Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Sunday, February 26, 2006

More from the Ellen White Summit presentations

Moderator’s question:
“How do you respond to people who use Deut. 18:21 to disqualify Ellen White in the light of her vision where an angel told her that some present at Battle Creek would not die before Christ returned?”

George Knight response:
“That’s one I want to take. We’re finding a lot of people are finally realize that Ellen White had a lot of prophecies that never come.. came true. And we used to teach …Deuteronomy that when a prophets prophecy did come true then you know they were a true prophet. What these people fail recognize is the Bible is full of unfulfilled prophecies. You take a look at the old testament woooph most of the prophecies in the huh prophets are unfulfilled. Why? Ellen White gives the answer in Manuscript 4 1883. That all of God’s prophecies are conditional. If Israel would have behaved itself and done God’s will then those old testament prophecies would have been fulfilled. And I personally believe if God’s Church would have done God’s will we wouldn’t be here. But all prophecy and this is Ellen White herself, all prophecy is conditional prophecy and maybe the best article in all the articles of the 7 volumes of the SDA Bible Commentaries in volume 4 on conditional prophecy. Read it. That is a jewel.”
--Question and answer period (part 8) 2005 Ellen White Summit beginning at 24 minutes into session.

When you hear this statement of George Knight you realize why elsewhere he said that he did not hold to any old tests for a prophet.

“You know why I believe Ellen White’s a prophet I don’t go for any of the old tests number one she points me to Jesus number two she points me to the Bible. That’s it! She never points to herself…I can’t get off on that.”
--From Using and Interpreting Ellen White by George Knight {Part2} 2005 Ellen White Summit 33 minutes in

George Knight’s position is not much different from the White Estate’s position. First let us refresh our memory about what Ellen White actually said:

“But we were yet to pass through another severe trial. At the conference a very solemn vision was given me. I saw that some of those present would be food for worms, some subjects for the seven last plagues, and some would be translated to heaven at the second coming of Christ, without seeing death. Sr. Bonfoey remarked to a sister as we left the meeting-house, “I feel impressed that I am one that will soon be food for worms.” The conference closed Monday. Thursday Sr. B. sat at the table with us apparently well. She then went to the Office as usual, to help get off the paper. In about two hours I was sent for. Sr. B. had been suddenly taken very ill. My health had been very poor, yet I hastened to suffering Clara. In a few hours she seemed some better. The next morning we had her brought home in a large chair, and she was laid upon her own bed from which she was never to rise. Her symptoms became alarming, and we had fears that a tumor, which had troubled her for nearly ten years, had broken inwardly. It was so, and mortification was doing its work.” Vol. 2 Spiritual Gifts p. 208

I was shown the company present at the Conference. Said the angel: “Some food for worms, some subjects of the seven last plagues, some will be alive and remain upon the earth to be translated at the coming of Jesus.” Vol. 1Testimonies p. 131

When EGW saw her prophecies fail she created the idea of all prophecy as conditional:
Selected Messages Book 1, page 67, paragraph 8

Chapter Title: An Explanation of Early Statements

“The angels of God in their messages to men represent time as very short. Thus it has always been presented to me. It is true that time has continued longer than we expected in the early days of this message. Our Saviour did not appear as soon as we hoped. But has the word of the Lord failed? Never! It should be remembered that the promises and threatenings of God are alike conditional.”

Now the White Estate has published a response to those who bring up this quote. They say that if people had truly repented and followed God, He would have come and fulfilled the prophecy, but since they didn’t God in mercy extended time. However where do we get the information that if they had followed God, He would have come? We get it from Ellen White, thus she is allowed to explain why her false prophecy was not correct. This is complete circular reasoning. If you allow a so called prophet to explain away why their predictions do not come to pass, there will never be anyway to test any predictive prophecies. In fact we will be forced to hold to scores of today’s so called prophets because we have no way to test a prophet anymore. We will be reduced to saying that person must be a prophet because he or she points to the Bible and points to Jesus. Yet it is questionable with Ellen Whites presentation that all prophecy is conditional that she is pointing to the Bible at all since she is actually refuting such verses as Deuteronomy 18:20-22.

Is it wise to put the Biblical principles against those of Ellen White. If God had ever truly meant for all prophecy to be conditional why would the statement in Deuteronomy even have needed to be recorded. The Bible record would have to be held responsible for the rejection of prophets who were merely giving conditional prophecies.
“But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death." You may say to yourselves, "How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?" If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.”(Deu 18:20-22 NIV)

Yet the Bible instead of treating all prophecy as conditional gives the principles that create some prophecy as conditional. A useful illustration is found in Jeremiah:

“If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.” (Jer 18:7-10 NIV)

Another is found very early in the Biblical record when Israel was offered the choice between blessing and curses.
“See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse-- the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28 NIV)

Jeremiah who had his own struggle with false prophets does not produce the idea that all prophecy is conditional but he notes that since bad things happen all the time someone predicting bad things will be right quite often but it is only God’s prophets who are able to predict the good things also. Ellen White’s prediction of being translated would in most anyone’s estimation be considered a good future prediction.
Jeremiah 28:8-9 says:
“From early times the prophets who preceded you and me have prophesied war, disaster and plague against many countries and great kingdoms. But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the LORD only if his prediction comes true.” (NIV)

There is not any better prophecy of peace than to be with Jesus at His coming.

Determining the accuracy of a professed prophet is part of the Biblical tests of a prophet. Unfortunately many SDA’s don’t want people to use that test. Many will quote Ellen White saying that Christ would have come ere this if only the people had done their work. So using the ever present circular reasoning they completely destroy the Biblical test by saying if what the supposed prophet says does not come to pass, then the supposed prophet is allowed to give an explanation as to why the prophecy did not come to pass. If you allowed the supposed prophet this ability there is not ever going to be a prophet anywhere or any time with a false of presumptive prophecy because they will simply explain it away. However the Bible does not offer up that option, so we can be objective about testing a prophet. Finally if all prophecy is conditional maybe God is not preparing a place for us, maybe Jesus is not going to return. Maybe even the condition of God’s love and acceptance will not be met and the whole Gospel is meaningless because we have not met some unlisted conditions.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Ellen White and Canright

The Ellen White Summit indeed has some interesting material. But there is a good deal of false information in there also. As time allows I will deal with some of the problems that come up.

The first is from one of the lesser presenters at the summit. I don't think I could possibly find time to deal with all the logical fallacies he uses in his presentation on "Ellen White and her Critics" Jud Lake tried to point out the logical fallacies of the critics but really mainly points out his own fallacies. A big one he uses is the A priori fallacy he says that the critics use because they begin with the assumption that she is not a prophet. Yet for some reason his own fallacy and that of all the presentors that EGW is a prophet are not considered to be A priori fallacies.

But here is what Jud says at about 34 minutes into his presentation on Ellen White and Inspiration (part 4):
“Ellen White experienced numerous times the Prophetic model, dreams and visions. But some have taken this to an extreme, a number of the people in her day took this to an extreme and this is where the critics have made a big mistake. They’ve taken.. pushed this envelope I should say of this model. And gotten into what we discussed already, verbal dictation. Listen to Canright, remember who Canright is famed critic he wrote in his critical book on Ellen White I shared with you in my last presentation. Listen, every line she wrote he believed whether in articles letters testimonies or books she claimed and this is my bold she claimed was dictated to her by the Holy Ghost and hence must be infallible. This I think contributed to his great fall or some say he more took the position when he turned against the Adventist church but either way this is what he is saying here, he saying she claimed this well I think it is already very clear she did not claim this. Dr. Newborn touched on this…”
-- Jud Lake Professor of Preaching and Adventist Studies at he School of Religion, Southern Adventist University. “Ellen White and Inspiration” 2005 Ellen White Summit Gladstone Oregon

Compare what Canright actually wrote as found in chapter 3 at:

“Her Writings All Inspired by the Holy Ghost
Now read what Mrs. White claims for her writings. Defining her position, she says:

"In ancient times God spoke through the mouths of prophets and apostles. In these days he speaks to them by the Testimonies of his Spirit" (Testimonies, Vol. IV., p. 148; Vol. V., p. 661).
Here she places herself on a level with all the Bible writers, both prophets and apostles. (See Heb. 1:1,2.) Any one who rejects or opposes her writings is branded as a rebel fighting against God. Thus she says:

"If you lessen the confidence of God's people in the testimonies he has sent them, you are rebelling against God as certainly as were Korah, Dathan and Abirum" ("Testimonies," Vol. V., p. 66).

Here she classes herself in authority with Moses. From this it will be seen that her followers have made no greater claims for her than she made for herself.

She claims that every line she writes, even in a private letter, is directly inspired by God - "the precious rays of light shining from the throne" (same book, p. 67). Of her own words she says: "It is God, and not an erring mortal, that has spoken" (Testimonies, Vol. III., p. 257). She states over and over that those who doubt or oppose her are fighting against God, sinning against the Holy Ghost. Thus: "fighting the Spirit of God. Those. . . who would break down our testimony, I saw, are not fighting against us, but against God" (p. 260).

Again she says:

When I went to Colorado, I wrote many pages to be read at your camp meeting. . . God was speaking through clay. You might say this communication was only a letter. Yes, it was a letter, but prompted by the Spirit of God, to bring before your minds things that had been shown me. In these letters which I write, . . . I am presenting to you that which the Lord has presented to me. I do not write one article in the paper expressing merely my own ideas. They are what God has opened before me in vision - the precious rays of light shining from the throne" (Testimonies, Vol. V., pp. 63-67).

Notice that she claims to be simply the mouthpiece for God. They are not her words, but God's words, the same as the Bible - God speaking through clay. All through her writings designed especially for her own people may be found expressions of this kind. In her books prepared for the public, however, all these expressions are carefully omitted.

It is not Canright who said that Ellen White’s words must be infallible it was his response to the followers of Ellen White who saw her as infallible and he gives examples:

Canright writes also in chapter 3:

Now read this from G.A. Irwin, many years president of their General Conference. On page 1 of a tract entitled "The Mark of the Beast", he says:
"It is from the standpoint of the light that has come through the Spirit of Prophecy [Mrs. White's writings] that the question will be considered, believing as we do that the Spirit of Prophecy is the only infallible interpreter of Bible principles, since it is Christ through this agency giving the real meaning of his words."

It is possible that by the term “Spirit of Prophecy” Irwin means the Holy Spirit in which case his statement would be accurate but considering the common SDA usage of the term Spirit of Prophecy to refer to Ellen White’s writings we are left to take it whatever way we may prefer.

In all this however we know that Canright did not have some wooden literal view of Ellen White being verbally inspired. As he wrote in chapter 9:

Mrs. White's visions ceased about the time of the change of life common to women. While she still had visions, she claimed that much that she "saw" went entirely from her mind at the time. Months, even years later, when she met a brother or a church that needed a "testimony," the part relating to these all came vividly to her mind, she said. She would then write out this portion of the forgotten "vision."

This worked very well till years after her visions ceased. Finally this could not be stretched further. Then her revelations had to come in a different way; by a voice, by dreams, by "impressions," by some one on "authority" speaking, and the like. The following expressions, taken from the last volume of her "Testimonies for the Church," Vol. IX., published in 1909, are examples of this. Page 13: "I was instructed." Page 82: "Instruction has been given me." Page 65: "In the night of March 2, 1907, many things were revealed to me." The room, she said, was very light. Page 66: "Then a voice spoke to me." Page 95: "The angel stood by my side." But she had no vision as formerly. Page 98: "Instruction has been given me." Page 101: "In the night season I was awakened from a deep sleep and given a view." Page 137: "In the night season matters have been presented to me." Page 195: "At one time I seemed to be in a council meeting." The expression, "I have been instructed," occurs over and over in these later alleged revelations, just as the expression, "I saw," does in her earlier writings

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Ellen White Summit 2005

If you haven't seen the DVDs and weren't at the conference (Ellen White Summit 2005) you may want to check out what the four speakers (George R. Knight, Craig Newborn, Jud Lake, and Jon Paulien) had to say November 11-12, 2005 in Gladstone, OR.

The page listed above was put together from portions of the PDF file outlining the summit doings and audio extracted and processed for clarity from the DVDs. The audio on the DVDs is low quality, so if you think the MP3s available for download on the site are bad . . . that is nothing compared to the 60 Hz hum (at times half the volume of the speaker) in the original background.

Needless to say, ordering the 4 DVDs (app. 8 hours of presentations) for $60 (and $9+ shipping) is not recommended. :)

I think that everyone should listen to all of these.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

GC President wimps out

Just saw this from the GC President about the Danish cartoon controversy. Impressive that he criticizes the cartoonist use of their free expression. Yet says nothing about the Muslim violence and destruction and killing as they express their views. Quite a difference drawing pictures versus burning buildings and killing people...who should the GC president address? Oh of course the people who he knows won't kill him, the editorial cartoonists. What a leader!

GC President Responds to Muslim Caricature Controversy

Following an increase in global tension surrounding the publication-in newspapers in Denmark and other European countries-of caricatures that some Muslims worldwide have found insulting, Jan Paulsen, world president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, issued a call for the responsible use of the right of free expression.

"It is unfortunate that the publication of freely expressed opinions . . . has inflamed relations among people," Paulsen said in a statement released at the Adventist world headquarters.

"As Seventh-day Adventists we support and encourage the responsible use of the right of free expression," he added. "Inherent in that responsibility is also being mindful of not insulting others and causing injury to their beliefs and practices. Opinions can be shared without the color of disrespect, and debate can take place but without offending the beliefs of others."

Drawing on many years of experience in intercultural ministry in Africa and around the world, Paulsen noted the importance of valuing diversity and of building harmonious communities, while at the same time acknowledging the importance of free speech.

"My work as a Seventh-day Adventist leader has taken me to many nations. I witness the value of diversity and the fact that Christians build the community alongside adherents of many other religions and worldviews," he said. "And I recommend that living by the principle of the Golden Rule, which asks us to do unto others as we would wish them to do unto us, would inspire us to live in harmony with all people, be free in expressing our views, but also maintaining courtesy and respect to all."

More than 25 million people worship weekly in Seventh-day Adventist congregations in 203 countries and territories around the world. --Adventist News Network. is now found at