Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Why I am a Progressive Seventh-day Adventist

The following article is cross posted on the Features section of

Why I am a Progressive Seventh-day Adventist; Am I a Dreamer or just a Fool

Several years ago I wrote an article for Adventist Today on the differences between Traditional Seventh-day Adventists (TSDA’s) and Progressive Seventh-day Adventists (PSDA’s)[1]. The question that is still often asked of me is why, if I don’t agree with the TSDA’s views, I am still an SDA. That question is not restricted to being asked by the TSDA’s; it is asked by former Adventists and even other PSDA’s. To most it appears that the default position of Adventism is the TSDA viewpoint. Frankly I ask myself the question far too often.

When you look at the things the TSDA’s believe it is easy to see that there are significant areas of disagreement. My description of a PSDA was:

--A differing view of what the Investigative Judgment is or acknowledgment that the Investigative Judgment is not Biblical. (And as such a differing view of Christ Activities from His ascension to His Second Coming.)

--An inclusion of other Christians into the category termed the "Remnant".

--A less rigid understanding of the role of Ellen G. White, ranging from acknowledging that she was not always correct in her teaching and understanding to the denial of Prophet status.

--The Seventh day Sabbath is for our benefit, true Christians can and do worship on Sunday and it is not now, or latter, to become the Mark of the Beast, or the Seventh day Sabbath to be the Seal of God.

Those things are but a small part of my differences with TSDA’s but then many of my concerns would be differences with many other Christian denominations. I would have a problem with the literalism of the Genesis stories of Creation and the Flood, huge problems with the ideas of inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible and major disagreements with the Penal/Substitution theory of Atonement. Right there I have disagreed with two points of the five points that made up Fundamentalism at the beginning of the 1900’s. Between 1910 and 1915 The Fundamentals [2] were published as a twelve tract publication, there appears to be some wording differences between sources but the fundamentals amount to these: 1. Literal inerrancy of the autographs (the original manuscripts of each scriptural book). 2. Christ's virgin birth, the deity of Christ. 3. Substitutionary Atonement (Also known as: Vicarious Atonement, Penal Atonement). 4. The bodily resurrection of Christ. 5.The bodily return of Christ and alternatively in some lists the authenticity of Christ's miracles.[3] With such a powerful document refuting modernism and higher criticism it is little wonder that the Adventist church plunged into fundamentalism from the early part of the twentieth century. Yet Adventism today does not teach the inerrancy of Scripture or the idea of verbal inspiration. Even though if you look at the beliefs of many Churches in your community you will often find this idea included in the churches belief statements. The Adventist church also rejects the idea of eternal torment of the wicked in Hell. You can see that just with these two issues Adventism has some real advantages.

Unlike many denominations the Adventist church has had to deal with the idea of inspiration in ways that most Christians don’t have to consider. Adventists grew up with the idea of Ellen White as a prophet. What does it mean to have a nineteenth century prophet, how does inspiration work? Ellen White is someone who borrowed a good deal of information and said it was from God. Someone who thought the coming of Christ was mere months away, who at one time believed the door of salvation was shut. She predicted that some people present at an 1856 conference would be translated, some would go through the seven last plagues and some would just die. The myth of the all powerful and all knowing prophet was dashed along with the idea of verbal inspiration. Now whether she was or was not a prophet is still debated but what it did to Adventism was to open our minds to ways that God could work rather than merely holding to the fundamentalist tradition.

As a Progressive SDA I am the byproduct of all that information and experience, the questions raised and the methods employed to arrive at answers. What I have found is that the answers don’t always work and there is a whole range of opinions on a whole range of subjects. My Adventist heritage taught me I don’t have to accept what someone says Christianity is. I can examine and study and come to my own conclusions. In fact that heritage makes it incumbent on me to try and search harder for what works and what the truth really is. The Adventist church even has remained active in the exchange of ideas in Sabbath School classes when many Churches have abandoned the practice in favor of passive acceptance of the words of their pastor’s sermons. As a PSDA I value the Sabbath School time more than any other aspect of corporate worship service. Because done well the class is an opportunity to grow and reason together in a world that has become more separate and isolated and in many things even resistant to the effort of reasoning.

However as a Progressive SDA I am on a tightrope that is rapidly vibrating as the Traditional Adventists shake the rope with claims that are to my mind truly destructive. Such things as Last Generation Perfection with it suggestion that Jesus laid aside His divinity to live as a man with the same tendencies to sin as we have so that He showed us what we must do in the last generation: live a perfect life without sin. That touches on so many issues: Legalism, the nature of Jesus Christ, the reason for God incarnate, the nature of God, the idea of the trinity – which many traditional SDA’s try to redefine closer to tri-theism with the One meaning the three are united in purpose rather then in substance.

So the balance on the tightrope is constantly being challenged. Does Adventism offer enough reasons to stay? Are there other churches, which even though they have what I consider incorrect and illogical doctrines, that have less repugnant doctrines then what Traditional Adventism puts forth? The Adventist church leadership allows the semi-Arian view of Jesus Christ, the doctrine of Last Generation Perfection and other ideas because they don’t want to rock the theological boat in which many members reside. That tolerance could be said to exist for the Progressive Adventists also to some degree. Diversity has advantages as well as disadvantages.

The hope of Progressive Adventists is to take what we have learned and create a better church, first at the local level and working up. The problem is that we have no organization, no established presence in our local churches. Many of our local churches have Progressive Adventist led Sabbath School classes but they are not advertised as such. Progressive Adventist dominated churches are few and far between and again not advertised as such. Within the last year I have seen an Adventist minister leave the SDA church because he could no longer accept the Investigative Judgment doctrine. Progressive Adventists have for a long time rejected the Investigative Judgment doctrine but because we live under the radar, we hide from identification in our local churches. Progressive Adventists in leadership positions have had to leave the denomination rather than live as practicing Progressive Adventists. Frequently I receive requests from people asking if there are any Progressive Adventists in their area, I rarely have a satisfactory answer to give them.

If we don’t do something soon we will be hanging by our fingertips on the tightrope and in that uncomfortable position we will not remain Adventist long. We either must make our stand away from the tightrope or jump off. I suggest we make the stand at the local church level by starting Progressive Sabbath School classes with an internet publication of an index of Progressive Adventists classes. A simple beginning, a simple way to network, but if we can’t accomplish even the simplest objectives then it is past time to jump. The objection may be that by saying we are Progressive Adventists we will alienate some church members; we won’t be able to gently sway them into more progressive ideas. Yet with no organization and no real Progressive Adventist structure to gently sway them to, we gently push them out on the tightrope that we can barely stand.

To this end I have created a website to begin the creation of a Progressive Adventist Network. If you facilitate or are a member of a Progressive Sabbath School Class or would like to connect with other Progressive Adventist email

[3] Definition of Fundamentalism given by the World Congress of Fundamentalists in 1976

“A Fundamentalist is a born-again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ who--
1. Maintains an immovable allegiance to the inerrant, infallible, and verbally inspired Bible.
2. Believes that whatever the Bible says is so.
3. Judges all things by the Bible and is judged only by the Bible.
4. Affirms the foundational truths of the historic Christian Faith: The doctrine of the Trinity; the incarnation, virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, bodily resurrection and glorious ascension, and Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ; the new birth through regeneration by the Holy Spirit; the resurrection of the saints to life eternal; the resurrection of the ungodly to final judgment and eternal death; the fellowship of the saints, who are the body of Christ.
5. Practices fidelity to that Faith and endeavors to preach it to every creature.
6. Exposes and separates from all ecclesiastical denial of that Faith, compromise with error, and apostasy from the Truth.
7. Earnestly contends for the Faith once delivered.”

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dr. Jonathan Gallagher's forced resignation

A sad day for the credibility of Adventism. Today the General Conference released the following statement according to Adventist Today

Official General Conference Response to Dr. Gallagher Accusations

Official Response from the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

July 24, 2008, Silver Spring, Maryland

In recent days, a number of documents have been circulated by email that we understand originated from Dr. Jonathan Gallagher regarding his perspective on his leaving employment with the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. In light of the nature of employment matters, the General Conference is restrained from sharing details regarding such matters. However, because of accusations made by Dr. Gallagher, we want to be clear that actions by Dr. Gallagher regarding his travel raised questions of his significant use of Church funds for personal purposes. These matters were investigated thoroughly by General Conference Administration, including significant communications with Dr. Gallagher's legal counsel, resulting in a recommendation to terminate Dr. Gallagher’s employment with the Church.

Less than three days before the meeting of the General Conference Executive Committee called to decide this matter, Dr. Gallagher submitted a letter of resignation in which he qualified his resignation indicating that the allegations made against him were not true. After a thorough review of the facts, the General Conference Executive Committee voted to acknowledge receipt of Dr. Gallagher’s letter of resignation and ended his employment with the church effective immediately. The conditions raised in his resignation letter were not acceptable to the General Conference. Subsequently an “Executive Summary” of the allegations and actions taken by the General Conference which was prepared by Dr. Gallagher’s attorneys has been circulated by Dr. Gallagher or others on his behalf. The General Conference has reviewed the documents and statements being circulated and states that the document does not reflect the accuracy of supporting documents relied on by the General Conference to arrive at its decision and is not based on the facts accumulated, verified and reviewed by the General Conference Administration and General Conference Executive Committee.

The General Conference and its Administration wish Dr. Gallagher well in whatever his new pursuits may be.

Dr. Gallagher appears to have circulated his evidence in regard to the charges via and executive summary by his attorneys, Ziprick & Cramer, LLP on July 8, 2008, at one point in the article it states:

“…In looking through such materials, all of which were submitted well after the first deadline for a response of April 28, 2008, Dr. Gallagher’s expert and Ms. Cramer both discovered that the times and dates available in which Dr. Gallagher was being accused of downloading and viewing pornography were in fact between 7/5/07 and 7/11/07, all dates and times during which Dr. Gallagher was either preparing or teaching at Pine Knoll with others present. Based upon this discovery, it became very clear that Dr. Gallagher was being attacked by the G.C. as the teacher at Pine Knoll, and that just as distressingly, even Pine Knoll or its class attendees were being implicated.

My first thought at hearing about this was that this is very likely the result of some General Conference leaders antagonism toward the theology produced by Pine Knoll, particularly through their free production of Sabbath School lessons with a focus upon the so called “Larger View” a theological view whose major offense is that it is not the Penal/Substitutionary view of the Atonement.

I have thought for some time that Dr. Gallagher’s position as UN representative for the Adventist Church was largely a drain on Adventist resources though in bureaucratic terms it probably gave a bit of cachet to the Adventist church and Dr. Gallagher certainly was capable of giving the best appearance possible to the Adventist church. The sad fact is that it is very easy for an organization to force someone out of employment when employees are hired and fired “at will” and even if one fights the organization and wins, which is less likely unless the case is somehow racial or sexual discrimination, as a place to work it will usually never be a comfortable again. Under such circumstances it is often best to do as Dr. Gallagher did and submit his resignation.

The attorney’s article conclusion reads as follows:


In conclusion, Z&C provided multiple Reports to the G.C. of evidence clearing Dr. Gallagher of the outrageous and ludicrous charges alleged against him. There is no question that if Dr. Gallagher had intended to defraud the G.C. and/or the donors, he certainly could have done it in a much more plausible manner. Instead, what Dr. Gallagher did was comply with his job description, give credit to the SDA Church for its desire to work in the area of Religious Freedom and Liberty, worked tirelessly to assist the U.N. in helping peoples who were denied their Religion Freedoms in foreign countries, and set about working to bring the right to worship God to those who are deprived of practicing such right. Unfortunately, what Dr. Gallagher got for his service, dedication and effort in the area of religious freedom were absurd and false charges of defrauding the very entity which he was committed to serving. There was no due process in this matter whatsoever. Due process affords one an opportunity to address and confront his accuser and it allows for an unbiased review of the charges by someone other than the accuser serving as judge and jury. At best, this was a kangaroo court designed for and intended to discredit the credentials of Dr. Gallagher and to persecute him for exercising his own religious beliefs by the G.C. Administration for his involvement in teaching Sabbath School Classes in Redlands.

In case there is any question regarding Dr. Gallagher’s behavior as it relates to the SDA Church and his fulfillment of his job duties and responsibilities, Z&C stands firm in its documented position that in any legitimate organization, Dr. Gallagher’s name would have been cleared and the G.C.’s efforts to disgrace and defame him as well as his involvement with Pine Knoll would have resulted in a clear victory for Dr. Gallagher and sanctions against the accusers.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

God With Us, Allegory and Matthew

Our Lesson Study Guide for this week begins with something very similar to that immortal line from Blazing Saddles: We don’t need not stinking Higher Criticism. You don’t believe…well ok here is what they said:

As Adventists, we work from the starting point that the Bible is the Word of God and that what it says about Jesus is the truth, period. We do not have the time to waste on all the nonsensical high-critical speculations about whether Jesus really said and did the things the Bible says that He said and did. As Adventists we believe those things because they are written in God's Word.

After all, if we cannot believe the Bible, what can we believe?

I sincerely hope that quote raises the hackles of most educated and most educators in the SDA church. Such circular reasoning is poor logic, The Bible does not claim to be the Word of God, it could not it was put together from various books written and various times compiled by human beings. Even if it did, say Hosea said somewhere in the book that it was the word of God that would not make the second half of Isaiah the word of God, or any other book. In fact the second half of Isaiah towards the end says we will go out from Sabbath To Sabbath, new Moon to new Moon and look at the corpses.

"And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind." (Isa 66:24 NIV)

Maybe the lesson only means it is the Word of God where it records things about Jesus? In which case the book of Matthew gives an account that is contrary to the account of the book of Luke. Luke says Jesus’ family left for Nazareth after the ritual in Jerusalem (Luke 2:39) this does not allow much wiggle room to have them go to Egypt after the Magi’s visit. The NIV study Bible notes says that the Magi probably arrived months after the Birth, but as per Luke the family would no longer be in Bethlehem. Luke has nothing about Jesus’ family going to Egypt in fact it says they went to Nazareth from Jerusalem. Luke has nothing of threatened children, the book uses none of the out of context verses which the book of Matthew does.

“where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son." …"A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more." (Matt 2:15,18 NIV)

Here is where higher criticism comes in, what is the author trying to say and what are the techniques he uses to get his message across. We see that in the book of Matthew, at least in the first several chapters, an intentional literary device employed. The book tries to recapitulate the events of ancient Israel in the life of Jesus Christ. But there also seems to be a recurring theme if we look a little deeper at the verses that the author of Matthew uses. In the following verses the section used in Matthew are highlighted in bold.

The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14 NIV)

The book of Matthew’s use of this verse is often only considered to be a prophecy of Christ. Even though there is no place other then Matthew that calls Jesus Immanuel. However it is not to the name Immanuel that Matthew wants to draw attention, it is to the idea of what the name means, “God with us”. In fact it was the idea of “God with us” that Isaiah had presented to the Israelites hundreds of years before. In our ardor to insist upon Immanuel as a Messianic Prophecy we often ignore the repetition Isaiah uses of the terms with the meaning of “God with us”. Besides the reference in Isaiah 7:14 he precedes to use it two more times:

And sweep on into Judah, swirling over it, passing through it and reaching up to the neck. Its outspread wings will cover the breadth of your land, O Immanuel!" Isaiah 8:8

Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted; propose your plan, but it will not stand, for God is with us. (Isaiah 8:10 NIV)

God is with us is Isaiah’s words of comfort to a people about to suffer a major defeat by their enemies. And even when the enemies appear to be winning God notes that even the purposes of the enemy will not stand because God is with his people. So like the sign to Ahaz, the child born is a reminder that “God is with us”, though bad may come, God will not abandon his people, He does not leave them alone. In the echoes of Immanuel we see that though the people may have failed in their covenant with God, God has not nor will He fail. For we see an inherent promise of hope in Isaiah.

In the book of Matthew the author has taken this hope, this certainty of God with us and applied it to the person of Jesus Christ. Not because Jesus was to literally be named Immanuel and not even because of a virgin birth but because Jesus Christ was now seen as truly “God with us”. Remember the author is writing after all the events in Christ’s life had happened. He is going back in time to state his case as to why this Jesus is the Messiah. In some ways the book of Matthew is very much like the book of John. When they both begin to tell about the person of Jesus they both tell us that it is God with us, Matthew by means of Immanuel and John by means of the Logos, the Word become flesh.

After the proclamation of the good news that God is with us Matthew moves on to the recapitulation of the Messiah with Israel or some say Moses.

"When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. But the more I called Israel, the further they went from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images. It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them. (Hosea 11:1-4 NIV)

Herod’s death decree against baby boys reminds us of the death decree Egypt inflicted upon the children of Israel in slavery "When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live." ((Exodus 1:16). NIV)

Like the miraculous deliverance of Moses, Jesus is delivered from Herod’s evil also. Matthew then quotes Jeremiah 31:15-17 to show the sorrow of the people under Herod’s decree.

“ Then maidens will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. 14 I will satisfy the priests with abundance, and my people will be filled with my bounty," declares the LORD. 15 This is what the LORD says: "A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more." 16 This is what the LORD says: "Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded," declares the LORD. "They will return from the land of the enemy. 17 So there is hope for your future," declares the LORD. "Your children will return to their own land. (NIV)

The verses in Jeremiah are referring to the exile of Israel and once again while the people must suffer the exile, God has promised relief, they are not abandoned, they can say, “God is with us”. While the verse in Jeremiah has nothing to do with Egypt or Herod’s decree Matthew has changed its setting to reflect the story he is telling. The story being told may has a much deeper meaning than a recitation of history. All the verses he has used reflect in their original context the healing and deliverance God offers. Matthew is a book that presents us with this Messiah, the anointed one who delivers his people from sin and its consequences.

The book of Matthew then moves a step farther then we today can comprehend. …and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene.”. (Matthew 2:23 NIV)

Since there is no Old Testament reference like this it may be that the author was using an expression of scorn used against the Messiah. Such as that expressed by Nathanael:

"Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked. "Come and see," said Philip. (John 1:46 NIV)

Conceptually there may be some places which could offer the author the incentive to make the statement. Certainly the ancient history of Israel is filled with Israel’s scorn of the things of God.

But Matthew’s failure to reference something in the Old Testament while stating it was something said through the prophets is perhaps the key to unfolding Matthew’s intent in the second chapter of Matthew. The history might not be accurate, but the concepts are what the author found most important. The Messiah has come, God with us, the deliverer miraculously inserting Himself into mankind’s world. The precious pure gold of God presented to a world that would kill its very savior. So in the book of Matthew the author tells us of the myrrh given to child, an aromatic resin used for the preparation of a corpse for burial. The gift of incense, the sweet fragrance that for centuries was used in the worship of God, even the gifts of the Magi have deeper meanings.

Matthew 2 is not the simplistic story I was indoctrinated to believe. It is a piece of in depth literature with more allegorical substance then history. But then isn’t that the way of so much of the Bible. Literature, poetry, Chiastic Structure, and analogy all and more find themselves used within the Bible. Human creativity and God given inspiration can create amazing things. Yet we can in our excitement of discovery often trample all over what was written in our haste to explain what our tradition has taught us; leaving us to ignore the deeper thoughts and explaining contradictions by saying; “well those things were not important to that author.”

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Paul and the Post Moderns

Post modern people are characterized by asking questions, Seventh-day Adventists have traditionally felt they have the answers. Why then are not Post Modern Americans rushing to visit Seventh-day Adventist churches?

I somehow got on a mailing list for a company selling banners and signs to churches. One of the featured pre-made signs was something to the effect of “you have questions, we have answers”. I have yet to see any of the local churches here using that sign but I am certain that many churches think that they indeed have the answers. The Lesson study for this week is about how Paul dealt with the culture of his time and established Christian congregations. How similar is Post Modern America to the culture of Paul’s day? The lesson for Tuesday July 8 states:

“One of Paul's most well-known missionary endeavors occurred in Athens, home of some of the world's greatest philosophers of antiquity, such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. And yet, how interesting: Even with all the philosophy and all its appeals to reason and logic, the city was still "wholly given to idolatry" (Acts 17:16). What a testimony to how, in the end, philosophy cannot answer basic human needs. “

Consider that Socrates was tried for “corrupting the youth and disbelieving in the ancestral gods.”[1] It is not too likely that such a charge would be made against the philosophers of this age whether in the form of Rap/Rock music, TV, books or straight out philosophers, though other then a few atheists it is unlikely we could even name a current philosopher. Instead our lesson study would have been more accurate in saying it is a testimony to the time when superstition was more believable than reason. Today reason is often subjected to popularity; popularity being dictated by the media at least for many of our nation.

While Paul is a good case study in getting things done he is of another time and place. The here and now and the tomorrow will call for different methods to reach a very different people. In America we are not unfamiliar with Christianity or Christian concepts. The majority believe in a heaven (76%) for the people who live good lives and a hell (71%)[2] for those who live bad lives. That is clearly a wonderful sociological tool to get people to live together hopefully trying to be good. At least until we determine what it is to live a good life versus a bad life, I would not want to try and do a poll on that question (only half of 1% think they are headed for hell).

The lesson for Wednesday says:

“Paul understood that before we can lead people to where we want them to be we must first meet them where they are. That means focusing on their needs, their interests-and shaping our message in a way that connects with them. This does not mean watering down the message. It is just an issue of communication-talking to people in terms and in language they can understand.”

Is our Adventist Christianity focusing on people’s needs and interests or have we determined that our so called “distinctives” cannot be “watered down”? My guess is that this is one of the biggest sticking points in the Adventist church leadership that prevents us from reaching people’s needs and interests. People need a connection with others and acceptance and respect as well as an opportunity to grow in understanding as they and we search for truth and relevance in our lives. If we assume that another Christian is nominal or Apostate because he or she worships God on a different day then we do, how are we going to relate to them on more important issues such as the character of God. Because that is really what it is all about, not our distictives whatever they may be whether health issues or apocalyptic interpretations. Our goal has to be to declare the beauty of God that is revealed through Jesus Christ. We are all probably poor imitators of the love and acceptance that Jesus Christ revealed which is why it is so important that we point to Him. Yet to reach the post modern world we have to reach out in friendship to them, not with the attitude that we have all the answers but that we have one answer, Jesus Christ. That one answer is reasonable because of what it can lead to in people’s lives.

Before the Post moderns come beating down our doors we will need to have churches that create friendships, within the church first spreading outward. Well maybe that is not so different from Paul’s day as they really did work to create a community that looked after each other. As much as some things change some things still remain the same.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Ellen White and Henry Melvill

From  The Inspired and Inspiring Ellen White, Part 1: 1982 in Historical Perspective by Arthur Patrick:
One of the most important areas of study focused on Ellen G. White's extensive recourse to the writings of other authors. The White Estate has reconstructed carefully the titles of some of the books she used in "A Bibliography of Ellen G. White's Private and Office Libraries," a 50-page document. A 46-page pamphlet "E. G. White's Literary Work: An Update" gives a popular introduction to this subject as it is now understood. A comprehensive example of Ellen White's approach was examined in an 85-page document. "Henry Melvill and Ellen G. White: A Study in Literary and Theological Relationships." Articles from Adventist Review of 17 September 1981 were distributed in a reprint under the title, "Was Ellen G. White a Plagiarist?" An appeal was made for assistance by competent and dedicated researchers in the large work yet remaining to be done before we can fully understand and interpret the details of this subject, even though the major outlines are evident.
In the online document The Truth About The White Lie prepared by the staff of the Ellen G. White Estate in cooperation with the Biblical Research Institute and the Ministerial Association of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists first published in 1982 and revised in January 1999. The end section called "For Further Study" contains the following indication of publications to come:

[Note: Documents below marked with a double asterisk (**) were available at the time of this paper's publication in 1981 but are no longer in print. However, they are being prepared for on-line viewing at this site.]

One of the articles mentioned is the following:
**"Henry Melvill and Ellen G. White: A Study in Literary and Theological Relationships." An interim report on a cooperative study project undertaken by Ron Graybill, Warren H. Johns, and Tim Poirier, in which Ellen White's selective use of Anglican clergyman Henry Melvill's book of sermons is examined. 107 pp.
Why has it taken nearly 10 years to provide this document online? I can’t answer for the White Estate but I think it is because the document is pretty powerful in showing that Ellen White was heavily indebted to Henry Melvill for both language and very likely some of her theological ideas. True she did not use all of Melvill’s ideas but then the reality is that few of us use all the theological ideas of another person no matter how much we agree or admire their work.

In hope of spurring the White Estate to release their proposed online documents I am going to post a link to a searchable PDF of “Henry Melvill and Ellen G. White: A Study in Literary and Theological Relationships”. (links are good for about 2 weeks so if it does not work make a comment and I will renew the link)
It is interesting to read the first section of the book which contains information about Melvill and opinions by the authors of their faith in Ellen White as a prophet. They however do acknowledge her use of Melvill, something that still seems to be hard for many SDA's to accept.
Only faith can say it was the inspiration of the Holy Spirit rather than mere common sense which enabled Ellen White to choose the best and leave the rest of Melvill, but choose she did, using some ser­mons, ignoring others, picking some thoughts and passing others by. She moved back and forth within sermons, weaving Melvill's thoughts and words together with the thoughts and words of other authors as well as her own into a fabric distinctly different from his.
We will continue this study so as to analyze Melvill's theology more thoroughly to compare and con­trast It more helpfully with Ellen White's, and to place Melvlll more firmly within the context of his own church's development. Finally, Melvlll will take his place along with other authors Ellen White used as we attempt to define the genre of Christian literature on which she most commonly drew.