Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The problem of 19th century prophets

The August 2013 issue of Adventist World includes an article by Ellen White which they entitle Infidelity in Disguise. It appears to be some kind of edited work with most sentences ending in ellipses and reported to have
“The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever.” Men professing to be ministers of God raise their voices against the investigation of prophecy, and tell the people that the prophecies, especially of Daniel and John, are obscure, and that we cannot understand them. Yet some of these very men eagerly receive the suppositions of geologists, which dispute the Mosaic record. But if God’s revealed will is so difficult to be understood, certainly men should not rest their faith upon mere suppositions in regard to that which He has not revealed. . . . In [God’s] providence men, beasts, and trees, many times larger than those now upon the earth, were buried at the time of the flood, and thus preserved to prove to man that the inhabitants of the old world perished by a flood. God designed that the discovery of these things in the earth should establish faith in inspired history. But men, with their vain reasoning, make a wrong use of these things which God designed should lead them to exalt Him. They fall into the same error as did the people before the flood—those things which God gave them as a benefit, they turned into a curse, by making a wrong use of them."
 She begins by quoting Deut 29:29 which is Moses recitation of the covenant with Israel, about being brought out of Egypt etc. It is most certainly not a statement about scientific understanding. As we learned about germs and viruses we were not learning of the secret things of God. It would be foolish to think that when we learn about geology we are again trying to learn the secret things of God. I don't know of any scientific discipline that God revealed to his children, this is simply a statement of absurdity put in to make the whole thing seem somehow more deep and religious.

Then she moves on to those of us...most everyone really who find the prophecies of Daniel and John the Revelator to be obscure. About the only people that don't think the apocalyptic books are obscure are those who have their own version of interpretation. And so far of those not one has predicted anything to occur based upon the writings of Daniel and the book of Revelation. Those predictions that have been made have all be disproved, which caused some like the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Seventh-day Adventists to make some of their incorrect predictions appear to be fulfilled in spiritual or heavenly realms where we have no access.

The Mosaic record which she finds to be disputed by geologists is but a tiny part of what is by tradition attributed to be the writing of Moses but that tradition is not based upon any facts. But still it is only a tiny fragment of the Genesis story concerning Genesis 1 and 2 and the account of the flood. None of which is written in anything close to a record of geology. In fact the practice of testing theories and ideas is far less supposition then the supposition that Moses even wrote the book of Genesis.

But what really made me want to write this article is this part:
In [God’s] providence men, beasts, and trees, many times larger than those now upon the earth, were buried at the time of the flood, and thus preserved to prove to man that the inhabitants of the old world perished by a flood. 
Really!? Why would finding them indicate the reality of a world wide flood? She earlier referred to "Bones of men and animals are found . . . showing that much larger men and beasts once existed. . . ." Actually there have never been bones of men that have been found to be larger then men today. And the larger animals besides the dinosaurs are usually of the era of the ice age. In fact if you look we have evidence of Wooly Mammoths who appear to have been quickly frozen in place and covered with ice. If that was to show that they died in a flood of water they would be far different in the contents of their stomachs then what we have.These ice age giants are much more recent in the geological column then dinosaurs so there is little reason to think that they are the evidence of some world wide flood.

It really is time to realize that our 19th century prophet was a person of her time. With a limited understanding and limited knowledge. She may well have believed in the hoaxes of the late 1800's such as Cardiff Giant. It is likely that she did believe it as she did come out of the Methodist movement as Wikipedia says:
 The giant was the creation of a New York tobacconist named George Hull. Hull, an atheist, decided to create the giant after an argument at a Methodist revival meeting about the passage in Genesis 6:4 stating that there were giants who once lived on Earth.[1]
She likely incorporated that into her thinking about Adam and Eve as she wrote: "Adam's height was much greater than that of men who now inhabit the earth. Eve was somewhat less in stature; Patriarchs and Prophets, pg. 45 "He was more than twice as tall as men now living upon the earth... Eve was not quite as tall as Adam. Her head reached a little above his shoulders." -- Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 3, pg. 34
We can do better and we must do better. Not only must we be more critical in understanding the Bible but we must be more critical in our assumptions about people who claim to speak for God. Once we understand that even sincere people can be confused about the facts we can see that such confusion is not limited to modern times. That we must use more then just accepted traditions as our evidence and reason for believing.


Anonymous said...

You can see giant human footprints and dinosaur tracks running together in what is now solid rock,check out the creation evidence museum in Glenrose Tx Dr Carl Baugh has the proof and expertise to explain this for you.
While i am no longer an SDA and think EGW was no more a prophet than Mary Poppins, she was correct about giants.
Utube giant skulls for an interesting diversion

Ron Corson said...

Yes the Glenrose Tx. site has been scientifically debunked. see

Yes there is a great hoax industry on youtube.