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More than a Prophet is a book that was born out of the raging controversy over the credibility of Ellen White as an inspired writer. Books, videos, and thousands of web sites are attempting to destroy the credibility of the gift of prophecy manifested in the ministry and writings of Ellen White. Surprisingly, most of the attacks against Ellen White come from former Adventists, some of whom were church pastors. Part of the problem has been the failure of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to educate its members regarding the human limitations of the gift of prophecy manifested in Bible prophets as well as Ellen White.
To respond to the many attacks against Ellen White, Prof. Graeme Bradford spent twenty years of his life examining and digesting the writing of Ellen White in the light of the manifestation of the gift of prophecy in biblical prophets. By examining the human side of Bible prophets as revealed in scripture, Bradford shows that the problems they encountered, were not much different from the criticism brought against Ellen White.
Prof. Bradford clearly states the objective of his book, saying: "Let me say from the outset, I write this book as one having great confidence in the prophetic gift as it has been used in the ministry of Ellen White. After reading and studying the evidence for and against her work, I emerge as a strong believer. However, I also realize that the Adventist Church has not always used this gift wisely. Despite her protests during her lifetime, after her death unrealistic expectations were placed upon her writings by those who saw her as a means to settle questions on a variety of subjects. It is imperative that the Church places her ministry
where the Bible would have it placed. If this is not forthcoming then the gift that God designed to be a blessing can become counterproductive."
Prof. Bradford maintains that there is a grave danger for Adventism to hold on to a 19th century eschatology and thus become irrelevant to the great issues facing the church in the 21st century. He firmly believes that a rediscovery of the real Ellen White, will lead to a rediscovery of what God intended Adventism to be.
I first read the manuscript More than a Prophet about 5 years ago. This study helped me greatly to gain a balanced understanding of the prophetic ministry of Ellen White. In fact, I used some of the material in preparing the Endtime Issues Newsletter No. 88, entitled "A Plea for a balanced Understanding of Ellen White's Writings."
Favorable evaluations by respected Adventist church leaders and scholars gave me reasons to believe that the manuscript would be published speedily, in view of the urgent need to restore confidence in the validity of the gift of prophecy manifested in the writings, preaching, and teachings of Ellen White.
Unfortunately, the publication of the manuscript has been delayed for several years. Apparently the perception has been that the manuscript was too demanding for the average reader. Eventually the decision was made to repackage the manuscript in an abbreviated and simpler version that was published in two booklets Prophets Are Human and People Are Human: Look at What they Did to Ellen White! These two booklets, published by Signs Publishing Company in 2004 and 2006 respectively, are written in a fiction-style, with a couple asking questions about Ellen White, and a pastor giving answers which are biblical and faith affirming. Both of these books are available in ABCs in Australia, New Zealand and North America. Pacific Press is the distributor for them in North America.
The two booklets have a popular appeal and will serve a useful purpose. But, my experience has been that an increasing number of educated Adventists, prefer to put their teeth into a substantive study that examines questions in a more analytical way. This conviction motivated me to ask Prof. Graeme Bradford permission to publish the unabridged manuscript, as part of the Biblical Perspectives series.
Bradford enthusiastically accepted my proposal and emailed me the latest edited version of the manuscript.
Words fail to express my appreciation to Prof. Bradford for allowing Biblical Perspectives (my publishing venture) to publish More than a Prophet. This book is long overdue and will help greatly in restoring confidence in the prophetic gift of Ellen White. It is my conviction that this book could have prevented the departure of thousand of Adventist members, who claim to have found serious mistakes and contradictions in Ellen White's writings. This book would have helped them to understand what the Bible teaches regarding the gift of prophecy, namely, that prophets are human. There are times when they communicate a message from God, but there are also times when they speak their own mind. This was true for Bible prophets and it is also true for Ellen White.
The scope of More than a Prophet extends beyond an analysis of the prophetic ministry of Ellen White. It includes also an informative discussion of the conflicts between Fundamentalists and Liberal Evangelicals in the twentieth century. According to Prof. Bradford this conflict affected the Adventist church, especially in elevating the writings of Ellen White to a higher level of authority that she never intended.
What I found most informative is the analysis of the attempts made by Adventist church leaders and scholars at the 1919 Bible Conference and more recently at the 1982 Prophetic Guidance Workshop sponsored by the E. G. White Estate, to deal with prevailing misconceptions over the inspiration of Ellen White. At both meetings it was agreed to take steps to inform the church membership about the borrowing of Ellen White and her inaccuracies in the area of history, science, and theology. It was agreed that a correct understanding of her limitations, did not negate her inspiration, but would certainly affect her function and authority.
Tragically, no steps were ever taken, because it was felt that Adventist members would be shaken by the new information, which was so different from what they had been taught. The result has been the deepening of the division among Adventists over the authority of Ellen White. On the one hand, there are Adventists who firmly believe in
the inerrancy and verbal inspiration of all what Ellen White wrote. For them Ellen White is the final court of appeal that supersedes even the Bible. But, on the other hand, there are Adventists who have lost their confidence in the authority of her writings, and sometimes choose to leave the church. Antagonism toward Ellen White is especially evident in most European countries where the use of her writings, especially in preaching, has become a taboo.
I commend Prof. Bradford for devoting many years of his life to provide answers to many challenging questions Adventists and non-Adventists are asking about the prophetic ministry of Ellen White. He is a man with both a passion for truth and a passion for people. He informed me that he plans to devote his retirement years to reclaim members who left the Adventist church, especially because of troubling questions about the inspiration of Ellen White.
It is my fervent hope and prayer that More than a Prophet, the fruit of many years of painstaking research, will help many honest seekers to find honest answers to questions about Ellen White.
Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph. D.