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Borrowing to Illustrate Spiritual Truth
Even though a great deal of study has been undertaken to find out more about her borrowing from other writers, there still exists, and will always exist, a difference of opinion as to the percentage borrowed. How could anyone ever hope to reconstruct all her sources?127 The truth is that we all borrow from each other, and from many sources of which we are scarcely aware.128 And it is difficult for us to sit in the mindset of those who lived in her age. Today we have tight copyright laws, which, in her day were just coming to the fore.
The first person to point out her borrowings from others was a former Adventist pastor D. M. Canright. Yet when the denomination wished to reprint Moses Hull's book The Bible from Heaven,129 they asked Canright to work it over to print it under his name. This he did and followed Hull's work very closely. He even felt free to put in the preface that the book had been written "after extensive reading and careful thought upon the subject."130 Neither James White nor the other Adventist leaders saw anything wrong with using the material from Hull. They all perceived what they wrote as belonging to a pool of common property with anyone free to dip into the pool.
This was also true of Ellen White's writings, they took from her and she took from them. Willie White comments: "All felt that the truths to be presented were common property and wherever one could help another or get from another in the expression of biblical truths, it was considered right to do so. Consequently there were many excellent statements of present truth copied by one writer from another. And no man said that ought which he wrote was exclusively his own. In the process of time many things which Sister White wrote and said were used by others without credit, and she in turn when dealing with prophetic exposition or doctoral statements felt free to use without credit the statements and
teachings of leading writers among the pioneers when she found in their writings the exact thought that she wished to present."131
When Ellen White used material from other Adventist writers in her book The Great Controversy132 she was doing what they all felt free to do with each other's writings. And although Canright tried to upset the Adventist community with the charges of plagiarism, they were never upset by what he revealed. It could well be that many were already aware of her borrowing practice. The books she borrowed from were often the same books she recommended the Adventist community to read.
Vincent Ramik a copyright-law specialist researched the legal aspects of her use of other writers and came to the conclusion in his report that there would have been no legal case against her in her day, and that he had his life changed forever by reading her books.133 William Hanna in the preface to his book The Life of Christ, one of Ellen White's sources for The Desire of Ages states, "Nor has he thought it necessary to burden the following pages with references to all the authorities consulted."134 It seems that Ellen White's time was a state of transition regarding the need to acknowledge the use of the writings of others. The important point to note is that we must not judge her by today's expectations, but see her operating within the context of her time and the expectations of that time.
Times and expectations do change. I now look back in horror that when I did my theological training we accepted the fact that the girls at Avondale only received about half the wages of the boys. They had to pay the same fees and all other costs were the same but because they were female they were paid less. No one, to my knowledge, ever questioned it, but looking at it through today's eyes, it was wrong.
God meets people where they are. He works within their cultural mindset. Ellen White wrote and borrowed in a way that appeared normal to her and her contemporaries. Today we think differently.135 Her mindset allowed her to borrow freely from other writers—as did others.136 Some of them we regard as great writers.
Debate has centred around how much of her work is borrowed from other authors. But the percentage she borrowed is not as important as why she borrowed. The truth is she borrowed to glorify Jesus. She borrowed to move people's heart to have faith in Him.
97After her death they found in her library a book entitled Sunshine and Shadows Along the Pathway of Life by M. G. Clarke. In the flyleaf of the book Ellen White had written a note that shows us her thinking regarding how she could use what she had read and appreciated so much in the book: "This is a book I esteem highly. Never let it be lost of [sic] this time. I appreciate it, I shall be pleased to keep this book for it has treasures of truth which I appreciate in presenting to many others."137
How Ellen White Wrote
It is important to understand how she did her work. Insights from her son, Willie, are helpful because probably no one understood her work better than he did, for he worked with her for many years. Willie states, "The great events occurring in the life of our Lord were presented to her in panoramic scenes as also were other portions of The Great Controversy. In a few of these scenes chronology and geography were clearly presented, but in the greater part of the revelation the flashlight scenes, which were exceedingly vivid, and the conversations and the controversies, which she heard and was able to narrate, were not marked geographically or chronologically, and she was left to study the Bible and history, and the writings of men who had presented the life of our Lord to get the chronological and geographical connection"138 It would seem that it was left to her to fill out these "flashlight scenes" and "panoramas" in her visions by studying the writings of others.139
In a letter he wrote to F. M. Wilcox, Willie gives more insights as to why she borrowed ideas from history: "Sister White has often quoted from history. Her descriptions of scenes presented to her in vision, and her use of the statements of historians, have been made for teaching the way of salvation, and not for the purpose of approving or correcting history. Her burden has been to make clear to the common people the character of the great controversy between good and evil, and to arouse in their hearts a hatred for sin and a loyalty to the King of Kings. . . .
"From this we may conclude that it is not the will of God that we use these writings to prove the historical accuracy of authors or to correct their errors. But rather that we use them to make clear to
the minds of men, the living truths of the Word of God, and the practical meaning of the signs of the times, and the fulfillment of prophecy. History has been used to illustrate the lessons of the book"140 (emphasis added).
Willie also makes the following, significant points: "The class of matter written by Mrs White, in which she used the writings of others, is comparatively small when considering the vast field covered by her writings. It is in the delineation in prophetic and doctrinal exposition that we find that she used the words of others or had closely paraphrased them. In the vast field covering thousands of pages of messages of encouragement, reproof, and spiritual instruction, she worked independent of all other writers, also in her divine prediction of future experiences through which the church must pass"141 (emphasis added).
It is important for us to note the reason she gathered the material from history, prophecy and doctrine is that she might bring home spiritual lessons to her readers. First and foremost she was fulfilling the role of a prophet as Paul had stated, "But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort" (1 Corinthians 14: 3). Above all else, she was concerned with upholding a high standard of Christian living. Doctrine was not her main concern unless she saw false doctrine undermining faith in Christ.
At the General Conference session in Minneapolis, in 1888, where the leadership was divided on the correct understanding of the law in Galatians and other theological points, George Knight makes the following observation, "The message of 1888, as Ellen White viewed it, is not doctrinal. We do not find her concerned with the law in Galatians, the covenants or the Trinity. Nor do we find her expounding upon the human or divine nature of Christ or sinless living as key elements of the message. She was not even obsessed with the doctrine of righteousness by faith. Her special interest was Jesus Christ, that Adventists might apply the attributes of His loving character to the practical experience of daily life, and that individuals go to Him for forgiveness."142
Bert Haloviak agrees: "In Dec of 1888, after noticing the spirit of those who defended the old position on Galatians, EGW noted: 'For the first time I began to think it might be we did not hold correct views after all, upon the law in Galatians, for the truth required no
such spirit to sustain it.' Notice how she explained issues to a group of ministers. . . . 'I am afraid of you and I am afraid of your interpretation of any scripture which has revealed itself in such an un-Christ-like spirit. . . . I am afraid of any application of scripture that needs such a spirit and bears such fruit as you have manifested. . . you could never have given a better refutation of your own theories than that you have done. . . . I have nothing to say, no burden regarding the law in Galatians. This matter looks to me of minor consequence in comparison with the spirit you have brought into your faith. . . . The most convincing testimony that we can bear to others that we have the truth is the spirit which attends the advocacy of that truth. If it sanctifies the heart of the receiver, if it makes him gentle, kind, forbearing, true and Christ-like, then he will give some evidence of the fact that he has the genuine truth."143
Here, Ellen White was more concerned with Christian conduct than theological correctness. In doing this she was fulfilling her role as a prophet. She borrows material from history, theology and prophecy with the main aim of helping to press home spiritual truths so that we might become better Christians. This she saw as far more important than being precisely accurate in every detail. In her introduction to The Great Controversy she states that she is using "well known and universally acknowledged . . . facts which none can gainsay."144 That is she is using facts which were commonly acknowledged by people in her era. Her purpose is that of spiritual application.
When we look at her writings we see that most of what she had to say is in the area of spiritual application of Scriptural principles to daily living. Comparatively speaking, only a small percentage of her writings have to do with deep theology. She was more concerned that we show the fruits of the Spirit in our daily living and follow in the footsteps of Christ.Raoul Dederen agrees, "As interpreter of the Bible, Ellen White's role was that of an evangelist—not an exegete, nor a theologian, as such, but a preacher and an evangelist. . . . No wonder, therefore, that the prophetic and hortatory mode was more characteristic of her than the exegetical . . . she was, in the typical prophetic attitude, primarily desirous to press the text into service for the immediate objective, that of the spiritual quickening of her hearers or readers. She lived in a century of evangelistic revival, and her main purpose was to arrest
attention and to bring conviction and repentance more than merely to relay information"145 (emphasis added).
Discussion of Ellen White's Writings
In the after-meeting of the 1919 Bible Conference, A. G. Daniells146 could speak with authority. He had on many occasions, along with W. W. Prescott, been part of the team that worked with her in the putting together of some of her books. During the course of the after-meeting he made this observation, "Well, now, as I understand it, Sister White never claimed to be an authority on history, and never claimed to be a dogmatic teacher on theology. She never outlined a course of theology, like Mrs. Eddy's book on teaching. . . .
She never claimed to be an authority on history . . . she was ready to correct in revision such statements as she thought should be corrected. I have never gone to her writings, and taken the history that I found in her writings, as the positive statement of history regarding the fulfilment of prophecy."147
At the after-meetings, H. C. Lacey adds an interesting comment: "In our estimate of the spirit of prophecy, isn't its value to us more in the spiritual light it throws into our own hearts and lives than in the intellectual accuracy in historical and theological matters? Ought we not to take those writings as the voice of the Spirit of our hearts, instead of as the voice of the teacher to our heads? And isn't the final proof of the spirit of prophecy its spiritual value rather than its historical accuracy?
"A. G. Daniels: Yes I think so."148
Not only did Ellen White's helpers have this view of her writing, but she supports this concept. Notice in a letter Willie wrote to S. N. Haskell (a letter she signs at the end with the comment, "I approve of the remarks made in this letter, [signed] Ellen White): "Regarding Mother's writings, she has never wished our brethren to treat them as authority on history. . . . When Controversy was written, Mother never thought that the readers would take it as an authority on historical dates and use it to settle controversies. . . ."149
At another time, Willie wrote, "Regarding Mother's writings, I have overwhelming evidence and conviction that they are the description and delineation of what God has revealed to her in vision, and where she has followed the description of historians or
the exposition of Adventist writers, I believe that God has given her discernment to use that which is correct and in harmony with truth regarding all matters essential for salvation. If it should be found by faithful study that she has followed some expositions of prophecy which in some detail regarding dates we cannot harmonize with our understanding of secular history, it does not influence my confidence in her writings as a whole any more than my confidence in the Bible is influenced by the fact that I cannot harmonize many of the statements regarding chronology."150
Here, Willie, some of her helpers, and Ellen White herself view her work as it should be seen, and in harmony with the one statement in Scripture which clearly tells why the gift of prophecy was given: "But everyone who prophecies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort" (1 Corinthians 14:3).
Perhaps we can understand her mindset even further when we read statements like this from The Desire of Ages: "In the story of the Good Samaritan, Christ illustrates the nature of true religion. He shows that it consists not in systems, creeds, or rites, but in the performance of loving deeds, in bringing the greatest good to others; in genuine goodness."151We can also see her understanding of different ideas as expressed in the Bible when she wrote "The Bible is not given to us in grand superhuman language. Jesus in order to reach man where he is, took humanity. The Bible must be given in the language of men. Everything that is human in imperfect. Different meanings are expressed by the same word; there is not one word for each distinct idea. The Bible was given for practical purposes."152 To her the Bible was primarily given to help us to find Jesus and tell us how to live. Not just to pass on information. Because of this she never got "hung up" as did some others because of the differences of details found within the Scriptures. She saw her own writings operating in the same manner. Her writings were primarily to help us find and maintain our faith in Jesus and teach us how to live in harmony with His will. In doing this she was fulfilling the role of a prophet.
The Problem of Historical Inaccuracies
It can be unsettling for some to come to grips with the fact that there are historical inaccuracies in her writings, so let's explore this matter further. In her appendix to a draft copy of Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 2
she makes this comment: "A special request is made that if any find incorrect statements in this book they will immediately inform me. The edition will be completed about the first of October; therefore send before that time."153
When writing The Great Controversy she made this request, "Tell Mary to find me some histories of the Bible that would give me the order of events. I have nothing and can find nothing in the library here" (Letter 38, 1885).154 And we know in order to get a chronology for the life of Christ when writing The Desire of Ages, she consulted Samuel J. Andrews The Life of our Lord Upon the Earth.155
The evidence is clear that she was open to help and willing to consult others in regards to historical details. This has not always been widely understood until recent times. In her day there were some well informed on this matter, an inner circle who helped her in her work. Sadly this knowledge was not widely known156 in her time and almost lost after her death. We will investigate how this came about in chapter 18 on the 1919 Bible Conference.
In 1982 an Adventist pastor in Czechoslovakia gave a copy of The Great Controversy to Dr. Amedo Molnar of Prague University. He was asked to give an evaluation on her work in his area of speciality, namely the Waldenses, Wycliffe, Huss, and Jerome. In his letter he notes her errors regarding the facts of history and how there are many important historical events omitted. He repeats the idea that it seems to him that she is not writing history but rather is giving a meaning to history. He states, "The impulse of her work lies in the interpretation of the sense of historical events teaching the believing and hoping Christian, i.e. it lies in another field other than proper historical research. As far as her work . . . is not used as a substitute for the strictly historical research . . . it may feed an eschatological hope of the believing Christians"157
In other words, she is not a historian. Rather, she is giving a meaning to history. She is interpreting history for Christians. Today these historical inaccuracies are acknowledged by the White Estate; but this should not be a problem for those who have a correct view of her work.158
In the 1970s, William S. Peterson wrote an article "A textual and historical study of Ellen White's account of the French Revolution." He was very critical of her work from a historian's point of view claiming
that she had: Not used the best sources available to her; she had used her sources carelessly; they were strongly anti-Catholic sources; they were weak on factual evidence; sometimes she had misread them; at other times she had exaggerated them; and occasionally she left out crucial facts.
Ron Graybill, a research assistant in the White Estate was given the job of checking out the work of Peterson. In the Summer of 1972 Spectrum, Graybill responded to Peterson's work on the "French Revolution" chapter of The Great Controversy. A study of the notes left by Clarence Crisler, Ellen White's secretary, showed that she was not misusing sources at all. The notes showed that she took the history in this chapter straight out of Uriah Smith's Thoughts on Daniel and Revelation. Uriah Smith was the poor historian and she followed his lead.159
It is well known that the 1888 edition of The Great Controversy was revised in 1911. The plates for the older edition had worn and so there was an opportune time for a reprint and revision. She received advice from Prescott and accepted some of his advice.160 Among the changes were: In the 1888 edition she wrote, "The Waldenses were the first of all the peoples of Europe to obtain a translation of the Holy Scriptures." In the 1911 edition she said, "The Waldenses were among the first of the peoples of Europe to obtain a translation of the Holy Scriptures." In the 1888 edition she said the fall of Babylon cannot refer to the Romish Church because it fell in the early centuries. In the 1911 edition she wrote that the fall of Babylon cannot refer to the Roman Church alone.
When the new edition was released it was met with a mixed reaction. W. A. Spicer felt there should have been more changes and blamed the editors.161 One gets the impression that, particularly toward the end of her life, she was significantly relying upon the input of others in the production of her books.162 This point is made even stronger when we read a letter written to W. W. Prescott from her secretary Clarence E. Crisler. In this letter he appeals to Prescott to come to give some help in the work of Ezra (which must have been for writing the book Prophets and Kings). In this letter he makes a list of the problem areas they need help and then says at the end, "I am sure that Sister White would be specially pleased and cheered, if she could know that you were coming soon to help us over hard places."163
Understanding Her Purpose
That she had people helping her do her work should not cause too much concern when we understand that Paul's writings also show evidence of such help (see chapter four, "Literary assistance for inspired writers"). And if we also have clearly in mind her purpose in writing was to take material from history to impress home spiritual truth by way of illustration. And, of course, 1 Corinthians 14:3 must remain the theme text: "But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort."
Even in her day, not everyone had this idea clearly in mind and they gave her writings an authority beyond what was appropriate. This could account for the protest that Prescott made to Willie in the year that Ellen White died. "It seems to me that a large responsibility rests upon those of us who know that there are serious errors in our authorized books and yet make no special effort to correct them. The people and our average ministers trust us to furnish them with reliable statements, and they use them as sufficient authority in their sermons, but we let them go on year after year asserting things we know to be untrue. . . .
The way your mother's writings have been handled and the false impression concerning them which is still fostered among the people have brought great perplexity and trial to me. It seems to me that what amounts to deception, though probably not intentional, has been practiced in making some of her books, and that no serious effort has been made to disabuse the minds of the people of what was known to be their wrong view concerning her writings. But it is no use to go into these matters. I have talked to you for years about them, but it brings no change. I think however that we are drifting toward a crisis which will come sooner or later and perhaps sooner. A very strong reaction has already set in."164
Prescott's letter is indeed a serious one. It seems Willie White and Prescott held to the same ideas regarding how Ellen White's work was produced, their difference lay in the fact that Prescott felt Adventists should be better informed.165 What he says is hinted at in the conversation of the 1919 Bible Conference after-meeting. It seems many Adventists held to a view of verbal inspiration regarding her writings.166 J. N. Anderson asks the question "Is it well to let our
people in general to go on holding to the verbal inspiration of the Testimonies? When we do that, aren't we preparing for a crisis that will be very serious some day?"167
We will return to the subject of Adventists and their views of inspiration later. Meanwhile it is important to keep in mind Ellen White's understanding of her work. Regarding the writing of The Great Controversy, she states in the introduction, the purpose of the book, "To unfold the scenes of the great controversy between truth and error; to reveal the wiles of Satan, and the means by which he may be successfully resisted; to present a satisfactory solution of the great problem of evil, shedding such a light upon the origin and the final disposition of sin as to make fully manifest the justice and benevolence of God in all His dealings with His creatures; and to show the holy, unchanging nature of His law, is the object of this book."168
She also talks in terms of how she viewed the material from history that she borrowed, "The great events which have marked the progress of reform in past ages are matters of history, well known and universally acknowledged by the Protestant world. . . ."169 (Emphasis added). That is, she is telling us that she is using ideas accepted by the Protestant world of her day to present the Advent message to them. If God had given her information we know to be more correct today her book would have been rejected by many who felt they were well informed in her era. We have seen that God meets people where they are to give to them His messages about Jesus. In doing this she was in harmony with how God has used prophets in the past.
We must keep clearly in mind her stated purpose and then we will not stumble on some of the details as she uses history—as it was understood by many in her time—to illustrate spiritual lessons. The Great Controversy was never meant to be the final word on history, prophecy or theology. She borrowed much of her material from other Adventist writers, particularly Andrews and Smith.170 She was willing to make changes when she had input from others and no doubt she would continue to do so if she were alive. The book was prepared for public usage to be sold as an evangelistic tool to win people to Adventism, using concepts that Adventism had at that time of its development.171
Some say that when she states "I saw" her words have special authority. However, we know there were times when she used these words and then quoted from the works of others. It could be that the words "I saw" or "I was shown" mean "she saw" or "was shown" through the study of books. There are even times when she uses the words of authors when describing words she had heard spoken in vision. Ron Graybill an Associate Secretary of the White Estate made the following comments in a series of General Conference Worships in 1981
"Did Mrs. White ever borrow when she was reporting a vision? Did she ever say 'I was shown' and then proceed to borrow? The answer to that is 'yes,' although examples of it are not very plentiful. They are quite rare. I know of only three clear and unequivocal examples."172 Graybill then goes on to give examples and show how the handwritten drafts of her material were even closer to the source than the published versions which followed. This was no doubt due to the work of her literary assistants. Graybill adds further light to her borrowings with the following comments "She also employed extra-biblical comments on the lives of various biblical characters, often turning the speculations and conjectures of her sources into statements of positive fact. Sometimes similar use was made of their comments on the thoughts and activities of supernatural beings, that is, God, Satan, and their respective angels. . . . These borrowings occurred not only in the historical sections of The Great Controversy but also in its prophetic sections.173
If we continue to see her work in harmony with her stated purpose, and the stated purpose of Scripture for prophets then we should find no problem with the above data.
Problems only arise when we claim more for her works than she claimed for them herself. She made this helpful comment: "The written testimonies are not to give new light, but to impress vividly upon the heart the truths of inspiration already revealed. . . . Additional truth is not brought out; but God has through the Testimonies simplified the great truths already given" (5T 665).
127 It is probably wrong to assert that Ellen White was uneducated. She was self-educated. It is obvious that she was an avid reader with a retentive memory. [back]
128 Edward Young: conjectures on Original Composition quoted in Plagarism W. A. Edwards, Cambridge Press, London. 1933, "So few are our originals, that if all other books were burnt, the lettered world would resemble some metropolis in flames, where a few incombustible buildings—a fortress, a temple, a tower—lift their heads in melancholy grandeur, amid the mighty ruin." p. 14.
Perhaps it may help us to think in terms of her age if we think of the following statements:
A friend of Samuel Johnson, discussing the subject of criticism with him, remarked that critics of repute labored under a burden: they were expected to be saying witty and meaningful things all the time, and it was a heavy tax on them. 'It is indeed a very heavy tax,' said Dr. Johnson, 'a tax which no man can pay who does not steal.
There are, in history of literature, few examples of alchemy as vivid and unassailable as "Kubla Khan" and "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." Coleridge poured the essence of dozens of strange and obscure travel books into his masterpieces. The more we scan his sources—the greater is our wonder at the supreme skill with which he assimilated and metamorphosed what he took and the keener our realization that the result was irrevocably his. Ibid., p 84-85.
"In The Pickworth Paper Dickens sifted Boswell's Life of Johnson, drew more heavily on Washington Irivne (he copied some passages from Irvine verbatim, lifted descriptions with slight alterations, and adapted some of Irving's tales, and plucked freely from contemporary papers and journals, song and travel books, comedies, fiction, poetry, essays, and biography. It has been said that A Tale of Two Cities owes its very existence to Carlyle's French Revolution . . . and that a A Child's History of England is little more than a copy of Goldsmith's History of England. Ibid., p. 86. These statements give us an insight into the mind set of those who lived closer to the world of Ellen White. [back]
129 It could no longer be published under Hull's name as he had left the denomination and become a spiritualist. [back]
130 For a more complete reading of this incident see Ron Graybill's article in Insight, 21 October, 1980, p. 7-10. [back]
131 "Brief Statements Regarding The Writings of Ellen G. White." Prepared by W. C. White and D. E. Robinson. p. 7. [back]
132 She says in the introduction, "In narrating the experience and views of those carrying forward the work of reform in our own time, similar use has been made of their published works." [back]
133 "Was EGW a Plagiarist?" Four articles printed in Adventist Review, commencing September 17, 1981. [back]
135 Those wishing to read more on her mindset should read "Was Ellen White a Pious Fraud" by Jack Provonsha. Unpublished article available from the White Research Center. [back]
136 See footnotes 4-7. [back]
137 A photocopy of the original was sent to all Research Centers by Robert Olsen Secretary of the White Estate on March 9, 1983. [back]
138 3SM, pp. 459-460. [back]
"In some of the historical matters such as are brought out in Patriarchs
and Prophets and in Acts of the Apostles, and in Great
Controversy, the main outlines were made very clear and plain to her, and
when she came to write up these topics, she was left to study the Bible and
history to get dates and geographical relations and to perfect her description
of details." p. 462.
140 Letter from Willie White to F. M. Wilcox, April 27, 1915. DF 107d. [back]
141 W. C. White and D. E. Robinson, "Brief Statements Regarding the Writings of EGW." August 1933, p. 19-20. Perhaps this concept of her ministry was developed early in her ministry. This seems to be the implications of her statement regarding her ministry with that of her husband. She wrote: "Our meetings were usually conducted in such a manner that both of us took part. My husband would give a doctrinal discourse, then I would follow with an exhortation of considerable length, melting my way into the feelings of the congregation. Thus my husband sowed and I watered the seed of truth, and God did give the increase." 1T, p. 75. [back]
142 George Knight, From 1888 To Apostasy, Review and Herald, 1987, p. 69. [back]
143 Bert Haloviak, "Ellen White and the Pharisees," Two unpublished sermons preached at Beltsville SDA Church, Oct, 23, 1982. [back]
144 The Great Controversy, p. xi. [back]
145 Raoul Dederen was professor of theology, SDA Theological Seminary, Andrews University when he wrote this article entitled "Ellen White's Doctrine of Scripture" in a special supplement to Ministry, July, 1977, p. 24. [back]
146 The 1919 after-meeting was held with church administrators and Bible teachers to try and sort out some of the wrong views coming to the fore regarding the use of Ellen White's writings. This meeting was held just 4 years after her death. [back]
147 1919 Bible Conference Minutes printed in Spectrum, Vol. 10, No. 1, May 1979, p. 34. [back]
148 Ibid., p. 38. [back]
149 Willie White to S. N. Haskell, October 31, 1912. For the background to the writing of this letter see Ministry August 1997 article by George Knight "The Case Of The Overlooked Postscript: A Footnote On Inspiration." pp. 9-11. In The Great Controversy it is estimated that she quotes from 88 authors but at times she is using secondary sources. For example when she cites Scott, Thiers and Alison in her chapters on the French Revolution, her sources for these quotations was Uriah Smith's Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation. Robert Olsen, "Ellen White's use of historical sources in The Great Controversy," Adventist Review, February 23, 1984, p. 4. [back]
150 3SM, pp. 449-450. [back]
151 DA, p. 497. [back]
152 1SM, p. 20. [back]
153 3SM, p. 58. [back]
154 Ibid., p. 122. [back]
155 Ibid., p. 123. [back]
156 Evidence of this is found in a letter to her from W. W. Giles which reads "I enclose $25 [by] bank draft. It is intended as payment to you for composing or writing a small pamphlet embodying answers and explanations to the ten paragraphs on enclosed sheet. . . . In case you think of other tricks of Satan to ensnare sinners who are anxious to be saved, please add it to the work. I suppose it will require about 40 or 60 pages of a pamphlet." Letter W. W. Giles to EGW, 5/7/1890. [back]
157 Prof. Dr. Amedeo Molnar, 21st June 1982 translated by Miloslav Sustek. [back]
158 "Historical Difficulties In The Great Controversy" by Ron Graybill associate secretary of the White Estate. [back]
159 Don McAdams, "Shifting Views on Inspiration." Spectrum, Vol. 10, No. 4, pp. 30-31. [back]
160 A little more than half of his 105 suggestions were accepted by her. [back]
161 "It is too bad that the editors of these manuscripts should try to settle some of these controverted questions where authorities disagree. . . .We have had quite a battle, some of us, for several years, trying to make the brethren see that it was not right to claim any extraordinary authority for matters of this kind. While this is conceded enough privately, the difficulty has been, it seems to me, that courage has been lacking to take a straight and consistent position. Years ago, I urged W. C. W. to have a statement in the revised "Great Controversy" that would relieve the whole situation. I hoped it would have been there, but it has not been made. People are left to run across places where the revised edition corrects statements in the old edition, and then some poor soul has a worrying time over it, when it is altogether unnecessary. The trouble is all in the book-making, and there has been too much of an effort on the part of the book-makers, I believe, to emphasize the fact that they do it all under observation, as though that would make sure of inspiration and correct work. . . . I believe the editors have been a little hard to deal with in accepting suggestions, . . . A comparison of the new and old editions of "Great Controversy" will show many things changed, although some things should surely have been corrected further. . . . " W. A. Spicer to L. R. Conradi, November 30, 1914. 21bk 63, p. 618, Spicer was secretary of the General Conference at the time of writing.
Spicer also was upset with the part the bookmakers had in her book Sketches from the Life of Paul he complains "The charge of plagiarism in Sister White's books was raised by D. M. Canright. Sketches from the Life of Paul was made up, unfortunately, from manuscripts by Sister White, with the gaps filled in by extracts from Conybeare and Howson's Life of Paul here and there . . . those responsible for such a job should never have done what they did, and the book was withdrawn from circulation. I do not suppose Conybeare and Howson, if they are alive, ever heard of the book. I think the book-makers had no right to use the matter as they did, and I think those responsible for it years ago felt the same after they had done it. That is why I suppose the book has not been continued in print." W. A. Spicer to E. W. Webstere, February 14, 1910. 21 bk 53, p.188. [back]
162 For a more complete study "A Response to Two Explanations of W .W. Prescott's 1915 Letter." A paper by Gilbert M. Valentine June 1981, Andrews University. [back]
163 Clarence E. Crisler to W.W. Prescott, December 27, 1907. [back]
164 W. W. Prescott to W. C. White, April 6, 1915. [back]
165 This point has been substantiated by Gilbert Valentine in his paper "A Response to Two Explanations of W. W. Prescott's 1915 letter." June 1981 Andrews University. [back]
166 Verbal inspiration is the idea that God gave the prophet every word to write. It was a view widely held in the Christian world in the days when they were speaking and still held today. This is different to thought inspiration and the methods of inspiration we have been writing about in chapter. . . . If most of our people held to this view then it would mean that it would be difficult to explain to them the way in which she was doing her work. [back]
167 1919 Bible Conference p. 46. [back]
168 Ellen White, The Great Controversy, xii. [back]
169 Ibid., xii. [back]
170 Ibid., She states "In narrating the experience and views of those carrying forward the work of reform in our own time, similar use has been made of their published works. [back]
171 At the same time it must be noted that she never got involved in the concept of Turkey being the "King of the North" as found in the writings of Uriah Smith and others. She does keep to the main theme of the "End Time" as being a religious contest between those who wish to be found loyal to Jesus by keeping His commandments and those who reject the law of God. [back]
172 E. G. White's work: An Update. General Conference Worship, November 15-19, 1981. Ron Graybill, Associate Secretary, E. G. White Estate. [Edited transcript of tape recording], p. 6. [back]
173 Ibid., Graybill also states her sources "She draws upon Uriah Smith in the chapter on the Sanctuary. She draws upon J. N. Andrews on the history of the Sabbath. She draws on her husband, James White, in the history of the Millerite Movement." pp. 19-20. Those wishing to study in detail the nature of her borrowings should study Graybill's worship series which is available from the E. G. White Centre. [back]