From: Geoffrey Marshall To: Subject: [AI] Some stuff Date: November 20, 1999 12:38 PM I got the time, I got the Internet, Ray got the lies, I got the truth... ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Was Ellen White a millionaire? More than once in her ministry, Ellen White was confronted by reports that she was accumulating great wealth because of her book royalties. Here is her direct response to one detractor, written in 1897 while she lived in Australia: "You have made reports in reference to me being rich. How did you know I was? For about ten years I have been working on borrowed property. Should I sell all that I have in my possession, I would not have sufficient to pay my outstanding debts. "Where have I invested this money? You well know where. I have been the bank from which to draw to carry forward the work in this country. . . . "I have borrowed money to do the work which must be done. Not one shilling of the donations sent me, from the least sum to larger amounts, has been used for myself. Our good Sister Wessels made me a present of a silk dress, and made me promise I would not sell it. But I thought that had she placed in my hands the amount the dress was worth, it would have been used in the cause of God. "I see debts on our meetinghouses and it hurts my soul. I cannot but feel distress over the matter. I have invested money in the Parramatta church, in the Prospect church, in the Napier church, in the Ormondville church, in the Gisborne church, and in the education of students. I have sent persons to America that they might be fitted to return and do work in this country. If this is the way to become rich, I think it would be well for others to try it. "All the royalty on my foreign books sold in America is sacredly dedicated to God for the education of students, that they may be fitted for the ministry. Thousands of dollars have been thus expended. Is this the way to accumulate money? The old story that Canright and others have circulated, that I was worth thirty thousand dollars, all fiction. It has increased to thirty thousand pounds, by report, since I came to Australia. "I do not know where it is. I am using up my means, just as fast as it comes in, to carry forward the work in this country. If I had thirty thousand pounds, I would not have sent to Africa for the loan of one thousand pounds on which I am paying interest. If I could, I would get a loan of another thousand pounds, so that we might be able to put up the main school building. "I have not thirty thousand pounds. I only wish I had a million dollars. I would do as I did in Sydney. I would put men in the field to labor, defraying their expenses from my own funds. We need one hundred men where we now have one in the field" (Letter 98a, 1897). Six years later, in a private letter dated October 19, 1903, Ellen White wrote, "I have done all I could to help the cause of God with my means. I am paying interest on twenty thousand dollars, all of which I have invested in the work of God. And I shall continue to do all in my power to help to forward His work" (Letter 218, 1903). Didn't Ellen White contradict her own teachings by dying in debt? Ellen White wisely warned against the dangers of indebtedness, but when she died she owed nearly $90,000, with assets appraised at a little more than $65,000. This left a deficit of more than $20,000. Did Ellen White handle her finances irresponsibly and in complete disregard to her own counsels? When all the facts of her business affairs are considered, it is clear that Ellen White did not violate the spirit and intent of the counsel she gave concerning freedom from debt. It should be noted that Ellen White did not advocate an extreme position on debt--that under no circumstances should one make any moves unless the money is in hand. She recognized that opportunities present themselves where the appropriate response is to move forward in faith, even if it is necessary to "borrow money and pay interest" (Counsels on Stewardship, p. 278). In her own experience, most of Ellen White's borrowing was incurred during the later years of her life when, realizing the shortness of her days, she did some of her heaviest work in preparing new books, both in English and in other languages. There were only two ways in which such expenses of book preparation could be met--either in profits from former publishing (i.e., royalties), or by borrowing against anticipated royalties. Because of Ellen White's past generosity in contributing funds toward the work of the church, she was left to rely upon future earnings (royalties) to liquidate her debt. Part of that generosity consisted in her declining to receive royalties for non-English editions, and donating the royalties of her most popular later works, Christ's Object Lessons (1900) and The Ministry of Healing (1905), for the support of specific church projects. In the years following her death the continued sales of her publications entirely met her obligations, as she had anticipated. For a fuller discussion of Ellen White's indebtedness, see "Mrs. White's Indebtedness." If Ellen White's writings are inspired, why are her books copyrighted and sold? Shouldn't her books be given away? Thousands of Ellen White's books are given away. In such cases, however, some person or group has donated funds to cover the printing costs--just as copies of the Word of God are circulated freely only by means of the generosity of others. When one bears in mind that Ellen White herself underwrote the costs of preparing book plates, illustrations, and translations, not to mention the costs of producing the book manuscripts themselves, it does not appear unreasonable that she should expect to cover those expenses through the regular mechanism by which most authors are remunerated--royalties. In addition, copyrighting a book provides a protection for maintaining the accuracy of the text. Today, there are continuing expenses incurred in maintaining Ellen White's original manuscripts, preparing new publications, including CD-ROM products, and other materials pertaining to her life and ministry. Didn't Ellen White contradict her own counsel when she sometimes sent tithe funds directly to needy ministers? Ellen White's instruction on the proper application of the tithe funds is clearly presented by her in Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, pages 245-251. She states that the tithe is to be brought into God's treasury to sustain gospel laborers (p. 249), and that none should "feel at liberty to retain their tithe, to use according to their own judgment. They are not to use it for themselves in an emergency, nor to apply it as they see fit, even in what they may regard as the Lord's work" (p. 247). Ellen White's policy and practice was to follow that model. She wrote in 1890, "I pay my tithes gladly and freely, saying as did David, 'Of thine own have we given thee'" (Pastoral Ministry, p. 260). At a time when certain denominational workers were being inadequately sustained or deprived outright of legitimate salaries, Ellen White acted upon instruction she received from the Lord that she should assist such workers with her own tithe funds, if necessary. She did not regard her action as either the withholding of tithe funds from the treasury or the redirection of them to unauthorized uses. Rather she recognized the inability of the "regular channels" to meet the needs of those particular workers at that point in time.