By David A. Beck
Ellen G. White
Another self-proclaimed latter-day prophet was Ellen G. White, the founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. She claimed that all she said came from 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 in the time that he is pleased to have me relate or write them.”(1)
Maurice Barnett quotes the Adventist Review, “We believe that Ellen White was inspired by the Holy Spirit and that her writings, the product of inspiration, are particularly applicable and authoritative to Seventh-day Adventists. . . We do not believe that the quality or degree of inspiration in the writings of Ellen White is different from that of Scripture.”(2)
Mrs. White was greatly influenced by William Miller, a prophet of the “Second Adventism” movement. He and his followers believed in six distinguishing doctrines: (1) No hell, or punishment for the wicked. (2) No conscious existence after death. (3) The destiny of man is everlasting life on earth. (4) The end of the world is nearly here. (5) After Jesus came, he would judge the world, resurrect those in the grave, and renovate the earth to sinless perfection. (6) His second coming would be sometime between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844.(3)
When their expectations failed to materialize, they set a second date of October 22, 1844. According to Mrs. White, when these prophecies failed, she received in a vision a message from God. Thus began her “ministry.”(4)
Mrs. White made health reform rules a matter of faith. Adventists, for the most part, are vegetarians. Barnett quotes from Counsels on Diet and Food (p. 380), “Again and again, I have been shown that God is trying to lead us back, step by step, to His original design – that man should subsist upon the natural products of the earth. . . Vegetables, fruits, and grains should compose our diet. Not an ounce of flesh-foods should enter our stomachs. The eating of flesh is unnatural.”(5) Mrs. White further claimed, “We are composed of what we eat, and eating much flesh will diminish the intellectual activity. . . A religious life can be more successfully gained and maintained if meat is discarded, for this diet stimulates into intense activities lustful propensities, and enfeebles the moral ind spiritual nature. ‘The flesh warreth against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh’ . . . . From the light God has given me, the prevalence of cancers and tumors is largely due to gross living on dead flesh . . . cancers, tumors, scrofula, tuberculosis, and numbers of other like affections.”(6)
Mrs. White originally forbade the use of butter, eggs, milk, and cheese, but she later changed her teaching.(7)
Obviously, not only are Mrs. White’s “inspired” dietary demands unsound both medically and scientifically, but they are specifically warned against in the word of God. In 1 Timothy 4:1-5, God specifically mentions false prophets who will, “command to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.”
Ellen G. White, in 1849, said, “If any among us are (sic) sick, let us not dishonor God by applying to earthly physicians, but apply to the God of Israel. If we follow His divine directions (James 5:14-15) the sick will be healed. God’s promise cannot fail.” However, in 1864, in volume 2 of Spiritual Gifts, she denied that earlier statement, and claimed to have “always held” the position that consulting an earthly physician could “sometimes . . . be very necessary.”” Her writings are full of such obvious contradictions.
Mrs. White taught that acquired conditions or characteristics could be passed on to one’s children in some way. In Health Reformer (Vol. 6, No. 5, 1871, p. 157), she states, “‘But my waist is naturally slender,’ says one woman. She means that she has inherited small lungs. Her ancestors more or less of them, compressed their lungs in the same way that we do [tight laced corsets (DAB)], and it has become in her case a congenital deformity. This leads us to one of the worst aspects of the whole matter the transmitted results of indulgence in their deadly vice.”(8) Genetic science absolutely refutes such claims.
Note, also, her teaching on the use of wet-nurses for one’s babies: “A stranger performs the duties of the mother and gives from her breast the food to sustain life. Nor is this all. She also imparts her temper and her temperament to the nursing child. The child’s life is linked to hers. If the hireling is a course (sic) type of woman, passionate and unreasonable; if she is not careful in her morals, the nursling will be, in all probability, of the same or similar type. The same course (sic) quality of blood, coursing in the veins of the hireling nurse is in that of the child” (Health Reformer, Vol. 6, Number 3, 1871, p. 45).(9) Barnett asks, will a baby fed on cow’s milk have a tendency to eat grass and run in the fields? There is no basis in medical science for such nonsensical teaching.
Another of Ellen G. White’s “inspired” teachings concerned the wearing of wigs. “The artificial hair and pads covering the base of the brain, heat and excite the spinal nerves centering in the brain. The head should ever be kept cool. The heat caused by these artificials induces the blood to the brain. The action of the blood on the lower, or animal organs of the brain, causes unnatural activity, tends to recklessness in morals, and the mind and heart are in danger of being corrupted. As the animal organs are excited and strengthened, the moral are enfeebled. The moral and intellectual powers of the mind become servants to the animal. Such lose their power to discern sacred things.” She further claimed that the wearing of wigs produced congestion and baldness.(10)
It is obvious that Mrs. White’s “prophecies” concerning science and health contained major flaws, yet she is considered an inspired prophet; her word is equal in quality to Scripture, according to Adventists.
According to Mrs. White, William Miller in 1840 predicted that the second coming of Christ would occur in 1843. When this event failed to happen, she and other “faithful” disciples of Miller began to search for answers.(11)
Soon, Mrs. White was speaking on behalf of the Seventh-day Adventists, a group which “discovered” that Christ had not returned yet because the church, through the influence of Roman Catholicism, had discarded observance of the Sabbath.(12) Mrs. White, in November, 1848, claimed the “Time of Trouble,” just prior to the second advent “had begun.”(13) On January 5, 1849, she said the “Time of Trouble” had not begun yet, but was “nearly finished.”(14) Present Adventists still believe the second coming of Christ is “at hand.”(15) Like the Mormons, Adventists try to “explain away” these failures, but if a prophet is truly inspired, his prophecies will be true.
Charles T. Russell
Charles T. Russell, the founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization, became interested in a splinter group of Adventists, who believed the second advent would take place in 1874. He became associated with them in 1868. By 1877, he had published a book claiming that Christ’s second advent had begun invisibly in the fall of 1874.(16)
On July 1, 1879, Russell printed the first edition of Zions Watch Tower. He had severed all connections with the Adventists.(17)
It was claimed by Rutherford, of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Organization, that in 1881 Russell became a spokesman for God. This claim was later refuted in 1954.(18)
Russell claimed, in 1889, in the coming 26 years all present governments will be overthrown and dissolved.(19)
The Jehovah’s Witnesses have set date after date for the second coming and establishment of the kingdom. On July 15, 1894, Russell predicted the end of the “time of trouble” to occur in 1914.(20) In 1914, he said Armageddon “may begin next spring.”(21) In 1920 J. F. Rutherford predicted the resurrection of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, “and other faithful ones of old,” fully restored to perfect humanity. This was to take place in 1925.(22) In 1929, Beth Sarim, a “mansion for the worthies of old” was built.(23)
In 1941, Armageddon was predicted as “soon.”(24) In 1942, a date of 1972 was set for Armageddon.(25) And on February 10, 1975, F. W. Franz predicted Armageddon to begin at Sundown, September 5, 1975.(26)
As we see these prophecies fail, one by one, we have to ask, “Why do these prophetic speculators still have followers?” I believe that the answer is clearly portrayed in 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12, “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked One be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 6, pp. 166-167
March 17, 1988