Ralph Mackin

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Ralph Mackin and his wife were a Seventh-day Adventist couple from Ohio, United States. They claimed to experience gifts of the Holy Spirit such as prophecy, speaking in tongues, and even casting out demons. They caused a stir at a local Adventist camp meeting, which was reported in the local newspaper. They later sought the counsel of Ellen G. White, whom Adventists believe had the gift of prophecy. White was initially cautious regarding their experiences, and later came out opposed to them. After leading some meetings at an Adventist church for a time, they pass from prominence in the church.


On November 12, 1908 Ralph Mackin and his wife from Ohio visited Ellen White at her "Elmshaven" home in California, having called on Willie White the previous day. Aged in their thirties, they sought her counsel and approval of some spectacular experiences, but she counseled not to continue. Ralph stated, "If we are in a delusion, we want to know it, just as much as if we were in the right." His wife added, "Our brethren certainly think that we are in a delusion."[1][1]

Nearly three years earlier their Findlay, Ohio church sought "the outpouring of the Holy Spirit." They studied the Bible and Ellen White's writings, seeking a "blessing of sanctification" which they received in the form of speaking in tongues as in Acts 2.

The Mackins had visited a family in Clyde who also received the "blessing", marked by weeping in many of them. A "little girl ten or eleven years old" told them "through the Spirit of prophecy", "You go to Toledo".[1] They were also told imprisonment would ensue there. In Toledo a Polish Catholic heard Mrs. Mackin in his own tongue. When the Mackins returned to Clyde they were arrested for mesmerism. This occurred six or eight weeks before seeing the Whites.[1]

They caused a stir at the Adventist camp meeting in Mansfield, Ohio, which resulted in the arrests of the Mackins, plus their daughter, Ralph's mother, and "Sister Edwards". They believed the Spirit had told Mrs. Mackin to go to the campground and sing, "only as she prays in the Spirit and special power comes upon her."[2] However they were arrested for disturbance. In court, one witness testified, "I never heard such singing in my life. It just thrilled me through and through."[1] Supporters had stated, "It is when the singing is extemporaneous – dictated by the Spirit – that it is the most wonderful."[1] (They also claimed the gift of tongues, with Ralph speaking Chinese and his wife Yiddish as the result of a vision;[3])

They read numerous passages from the Bible, and some experiences of Ellen White. They also spoke of casting out demons:

"The Lord instructs us to lay the people down, lest the demons throw them when they come out. We found in the beginning that when we begin to rebuke these demons they oftentimes close the eyes of these people, and will sometimes cause them to bark like a dog, and stick out their tongue; but as we continue to rebuke them, why, the eyes open and they become calm".[4]

(White later rebuked them:

"The work of declaring persons possessed of the devil, and then praying with them and pretending to cast out the evil spirits, is fanaticism which will bring into disrepute any church which sanctions such work.")

Ellen White expressed her caution, sharing how past experiences had made her "fearful of anything savoring of a spirit of fanaticism."[4] It had tarnished the church's image, taking "years to outlive the influence that these exhibitions of fanaticism had upon the general public."[4] She said they should focus on sharing the Bible: "We must direct the minds of the people to the Word as the foundation of our faith...It is through the Word—-not feeling, not excitement— that we want to influence the people to obey the truth. On the platform of God's Word we can stand with safety."[4]

The meeting concluded, and the following day the Mackins went to San Jose.[2] Ralph was invited to preach at the church there, and meetings continued for several days until the pastor returned and stopped them, following which Ralph continued to hold meetings in supporters' homes.[5]

Two weeks later Ellen wrote to S. N. Haskell, "before the end" some " will treat as something of great importance these peculiar manifestations, which are not of God, but which are calculated to divert the minds of many away from the teachings of the Word." Later, "God's work is ever characterized by calmness and dignity."[6]

In December Ellen White received one or two visions about the case, and wrote two letters on the 11th, one to the Mackins and one to "Our Brethren in California". To the Mackins she wrote in part, "You suppose that all you do is for the glory of God, but you are deceiving yourselves and deceiving others... You attempt to make the truth of God sustain false sentiments and incorrect actions that are inconsistent and fanatical." She also wrote, "I was bidden to speak decidedly against this fanatical work." She was concerned that fanaticism would give the church a bad image:

"I was shown that it was not the Spirit of the Lord that was inspiring Brother and Sister Mackin, but the same spirit of fanaticism that is ever seeking entrance into the remnant church."[7]

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  1. ^ a b c d e f White, Arthur L. (1972-08-10). "The Ralph Mackin Story" (DjVu). Advent Review and Sabbath Herald. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald. 149 (32): 1, 6–8. ISSN 0161-1119. Retrieved 2008-08-01.  First of a three part series "The Ralph Mackin Story". Republished by the Ellen G. White Estate in one section of Charismatic Experiences by Arthur White. The meeting was recorded by White's leading secretary Clarence C. Crisler)
  2. ^ a b White, Arthur L. (1972-08-24). "Calculated to Lead Astray" (DjVu). Advent Review and Sabbath Herald. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald. 149 (34): 7–9. ISSN 0161-1119. Retrieved 2008-08-01.  Reprinted in one section of Charismatic Experiences by Arthur White
  3. ^ Daily Shield 22 August. Mansfield, Ohio. As quoted by Arthur White
  4. ^ a b c d White, Arthur L. (1972-08-17). "The Word — Not Feeling" (DjVu). Advent Review and Sabbath Herald. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald. 149 (33): 4–7. ISSN 0161-1119. Retrieved 2008-08-01.  Reprinted in one section of Charismatic Experiences by Arthur White
  5. ^ "How the Mackins Got Into the San Jose Church", communication from Irene Moon-Winn to the White Estate. Reprinted just below this section in Charismatic Experiences by Arthur White
  6. ^ Letter 338, from Ellen White to S. N. Haskell, 26 November 1908. Republished in Selected Messages book 2, chapter 4, "Warnings Against Deceptive Claims of the Spirit's Guidance", p41–42
  7. ^ White, Ellen G. (31 December 1908). "A Warning" (DjVu). Pacific Union Recorder. Mountain View, California: Pacific Union Conference. 8 (22): 3. Retrieved 2008-08-20.  Republished in Selected Messages book 2, chapter 4, "Warnings Against Deceptive Claims of the Spirit's Guidance", p46–47

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