought together for the purpose of laboring and praying with them.
News of her visions spread and White was soon traveling and speaking to groups of Millerite followers in Maine and the surrounding area. Her visions were not publicized further afield until January 24, 1846, when her account of the first vision: "Letter From Sister Harmon" was published in the Day Star, a Millerite paper published in Cincinnati, Ohio by Enoch Jacobs. White had written to Jacobs to encourage him and although she stated the letter was not written for publication, Jacobs printed it anyway. Through the next few years it was republished in various forms and is included as part of her first book, Christian Experience and Views, published in 1851.
Two Millerites claimed to have had visions prior to Ellen White – William Ellis Foy (1818–1893), and Hazen Foss (1818?–1893), Ellen White's brother-in-law. Adventists believe the prophetic gift offered to these two men was passed on to White when they rejected it.
Ellen White described the vision experience as involving a bright light which would surround her and she felt herself in the presence of Jesus or angels who would show her events (historical and future) and places (on earth, in heaven, or other planets). The transcriptions of White's visions generally contain theology, prophecy, or personal counsels to individuals or to Adventist leaders. One of the best examples of her personal counsels is found in a 9-volume series of books entitled Testimonies for the Church, that contains edited testimonies published for the general edification of the church. The spoken and written versions of her visions played a significant part in establishing and shaping the organizational structure of the emerging Adventist Church. Her visions and writings continue to be used by church leaders in developing the church's policies and for devotional reading.
On March 14, 1858, at Lovett's Grove, near Bowling Green, Ohio, White received a vision while attending a funeral service. On that day James White wrote that "God manifested His power in a wonderful manner" adding that "several had decided to keep the Lord's Sabbath and go with the people of God." In writing about the vision, she stated that she received practical instruction for church members, and more significantly, a cosmic sweep of the conflict "between Christ and His angels, and Satan and his angels." Ellen White would expand upon this great controversy theme which would eventually culminate in the Conflict of the Ages series.
From 1861 to 1881 Ellen White's prophetic ministry became increasingly recognized among Sabbatarian Adventists. Her frequent articles in the Review and Herald (now the Adventist Review) and other church publications were a unifying influence to the beginning church. She supported her husband in the church's need for formal organization. The result was the organization of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1863. During the 1860s and 1870s the Whites participated in the founding of the denomination's first medical institution (1866) and school (1874). Her books on education and publishing have been influential on Christian education and publishing systems in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. Ellen White is the most translated American non-fiction author of all time - with 100,000 pages of manuscript, 40 books, with the book Steps to Christ being translated into more than 140 languages.
After 1882 Ellen White was assisted by a close circle of friends and associates. She employed a number of literary assistants who would help her in preparing her writings for publications. She also carried on an extensive correspondence with church leaders. She traveled to Europe on her first international trip. Upon her return she promoted the message of righteousness by faith presented by young ministers E. J. Waggoner and A. T. Jones, leading to a more Christ-centered theology for the church. When church leaders resisted her counsel on this and various other matters, she was sent to Australia as a missionary. There she lived first in Melbourne and later moved to Cooranbong, New South Wales; co-founding Avondale College. After almost 9 years she returned to the US.
When Ellen White returned to the US in 1900, she thought her stay would be temporary, and she called for church re-organization at the pivotal 1901 General Conference Session. During her later years she wrote extensively for church publications and wrote her final books. During her final years she would travel less frequently as she concentrated upon writing her last works for the church. In 1915, White tripped while entering her study room and broke her hip. Her health subsequently began to decline, and she died on July 16, 1915. After three funeral services, she was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery with her husband.
Personality and public persona
White was a powerful and sought after preacher. While she has been perceived as having a strict and serious personality, perhaps due to her lifestyle standards, numerous sources describe her as a friendly person.
- Christ-centered salvation by grace
- The Great Controversy theme
- Obedience to revealed truth a sign of genuine faith
Jerry Moon argues that White taught assurance of salvation. Arthur Patrick believes that White was evangelical, in that she had high regard for the Bible, saw the cross as central, supported righteousness by faith, believed in Christian activism, and sought to restore New Testament Christianity.
Ellen White's earliest essays on education appeared in the 1872 autumn editions of the Health Reformer. In her first essay she stated that working with youthful minds was the most delicate of tasks. The manner of instruction should be varied. This would make it possible for the "high and noble powers of the mind" to have a chance to develop. To be qualified to educate the youth (she wrote), parents and teachers must have self-control, gentleness and love.
Ellen White's idea of creating a Christian educational system and its importance in society is detailed in her writings Christian Education (1893, 1894) and Education (1903).
Ellen White expounded greatly on the subject of health and nutrition, as well as healthy eating and a balanced diet. At her behest, the Seventh-day Adventist Church first established the Western Health Reform Institute in Battle Creek, Michigan in 1866 to care for the sick as well as to disseminate health instruction. Over the years, other Adventist sanitariums were established around the country. These sanitariums became hospitals, forming the backbone of the Adventists' medical network and, in 1972, forming the Adventist Health System.
The beginnings of this health ministry are found in a vision that White had in 1863. The vision was said to have occurred during a visit by James and Ellen White to Otsego, Michigan to encourage the evangelistic workers there. As the group bowed in prayer at the beginning of Sabbath, Ellen White reportedly had a vision of the relation of physical health to spirituality, of the importance of following right principles in diet and in the care of the body, and of the benefits of nature's remedies—clean air, sunshine, exercise and pure water. Previous to this vision, little thought or time had been given to health matters in the church, and several of the overtaxed ministers had been forced to become inactive because of sickness. This revelation on June 6, 1863 impressed upon the leaders in the newly organized church the importance of health reform. In the months that followed, as the health message was seen to be a part of the message of Seventh-day Adventists, a health educational program was inaugurated. An introductory step in this effort was the publishing of six pamphlets of 64 pages each, entitled, Health, or How to Live, compiled by James and Ellen White. An article from White was included in each of the pamphlets. The importance of health reform was greatly impressed upon the early leaders of the church through the untimely death of Henry White at the age of 16, the severe illness of Elder James White, which forced him to cease work for three years, and through the sufferings of several other ministers.
Early in 1866, responding to the instruction given to Ellen White on Christmas Day in 1865 that Seventh-day Adventists should establish a health institute for the care of the sick and the imparting of health instruction, plans were laid for the Western Health Reform Institute, which opened in September, 1866. While the Whites were in and out of Battle Creek from 1865 to 1868, James White's poor physical condition led them to move to a small farm near Greenville, Michigan.
White's idea of health reform included vegetarianism in a day and age where "meat and two vegetables" was the standard meal for a typical North American. Her health message inspired a health food revolution starting with John Harvey Kellogg in his creation of Corn Flakes. The Sanitarium Health Food Company as it is now known was also started by this health principle. Adhering to the principles outlined in the health reform, John Harvey Kellogg differed from his brother's views on the sugar content of their Corn Flake breakfast cereal. The latter started Kellogg Company. White championed a vegetarianism that was intended to be not only physically, but also spiritually helpful to humans, and also to treat God's creatures with love and respect.
Her views are expressed in many of her writings such as Important Facts Of Faith: Laws Of Health, And Testimonies, Nos. 1–10 (1864), Healthful Living (1897, 1898), The Ministry of Healing (1905), The Health Food Ministry (1970), and Counsels on Diet and Foods (1938).
Some of her most well known books are:
- Steps to Christ (official site) (1892), a classic, concise (evangelical) treatment of personal devotional topics.
- Christ's Object Lessons (1900), about the parables of Jesus.
- Education (1903), principles of Christian education
- The Ministry of Healing (1905), instructions on healthy living and the care of others.
- Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing (1896), about Christ's Sermon on the Mount.
Conflict of the Ages book series
- Patriarchs and Prophets (official site) (1890), covering Genesis to the end of King David's reign.
- Prophets and Kings (official site) (1917), covering King Solomon's reign to the last prophetic book of the Old Testament.
- The Desire of Ages (official site) (1898), covering the life and ministry of Jesus.
- The Acts of the Apostles (official site) (1911), describing the twelve apostles and the early Christian church.
- The Great Controversy (official site) (1858, 1884, 1888, 1911), about church history viewed in terms of the conflict between Christ and Satan.
During her lifetime Ellen White wrote more than 5,000 periodical articles, 40 books, and reported over 2000 visions and dreams, most of which she was convinced were communications with supernatural entities including various angels and sometimes Jesus. Today over 100 titles are available in English, including compilations from her 50,000 manuscript pages.
According to one evangelical author, "No Christian leader or theologian has exerted as great an influence on a particular denomination as Ellen White has on Adventism." Additional authors have stated "Ellen G. White has undoubtedly been the most influential Seventh-day Adventist in the history of the church."
Ellen G. White Estate
The Ellen G. White Estate, Inc., was formed as a result of Ellen G. White's will. It consists of a self-perpetuating board and a staff which includes a secretary (now known as the director), several associates, and a support staff. The main headquarters is at the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. Branch Offices are located at Andrews University, Loma Linda University, and Oakwood University. There are 15 additional research centers located throughout the 13 remaining divisions of the world church. The mission of the White Estate is to circulate Ellen White's writings, translate them, and provide resources for helping to better understand her life and ministry. At the Toronto General Conference Session (2000) the world church expanded the mission of the White Estate to include a responsibility for promoting Adventist history for the entire denomination.
Adventist historic sites
Several of Ellen G. White's homes are historic sites. The first home that she and her husband owned is now part of the Historic Adventist Village in Battle Creek, Michigan. Her other homes are privately owned with the exception of her home in Cooranbong, Australia, which she named "Sunnyside," and her last home in Saint Helena, California, which she named "Elmshaven". These latter two homes are owned by the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the "Elmshaven" home is also a National Historic Landmark.
Ellen G. White inspired and guided the foundation of Avondale College, Cooranbong, leaving an educational legacy from her time in Australia. Avondale College is the main Seventh-day Adventist tertiary institution in the South-Pacific Division.
The most comprehensive biography of Ellen G. White is an extensive six-volume work called "Ellen G. White: A Biography" written by her grandson, Arthur L. White. Thousands of articles and books have been written about various aspects of Ellen G. White's life and ministry. A large number of these can be found in the libraries at Loma Linda University and Andrews University, the two primary Seventh-day Adventist institutions with major research collections about Adventism. An "Encyclopedia of Ellen G. White" is being produced by two faculty at Andrews University: Jerry Moon, chair of the church history department, and Denis Fortin, dean of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary.
Red Books: Our Search for Ellen White is a play about White, a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the various perceptions of her throughout the history of the church. It was produced by the Dramatic Arts Society of Pacific Union College in California. It was based on interviews collected from over 200 individuals. The title derives from White's books, which were traditionally bound with a red cover.
Debate regarding the prophetic value of her writings
Most Adventists believe White's writings are inspired and continue to have relevance for the church today. Because of criticism from the evangelical community, in the 1940s and 1950s church leaders such as LeRoy Edwin Froom and Roy Allan Anderson attempted to help evangelicals understand Seventh-day Adventists better by engaging in extended dialogue that resulted in the publication of Questions on Doctrine (1956) that explained Adventist beliefs in evangelical language.
Evangelical Walter Martin of the countercult Christian Research Institute "rejected White’s prophetic claims", yet saw her "as a genuine Christian believer", unlike her contemporaries Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, and Charles Taze Russell. Kenneth Samples, a successor of Martin in his interaction with Adventism, also denies White's prophetic claims yet "believe[s] she, at minimum, had some good biblical and theological instincts."
Adventist statement of belief about the Spirit of Prophecy
Early Sabbatarian Adventists, many of whom had come out of the Christian Connexion, were anti-creedal. However, as early as 1872 Adventists produced a statement of Adventist beliefs. This list was refined during the 1890s and formally included in the SDA Yearbook in 1931 with 22 points. In 1980 a statement of 27 Fundamental Beliefs was adopted, to which one was added to in 2005 to make the current list of fundamental beliefs. Ellen G. White is referenced in the fundamental belief on spiritual gifts. This doctrinal statement says:
"One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and was manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White. As the Lord's messenger, her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested. (Joel 2:28,29; Acts 2:14–21; Hebrews 1:1–3; Revelation 12:17; 19:10.)"
Ellen Harmon's critics have cast doubt as to the reliability and authenticity of her visions, and the most prominent critic was Dudley M. Canright, a minister she treated as a son who left the church and came back but then apostatized and began to write books critical of the church, and some focused on Ellen White such as his 1919 book, Life of Mrs. E.G. White, Seventh-day Adventist Prophet: Her False Claims Refuted. Canright's books served as a basic text for many of Ellen G. White's later critics. Some of the criticisms include:
Canright claimed that she had a “complication of hysteria, epilepsy, catalepsy, and ecstasy” and stated that her “visions were merely the result of her early misfortune". Some neurologists later commented that her early injuries may have caused partial complex seizures and hallucinations. Paediatrician Delbert H. Hodder claimed her visions may have been temporal lobe epilepsy in 1981 and again in 1984 by Molleurus Couperus, a retired dermatologist.
Critics (who left the church) also accused Ellen White of plagiarism. One such was Walter T. Rea, who argued against the "original" nature of her supposed revelations in his book The White Lie. Another critic Ronald Numbers argues that her understanding of health reform was simply plagiarized from other health reformers and therefore did not come from divine revelation.
Not supporting teaching of the Trinity
Some critics, as well as some non-Trinitarian Adventists, have asserted that Ellen White did not write in support the teaching of the Trinity in her early writings. Some critics have characterized her descriptions of the Godhead as Tritheistic. Church historians have pointed out that early Seventh-day Adventists came from a wide assortment of nineteenth-century American Protestant churches, and typical among early Adventists, two of the church's principal founders, James White and Joseph Bates, had a background in the Restorationist Christian Connection church, which rejected the Trinitarian conception of God as held by the mainline churches, while other members joined the church believing and advocating semi-Arianism. However, church historians point out that the teachings and writings of Ellen White, who was raised in a Methodist family, ultimately proved influential in shifting the church from largely semi-Arian roots towards Trinitarianism.
Views on masturbation
Critics such as Ronald L. Numbers writing about Mrs. White's position in respect to health and masturbation in particular, claims that Ellen White plagiarized medical literature reflecting the views of the medical establishment at the time.
The White Estate has no issue that many of her writings on this issue consisted of quotations from medical authorities of her time, as was not unusual in that period., "Few topics have generated more ridicule from critics than Ellen White's statements regarding 'self-abuse,' 'solitary vice,' 'self-indulgence,' 'secret vice,' 'moral pollution,' etc." Though her meaning was clear, Ellen White never used the actual term 'masturbation.' In her book A Solemn Appeal she writes that:
- "If the practice [self-indulgence] is continued from the age of fifteen and upward, nature will protest against the abuse she has suffered, and continues to suffer, and will make them pay the penalty for the transgression of her laws, especially from the ages of thirty to forty-five, by numerous pains in the system, and various diseases, such as affection of the liver and lungs, neuralgia, rheumatism, affection of the spine, diseased kidneys, and cancerous humors. Some of nature's fine machinery gives way, leaving a heavier task for the remaining to perform, which disorders nature's fine arrangement, and there is often a sudden breaking down of the constitution; and death is the result."
Richard W. Schwarz from the Department of History, Andrews University, states that supernatural inspiration has made various authors use similar words without the need to copy one another, or that it could have been Inspiration's way of getting to Mrs. White.
The White Estate has acknowledged the shift towards normalizing it in the medical consensus: "The general view today, however, is that masturbation is normal and healthy."
- "Every species of animal which God had created were preserved in the ark. The confused species which God did not create, which were the result of amalgamation, were destroyed by the flood. Since the flood there has been amalgamation of man and beast, as may be seen in the almost endless varieties of species of animals, and in certain races of men."
Responses to criticism
Seventh-day Adventists have long responded to critics with arguments and assertions of their own. Typical responses to these criticisms include:
- Plagiarism: A Roman Catholic lawyer, Vincent L. Ramik, undertook a study of Ellen G. White's writings during the early 1980s, and concluded that they were "conclusively unplagiaristic." When the plagiarism charge ignited a significant debate during the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Adventist General Conference commissioned a major study by Dr. Fred Veltman. The ensuing project became known as the "'Life of Christ' Research Project." The results are available at the General Conference Archives. Dr. Roger W. Coon, David J. Conklin, Dr. Denis Fortin, King and Morgan, among others, undertook the refutation of the accusations of plagiarism. At the conclusion of Ramik's report, he states:
- "It is impossible to imagine that the intention of Ellen G. White, as reflected in her writings and the unquestionably prodigious efforts involved therein, was anything other than a sincerely motivated and unselfish effort to place the understandings of Biblical truths in a coherent form for all to see and comprehend. Most certainly, the nature and content of her writings had but one hope and intent, namely, the furthering of mankind's understanding of the word of God. Considering all factors necessary in reaching a just conclusion on this issue, it is submitted that the writings of Ellen G. White were conclusively unplagiaristic."
Critics have especially targeted Ellen White's book The Great Controversy arguing it contains plagiarized material. However, in her introduction she wrote...
- "In some cases where a historian has so grouped together events as to afford, in brief, a comprehensive view of the subject, or has summarized details in a convenient manner, his words have been quoted; but in some instances no specific credit has been given, since the quotations are not given for the purpose of citing that writer as authority, but because his statement affords a ready and forcible presentation of the subject. In narrating the experience and views of those carrying forward the work of reform in our own time, similar use has been made of their published works." The Great Controversy, p. xi.4 1911 edition
- Denial of the Trinity: Fundamental belief # 2 of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is the belief of the Trinity. This belief statement declares "There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal Persons. God is immortal, all-powerful, all-knowing, above all, and ever present." Ellen White clearly stated that Jesus was divine in her book "The Desire of Ages":
- "By His humanity, Christ touched humanity; by His divinity, He lays hold upon the throne of God. As the Son of man, He gave us an example of obedience; as the Son of God, He gives us power to obey. It was Christ who from the bush on Mount Horeb spoke to Moses saying, "I AM THAT I AM.... Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." Exodus 3:14. This was the pledge of Israel’s deliverance. So when He came "in the likeness of men," He declared Himself the I AM. The Child of Bethlehem, the meek and lowly Saviour, is God "manifest in the flesh." 1 Timothy 3:16." The Desire Of Ages, p. 24
Ellen White also stated that the Holy Spirit was divine.
- "The Holy Spirit has a personality, else He could not bear witness to our spirits and with our spirits that we are the children of God. He must also be a divine person, else He could not search out the secrets which lie hidden in the mind of God. "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." (1 Corinthians 2:11)
The prince of the power of evil can only be held in check by the power of God in the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit." Evangelism, p. 617
- Views on Masturbation: Ellen White's religious views on masturbation are shared by many other religions, both Christian and otherwise; her views on the adverse health consequences of masturbation were typical of the Victorian era. She wrote:
- "Man is doing the greatest injury and injustice to his own soul when he thinks and acts contrary to the mind and will of God. He is sowing to the flesh, and will of the flesh reap corruption. No real joy can be found in the path forbidden by the God who knows what is best, and who plans for the good of his creatures. The path of transgression is a path of misery and destruction, and he who walks therein is exposed to the wrath of God and the Lamb." Signs Of The Times, April 20, 1888
- Racism: Ellen White wrote the following before the American Civil War
- "When the laws of men conflict with the word and law of God, we are to obey the latter, whatever the consequences may be. The law of our land requiring us to deliver a slave to his master, we are not to obey; and we must abide the consequences of violating this law. The slave is not the property of any man. God is his rightful master, and man has no right to take God's workmanship into his hands, and claim him as his own." Testimonies For The Church Volume 1, p. 201-202
Ellen White was a strong proponent of abolition her entire life. She met, lectured with and was friends with Sojourner Truth  as well as other leading abolitionists like Frederick Douglass. She influenced the Adventist church to be so strongly abolitionist that her husband James White could write:
- "Those of our people who voted at all at the last Presidential election, to a man voted for Abraham Lincoln. We know of not one man among Seventh-day Adventists who has the least sympathy for secession." Review and Herald, Aug. 12, 1862.
At a later conference that Ellen White was involved in, it was voted:
- "Resolved, That in our judgment, the act of voting when exercised in behalf of justice, humanity and right, is in itself blameless, and may be at some times highly proper; but that the casting of any vote that shall strengthen the cause of such crimes as intemperance, insurrection, and slavery, we regard as highly criminal in the sight of Heaven." Ibid., May 23, 1865.
Ellen White not only abhorred slavery as a demonic invention, but preached full equality of all races, something that was still not widely accepted even much later during Martin Luther King's time.
- "The black man’s name is written in the book of life beside the white man’s. All are one in Christ. Birth, station, nationality, or color cannot elevate or degrade men. The character makes the man. If a red man, a Chinaman, or an African gives his heart to God in obedience and faith, Jesus loves him none the less for his color. He calls him His well-beloved brother." The Southern Work, 8, written March 20, 1891. * "The Scripture has been perverted, and the people have been perverted, and the people have been so instructed as to be easily seduced by evil spirits. Mind as well as body has been long abused. The whole system of slavery was originated by Satan, who delights in tyrannizing over human beings. Though he has been successful in degrading and corrupting the black race, many are possessed of decided ability, and if they were blessed with opportunities, they would show more intelligence than do many of their more favored brethren among the white people." The Southern Work, p. 60. Review and Herald, January 28, 1896, par. 7
She also understood the wrong of economic caste injustice:
- "True, there are many difficulties to be met in presenting the truth even in Christian England. One of the greatest of these is the difference in the condition of the three principal classes, and the feeling of caste, which is very strong in this country. In the city the capitalists, the shop-keepers, and the day laborers, and in the country the landlords, the tenant farmers, and the farm laborers, form three general classes, between whom there are wide differences in education, in sentiment, and in circumstances. It is very difficult for one person to labor for all classes at the same time. Wealth means greatness and power; poverty, little less than slavery. This is an order of things that God never designed should exist." Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, 164 (1886).
In 1891, she wrote:
- “You have no license from God to exclude the colored people from your places of worship. Treat them as Christ's property, which they are, just as much as yourselves. They should hold membership in the church with the white brethren. Every effort should be made to wipe out the terrible wrong which has been done them” (The Southern Work, 15).
However, a couple years later she wrote,
- “In regard to white and colored people worshiping in the same building, this cannot be followed as a general custom with profit to either party--especially in the South. The best thing will be to provide the colored people who accept the truth, with places of worship of their own, in which they can carry on their services by themselves” (Testimonies for the Church, 9:206).
And, in 1896 she wrote,
- “Common association with the blacks is not a wise course to pursue. To lodge with them in their homes may stir up feelings in the minds of the whites which will imperil the lives of the workers. . . .(The Southern Work, 95, 96).
Also, Ellen White stated the following near the end of the 19th century
- "Walls of separation have been built up between the whites and the blacks. These walls of prejudice will tumble down of themselves as did the walls of Jericho, when Christians obey the Word of God, which enjoins on them supreme love to their Maker and impartial love to their neighbors. The religion of the Bible recognizes no caste or color. It ignores rank, wealth, worldly honor. God estimates men as men. With Him, character decides their worth. And we are to recognize the Spirit of Christ in whomsoever He is revealed." The Review and Herald, December 17, 1895, Testimonies for the Church Vol 9 p. 223.
- Prophecy in the Seventh-day Adventist Church
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- Adventist Health Studies
- Major books (from the White Estate page)
- Old and new search engines for "The Complete Published Writings of Ellen G. White"
- Adventist Archives Contains many articles written by Ellen White
- Books by Ellen G. White Beautifully illustrated & printer-friendly versions of Ellen White's major books
- Earlysda Books by Adventist pioneers with an emphasis on Ellen White's works
- www.EllenWhiteAudio.org Audiobooks by Ellen White in multiple languages (mp3 download)
- Truth for the End of Time Audio recordings of 38 of Ellen White's books in English plus 11 other languages in mp3 format
- Ellen G. White's book: Steps to Christ Audio & Document
- Ellen White audio books – Streaming audio or file download (MP3) of Ellen White's popular books
- Ellen G. White Named Among 100 Most Significant Americans Adventist Review
- Douglass 2010, p. 416.
- Graybill 1994.
- Adventist History Library's Ellen White's First Vision includes the various printed editions of her first vision.
- Balmer 2002, pp. 614-615.
- Martin 1965, p. 379.
- White 2000.
- White, Arthur L. The Early Years. pp. 24–25.
- Office for Regional Conference Ministry: Dr. Charles Edward Dudley, Sr.
- Dudley, Sr., Charles E. (1999). The genealogy of Ellen Gould Harmon White: the prophetess of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, and the story of the growth and development of the Seventh-Day Adventist denomination as it relates to African-Americans. Dudley Pub. Services, 1999 – 172 pages. ISBN 978-0-9670271-0-4. Retrieved March 12, 2011, no preview. Check date values in:
- Association of Professional Genealogists. Roger D Joslyn, CG, FASG
- Joslyn, Roger D. "GOULD ANCESTRY OF ELLEN GOULD (HARMON) WHITE". Australasian Union Record, May 21, 1973, p. 5. Ellen G. White Estate. Retrieved March 12, 2011
- "Review and Herald". Review and Herald publishing. Nov 25, 1884: paragraph 2.
- Merlin D. Burt (1998). Ellen G. Harmon's Three Step Conversion Between 1836 and 1843 and the Harmon Family Methodist Experience. Term paper, Andrews University.
- Life Sketches, 1880 edition, 126, 127.
- White 1985, pp. 123-124.
- White 1985, pp. 122-123.
- White 1985, p. 92.
- White, Arthur L. 1985, “Chapter 7 – (1846-1847) Entering Marriage Life”, Ellen G. White: The Early Years, Vol. 1 1827-1862, pages 56
- White, Arthur L. 1985, “Chapter 7 – (1846-1847) Entering Marriage Life”, Ellen G. White: The Early Years, Vol. 1 1827-1862, pages 57
- Godfrey T. Anderson, "Sectarianism and Organisation, 1846–1864," in Adventism in America: a History, ed. Gary Land (Berrien Springs: Andrews University Press, 1998), 31.
- Merlin D. Burt, "The Historical Background, Interconnected Development, and Integration of the Doctrines of the Heavenly Sanctuary, the Sabbath, and Ellen G. White's Role in Sabbatarian Adventism from 1844-1849", PhD, Andrews University, 2002, 170.
- White, Arthur L. 1985, “Chapter 7 – (1846-1847) Entering Marriage Life”, Ellen G. White: The Early Years, Vol. 1 1827-1862, pages 63
- Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church Vol.1, (1855-1868)
- Day Star. Letter from Sister Harmon, Falmouth Mass., Feb., 15, 1846
- Nix, James R. (4 December 1986). "The third prophet spoke forth" (DjVu). Adventist Review. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald. 163: 22. ISSN 0161-1119. Retrieved 2008-04-15.
- Ellen G. White (1860). My Christian Experience, Views, And Labors In Connection With The Rise And Progress Of The Third Angel's Message. James White.
- See Horace Shaw's doctoral dissertation, "A Rhetorical Analysis of the Speaking of Mrs. Ellen G. White, A Pioneer Leader and Spokeswoman of the Seventh-day Adventist Church" (Michigan State University, 1959), p282.
- Chapter 12: "The Sought-for Speaker" in Messenger of the Lord by Herbert Douglass
- See Walking With Ellen White: The Human Interest Story by George R. Knight. http://h0bbes.wordpress.com/2008/11/05/ellen-white-the-real-human-being/
- Life With My Mother-in-law: An interview with Ethel May Lacey White Currow" DjVu by Ed Christian. Her grandson Arthur L. White recounts happy childhood memories of her
- "My soul was daily drinking rich draughts of salvation. I thought that those who loved Jesus would love His coming, so went to the class meeting and told them what Jesus had done for me and what a fullness I enjoyed through believing that the Lord was coming. The class leader interrupted me, saying, "Through Methodism"; but I could not give the glory to Methodism when it was Christ and the hope of His soon coming that had made me free." Early Writings Pg. 13
- A Word to the Little Flock
- Arthur Patrick, "An Adventist and an Evangelical in Australia? The Case of Ellen White In The 1890s." in Lucas: An Evangelical History Review No. 12, December 1991
- White, Ellen G. (September 1872). "Proper Education" (PDF). The Health Reformer. Battle Creek, Michigan: The Health Reform Institute. 7 (9): 284–286 (electronic 28–30). Retrieved May 31, 2011.
- "Online Books - The Ministry of Healing". Whiteestate.org. Retrieved 2013-03-16.
- "Counsels on Diet and Food | Ellen White Books (A-F) | Reference | Christian Resource Centre (Bermuda)". Crcbermuda.com. Retrieved 2013-03-16.
- "Adventist Health," Company Histories, FundingUniverse
- E.G. White, Review & Herald, Oct. 8, 1867; Counsels on Diets and Foods, p. 481.
- Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p.489
- Battle Creek Sanitarium
- Ministry of Healing pg. 315
- List consists of titles in Selection of Ellen G. White's Best-Known Books
- CRI Journal – CRJ0005B
- Meeting Ellen White: a fresh look at her life, writings, and major themes by George R. Knight
- Adventist ABC Bookstore Last Day Events
- Last Will and Testament of Ellen G. White
- Adventist Heritage Site
- Elmshaven website
- "Ellen G. White®: A Brief Biography". Whiteestate.org. Retrieved 2013-03-16.
- Jerry Moon Faculty bio at Andrews University
- Denis Fortin Faculty bio at Andrews University
- "PUC theater turns attention to school's founder, Ellen White". Napa Valley Register. 1 March 2007. Retrieved 21 December 2010.
- Red Books: Our Search for Ellen White. Reviewed by Adrian Zytkoskee
- Samples, Kenneth (2007). "Evangelical Reflections on Seventh-day Adventism: Yesterday and Today". Questions on Doctrine 50th anniversary conference
- Fundamental Beliefs
- D. M. Canright, Life of Mrs. E. G. White (Cincinnati: The Standard Publishing Company, 1919), p. 171
- Gregory Holmes and Delbert Hodder(1981). Ellen G.White and the Seventh Day Adventist Church:Visions or Partial Complex Seizures?Journal of Neurology,31(4):160-161.
- Delbert H. Hodder, M.D., “Visions or Partial-Complex Seizures?” Evangelica, vol. 2, no. 5 (November 1981), p. 35
- Molleurus Couperus, “The Significance of Ellen White’s Head Injury,” Adventist Currents, vol. 1, no. 6 (June 1985), p. 31
- Ronald Numbers (1992). Prophetess of Health: Ellen G. White and the Origins of Seventh-Day Adventist Health Reform. University of Tennessee Press. ISBN 0-87049-713-8.
- Poirier, Tim. Ellen White's Trinitarian Statements: What Did She Actually Write? Ellen G. White Estate.
- Ratzlaff, Dale (2007). Truth about Adventist "Truth". LAM Publications, LLC. p. 28. ISBN 0-9747679-4-8.
- Wiebe, Elmer (2006). Who Is the Adventist Jesus?. Xulon Press. ISBN 1-59781-328-1.
- Tinker, Colleen (March–April 2007). "Discovering the Adventist Jesus" (PDF). Proclamation!. Life Assurance Ministries, Inc. 8 (2): 10–17. Retrieved 2011-01-12.
- Knight, George, 2000, A Search for Identity, Review and Herald Pub., pp. 30-32
- Jerry Moon. "Were early Adventists Arians?".
- Jerry A. Moon, The Adventist Trinity Debate Part 1: Historical Overview and The Adventist Trinity Debate Part 2: The Role of Ellen G. White. Copyright 2003 Andrews University Press. See also "The Arian or Anti-Trinitarian Views Presented in Seventh-day Adventist Literature and the Ellen G. White Answer" by Erwin Roy Gane
- Numbers (2008:213-214)
- Numbers, Ronald L. (2008) . "Short Skirts and Sex". Prophetess of health: a study of Ellen G. White (3rd ed.). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. pp. 207–218. ISBN 978-0-8028-0395-5. Retrieved June 30, 2011.
Ellen White followed another well-marked trail when she ventured into the potentially hazardous field of sex. From the appearance of Sylvester Graham's Lecture to Young Men on Chastity in 1834 this subject had played an integral and highly visible role in health-reform literature. Alcott, Coles, Trail, and Jackson, among others, had all spoken out on the dangers of what they regarded as excessive or abnormal sexual activities, particularly masturbation, which was thought to cause a frightening array of pathological conditions ranging from dyspepsia and consumption to insanity and loss of spirituality. By carefully couching their appeal in humanitarian terms, they had largely avoided offending the sensibilities of a prudish public. Theirs was a genuinely moral crusade against what Jackson called "the great, crying sin of our time."
- The White Estate. Issues. Frequently Asked Questions. Comments Regarding Unusual Statements Found In Ellen G. White's Writings. Subsection: Physical and spiritual dangers of masturbation or "self-abuse" [Adapted from Herbert E. Douglass, Messenger of the Lord: the Prophetic Ministry of Ellen G. White (Nampa, Idaho: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1998), pp. 489, 490.]
- Ellen G. White (1870). Solemn Appeal, A. The Seventh-day Adventist Publishing Association.
- The Staff of the Ellen G. White Estate A Critique of the Book Prophetess of Health, third edition (2008), p. 9, "Thus Coles and White might have had a common source for their beliefs—although receiving their inspiration in different ways. And even if we concede that Dr. Numbers has proven that Mrs. White “borrowed” organization, ideas, or language from Coles, have we proven that this could not have been Inspiration’s way of bringing this material to her?"
- See Nickel, Francis D. (1951). Ellen G. White and Her Critics. Chapter 20, "Amalgamation of Man and Beast". Hagerstown, Md. Review and Herald Publishing Association. Online Edition.
- White, Ellen G. (1864). Spiritual Gifts. Volume 3. Chapter 10: The Flood. p. 75. Online Edition.
- The Ramik Report Memorandum of Law Literary Property Rights 1790 – 1915
- General Conference Archives of the Seventh-day Adventist Church
- Ellen G. White as a Writer: Part III – The Issue of Literary Borrowing
- An Analysis of the Literary Dependency of Ellen White
- Ellen G. White as a Writer: Case Studies in the Issue of Literary Borrowing
- The Ellen G. White Encyclopedia
- E. Marcella Anderson King and Kevin L. Morgan (2009). More Than Words: A Study of Inspiration and Ellen White's Use of Sources in The Desire of Ages. Honor Him Publishers.
- http://www.whiteestate.org/issues/ramik.html Also appears in Review article
- See borrowing or plagiarism
- Seventh-day Adventist Church Fundamental Beliefs
- Francis D. Nichol. "Chapter 20: Amalgamation of Man and Beast". Ellen G. White and Her Critics.
- Aamodt, Terrie Dopp, Gary Land, and Ronald L. Numbers, eds. Ellen Harmon White: American Prophet (Oxford University Press, 2014) 365 pp. essays by independent scholars
- Balmer, Randall (2002). "White, Ellen Gould (née Harmon)". Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism. Westminster: John Knox Press. pp. 614–15.
- Butler, Jonathan M. (Winter 1991). "Prophecy, Gender, and Culture: Ellen Gould Harmon [White] and the Roots of Seventh-day Adventism". Religion and American Culture. 1 (1): 3–29. doi:10.1525/rac.1991.1.1.03a00020.
- Douglass, Herbert E. (2010). The Heartbeat of Adventism, the Great Controversy Theme in the Writings of Ellen White (PDF). Nampa, Idaho: Pacific Press Publishing Association. p. 416. ISBN 0-8163-2458-1.
- Graham, R. E. (1985). Ellen G. White, Cofounder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. New York: Peter Lang.
- Graybill, Ronald (1983). The Power of Prophecy: Ellen G. White and Women Religious Founders of the Nineteenth Century (Ph.D. diss.). The Johns Hopkins University.
- Graybill, Ron (February 1994). "Visions and Revisions, Part 1". Ministry Magazine. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
- Land, Gary (ed.). The World of Ellen G. White.
a historical background to White's writings without critically comparing the two.
- Martin, Walter (1965). The Kingdom of the Cults. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany Fellowship. p. 379.
- Moon, Jerry; Fortin, Denis, eds. (2013). The Ellen G. White Encyclopedia. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald.
- White, Arthur L. (1985). ""Chapter 7 – (1846-1847) Entering Marriage Life"". Ellen G. White: The Early Years, 1827-1862,. 1.
- White, Arthur L. (August 2000). "Ellen G. White: A Brief Biography". Ellen G. White Estate.
- Campbell, Michael W. (2013). Ellen White and the Gift of Prophecy: An Introduction to Her Prophetic Life and Ministry. Lincoln, Nebraska: AdventSource.
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