In Defense of Ellen G. White
By Devon Grey
In this article, we are going to digress some from talking about Ellen White per se. We will lay down some ground rules for understanding prophets and their messages. Today, there are many prophets in the land, the vast majority are false and very much in view. There are also true prophets, but for now they are hidden from plain view until God's time.
Joel 2: 26,27, quoted by Peter in his epistles, tells us that in the last days there would be those who will dream dreams, and have visions, among old and young men and also maidens. Joel specifically describes this as happening at the end of time, associating it with the sign of the Son of Man which would take place in the heavens and on earth.
Now, it is a fact that the Lord has many people to whom He is speaking personally through dreams, visions, the Word, and through their thoughts (commonly called "thought voice."), and through impressions. The Lord today uses these ways of communicating because he does not want to mimic the enemy's false prophets who sometimes work with great and amazing displays of superpower such as the apparitions of Mary.
True messengers are few and far between and known only to those around them, and by the providences of God to His sheep. God's purpose in giving prophetic messages is the same as it has always been-inform, instruct, guide, and lead His flock into all truth. Those who believe that in these last days there is only one true prophet, like the Morman's Joseph Smith, the Seventh-day Adventist's Ellen White, and others, show their bias.
If the prophet Joel and Peter are to be believed, and if we are living in the very last days of this earth's history, the question must be asked, "Where are the promised messengers and prophets?" The answer is that they are out there, but, they are not known by the world at large, or if identified as being in a certain denomination, they will not be accepted as a true prophet of the Lord.
With this introduction, let us now consider some ground rules that apply to prophets and their work.
Ground Rules for Understanding Prophets and their messages:
These rules have not changed since Eden. Misunderstanding how God works through prophets has often caused people to stumble and reject not only God's messenger, but the message. Ellen White is a prime example.
It is often the case that the prophet is put on a pedestal by the denomination and its people in an act that borders on worship of both the prophet and the messages. Some members of the Seventh-day Adventist church have been guilty of doing this, not recognizing that as pointed out in the first article, prophets are first and foremost human beings subject to the frailties of the human race. Then too, the Adventist leaders have done a masterful job of covering up some of the prophets mistakes and humanness for fear their exposure would cause people to lose faith in the messages. This has turned into a logistic nightmare for the church, spawning the violent attacks upon Ellen White as discussed before.
The following points are some of the misunderstandings about prophets and their work which leads to misunderstandings and false beliefs:
1) God does not inspire every word.
Unless the prophet is directly quoting something our heavenly Father or an angel told him, the words are not inspired. This is true of all Scripture, as well as the writings of any prophet, including Ellen White.
2) God may allow inaccurate interpretation.
Interpretation is what the prophet or the reader thinks God said. Today all messages and Scripture must be interpreted in light of Jesus' soon coming. Too often believers depend upon traditional teachings and their own knowledge of what they assume is the correct interpretation of a particular passage of Scripture. For Adventists the danger is especially great. For well over one hundred years, SDA's have had the inspired writings of Ellen White.
They therefore feel that she is the final interpretation of all Biblical truth, and they want no other prophet. People do not even stop to consider the possibility that Scripture, or Ellen White, have been misinterpreted, although Ellen herself said the church would "have much to unlearn and much to learn again" (EW 67).
Sometimes early truth is misunderstood; then on the basis of that misunderstanding, truths of later messengers are declared wrong. Before anyone proclaims a prophet false, he should take a close look at preceding truths to see if they might have been misinterpreted. NO TRUE PILLARS OF FAITH WILL EVER BE MOVED, but details of eschatology may have to be revised.
3) God does not give all the light to one person.
This is incomplete revelation (Isaiah 28:9-13). God has never, nor does He today ever give all the light to any one individual upon any subject. Light always comes in bits and pieces. It is never handed to anyone complete on a silver platter.
One piece of light is given to a servant at God's ordination; then later, more light is opened up to him or her while searching the Scriptures. Sometimes this new revelation makes it necessary for this person to adjust his viewpoint of what was given previously, but not because God changed what He said. Not having all the information available, the servant did not understand exactly what our Father was telling him. Later as understanding comes, the picture clarifies with a fuller, more precise understanding.
4) God considers an event completed when He first decrees it, before it is visible (Isaiah 14:24,27).
Our Father does not think as we do. Future events are considered to be accomplished fact. He knows the end from the beginning and what the outcome will be. When He says something will happen or has happened, we may not see the evidence until later - sometimes years later - when the fulfillment at last surfaces into view. BUT FROM THE MOMENT HE SAYS AN EVENT HAS HAPPENED, FOR EXAMPLE, IF HE SAID THAT THE BLOWING OF THE SEVENTH TRUMPET HAD OCCURRED, IT BECOMES FACT, EVEN THOUGH EVIDENCE OF THAT EVENT MAY NOT BE VISIBLE UNTIL SOME TIME IN THE FUTURE. If ample evidence is given that some message is from Him (according to Scriptural tests), we are bound by our love and duty to Him to believe, even if we do not fully understand.
5) Everything the person writes, even in a single message, may not all be God's thoughts.
Hold fast that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:15; 3 John 11; Jeremiah 23:28). Generally the argument is used that if there is ANY error in a prophet's message, then the whole must be thrown out because the Holy Spirit is all truth. This argument is often used as a ploy of the enemy to cause a person to doubt a message from the Lord? Scripture tells us to "prove ALL things, and hold fast [to] that which is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21). This text implies that there will be things which are not good or true. But it does not say to throw out the whole message just because you find something you do not agree with or which may even be wrong. As a human being, every prophet and apostle of God was, and is subject to human ideas, errors, and weaknesses. We hasten to add that Scripture is infallible, but the writers were not. Their lives and sometimes their teachings gave poor examples. But their errors did not make them false prophets.
For example, Jonah became angry at God when he prophesied that Ninevah would be destroyed and it wasn't (Jonah 3:10). Did anger and failure of his prophecy make Jonah a false prophet? No. Balaam, while trying to get worldly riches and destroy God's people, uttered one of the most beautiful promises about the coming of Jesus (Numbers 22-24, especially 24:17-19). He was a despicable traitor to God's cause, but was he a false prophet? No, not always. And there was the stunning display of cowardice by all of Jesus' disciples except John. Focus on Peter's denial-not once, but 3 times! -a shameful recantation of everything Jesus stood for (Mark 14:66-72; John 18:17,25-27). Did that failure make Peter a false prophet (Apostle) and a deceiver? At that moment, yes; but most of the time he was truthful and faithful. As for the rest of the disciples, their disappearance was the same as a denial, so they too, temporarily became false prophets. Only John was wholly faithful.
Our point here is this: We will see striking similarities between prophets (apostles, speakers, writers, etc.) of the latter rain and prophets of old. Don't make the mistake of discarding truth because something the person said or did was wrong. Prophets of God have always had what appeared to be discrepancies in what they wrote.
Sometimes they even appeared to contradict themselves. For example, John 15:15 says "ALL THINGS...I HAVE MADE KNOWN UNTO YOU." John 16:12 contradicts with "I HAVE YET MANY THINGS TO SAY UNTO YOU, BUT YE CANNOT BEAR THEM NOW." Another good example of confusing word choice comes from Luke 9:18, which says that Jesus was "ALONE" - but "HIS DISCIPLES WERE WITH HIM." These examples of what some would classify as "foolish contradiction" is the kind of "error" most often pointed out by the critics of today's prophets like Ellen White.
One more example of a Scriptural contradiction which causes problems only for those who fail or refuse to obtain all of the pertinent information and light on a given passage(s), comes from two different Bible writers, John and Paul. If they had written these things today, quite likely, one or both would have been declared a deceiver and a false prophet! John 9:3 says "NEITHER HATH THIS MAN SINNED, NOR HIS PARENTS." Then Romans 3:23 says "ALL HAVE SINNED." Modern messengers also have discrepancies, just like the Scripture writers above.
6) There is something else very important to understand about prophets of the Lord that most people don't consider.
Human speech is not perfect; nor is the prophetic expression an exact duplication of God's thoughts, which are beyond human comprehension. Bible writers and Ellen White faced the limitations of language. But nothing necessary to our salvation was lost, even though God's messengers sometimes wrote awkwardly and obscurely. Sometimes the messenger will hear and relay the message, but misunderstand its significance or application. Personal ideas may be interjected and thus render an inexact interpretation. Some did not believe their own messages or forgot them (1 Kings 13:1-32; Romans 3:1-5; Galatians 3:15).
None of these human situations make God a liar or the message untrue! The crucial question is: Will we reject today's prophets (who are not writing Scripture) because of human errors, holding to the notion that if ANY error is present then the whole must be thrown out? This line of reasoning flies in the face of the evidence at hand and is a device of the enemy to get the honest-in-heart to doubt the testimony of the Holy Spirit, which is the present-day Spirit of Prophecy. If this same line of reasoning and argument were applied to Scripture, some Bible writers would also fail this test of a prophet. The Bible is infallible, but its authors were not! All subsequent (post-Scripture) writers have moments of fallibility, but they are still used by God His purposes to fulfill. Therefore it is not rational to insist that a messenger must have a message without human error. To do so may mean the rejection of a heaven-sent message, which could have eternal consequences. The same courtesies and understandings granted to the "early rain" prophets of Scripture should be extended to God's messengers today as the latter rain of His Spirit is poured out.
7) God will not allow the honest seeker of truth to be deceived (Jeremiah 29:13; 24:7).
"...If the heart is loyal to God, EVERYTHING will be made plain" (TM 432). Satan's foremost, primary, and major weapon against God, is DECEPTION! The great controversy between Christ and Satan began in deception. Deception placed God on trial before curious angels and a watching universe. God's fairness, justice, and credibility needed to be vindicated before a watching universe, which had never witnessed sin. Only by allowing the evil one freedom to employ all his weapons, including his greatest DECEPTION, could God triumph.
Today, the Adventist church in particular quakes with fear at any new messenger or message because they don't want to be duped by the enemy. Just to be sure they don't hear the enemy, they don't listen to anything that has not been blessed by the church authorities, and that includes reinterpreting portions of Scripture in any way that opposes "church tradition" about end-time events.
Ellen White wrote: "We must have a living connection with God; we must be partakers of the divine nature; THEN WE SHALL NOT BE DECEIVED by the devices of the enemy...."
It should be clearly understood that Satan does have the right to try to deceive any and all who would endeavor to awaken God's people to the solemnity of the hour and urge others to make ready for Jesus' coming. He will cunningly and subtly try to use that very right to plant seeds of doubt and destroy faith. Satan whispers, "Don't take those foolish precautions against my deceptions by seeking for the mind of Christ [Philippians 2:5]. Just renounce the message." Don't let the evil one do that to you. A little doubt comes in; a little faith goes out. Much doubt comes in; much faith goes out. Faith is the victory. Who, having the mind of Christ and the Holy Spirit within, would dare call God a liar and fear being deceived? Not the elect!
How Does a Prophet Make Mistakes?
8) Prophets are not infallible. Taking Ellen White as an example, we ask the question: "How could she make a mistake or contradict herself? The answer is not difficult to find. Ellen read widely because she felt keenly her lack of education (only a third grade education). As scenes were presented to her, she would try as best she could to put them into context with what she read from history or contemporary books. She was not given time frames or a precise sequence of events. Often scenes shown to her were run together and were not sequential, either, that is to say, Ellen had no idea of how much real time will actually elapse in the fulfillment of scenes which were given to her in rapid succession.
Now that some of the prophecies shown her are currently being fulfilled, we can see that in some cases the time between consecutive scenes in her visions was many years. It was up to her to put together what she had previously read with what was given from the Lord. Ellen was always learning. Truth was progressive with her, and her understanding grew as she studied and as the Lord revealed light to her; but because she was susceptible to the leadings of the Holy Spirit, we accept her final message as the truth, even if some of the details changed.
Sister White used terms like: "I was shown," "the angel said," "history shows," "as I understand it," "common sense says." She tried to synthesize, or put all the information she had together with what she was shown to make sense. To make her point she would often use borrowed material from other authors, material that was not inspired.
She had great difficulty with people who would come to her for answers to questions that she had no light on. "I find myself frequently placed where I dare give neither assent nor dissent to propositions that are submitted to me; for there is danger that any words I may speak shall be reported as something that the Lord has given me. It is not always safe for me to express my own judgment; for sometimes when someone wishes to carry out his own purpose, he will regard any favorable word I may speak as special light from the Lord" (3 SM 60).
The Weight of Evidence
Ellen used the term "weight of evidence" to describe how we are to approach new messages or understandings. Nowhere is this more applicable than when considering the messages of today's prophets.
"Satan has ability to suggest doubts and to devise objections to the pointed testimony that God sends, and many think it a virtue, a mark of intelligence in them, to be unbelieving, and to question and quibble. Those who desire to doubt will have plenty of room. God does not propose to remove all occasion for unbelief. He gives evidence, which must be carefully investigated with a humble mind and a teachable spirit, and all should decide from the WEIGHT OF EVIDENCE. 3T 255.
"If you will open your eyes in faith, you will find sufficient evidence for belief. But God will never remove from any man all causes for doubts. THOSE WHO LOVE TO DWELL IN THE ATMOSPHERE OF DOUBT AND QUESTIONING UNBELIEF CAN HAVE THE ENVIABLE PRIVILEGE. God gives sufficient evidence for the candid mind to believe; but HE WHO TURNS FROM THE WEIGHT OF EVIDENCE BECAUSE THERE ARE A FEW THINGS WHICH HE CANNOT MAKE PLAIN TO HIS FINITE UNDERSTANDING, WILL BE LEFT IN THE COLD, CHILLING ATMOSPHERE OF UNBELIEF AND QUESTIONING DOUBTS, AND WILL MAKE SHIPWRECK OF FAITH." 4T 232, 3.
"The servants of God must have the truth in the soul. Said the angel, 'THEY MUST GET IT WARM FROM GLORY, CARRY IT IN THEIR BOSOMS, AND POUR IT OUT IN THE WARMTH AND EARNESTNESS OF THE SOUL TO THOSE THAT HEAR.' A few that are conscientious are ready to decide from THE WEIGHT OF EVIDENCE; but it is impossible to move many with a mere theory of the truth. THERE MUST BE A POWER TO ATTEND THE TRUTH, A LIVING TESTIMONY TO MOVE THEM." 1T 113.
The Lord has not left us in any doubt about how to approach so-called new light or messages from heaven. Ellen was shown two approaches for the evaluation of light. One is "true independence of mind," the other, "rashness."
"True independence of mind is an element entirely different from rashness. That quality of independence which leads to a CAUTIOUS, PRAYERFUL, DELIBERATE OPINION should not be easily yielded, NOT UNTIL THE EVIDENCE IS SUFFICIENTLY STRONG TO MAKE IT CERTAIN THAT WE ARE WRONG. This independence will keep the mind calm and unchangeable amid the multitudinous errors which prevail...." 3T 104, 5.
"When a doctrine is presented that does not meet our minds, we should go to the Word of God, seek the Lord in prayer, and give no place for the enemy to come in with suspicion and prejudice. WE SHOULD NEVER PERMIT THE SPIRIT TO BE MANIFESTED THAT ARRAIGNED THE PRIESTS AND RULERS AGAINST THE REDEEMER OF THE WORLD. They complained that He disturbed the people, and they wished that He would let them alone, for He caused perplexity and dissension. THE LORD SENDS LIGHT TO US TO PROVE WHAT MANNER OF SPIRIT WE ARE OF. We are not to deceive ourselves." GW 301, 302.
Many today are making shipwreck of their lives because they doubt the true movings of the Holy Spirit through God's messengers. Today men without the discretion of the Holy Spirit are doing the very same thing in regard to the messages given to Ellen White. They seek to hedge up and destroy the work of God thinking they are doing God's service. Note carefully below that Ellen says GOD "NEVER REMOVES ALL OPPORTUNITY FOR DOUBT," even though He gives sufficient proof of the divine character of His work to convince all who honestly desire to know the truth.
When once we see the divine nature of the messages, even though there are parts we do not understand, we are required by God to accept the evidence and exercise faith. Notice what Ellen said about Satan's ability to suggest doubts and devise objections:
"Let not those who seek to hedge up my way and destroy the influence of my words, deceive themselves with the belief that they are doing God's service. They are serving another master, and they will be rewarded according to their work.... It is God's plan to give sufficient evidence of the divine character of His work to convince all whom honestly desire to know the truth. But He never removes all opportunity for doubt. All who desire to question and cavil will find occasion.... I pity those who have set their feet in the path of doubt and unbelief." 1 SM 72.
"God gives light to guide those who honestly desire light and truth; but it is not His purpose to remove all cause for questioning and doubt. He gives sufficient evidence to found faith upon, and then requires men to accept that evidence and exercise faith." 5T 303.
There is more than ample evidence that the Holy Spirit has begun to move with great power to draw all the honest in heart to the Lord. This is described as the work of the mighty angel of Revelation 18:1, working in conjunction with the third angel of Revelation 14. This call is beginning to crescendo throughout the world. But simultaneously, the counterfeit messages are also going out, spreading their lies across the earth. But they shall not deceive God's elect.
The mark of heaven can be distinguished from the mark of hell. God is supplying more than enough proof for anyone who wants to open his eyes, ears, and mind to recognize which messages are the works of the Holy Spirit.
New Light Is Promised:
One great misconception among Adventists is that the messages given to Ellen White will be all the light needed until Jesus comes. The argument is given that no more messages or light is needed because God has already given everything we need for salvation. We agree in part. God HAS given complete instruction for salvation - but do we understand it all? Is there no obscurity between Genesis and Revelation? Have you fathomed the mind of God completely? Then you are indeed a singular creation! Have you not wondered about translation, perfection, end-time events? If we have all the light, why listen to one more sermon? Why read the Bible one more time? A mindset that disallows new understanding says, "We are saved; let us alone" (once saved, always saved?). And this mindset dams up the channel of the latter rain of the Holy Spirit with rocks of opinion, fallen logs of dogmatism, and fills the remaining leaks with dirt from the past. The Holy Spirit is effectively sealed off from the parched and dying heart that does not know how much more there is to know, to wonder at, to be surprised by, to praise our Redeemer for. How preposterous to think that God has revealed all there is to know! If that is the case, what shall we think about through eternity? Would that those who need no new light believe some of the OLD light from Ellen, as sampled below:
"God will give additional light, and old truths will be recovered and replaced in the framework of truth; and wherever the laborers go, they will triumph... every ray of light received is to be communicated to others." RH Extra, Dec. 23, 1890.
"We must hold fast to the truths which we have already received; we must not look with suspicion upon any new light that God may send." GW 310.
"No matter by whom light is sent, we should open our hearts to receive it with the meekness of Christ. Many do not do this." GW 301.
"Even Seventh-day Adventists are in danger of closing their eyes to truth as it is in Jesus, BECAUSE IT CONTRADICTS SOMETHING WHICH THEY HAVE TAKEN FOR GRANTED AS TRUTH, BUT WHICH THE HOLY SPIRIT TEACHES IS NOT TRUTH." TM 70, 71.
"What is the message to be given at this time? It is the third angel's message. But that light which is to fill the whole earth with its glory has been despised by some who claim to believe the present truth. Be careful how you treat it. Take off the shoes from off your feet; for you are on holy ground. Beware how you indulge the attributes of Satan, and pour contempt upon the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. I know not but some have even now gone too far to return and to repent." TM 89, 90.
There are several traditional beliefs which we have taken for granted as truth because we did not have all the light. For instance, Ellen said, "The mark of the beast is exactly what it has been proclaimed to be. NOT ALL IN REGARD TO THIS MATTER IS YET UNDERSTOOD, NOR WILL IT BE UNDERSTOOD UNTIL THE UNROLLING OF THE SCROLL" (6T 17).
This prophetic statement by Ellen is coming to pass today. The Lord has unrolled the scroll to those who seek to know and understand. New light is coming. End-time interpretations of other prophecies are beginning to be revealed. Dark passages are beginning to be understood. In the past it was not yet time for us to understand and know. But now it appears the time has come. The glory of the Lord is being poured out upon mankind. New light and truth is being revealed to individuals chosen by the Holy Spirit, but not for them alone. This light is for the edification and education of all the elect in this end time of history.
When an Organization Tries To Control the Holy Spirit:
The first resistance against any manifestation of the Holy Spirit, whether in dreams and visions or in the person of Jesus himself, invariably comes from the organized church (for example the Jews in the time of Christ). As with Jesus, so it is today. The learned "Pharisees" declare this marvel to be the work of Satan. The messenger is first censured by the home church, then by the conference, then on up the chain of command as far as the message carries. Ellen White, who took her share of heat from her critics, very pointedly said this would happen. Looking in Testimonies For The Church and other published and unpublished letters and writings, it is easy to see that Sister White, while revered today (at least by lip service) by most SDA's, was rejected by many of the church leaders of her day, and by the world at large. Here are a few quotes of prophetic statements telling what would happen in the Adventist church; quotes which relate to the SDA church in her day, and are being fulfilled today.
"The Lord does not ask permission of those in responsible positions when He wishes to use certain ones as His agents for the promulgation of truth. But He will use whom He will use." RH June 23, 1895.
"But the Holy Spirit will, from time to time, reveal the truth through its own chosen agencies; and no man, not even a priest or ruler, has a right to say, You shall not give publicity to your opinions, because I do not believe them. That wonderful "I" may attempt to put down the Holy Spirit's teaching." TM 70.
"Let it be understood in every institution in America that it is not commissioned to you to direct the work of the Holy Spirit and to tell how it shall represent itself. You have been guilty in doing this. May the Lord forgive you, is my prayer. Instead of being repressed and driven back, as it has been, the Holy Spirit should be welcomed and its presence encouraged. When you sanctify yourself through obedience to the word, the Holy Spirit will give you glimpses of heavenly things. When you seek God with humiliation and earnestness, the words which you have spoken in freezing accents will burn in your heart; the truth will not then languish upon your tongues...." CT 360.
"THE THIRD ANGEL'S MESSAGE WILL NOT BE RECOGNIZED BY SOME. THE LIGHT WILL BE CALLED A FALSE LIGHT." RH May 27, 1890.
"Unless those who can help in the work are aroused to a sense of their duty, THEY WILL NOT RECOGNIZE THE WORK OF GOD WHEN THE LOUD CRY OF THE THIRD ANGEL SHALL BE HEARD. When light goes forth to lighten the earth, instead of coming up to the help of the Lord, they will want to bind about His work to meet their narrow ideas. Let me tell you that the Lord will work in this last work in a manner very much out of the common order of things, and in a way that will be contrary to any human planning. There will be those among us who will always want to control the work of God, to dictate even what movements shall be made when the work goes forward under the direction of the angel who joins the third angel in the message to be given to the world. God will use ways and means by which it will be seen that He is taking the reins in His own hands. THE WORKERS WILL BE SURPRISED BY THE SIMPLE MEANS THAT HE WILL USE TO BRING ABOUT AND PERFECT HIS WORK OF RIGHTEOUSNESS." TM 300.
"HAVE YOU NOT BEEN AFRAID OF THE HOLY SPIRIT? At times it has come with all-pervading influence into the school at Battle Creek and into the schools in other localities. DID YOU RECOGNIZE IT? Did you accord it the honor due to a heavenly Messenger?" CT 363.
Today in the Adventist church, leaders, independent ministers, and individuals all have taken exception-each for a different reason-to every contemporary messenger. Though dozens, or even hundreds of humble believers give evidence of special gifts of the Spirit. Yet the SDA organization recognizes not a single one. Ellen White said:
"The Lord has shown me that men in responsible positions are standing directly in the way of His work, because they think the work must be done and the blessing must come in a certain way, and THEY WILL NOT RECOGNIZE THAT WHICH COMES IN ANY OTHER WAY... God has His appointed channels of light, but these are not necessarily the minds of any particular set of men." 5T 726.
Without realizing what they have done-and are doing-they have rejected parts of the Bible, the latter rain, and the Holy Spirit. They have fallen victim to a merciless enemy and the very deceptions they feared most. They are building their own caskets, nailing them with doubt, lining them with darkness, and pillowing them with convention or convenience. For them we weep, for they know not what they do.
What of the Critics?
"Special light continues to come to those earnestly seeking God, and struggles to be seen through the smokescreen stirred up by the critics. What shall we do with the critics? Critics come in all shapes and sizes - 8 1/2 by 11, 28 by 23; pecked out on primitive typewriters and duplicated on smeary mimeographs or computer typeset in artistic layouts, illustrated and documented to the last word; some with microphones, some without. Respected theologians with impressive credentials using finely polished phrases, or earnest laymen who have thoroughly studied the matter-all bear the name "critic."
Whatever their style or origin, critics have certain techniques in common. We do not suggest merely ignoring every critic, for among them are the honest in heart. Nicodemuses who really want to know, but are prevented from perceiving the truth as readily as babes in Christ, by the same traditional understandings and interpretations they have taught (intellectualism).
These deserve careful attention and thoughtful response. In the same way that messages are tested, so the critics must be tested, for some have merit. There is also a much larger class of critics who should be ignored because it will do no good to explain anything to their clouded minds. The Holy Spirit will give the messenger discernment to know which critic to reply to and which to ignore.
Techniques of the Critics:
1) Claim authority to think for others. Both the good and bad critics use pious words, Scripture, and quotations from other writers. All claim to be doing the Lord's work, but the bad ones claim authority to decide for you whether a particular message, dream, vision, or interpretation is from God. Believing that Wisdom resides with them, you, being less experienced or less educated, will surely be deceived, for they discourage you from personal, first hand investigation.
2) Harsh, vindictive, or ridiculing. The love of 1 Corinthians 13 is absent. Many will declare their love for the errant messenger in one sentence but destroy him with censure and ridicule in the next. Often they will want the messenger punished, censured, or disfellowshipped. These elements indicate the spirit of the enemy who motivates them.
3) Plead for tradition to be honored. Plead for the messenger to follow traditional teachings of the "better educated" church authorities. Use many Scripture and EGW quotations to support their views. BUT nearly always, the quotations are misapplied because the critic cannot perceive God's real meaning in the message. This indicates a spirit of pride in man's intellect and disbelief that God has any new light, unless it comes through church-approved channels. They believe there is safety in numbers "because so many think thus and such, it must be true."
4) Use real or imaginary contradictions to discount entire work. Most apparent contradictions are only imaginary, the result of misunderstanding, as evidenced by the several Biblical examples cited earlier in this study. When examined IN CONTEXT and by reading the entire work, most contradictions can be resolved. Explanations and further light will come.
Apparent theological errors are more difficult to resolve. Know that resolution may take time-months or years-some even into eternity. Do you understand everything in the Bible? What do you do with that part you don't understand? Do you throw it out, claiming that part of the whole to be uninspired? Probably not, though many (whole denominations) do.
Your Personal Responsibility:
Do you just read these through lightly, while you read, study, and memorize the parts you understand and love? If this is your response, you have a lot of company. It is easy to ignore the obscure because there is so much to feed the spirit that you do understand. Do you fault those who explore areas you don't understand?
Are you open-minded enough to allow explanation through blind alleys and dead end-streets? Can you back out of a cul-de-sac or do a "U" turn, and intersect with other explorers who also seek the light? Do you say, "Lord I don't understand. You said this for a reason, and I believe it is part of the light about You. I want to know You better, to follow You more closely, to serve You more diligently. Please teach me, too, by Your Holy Spirit." Which of these readers is the Lord most likely to teach?
We are not suggesting here that you believe everything you read or hear. False messages are common these days. Satan is using eternal truths such as messages of repentance, reverence to God only, reconciliation with God by a holy life of obedience, to deceive, as in the apparitions of Mary.
Now that we have defined principles of understanding prophets and their messages, we will conclude in the next article by looking at accusations and mistakes made by Ellen White. Bare in mind these in no way detract from what the eternal truths the Lord has revealed to her. It only shows that she was a human being subject to the frailties of us all.