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Ellen White and the SDA Church: Sligo Series

by Bert Haloviak

This paper is the expanded and updated document that was the basis for and resulted from a two session series given in the Sligo SDA church, Oct. 22 and 29, 1980.  Haloviak here  presents an historical analysis of different views of the work and role of Ellen White that existed both during and in the years immediately following her death.  Noting that "a score or more" of those who "were regarded as the most dynamic preachers and leaders within the church" near the turn of the century, had, within the next decade, not only left the church but were "working actively against" it, he says, "The question to resolve is why did this happen?"  He goes on to suggest that "an important reason relates to their mistaken concepts of the role of the gift of prophecy within the church and the disunity that erupted within the church over those concepts of the role of Ellen White".  

He sees these "varying understandings of the role for the writings of Ellen White" as fitting into "two broad categories" which he labels "exegetical" and "non-exegetical" functions. Demonstrating how "mistaken concepts" in these areas played a vital role in the changed attitudes of some described above, he concludes that understanding how this dynamic works and developing correct concepts of the use and relevance of her writings is vital for us today.  

Here is the "General Observation" with which he introduces his presentations.

I suggest that the work of Ellen White within the church was intended to be a corporate or cooperative experience and that by assigning to her roles that were designed to be the responsibility of the corporate body, or by failing to fulfill those roles that were the responsibility of the corporate body [the church], we might have rendered the gift of prophecy irrelevant in certain areas that I consider should be vitally relevant today. I am really suggesting that we have not taken the writings of Ellen White seriously enough since we have been content with quick, ready answers to complex question by relying on a phrase or two, usually taken without understanding the contextual situation she was addressing. By a corporate approach to understanding the gift of prophecy, I am not suggesting that we all, in a sense, have the spirit of prophecy, but rather that the church as a whole is involved in the process of understanding how God blessed the church with this gift. There were many examples when Ellen White was shown things in vision that she, herself, did not understand and hoped that church leadership would understand.

Ellen White and the SDA Church; Part I

Ellen White and the SDA Church; Part II

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