Editor's Note: While this article is very beneficial in understanding the errors of Seventh Day Adventists, its inclusion on this website should not be viewed as an implicit or implied endorsement of everything contained herein.
By D. Anderson
A Denominational Embarrassment
Many Adventists agree that these statements are the most shocking ever penned by Ellen White:
But if there was one sin above another which called for the destruction of the race by the flood, it was the base crime of amalgamation of man and beast which defaced the image of God, and caused confusion everywhere.
Every species of animal which God had created were preserved in the ark. The confused species which God did not create, which were the result of amalgamation, were destroyed by the flood. Since the flood there has been amalgamation of man and beast, as may be seen in the almost endless varieties of species of animals, and in certain races of men.
A Summary of Mrs. White's Main Points about Amalgamation
There is no doubt that Ellen White understood her statements to be describing the sexual union between man and beast. At the time Mrs. White penned this "inspired" section, it was believed by some...
...that crosses between men and animals had created a no-man's-land between man and beast, populated by gorillas, chimpanzees, wild bushmen of Africa, Patagonians, and Hottentots.
Of course, we now know that to be false. Science has long ago proven that it is impossible for humans and animals to produce offspring.
This leads to the question: If she did not receive the amalgamation statement from God, where did she get it? One likely source is the Book of Jasher. Many of Mrs. White's statements about the pre-flood era appear astonishingly similar to statements in the Book of Jasher, a fictional account of earth's early history published in 1840. In that book we find that the pre-flood humans experimenting with amalgamation...
... the sons of men in those days took from the cattle of the earth, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and taught the mixture of animals of one species with the other.
Which Race Is a Product of Amalgamation?
Mrs. White said the results of amalgamation could be seen "in certain races of men." The question that has haunted the SDA Church for over 140 years is, which races are the result of amalgamation of man and beast?
Ellen White's statement provoked instant controversy and stinging criticism of Ellen White in the 1860s forced church leaders to attempt to defend their prophet. In 1868, four years after the amalgamation statements first appeared in print, Adventist leader Uriah Smith published his defense of Ellen White. In that book he conjectured that the union of man with beast had created "such cases as the wild Bushmen of Africa, some tribes of the Hottentots, and perhaps the Digger Indians of our own country".
James White "carefully" reviewed Smith's book prior to its publication, and then recommended it in glowing terms to the readers of the church's official magazine, the Review and Herald:
The Association has just published a pamphlet entitled, "The Visions of Mrs. E.G. White, A Manifestation of Spiritual Gifts According to the Scriptures." It is written by the editor of the Review. While carefully reading the manuscript, I felt grateful to God that our people could have this able defense of those views they so much love and prize, which others despise and oppose.
As noted, the prophet's husband carefully read Smith's book. It is inconceivable that the statements about the Bushmen of Africa passed by James White without notice. His endorsement of the book indicates his implicit approval of the explanation. In fact, because it supposedly established Mrs. White's claims, James and Ellen took 2,000 copies of Smith's book with them to peddle at camp meetings that year! By promoting and selling Smith's book the Whites placed their stamp of approval on his explanation of the amalgamation statement.
While Smith may have limited the amalgamation to the Bushmen, some have gone further and applied the statements to the negro race. The author is saddened to say, that as an SDA for 33 years, I know for a fact that behind closed doors in private conversations some white American SDA's still believe this "inspired" statement applies to the entire black race. Some have claimed to have seen an unpublished manuscript in the White Estate vault indicating such, but proof is lacking.
SDA Scholars take Mental Gymnastics to Astounding New Heights
While the "Bushmen of Africa" explanation was good enough for the Whites and Smith, it eventually fell out of favor with SDA leaders. It became increasingly difficult to explain these statements to an increasingly educated and racially tolerant denomination.
Despite the controversy, both the critics and supporters of Ellen White agreed that Mrs. White was talking about the union of man with beast. However, by 1947 an Adventist biologist named Dr. Frank Marsh convinced an SDA panel to interpret Mrs. White's statement to mean the interbreeding among species, not interbreeding between man and beast. Dr. Marsh argued convincingly that the union of man and beast is impossible. Despite the fact that James White, Uriah Smith, W.C. White (her son), and D.D. Robinson (her secretary) all indicate that Mrs. White believed her statement to refer to the interbreeding of man with beasts, the mounting scientific evidence made it impossible for Adventists to continue to defend her statement based upon its intended meaning. Thus, they developed a new meaning for the statement, a meaning which was unknown to Ellen White, and a meaning which is extremely difficult to extract from the text of the amalgamation quotes themselves.
One recent Adventist scholar, Francis D. Nichol, in his book Ellen G. White and Her Critics, informs us that the word "amalgamation" was used commonly in the 19th century to refer to intermarriage between the black and white races. He also notes that Ellen White used the word "amalgamation" to refer to the intermarriage between those of different faiths. Nichol argues that Mrs. White's statement was referring to amalgamation between "man and "man", namely, the interbreeding between humans of different races or different religions.
Intermarriage Between the Races?
This explanation raises more questions than answers:
Intermarriage Between Godly and Ungodly?
Another theory proposed by those wrestling to come up with a way to explain away this statement is that Ellen White meant the intermarriage between the righteous sons of Seth and the wicked. However, this interpretation seems to contradict the context of the statement.
Gordon Shigley explains: It was difficult to read the statements within their context without seeing a series of sins, of which the last sin--the "one sin above another"--was obviously the climax. It was not likely that Ellen White was talking about intermarriage since she already had described that sin in an earlier paragraph. ...it is impossible to make the amalgamation of beast with beast or man with man the one sin greater than idolatry, adultery, polygamy, theft, or murder.
Again, this interpretation raises far more questions than it answers:
But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the Lord... Judges 14:4
If marrying an ungodly woman was a "base crime" worthy of the destruction of the human race, why would the Bible say that Samson's marriage to a Philistine was "of the Lord?"
White Estate Plays Word Games: What Does Amalgamation Mean?
While the current defenders of Mrs. White at the White Estate cannot seem to provide a definitive explanation as to what Mrs. White was talking about, they assure us on their web site that whatever it was that Mrs. White was talking about, it was not the union between man and beast:
No dictionary has ever used "amalgamation" to describe the cohabitation of man with beast. ... Mrs. White never hinted of subhuman beings or any kind of hybrid animal-human relationship. The burden of proof rests on those who affirm that Mrs. White gave a new and alien meaning to the term. While dictionaries do not explicitly describe amalgamation as the union of man and beast, they certainly allow for that definition.
The word "amalgamation" is widely used in the English language to describe a mixture of two different elements. The word is commonly used to describe:
The use of the word is endless. It is used in thousands of ways to describe the combination of any two elements that are different. The word comes from "amalgam" which has two primary meanings:
How was the word used in the 1800's? Webster's 1828 dictionary: Amalgamation - The mixing or blending of different things. Webster's 1913 dictionary: A*mal`ga*ma"tion (#), n. [Cf. F. amalgamation.] The mixing or blending of different elements, races, societies, etc.; also, the result of such combination or blending; a homogeneous union.
A "New and Alien Meaning"?
The White Estate claims that we are under a "burden" to prove that Mrs. White was talking about the union of man and beast because that specific definition never appears in a dictionary. They write: "The burden of proof rests on those who affirm that Mrs. White gave a new and alien meaning to the term."
Is that true? Are we under the burden to prove the word can be used in that manner? Or is this simply a "smoke-screen" used to hide the truth?
Let us examine some of Mrs. White's other uses of the word to determine whether or not they appear in the dictionary. She wrote: Every noxious herb is of his [Satan's] sowing, and by his ingenious methods of amalgamation he has corrupted the earth with tares... by union with the world, the character of God's people becomes tarnished, and through amalgamation with the corrupt, the fine gold becomes dim.
No dictionary specifically describes Satan mixing evil properties into herbs to produce tares as amalgamation. Neither does any dictionary specifically describes the union of Christians with the world as a process of amalgamation. Therefore, is Mrs. White giving a "new and alien meaning to the word" by such uses? Of course not! All of Mrs. White's usages of the word amalgamation clearly fit within the dictionary's definition of the word. The word is used in thousands of ways to describe the hybrid union of any two things that are different. How could a dictionary possibly list every potential use of the word amalgamation? It would take thousands of pages for just a single word! Just because a particular usage of a word does not appear in the dictionary does not prove that the usage is incorrect!
For Mrs. White to use the word to describe the union of man and beast is not "new and alien," nor is it without precedent. In fact, the word is used today by science fiction and UFO followers to describe the union of humans with aliens!
"Base Crime" Proves White Estate and Nichol Wrong
Mrs. White describes amalgamation as a base crime. Why? What is a base crime? What does the dictionary say? First, let us look at Webster's 1828 dictionary:
Base - Mean; vile; worthless; that is, low in value or estimation; used of things.19
Webster's 1913 dictionary: Base - Morally low. Hence: Low-minded; unworthy; without dignity of sentiment; ignoble; mean; illiberal; menial; as, a base fellow; base motives; base occupations. A cruel act of a base and a cowardish mind.
Here are the synonyms to the word "base" from Webster's 1999 dictionary:
Synonyms: BASE, LOW, VILE mean deserving of contempt because of the absence of higher values.
A base crime is an act of vile immorality. Mrs. White uses the phrase base crime only one other time in her writings. She used the phrase to describe Potiphar's wife's vile adulterous attempt upon the youthful Joseph.
If the amalgamation was "human with human, and beast with beast," then how could these relationships be described as base crimes? How could sexual relations between married human partners be described as base crimes? Doesn't God honor marriage, whether or not both partners are of the same race or religion? How could union between different species of animals be a base crime? Animals have no such moral capacity to commit a base crime!
If the union of human with human is not a base crime, and if the union of animal with animal is not a base crime, then what is a base crime? The Bible is very clear that sexual relations between humans and animals is a vile, base crime. It is condemned in the Bible as an abomination worthy of the death penalty.
The fact that Mrs. White describes amalgamation as a base crime is irrefutable evidence she was describing bestiality, not intermarriage between humans with racial or religious differences.
A recent defense of Mrs. White's statement has arisen with the advent of genetic engineering. Some have suggested the ancients performed genetic manipulations in the laboratory. This sounds plausible to those who do not understand the difficulties of genetic engineering. Genetic engineering is an extremely complex process that science is only now beginning to grasp. It requires the use of super-computers and highly advanced technology. While there is no evidence that the people before the flood possessed this type of enabling technology, Mrs. White says this amalgamation also happened after the flood! There is absolutely no evidence that the advanced technology needed to accomplish genetic engineering ever existed in any society after the flood. It is pure conjecture--mental gymnastics at its best.
Is Amalgamation The Greatest Reason for the Flood?
If Ellen White is correct, that the "one sin above another which called for the destruction of the race" was amalgamation, why was that sin never mentioned in Genesis? Moses mentions the sins of corruption and violence in Genesis 6:11-13, but never amalgamation. One would think that if amalgamation was the "one sin above another" that caused the flood, Moses would have at least mentioned it! How could such a grievous sin pass by Moses without mention?
Why Were These "Inspired" Statements Removed?
If the amalgamation statements were true, then why not include them in the book Patriarchs and Prophets? Why remove them from this edition? If this sin caused the flood, shouldn't people should be warned about it so that they don't repeat it? If the "bushmen of Africa" are the result of union between man and animals, don't people have a right to know about it? Shouldn't we be telling our scientists so that they can begin studying the bushmen? Why should prophetic utterances need to be deleted from later editions of a prophet's writings?
We are not the first to ask these questions. People have been asking those questions for over 100 years. The removal the amalgamation statements created such a controversy that the White Estate decided it was important for them to provide an explanation for the omissions. Her son W.C. White writes:
Regarding the two paragraphs which are to be found in Spiritual Gifts and also in The Spirit of Prophecy regarding amalgamation and the reason why they were left out of the later books, and the question as to who took the responsibility of leaving them out, I can speak with perfect clearness and assurance. They were left out by Ellen G. White. No one connected with her work had any authority over such a question, and I never heard of anyone offering to her counsel regarding this matter.
In all questions of this kind, you may set it down as a certainty that sister White was responsible for leaving out or adding to matters of this sort in the later editions of our books.
Sister White not only had good judgment based upon a clear and comprehensive understanding of conditions and of the natural consequences of publishing what she wrote, but she had many times direct instruction from the angel of the Lord regarding what should be omitted and what should be added in new editions.
Now you know the reason, straight from the pen of the prophet's son.
Supposedly she removed them because an angel instructed her to do so. That leads us to our final question: Why didn't the angel instruct her to omit the lines before they were published?
Those "Tall People" of Jupiter!
In 1846 Mrs. White had a "vision" of the solar system. Mrs. Truesdail, a dedicated and sincere Adventist, was present during the vision. She describes how Mrs. White saw a "tall, majestic people" living on either Jupiter or Saturn:
"Sister White was in very feeble health, and while prayers were offered in her behalf, the Spirit of God rested upon us. We soon noticed that she was insensible to earthly things. This was her first view of the planetary world. After counting aloud the moons of Jupiter, and soon after those of Saturn, she gave a beautiful description of the rings of the latter. She then said, 'The inhabitants are a tall, majestic people, so unlike the inhabitants of earth. Sin has never entered here.' " (Taken from Mrs. Truesdail's letter, Jan 27, 1891)
Is this true? Are there tall, majestic people living on Jupiter and/or Saturn? This may have seemed plausible in 1846, but with all we know about these planets today, it hardly seems likely. Conditions on both planets are extremely inhospitable to life as we know it:
Jupiter Has FOUR Moons
In 1847, James and Ellen White published the fact that she had seen a vision of the planets in our solar system:
"At our conference in Topsham, Maine, last Nov., Ellen had a vision of the handy works of God. She was guided to the planets Jupiter, Saturn, and I think one more. After she came out of vision, she could give a clear description of their Moons, etc. It is well known, that she knew nothing of astronomy, and could not answer one question in relation to the planets, before she had this vision." (A Word to the Little Flock, p. 22)
Notice in the above quote that James says Mrs. White gave a "clear description" of their moons. The description was so clear that it included the exact number of Jupiter's moons. Here is how pioneer J.N. Loughborough describes the vision:
One evening, at the conference above mentioned, at the house of Mr. Curtiss and in the presence of Elder Bates, who was yet undecided in regard to these manifestations, Mrs. White, while in vision, began to talk about the stars, giving a glowing description of rosy-tinted belts which she saw across the surface of some planet, and added, “I see four moons.” “Oh,” said Elder Bates, “she is viewing Jupiter!” Then having made motions as though traveling through space, she began giving a description of belts and rings in their ever-varying beauty, and said, “I see seven moons.” Elder Bates exclaimed, “She is describing Saturn.” Next she said, “I see six moons,” and at once began a description of the “opening heavens,” with its glory, calling it an opening into a region more enlightened. (Great Second Advent Movement, p. 258)
Notice the footnote in the above quote. Here is what the footnote says:
7 In Rise and Progress, it says she saw eight moons to Saturn. This change was made after the proofs went out of my hands. More moons to both Jupiter and Saturn have since been discovered.
This footnote is important for two reasons. First, it shows how Mrs. White's visions were later altered by others. Second, it shows that the pioneers believed this vision applied to Jupiter and Saturn.
A "Clear Description" of the Moons?
Mrs. White got close enough to Jupiter and/or Saturn to see the "tall, majestic people" living there, but she somehow failed to see the following:
Why Did She See Only What Astronomers Had Already Seen?
When Mrs. White had her "vision" it was common knowledge that Jupiter had four moons. The fifth was not discovered until 1892. We now know there are at least 16 moons. At that time it was thought that Saturn had seven moons. We now know there are at least 18. Mrs. White's vision did not reveal anything that could not have been obtained from an Astronomy book or even from a newspaper article! The only difference between what Mrs. White saw and what the astronomers saw through their telescopes is those "tall, majestic people"!
Incredible Missed Opportunities
Imagine if Mrs. White had told Bates that Jupiter had four large moons and 12 smaller moons! Her prophetic gift would have been proven beyond doubt to all future generations.
Unfortunately, she missed this great opportunity. Imagine if Mrs. White had announced that Jupiter had rings! This amazing fact was not discovered until the Voyager space probes visited Jupiter in 1979 (as shown by the photo to the right). Such an announcement would certainly have validated her claims. Unfortunately, although she got close enough to see those tall people on the planet, she failed to see the rings.
After considering what she did see and what she failed to see, we ask you this question: Was this a vision from God or a hallucination?
What Was The REAL Purpose of the Vision?
In early 1846 the Whites were in trouble. They were poor and destitute. Many viewed Ellen White's visions with skepticism. What they needed more than anything was a wealthy, influential friend who believed as they did. Fortunately for the Whites, they were able to locate just such a man--Joseph Bates. In the spring of 1846 the Whites met this retired sea captain. There was one major problem, however. Although Bates was advanced in age, his mind was still sharp enough to doubt Mrs. White's visions. The Whites tried to win him over, but had little success. But in November, all of that changed. At a small meeting with Bates and a few other diehard believers, Mrs. White had a special vision on astronomy, which just so happened to be Joseph Bates' favorite subject. What a coincidence!
As Ellen went into vision, the elderly Bates was no doubt enthralled watching the 19-year-old woman make motions as if she was flying through space. As Bates listened, Ellen described various details of the Solar System and the so-called gap in Orion. Bates had observed the gap many years earlier while on board a ship in the southern hemisphere. Orion was then a topic of great interest because of the recent telescopic observations of William Parsons, the third earl of Rosse. Just months earlier Bates had published a tract, "The Opening Heavens," relating Rosse's discoveries, but Ellen assured Bates she had no prior knowledge of astronomy.
Mrs. Truesdail, also present at the "vision", reports it had the desired effect on Bates:
"It was evident from Brother Bates's smiling face that his past doubts in regard to the source of her visions were fast leaving him. We all knew that Captain Bates was a great lover of astronomy, as he would often locate many of the heavenly bodies for our instruction. When Sister White replied to his questions, after the vision, saying that she had never studied or otherwise received knowledge in this direction, he was filled with joy and happiness. He praised God, and expressed his belief that this vision concerning the planets was given that he might never again doubt." (Truesdail letter, 1891)
Yes, everyone, including the Whites, knew Bates was fond of Astronomy. What a fortunate coincidence that Mrs. White's only recorded vision of the solar system took place while the skeptical Bates was in attendance. From that time forward, Bates was a believer. He no doubt looked forward to that day in glory, when he would be able to travel to Jupiter to meet those "tall, majestic people."
Embarrassing Failed Prophecies
In her early career Mrs. White made a number of predictions about Christ's imminent return. The most notable of those was a specific prediction made at a conference of believers in 1856. This statement was later published in the book Testimonies and received widespread attention within the SDA Church. Mrs. White claimed she was shown in vision that some of those present at the 1856 conference would be translated:
I was shown the company present at the Conference. Said the angel: "Some food for worms, some subjects of the seven last plagues, some will be alive and remain upon the earth to be translated at the coming of Jesus." (Testimonies, Vol. 1, p. 131)
A Failed Prophecy?
Mrs. White was given a vision showing the fate of those people attending the conference. She specifically states that some of them will suffer the seven last plagues, and some will be alive when Jesus returns. The Whites had such confidence in this "vision" that it was published in Mrs. White's Testimonies to the Church and received widespread distribution. However, by the early 1900s all those who attended the conference had passed away, leaving the Church with the dilemma of trying to figure out how to explain away such a prominent prophetic failure.
The Bible leaves no doubt that when a prophet makes a prediction that does not come to pass, that prophet is not speaking for the Lord:
When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him. Deut. 18:22
Do God's Angels Lie?
In order to believe Ellen White's statement, one must conclude that the angels are liars. Why? Notice what Jesus said about His return:
But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. Matt. 24:36
Jesus said only the Father knows the day. The angels do not know the day of Christ's return! The return date is a secret known only to God. The very purpose of Christ making this statement is to warn us not to believe any human or angelic being who comes to us saying they know the day of Christ's return.
If the angels do not know the day of Christ's return, then how could they tell Ellen White that some of those present at the 1856 conference would be translated? Did God go against Christ's Word and let the angels in on the secret?
Think about this:
Why would God--knowing all along the exact time of His return--allow His angel to tell His prophet something which He knew was NOT going to happen?
One thing is certain: If an angel did tell Ellen White Christ was going to return, it was not God's angel.
Did God Change His Mind?
Mrs. White's failure presented a dilemma for the Church. How could the failure be explained away?
A theory was soon formulated. The failure was not Ellen White's fault. It was the Adventist people's fault. They failed in their mission, so God had to postpone Christ's return.
Let's pretend for a moment that is true. God intended to come shortly after 1856. He told it to His angel. The angel told His prophet. She told it to the church. But then the Adventist people got lazy, didn't give enough tithes and offerings to spread the word, and failed in their mission. Question: Didn't God already know in 1856 that the Adventist people would fail? Didn't He already know they wouldn't give enough tithes and offerings? Of course He knew! That means that God knew for a fact He was not coming in the lifetime of those attending the 1856 conference, but He went ahead and told the SDA people a lie in order to try to motivate them to work harder! That theory is preposterous!
In order to support this preposterous theory, Adventists pointed to the story of Jonah. Jonah was sent to Nineveh with the message:
"Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown." Jonah 3:4
Adventists point to this verse as evidence that God changes His mind and prophetic predictions can be nullified. Is this true?
There are two types of prophecy in the Bible, conditional and unconditional.
A conditional prophecy is one in which the prediction is predicated upon a condition, such as...
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
An unconditional prophecy is one in which there is no condition predicated. For example, the promise of Jesus' return is an unconditional prediction. There is no question it will happen:
I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. John 14:3
A review of Mrs. White's 1856 statement indicates there are no conditions stated explicitly or even implied in the prophecy. Mrs. White simply says that some of those at the conference will be alive when Christ returns. There is no condition such as... "If you work hard, and give lots of offerings, then Christ will return..."
The prophecy was never understood as conditional during Mrs. White's lifetime. It was only after the last person attending the conference died that church apologists started to say the prophecy was conditional.
Jonah was pointed to as an example, because Jonah told the people Nineveh would be destroyed in 40 days, but the destruction did not take place. However, it is obvious that Jonah's prophecy is conditional. It was so obvious, that even Sister White herself said so:
Yet Nineveh, wicked though it had become, was not wholly given over to evil. He who "beholdeth all the sons of men" (Psalm 33:13) and "seeth every precious thing" (Job 28:10) perceived in that city many who were reaching out after something better and higher, and who, if granted opportunity to learn of the living God, would put away their evil deeds and worship Him. And so in His wisdom God revealed Himself to them in an unmistakable manner, to lead them, if possible, to repentance. (Prophets and Kings, pp. 255,256)
If God had wanted to destroy Nineveh, He could easily have destroyed it without warning, as He destroyed Sodom. However, His purpose was to lead the city to repentance, which is why Jonah was sent to preach there. The people of Nineveh understood that unless they repented and turned from their evil ways, God would destroy them in 40 days. Therefore, it is abundantly evident that Jonah's prophecy was conditional. The same cannot be said for Mrs. White's prophecy. There is no evidence that anyone believed it to be conditional until after it failed.
What good is a prophecy if, after it fails, the prophet can then say "it was conditional on such and such a condition..." when those conditions were never spelled out or understood before it failed? If this kind of manipulation were permitted, any self-proclaimed prophet could make a prophecy, and then when it failed, invent some conditions which were never before communicated as being a part of the prophecy, and then claim its failure was based upon those heretofore-unknown conditions! What a farce!
An Unbroken String of Failures Predicting Christ's Return
The 1856 prediction was the last in an amazingly unsuccessful series of predictions of Christ's return made by Ellen White. Lucinda Burdick, a friend of Mrs. White in the 1840's, explains how Mrs. White often predicted Christ's return:
I became acquainted with James White and Ellen Harmon (now Mrs. White) early in 1845. ... She pretended God showed her things which did not come to pass. At one time she saw that the Lord would come the second time in June 1845. The prophecy was discussed in all the churches, and in a little "shut-door paper" published in Portland, Me. During the summer, after June passed, I heard a friend ask her how she accounted for the vision? She replied that "they told her in the language of Canaan, and she did not understand the language; that it was the next September that the Lord was coming, and the second growth of grass instead of the first in June." September passed, and many more have passed since, and we have not seen the Lord yet. It soon became evident to all candid persons, that many things must have been "told her in the language of Canaan," or some other which she did not understand, as there were repeated failures. I could mention many which I knew of myself.
Once, when on their way to the eastern part of Maine, she saw that they would have great trouble with the wicked, be put in prison, etc. This they told in the churches as they passed through. When they came back, they said they had a glorious time. Friends asked if they had seen any trouble with the wicked, or prisons? They replied, "None at all." People in all the churches soon began to get their eyes open, and came out decidedly against her visions; and, just as soon as they did so, she used to see them "with spots on their garments," as she expressed it. I was personally acquainted with several ministers, whom she saw landed in the kingdom with "Oh! such brilliant crowns, FULL of stars." As soon as they took a stand against the visions, she saw them "doomed, damned, and lost for ever, without hope." (An Examination of Mrs. Ellen White's Visions, Miles Grant, Boston: Published by the Advent Christian Publication Society, 1877)
Despite her failures in 1844 and 1845, Mrs. White continued predicting Christ's imminent return. In 1849 her associate Joseph Bates announced that the "time of trouble has began." In the summer of 1849 a local pestilence struck the region. Mrs. White, seeing this as a fulfillment of prophecy indicating the end of the world, predicts this pestilence will soon become widespread:
"What we have seen and heard of the pestilence, is but the beginning of what we shall see and hear. Soon the dead and dying will be all around us." (Present Truth, Sept. 1849).
(Note: Not long after this prophecy was penned the pestilence ended and the United States entered a period of relative peace and prosperity that lasted for many years. The above quote was removed from the article when it was republished in Early Writings in 1882 and few Adventists are aware of its existence.)
By April of 1850 Mrs. White was claiming that the final shaking had begun:
"The mighty shaking has commenced." (Present Truth, April, 1850)
Meanwhile, her husband James was claiming that the departure of God's people from Babylon (Rev. 18:4) was already completed:
"Babylon, the nominal church is fallen. God's people have come out of her. She is now the 'synagogue of Satan' (Rev. 3:9). 'The habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird' (Rev. 18:2)." (Present Truth, April, 1850)
On June 27, 1850, Mrs. White wrote that only a few months remained for the people to get ready:
"My accompanying angel said, 'Time is almost finished. Get ready, get ready, get ready.' . . . now time is almost finished. . . and what we have been years learning, they will have to learn in a few months." (Early Writings, pp. 64-67).
This is a very significant statement. Mrs. White was saying that the truths that she and her associates had spent five years learning would have to be learned by new converts in only a few months. By September of 1850 Mrs. White was warning that Jesus was nearly finished in the Most Holy Place:
"I saw that the time for Jesus to be in the most Holy place was nearly finished, and that time cannot last but a very little longer. ... The sealing time is very short and soon will be over."— (Experience & Views pp. 46-47.)
When Christ did not return as expected in the early 1850s, Mrs. White gradually stopped making specific predictions about His return. Her statement at the 1856 conference was the last time she ever made a specific prediction about the time of Christ's return, and, like all of her previous statements on the subject, time has proven her prophecies wrong.
Failed Predictions about People
At times Mrs. White made specific predictions regarding certain people. One such person was Adventist pioneer Moses Hull. In 1862 Hull was in the process of losing his faith in Adventism. It would appear that the Whites had given up on reasoning with Hull and Mrs. White now resorted to warning him of the dire consequences of the path he had chosen:
If you proceed in the way you have started, misery and woe are before you. God's hand will arrest you in a manner that will not suit you. His wrath will not slumber. (Testimonies, Vol. 1, pp. 430-431.)
This never happened. Despite Mrs. White's warnings, Hull did "proceed the way he had started" and left the Adventist church. However, according to D.M. Canright, "Mr. Hull lived on many long years to a ripe old age, and nothing of the kind predicted happened." (Life of E.G. White, chap. 15) Besides raising questions about her prophetic abilities, this incident raises some important questions about her understanding of God. What kind of a God does Ellen White portray? Does God need to frighten people with wrath in order to keep them in His church? Who is the one who forces people to stay in his church through threats of wrath: God or Satan? You decide.
In his book Three Important Questions for Seventh-Day Adventists to Consider (1876), former Adventist minister Charles Lee recalls an experience he had with Ellen White. The editor of the Swedish edition of Advent Herald, Mr. C. Carlstedt, had become seriously ill with Typhoid fever. Charles Lee, James and Ellen White, Uriah Smith and another man went to visit Mr. Carlstedt:
We all knelt in prayer for the sick man; and Mrs. W. praised the Lord because he was "present with his restoring power, to raise Carlstedt, whose sickness," she said, was "not unto death, but to the glory of the Son of God." To me it was darkness and death; and it was an evidence to my soul that if she was right before God, then I had never known any thing about the Spirit of God. Either of us was entirely deceived.
On our way back Mrs. W. said to me that the Lord was there with his restoring power, and she was confident that he would be restored to health again. I told her I did not realize it, and that it was darkness to me. She did not speak to me again that evening. As I parted from them, I went direct to Chicago, to continue my meetings. A few days after I came to Chicago, Mrs. W. sent me a written testimony; and in that she says she knew that I was under the influence of devils. The next day I received a dispatch that Mr. C. was dead. I read and re-read the testimony, and said to myself, "If she could see 3 years ago that Satan should take possession of my soul and body because I would not give myself entirely up to be led by her and her husband, why could she not see that Mr. C. would die a few days before he did, as her attention was called directly to his case? And if she saw my then pitiable condition so long before, why did she not warn me before Satan got me entirely under his influence?
Inaccuracies and Historical Errors
We have been told that Mrs. White saw Biblical scenes in vision and she later wrote out these scenes in her books. If that is true, then why are there inaccuracies and historical mistakes in her writings?
Wrong about Herod
In 1858 Mrs. White writes about Herod as if the same Herod who took part in Christ's trial also killed James:
Herod's heart had grown still harder; and when he heard that Christ had risen, he was not much troubled. He took the life of James, and when he saw that this pleased the Jews, he took Peter also, intending to put him to death. (Early Writings, p. 185)
Herod Antipas took part in the trial of Christ. Herod Antipas was banished to Lyons in France, by Caligula in AD 41. After his banishment, the provinces which he governed were give to Herod Agrippa. He put James to death, cast Peter in prison, and was smitten of God, and expired (Acts. 7) in AD 44. Mrs. White was wrong in saying the same Herod who killed John the Baptist and witnessed the trial of Jesus was the Herod who killed James. This mistake was corrected when her book was republished in 1878:
He [Herod] seized upon James and cast him into prison, and there sent an executioner to kill him with a sword, as another Herod had caused the prophet John to be beheaded. He then became bolder, seeing that the Jews were pleased with his acts, and imprisoned Peter. (Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3, p. 334.)
This little mistake would probably be overlooked as of little importance if not for the fact that Mrs. White claimed to have seen all of these events in vision. It becomes apparent that when Mrs. White "saw" these events, she did not "see" them in vision; rather, she "saw" them written on the pages of the books she was plagiarizing.
In the 1970's, SDA scholar Dr. Don McAdams did his doctoral work on the book Great Controversy. He notes:
"Ellen White was not just borrowing paragraphs here and there that she ran across in her reading, but in fact following the historians page after page, leaving out much material, but using their sequence, some of their ideas, and often their words. In the examples I have examined I have found no historical fact in her text that is not in their text. The hand-written manuscript on John Huss follows the historian so closely that it does not even seem to have gone through an intermediary stage, but rather from the historian's printed page to Mrs. White's manuscript, including historical errors and moral exhortations." (Donald McAdams, "Shifting View of Inspiration", Spectrum, vol. 10, No. 4, March. 1980.)
Wrong about Mary
In Desire of Ages Mrs. White writes:
But now in His own familiar voice Jesus said to her, "Mary." Now she knew that it was not a stranger who was addressing her, and turning she saw before her the living Christ. In her joy she forgot that He had been crucified. Springing toward Him, as if to embrace His feet, she said, "Rabboni." But Christ raised His hand, saying, Detain Me not; "for I am not yet ascended to My Father: but go to My brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God." And Mary went her way to the disciples with the joyful message.
From this quote it is apparent that Mary never touched Jesus. She moved toward Christ as if to embrace Him, but Jesus halted her with uplifted hand. While this is consistent with events as described in the KJV of John 20:17, it contradicts the original Greek. The Greek literally says "stop clinging to me" (NIV Scofiled Study Bible, p. 1125). The New American Standard Version gives an accurate rendering of the Greek:
Jesus said to her, "Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father... (John 20:17)
This example shows that when Mrs. White was writing her books, she was not writing out events that she saw in vision. On the contrary, she developed her stories based upon her readings of the Bible and other books, and not from visions of God.