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Sunday, February 12, 2012

EGW's claims of her authority

In addition to using phrases such as "I saw" or "I was shown" throughout her writings, Ellen White also said that what she was writing was from God. It seems to me like either (1) She really was speaking for God and we should follow all the instructions she gave, or (2) she was either lying or delusional since she believed God was speaking through her. I don't really see a middle ground. She doesn't seem to leave room for questioning.

"We must follow the directions given through the Spirit of Prophecy [Mrs. White's writings]. ... God has spoken to us through His Word. He has spoken to us through the Testimonies to the church and through the books that have helped to make plain our present duty and the position that we should now occupy." (Testimonies, Vol. 8, p. 298)

"The Holy Ghost is the Author of the Scriptures and of the Spirit of Prophecy." (Selected Messages, Vol. 3, p. 30)

"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. 4, p. 148; Vol. 5., p. 661)

"God has outlined His plan in His Word, and in the Testimonies He has sent to His people." (Battle Creek Letters, p. 74)

"The testimonies are unread and unappreciated. God has spoken to you. Light has been shining from His word and from the testimonies, and both have been slighted and disregarded. (Testimonies, Vol. 5, p. 217)

"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. 5, p. 66).

"These books contain clear, straight, unalterable truth and they should certainly be appreciated. The instruction they contain is not of human production." (Letter H-339, Dec. 26, 1904)

"These books, giving the instruction that the Lord has given me during the last sixty years, contain light from heaven, and will bear the test of investigation." (Selected Messages, vol. 1, p. 35, 1906)

"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. 5, pp. 63-67).

"How many have read carefully Patriarchs and Prophets, The Great Controversy, and The Desire of Ages? I wish all to understand that my confidence in the light that God has given stands firm, because I know that the Holy Spirit's power magnified the truth, and made it honorable, saying: 'This is the way, walk ye in it.' In my books, the truth is stated, barricaded by a 'Thus saith the Lord.' The Holy Spirit traced these truths upon my heart and mind as indelibly as the law was traced by the finger of God, upon the tables of stone..." (Letter 90, 1906)

"I am thankful that the instruction contained in my books establishes present truth for this time. These books were written under the demonstration of the Holy Spirit." (Letter 50, 1906)

"After the passing of the time in 1844 we searched for the truth as for hidden treasure. I met with the brethren, and we studied and prayed earnestly... When they came to the point in their study where they said, "We can do nothing more," the Spirit of the Lord would come upon me. I would be taken off in vision, and a clear explanation of the passages we had been studying would be given me, with instruction as to how we were to labor and teach effectively. Thus light was given that helped us to understand the scriptures in regard to Christ, his mission, and his priesthood. A line of truth extending from that time to the time when we shall enter the city of God, was made plain to me, and I gave to others the instruction that the Lord had given me." (Review and Herald, May 25, 1905)

"I beg of you for Christ's sake to consider what I say; for I say it not of myself. It is the word of God to you." (Letter 25b, 1895, pp. 1-3, to Brother and Sister Hare, April, 1895)

"In the night season the Lord gives me instruction in symbols, and then explains their meaning. He gives me the word, and I dare not refuse to give it to the people." Ms. 22, 1890. {VSS 398.2}

"At times I am carried far ahead into the future and shown what is to take place. Then again I am shown things as they have occurred in the past. After I come out of vision I do not at once remember all that I have seen, and the matter is not so clear before me until I write, then the scene rises before me as was presented in vision, and I can write with freedom. Sometimes the things which I have seen are hid from me after I come out of vision, and I cannot call them to mind until I am brought before a company where that vision applies, then the things which I have seen come to my mind with force. I am just as dependent upon the Spirit of the Lord in relating or writing a vision, as in having the vision. It is impossible for me to call up things which have been shown me unless the Lord brings them before me at the time that He is pleased to have me relate or write them." (Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, pp. 292, 293)

"I testify the things which I have seen, the things which I have heard, the things which my hands have handled of the Word of life. And this testimony I know to be of the Father and the Son. We have seen and do testify that the power of the Holy Ghost has accompanied the presentation of the truth, warning with pen and voice, and giving the messages in their order. To deny this work would be to deny the Holy Ghost, and would place us in that company who have departed from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits." (Selected Messages vol. 2, p. 388)

"It has been presented to me that, so far as possible, I am to impart instruction in the language of the Scriptures; for there are those whose spiritual discernment is confused, and when their errors are reproved, they will misinterpret and misapply what I might write, and thus make of none-effect the words of warning that the Lord sends. He desires that the messages He sends shall be recognized as the words of eternal truth." (Letter 280, 1906, p. 4.)

"I saw the state of some who stood on present truth, but disregarded the visions--the way God had chosen to teach in some cases, those who erred from Bible truth. I saw that in striking against the visions they did not strike against the worm--the feeble instrument that God spake through--but against the Holy Ghost. I saw it was a small thing to speak against the instrument, but it was dangerous to slight the words of God. I saw if they were in error and God chose to show them their errors through visions, and they disregarded the teachings of God through visions, they would be left to take their own way, and run in the way of error, and think they were right, until they would find it out too late. Then in the time of trouble I heard them cry to God in agony, "Why didst Thou not show us our wrong, that we might have got right and been ready for this time?" Then an angel pointed to them and said, "My Father taught, but you would not be taught. He spoke through visions, but you disregarded His voice, and He gave you up to your own ways, to be filled with your own doings." (Broadside, To Those Who Are Receiving the Seal of the Living God, Jan. 31, 1849. Selected Messages Book 1, p. 40)

"The carnal mind is at enmity with God. I entreat the church at Battle Creek to heed the Testimonies of the Spirit of God. Do not say, "I believe them," and then contradict them in your daily life, refusing to walk in accordance with them." (Special Testimony to the Battle Creek Church, p. 11)

"The question is asked, How does Sister White know in regard to the matters of which she speaks so decidedly, as if she had authority to say these things? I speak thus because they flash upon my mind when in perplexity like lightning out of a dark cloud in the fury of a storm. Some scenes presented before me years ago have not been retained in my memory, but when the instruction then given is needed, sometimes even when I am standing before the people, the remembrance comes sharp and clear, like a flash of lightning, bringing to mind distinctly that particular instruction. At such times I cannot refrain from saying the things that flash into my mind, not because I have had a new vision, but because that which was presented to me, perhaps years in the past, has been recalled to my mind forcibly." (Manuscript 33, 1911)

"Early in my youth I was asked several times, Are you a prophet? I have ever responded, I am the Lord's messenger. I know that many have called me a prophet, but I have made no claim to this title. My Saviour declared me to be his messenger. 'Your work,' he instructed me, 'is to bear my word. ... It is not you that speaketh: it is the Lord that giveth the messages of warning and reproof. Never deviate from the truth under any circumstances . Give the light I shall give you. The messages for these last days shall be written in books, and shall stand immortalized, to testify against those who have once rejoiced in the light, but who have been led to give it up because of the seductive influences of evil.' Why have I not claimed to be a prophet?--Because in these days many who boldly claim that they are prophets are a reproach to the cause of Christ; and because my work includes much more than the word 'prophet' signifies." (Review and Herald, July 26, 1907)

"My commission embraces the work of a prophet, but it does not end there." (Selected Messages, vol. 1, p. 36, 1906)

"Some are ready to inquire: 'Who told Sister White these things?' They have even put the question to me: 'Did anyone tell you these things?' I could answer them: 'Yes; yes, the angel of God has spoken to me.' But what they mean is: 'Have the brethren and sisters been exposing their faults?' For the future, I shall not belittle the testimonies that God has given me, to make explanations to try to satisfy such narrow minds, but shall treat all such questions as an insult to the Spirit of God. God has seen fit to thrust me into positions in which He has not placed any other one in our ranks. He has laid upon me burdens of reproof that He has not given to any other one." (Testimonies, vol. 3, pp. 314, 315)

"God does nothing in partnership with Satan. My work for the past thirty years bears the stamp of God or the stamp of the enemy. There is no halfway work in the matter. The Testimonies are of the Spirit of God, or of the devil. In arraying yourself against the servants of God you are doing a work either for God or for the devil.” (Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 230)

"One stood by my side, and said: 'God has raised you up, and has given you words to speak to people and to reach hearts, and He has given to no other one.'" (Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 667)

"God has set me as a reprover of His people; and just so surely as He has laid upon me the heavy burden, He will make those to whom this message is given responsible for the manner in which they treat it. God will not be trifled with, and those who despise His work will receive according to their deeds." (Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 679) --------------------------------------- Today the church even admits to some literary "borrowing" - in other words, she used material from other books without giving credit to the authors. She even denies doing that and claims the words were her own or God's.

"My views were written independent of books or of the opinions of others." (Manuscript 7, 1867)

"And here I would state that although I am dependent upon the Spirit of the Lord in writing my views as I am in receiving them, yet the words I employ in describing what I have seen are my own, unless they be those spoken to me by an angel, which I always enclose in marks of quotation." (Review and Herald, Oct. 8, 1867)

"I have not been in the habit of reading any doctrinal articles in the paper, that my mind should not have any understanding of anyone's ideas and views, and that not a mold of any man's theories should have any connection with that which I write." . (Letter 37, 1887, p. 1. To E. J. Waggoner and A. T. Jones, Feb. 18, 1887; 3SM p. 63.)

"If Mrs. White has gathered the facts from a human mind in a single case she has in thousands of cases, and God has not shown her these things which she has written in these personal testimonies." (James White, Life Sketches (1880), p. 328)
You think individuals have prejudiced my mind. If I am in this state, I am not fitted to be entrusted with the work of God. Letter 16, 1893, p. 1. (To W. F. Caldwell, June 11, 1893.) {1MR 29.4}

What if you had said ever so much, would that affect the visions, that God gives me. If so, then th visions are nothing. . . .What you or anyone else has said is nothing at all. God has taken the matter in hand. . . .
What you have said, Sister_____, influenced me not at all. My opinion has nothing to do with what God has shown me in vision. Letter 6, 1851, pp. 1, 2. (To Brother and Sister Loveland, April 1, 1851.) {1MR 29.5}

That which I have written in regard to health was not taken from books or papers. As I related to others the things which I had been shown, the question was asked, "Have you seen the paper, The Laws of Life or the Water Cure Journal?" I told them No, I had not seen either of the papers. Said they, "What you have seen agrees very much with much of their teachings." I talked freely with Dr. Lay and many others upon the things which had been shown me in reference to health. I had never seen a paper treating upon health. {3SM 282.2}

After the vision was given me, my husband was aroused upon the health questions. He obtained books, upon our Eastern journey, but I would not read them. My view was clear, and I did not want to read anything until I had fully completed my books. My views were written independent of books or of the opinions of others.--Manuscript 7, 1867. {3SM 282.3}

I did not know that such works existed until September, 1863, when in Boston, Massachusetts, my husband saw them
advertised in a periodical called the Voice of the Prophets, published by Elder J. V. Himes. My husband ordered the works from Dansville and received them at Topsham, Maine. His business gave him no time to peruse them, and as I was determined not to read them until I had written out my views, the books remained in their wrappers.--RH, Oct. 8, 1867. {2BIO 82.1}

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In light of claims like these, I don't see how she could be viewed on the same level as inspirational writers of today - where we are free to pick & choose what material to accept or reject. That's not to say that she didn't write anything spiritual or useful. She has lots of beautiful material about God, but writing something inspirational does not make one a prophet, or the same could be said of Max Lucado, Phillip Yancey, Joyce Meyer, etc.

It is clear by her own admission and by the church's position on her (she has her own doctrine!) that she is considered far more than an inspirational writer.

So maybe it boils down to this - What is a prophet? What is the purpose of a prophet? If the messages are truly from God, we must follow them. If not, "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” (Deut. 18:22).

Yes, we can test some of what she says by the Bible, but not everything. She has lots of extra-Biblical information - she will spend a page describing what the Bible says one sentence about. There's no way to know if her account is true or if she was really "shown" those things - or if they are just her personal views. None of us were there, and the Bible doesn't give details on the matter.

When does this become a problem? When she misinterprets a verse and presents it in a different light than it was intended, and people don't question her interpretation of it because "she is a prophet" and her interpretation must be correct since God "showed" it to her.

An example of this is her use of Isa. 66:22-23. This is what it says - “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the Lord, “so will your name and descendants endure. From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the Lord.

She pulls a phrase out of there "from one Sabbath to another" and applies it to show we will be celebrating Sabbath in the new heaven and the new earth. If you read Isa. 65-66 it gives other descriptions of what will be in "the new heavens and the new earth" and it's clearly not talking about heaven. I've gone into this in other blogs, so I'm not going to elaborate, but I will point out the most glaring clue - Is. 65:20 (also giving a description about this topic) talks about people who die at 100 will be considered young. Clearly there's no death in heaven or the new earth, so this passage is talking about something else - not to mention this would also mean we would keep new moon festivals. And if there are no sun or moon in heaven then how would we keep the new moon or the sabbath?

And yet, Mrs. White has a chapter in her book Maranatha called "The Sabbath in the Hereafter" in which she quotes this phrase 4 times to "prove" we will be keeping Sabbath in heaven/new earth.

And in another place she writes: "And the Sabbath, which God declares to be the sign of the loyalty of His people, is placed in the bosom of the Decalogue. Its sanctity reaches into eternity; for God declares that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, His subjects shall come up to worship before Him in the earth made new. " {ST, April 7, 1898 par. 12}

Throughout her writings, I believe she puts emphasis on things that are wrong or not important, but she makes big deals over them, and most believe it to be true because she said so. For example, though the Bible's first mention of "Sabbath" isn't until Moses, but Ellen White says it was given before then. So because of her interpretation, we believe Adam & Eve, Noah, Abraham, etc. kept the Sabbath though the Bible has no mention of that. She applies texts to "support" her points, but if read in context I don't believe they do.

The Sabbath was embodied in the law given from Sinai; but it was not then first made known as a day of rest. The people of Israel had a knowledge of it before they came to Sinai. On the way thither the Sabbath was kept. When some profaned it, the Lord reproved them, saying, "How long refuse ye to keep My commandments and My laws?" Ex. 16:28. {DA 283.1}

The Sabbath was not for Israel merely, but for the world. It had been made known to man in Eden, and, like the other precepts of the Decalogue, it is of imperishable obligation. Of that law of which the fourth commandment forms a part, Christ declares, "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in nowise pass from the law." So long as the heavens and the earth endure, the Sabbath will continue as a sign of the Creator's power. And when Eden shall bloom on earth again, God's holy rest day will be honored by all beneath the sun. "From one Sabbath to another" the inhabitants of the glorified new earth shall go up "to worship before Me, saith the Lord." Matt. 5:18; Isa. 66:23. {DA 283.2}

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