Seventh Day Adventism and the Writings of Ellen G. White, page 1

J. Mark Martin
Calvary Communications
Pheonix, AZ 85069


Seventh-day Adventism is a reflection of its prophetess, Ellen G. White. It is inseparably united to her writings which are considered to be an authoritative source of truth. The Adventist church recognizes that it is indebted to and dependent upon Mrs. White's writings.

Mrs. White's writings are affectionately called, The Spirit of Prophecy by most Seventh-day Adventists. It is believed that her prophetic gift within the Adventist church is one of the proofs that it is the remnant church which keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus...the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy Revelation 12:17; 19:10.

In the book, The White Truth, published by the church in 1981 as a response to the recent discovery of Mrs. White's plagiarism, author John J. Robertson clearly sets forth the importance of Mrs. White's writings in the Adventist community. Robertson states that The influence of the spirit of prophecy [Mrs. White's writings] is woven into the warp and woof of Adventist faith, life, and organization...What we are as a church is a reflection of our faith in the divine authority evident in the writings of Ellen G. White The White Truth, p. 61 (emphasis supplied.)

The same year The White Truth was offered as a public defense of Mrs. White's writings, the church met in General Conference session and reworked its statement of beliefs. In what has come to be known as The Dallas Statement we see a clear expression of the extraordinary role Mrs. White's writings have in the church.

"One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and was manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White. As the Lord's messenger, her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth and provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teachings and experience must be tested statement 17 (emphasis added).


For years Seventh-day Adventists have called Mrs. White's writings an inspired commentary on the Bible. In 1980 the church also published The Pillars, a book defending the denomination's distinctive doctrines. In this book, popular Adventist pastor Morris L. Venden invites his readers to study fifteen facts with him. Fact #14" is especially interesting:

"Fact #14. There is hope for every remnant believer today who sometimes feels confused at all the differing views taken by different scholars and commentaries. We have an inspired commentary that was given for the purpose of settling the disagreements among the uninspired commentaries. What do you do when the scholars disagree? Do you have to become a better scholar than the best in order to settle the disagreement in your own mind? No, let me repeat. God has given to our church an inspired commentary to settle the disagreements among the uninspired commentaries. And we can still be thankful for that today The Pillars, p. 30 (emphasis added).


Mrs. White claimed that her writings were not of human origin, but were inspired by God.

"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, p. 293.

"In ancient times God spoke to men by the mouth of prophets and apostles. In these days He speaks to them by the testimonies of His Spirit.[Mrs. White's writings] There was never a time when God instructed His people more earnestly than He instructs them now concerning His will and the course that He would have them pursue. But will they profit by His teachings? Will they receive His reproofs and heed His warnings? Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, pp. 147-148 (emphasis supplied).

Sister Hall has just read me your letter to her. I am glad that you are having success in selling my books; for thus you are giving to the world the light that God has given me. 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, December 26, 1904 (emphasis added).

Yet now when I send you a testimony of warning and reproof, many of you declare it to be merely the opinion of Sister White. You have thereby insulted the Spirit of God.

Testimonies for the Church, vol 5, p. 661.

Those who are reproved by the Spirit of God should not rise up against the humble instrument. It is God, and not an erring mortal, who has spoken to save them from ruin". Testimonies for the Church,vol. 3, p. 257 (emphasis added).

A statement appearing in the official church paper, The Review and Herald, clearly states the high position in which Ellen White is held in the Adventist church.

Seventh-day Adventists hold that Ellen G. White performed the work of a true prophet during the seventy years of her public ministry. As Samuel was a prophet, as Jeremiah was a prophet, as John the Baptist, so we believe that Mrs. White was a prophet to the church of Christ today. The Review & Herald, October 4, 1928.


Arthur White, grandson of Ellen White and for years the head of the Ellen G. White Estate, made the following claim:

Seventh-day Adventists are uniquely fortunate in approaching the question of inspiration of the prophets. We are not left to find our way, drawing our conclusions from writings of two thousand years and more ago, that have come down to us through varied transcriptions and translations. With us it is an almost contemporary matter, for we have had a prophet in our midst. It is generally granted by the careful student of her works that the experience of Ellen G. White was no different from that of the prophets of old. What is more, rather than having in our possession only relatively few chapters or a handful of letters as is the case of the extant records of the Bible prophets, we have the full range of Ellen G. White's writings, penned through a period of 70 years. She wrote in the English language, so we are not confronted with the problems of translation...". The Ellen G. White Writings, p. 15.


The landmarks or pillars of Adventism have their roots in Ellen White. As these landmarks were being developed, Mrs. White had an unquestionably authoritative role in defining what would be defined as truth and error. Mrs. White describes how Adventist doctrine was established:

At that time [after the 1844 disappointment] one error after another pressed in upon us; ministers and doctors brought in new doctrines. We would search the Scripture with much prayer, and the Holy Spirit would bring the truth to our minds....The power of God would come upon me, and I was enabled clearly to define what is truth and what is error.

"As the points of our faith were thus established, our feet were placed upon a solid foundation. We accepted the truth point by point, under the demonstration of the Holy Spirit. I would be taken off in vision, and explanations would be given me. I was given illustrations of heavenly things, and of the sanctuary, so that we were placed where light was shining on us in clear, distinct rays. Selected Messages, bk. 3, pp. 31, 32 (emphasis added).


Mrs. White believed that her writings or testimonies, were inspired and therefore should never be questioned. To doubt her writings would be tantamount to doubting the Word of God.

While men ventured to criticize the Word of God, they venture on sacred, holy ground, and had better fear and tremble and hide their wisdom as foolishness. God sets no man to pronounce judgment on His word, selecting some things as inspired and discrediting others as uninspired. The testimonies [Mrs. White's writings] have been treated in the same way; but God is not in this. Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 23 (emphasis added).

"When the power of God testifies as to what is truth, that truth is to stand forever as the truth. No after suppositions contrary to the light God has given are to be entertained. Counsels to Writers and Editors, p. 31.