I was always interested in spiritual matters. My mother had introduced me to God as a young child, and I had a curious mind. I was drawn to Him, and to religion as a means to know Him. I went to a Catholic school as a young child, and I learned about Catholicism. I remember their claim to Authority as the True Church.
I remember the stay-at-home mothers in my neighborhood talking about the second coming of Christ, and Satan impersonating Him in the last days. I remember being worried about that, and asking them how I would know who was the real Jesus. They told me that I would “just know.” There was no other answer, but that bothered me for years. I did not want to be fooled.
My mother began to study Mormonism with Mormon missionaries when I was 10 years old. I studied with her, and questioned them on the Mormon’s claim to Authority as the True Church—as the Catholic Church had made that same claim. I was only 10 years old, and when the missionaries explained to me their history and their beliefs, I did not have the experience to know to investigate it further. I was baptized with my mother. But, she soon left their church, and I only attended sporadically.
I became a Christian the summer I turned 15. We moved to a new neighborhood, and the lady across the street came and introduced herself. I grew to know her as a wonderful Christian woman. She knew sooooo much about end time prophecies, and I had always wanted to know about the prophecies of the last days—ever since I was 6 years old and listened to the mothers in my neighborhood as they talked about the end times. I took many Bible studies with her and learned to know my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I was enthralled at the miracle that Jesus died for me, that I would be saved for eternity with Him. A gift of grace. The memory of my first love with God still brings me to tears. I am so grateful for the love of my Savior.
My neighbor was a Seventh-day Adventist, and she believed hers was the True Church. I had heard this claim before, and I was wary of it. I had never studied the Bible before. Even when I was 10, studying with the Mormon missionaries, they only used the Bible a little bit; mostly they used the Book of Mormon. I did not know how to study the Bible, but my Christian neighbor did, and she taught me how to study it the same way that she did.
I did not want to be an Adventist just because she was one, and I wanted to make a “right” choice based on what God told me in the Bible. Therefore, I studied several different religions that summer, but by the fall I had decided to join her church and be a Seventh-day Adventist (SDA). The SDA church had all the doctrines “just right” on end times prophecies, and that is what brought me to their denomination.
When I was 16 I went to an SDA high school. I met several godly teachers there, and my walk with my Savior was nurtured by them. I will forever be grateful.
I had friends from public high school that had also become Christians from other denominations. One day we were talking about the secret rapture and found we did not agree about it. We agreed to have a Bible study on the topic, and I went home and began to study about the secret rapture— I didn’t know anything about it, really, as it did not follow what I had been studying. As I tried to study it, I did not know how to organize the information. I went to a wonderful Christian teacher at my SDA school. He told me that a bank teller is not taught about all the different kinds of counterfeit bills out there. A bank teller is taught to familiarize themselves with the real dollar bill, and they will become so well acquainted with it that they will be able to spot the counterfeit immediately, because of how it is different from the genuine. He told me to use the same principle in my Bible study. So, I stopped studying the theology of the secret rapture and I just focused on the theology of the rapture as I had learned to study it from the SDA church.
For the next 36 years I would approach all of my Bible study from this perspective. It did not occur to me that there was something inherently insular in this approach to Bible study. I just used the Bible and a concordance, so I did not see there was anything that might limit my horizons.
The year I was 16 we studied the books of Daniel and Revelation in my Bible class at my SDA high school. I LOVED these studies. I simply could not get enough of it. I tried to memorize as much of it as I was able. I loved studying Bible prophecy, and I loved “knowing” the truth of what the Bible said. This is something I have studied a great deal over the years since then. I am very well acquainted with the theology of end time events—from the SDA perspective. I had no idea there was any kind of “filter” there, until recently. I thought my beliefs were the Bible and the Bible only, as it was from the Bible that I learned them. I did not understand there is an inherent problem with “proof texting.”
I met a Christian man. He became am SDA. We married, we had children, we raised them in the SDA church. We raised them to know Jesus. We sent them to SDA schools. Most of our friends were SDA. We loved Jesus; we prayed daily, and we prayed with our children every day. We were very active in our faith.
Our children became of age for high school, and there wasn’t an SDA high school nearby. We were both fundamentally opposed to sending our children away to boarding school. We did not want to be apart from them their last few years of childhood. We considered sending them to Christian schools of other denominations, but in the end opted not to do so. There was a very good public school about 20 miles away; it was small and had strong family values. We placed them there, and taught “religion” at home.
Our children became very active in band at school. As they were teenagers, we felt it was important to become involved in what they were doing in their school lives, and so we volunteered. There, we fellowshipped with many Christian parents from a variety of different religions. The common theme was our love for Jesus and our love for our children. The fellowship I experienced with these Christians was very different from the fellowship I experienced at my church. I did not notice the contrast as much when I was both volunteering and attending church. But, when my youngest child graduated high school and our group was disbanded, I found I could not re-immerse myself at church. It didn’t “fit” right. I didn’t know why. It was very frustrating. I thought maybe it was the church, so we went to other SDA churches—many, many other SDA churches. We tried them in all sorts of different towns. We tried traditional ones, Celebration ones, various ethnic ones; we tried many that were somewhat traditional with some “celebration” components. It didn’t matter. I could not find the kind of fellowship my heart was seeking. The “old ways” of fellowship did not “fit” me anymore. So, I stopped going to church.
I never left my Savior. I still read my Bible. I still prayed. I still was interested in spiritual themes. My work has always been a form of ministry for me, and that remains true. I still considered myself an SDA. I just couldn’t seem to make myself fellowship with them. I would not attend a Sunday church though, because of the end time prophecies as taught in the SDA church.
My daughter became a “Sunday keeper”—the label we use to refer to someone who is not an SDA. Although I wished she were SDA, I was grateful she was a Christian and had found her Savior there, and I committed her to God. He would take care of her. My son remained a Christian and an SDA.
My son met a Christian girl, and she studied with me and agreed to become an SDA. She and my son were married. They spent the next few years trying several different SDA churches, seeking one with whom they could find fellowship. The fellowship was not as critical the first few years, but when they had their first child and his wife became a stay-at-home mother, fellowship became extremely important. She was so isolated and needed the companionship of Christians. They could not find it at the SDA churches they tried to be members of the first 5 years of their marriage. So, they started looking at Sunday churches.
This distressed me. I became fearful for my son in a way I had not been for my daughter. My daughter had been sensitive to Jesus, but she was not “born again” when she was SDA. She did not experience grace—the saving relationship with Jesus Christ—until she went to a “Sunday-keeping church”. So, I knew God would work with her where she was at. My son, however, was a Christian, and he really did know. This worried me. I did not want him to be lost and receive the mark of the beast.
Around 2012, I had a conversation with him about going to church on Sunday. My son became emotional—I could see agony in his eyes—agony which I was causing. I believe that this is the only thing that could have penetrated my mind—my mother-heart witnessing my son in agony gave me pause and allowed me to “hear” what I was saying. My son said, “Mom, I feel like you are telling me that if I go to church on Sunday I will go to hell.”
I KNOW that we are saved by the grace of God through Jesus Christ. That’s it. It is a free gift. That is the only way to salvation. I believe this.
What I did not realize was that I had a concurrent belief running parallel to my belief in Christ’s free gift that was in absolute contradiction to it: if you are a Sunday keeper in the last days, you accept the mark of the beast and will be lost. Because, according to Bible prophecy (as SDA teaches it), Saturday is the seal of God, and Sunday is the mark of the beast. I believed the Bible taught this.
I did not realize that I had two diametrically opposed CORE beliefs. And I believed them both, to the marrow of my bones. I could not have “heard” this, except through my child’s agony. When I saw the agony in his eyes, it stopped me in my tracks. I told him: “I am telling you that you will be lost. I don’t know why I am.” And I shut up. I did not have an answer. I did not know what to do with the contradiction. I know salvation comes only through Jesus Christ, not through what day of the week we “keep” holy. There is nothing we can DO to be saved, except accept Jesus. There is nothing we can DO to be lost, except forgo the free gift of grace.
So, I shut up. I prayed. I trusted my son to God, that he would take care of him. My son was seeking God. How can that be a bad thing? I recognized, for the very first time in my life, that I had two opposing beliefs that could not be reconciled, and I did not know what to do with that dilemma. I went no further than that. I just didn’t know what to do with it.
Months went by. As we neared a national election, it became borne upon me that my “community” had become very small. Aside from work, my “community” was limited to my family and a very few close friends. This isolation was something I had done to myself, as I couldn’t fellowship with SDAs, and I wouldn’t fellowship at Sunday churches. So, with my husband’s encouragement, I agreed to go to a Sunday church. I just decided that when they got “all doctrinal” I would keep my mouth shut and not discuss it with them. I didn’t want to disrespect anyone’s beliefs, especially “in their own house.” But I very much needed fellowship with other Christians.
So I went, but not to the same church that my children were attending, as my daughter went to one church, and my son was trying out different churches.
But life got in the way, and after a few months we stopped attending. The members really were mostly too old for our demographic.
And there it sat. Until a few months ago. My daughter was now attending the same church as my son. My son has children, and they go to church with him, and I wanted to go to church with my grandchildren. So, my husband and I decided we would go to church with them so we can enjoy the experience with our children and grandchildren. I would just keep my mouth shut if anyone ever spouted some “wrong” biblical doctrine. And I would be careful, so as not to receive the mark of the beast. That fear had kept me from attending a church for many, many years up to this point.
It helped that the first few weeks we attended, the sermon was on the book of Daniel. It was a comforting, familiar book. And the pastor got it all just fine, which also helped.
Simultaneously, there was a movie on a cable channel, called “The 19th Wife.” It was fiction and told a story about a reformed Latter Day Saint group that practices polygamy.The movie was insignificant to me except for the fact that it kept referencing flashbacks to a book written by the 19th wife of Brigham Young. I became curious about it, found the book, and started to read it. It is not a book I would recommend to anyone: it is scathing. But it got me to thinking: I wonder if any of the SDA founders or contemporaries of the founders ever wrote any books? I thought it would be inspiring to read about their early Christian experiences. I went looking for them. And I found them.
Oh boy, did I find them.
They wrote of their early experiences, their excitement at learning of the Advent prophecies (End Time Events), and their eagerness to share these things with everyone they knew. Their experiences with Ellen and James White (Ellen White is believed to be a prophet by the SDA church—see SDA Fundamental Belief #18).
I found some of the early publishings of Ellen White and her husband James White. I found I had a problem with some of the things Mrs. White published and taught, and I found I could not reconcile them with the Bible.
I found out more than I ever wanted to know. I was shocked by what I discovered. I was shocked that the leadership within the SDA church has known of these “problems” I discovered, and that they have known of them for over 130 years now… and counting. In fact, in each new generation of leadership in the church, they have been confronted with the question of “what to do” about them. And each time, they have chosen to do nothing, to just “not talk about it.” Thus, they perpetuate a lie. Many lies.
I have gone through shock, anger, humiliation, grief, some acceptance, more shock. My mind and emotions have been reeling.
I decided I wouldn’t tell anyone. I don’t go to an SDA church anymore, so who would notice? I would just keep it to myself.
But after a few weeks, as I continued to read and tried to research, the burden became too heavy. I shared what I had found with my husband. I asked him to not tell anyone. I didn’t want to talk about it. I never wanted to discuss it with anyone. It was just “too much” for me. He agreed to let me keep my privacy.
A couple of weeks went by, and while helping our son paint the trim on his house, my husband told him all about it, but told him not to talk to me about it. And, our son started pressing to let him talk to me about it. What a dirty trick.
Slowly, I have started to “come out” with my truth. And, some of those who have remained close to me in the SDA church are worried, lest I receive the mark of the beast. And I understand their fear. I feel such compassion. I completely understand their fear. But, I don’t share their fear. I will share here, with you, a very little bit of what I have learned in the last two months…
THE FIRST ISSUE FOR ME: Ellen G. White as a prophet
The SDA Church Fundamental Belief #18 claims that she is a “continuing and authoritative source of truth…” They claim Ellen G. While is “the Spirit of Prophecy,” and they reference Revelation 12:17, 19:10 to support this claim.
Paul tells us:
“Do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.” Thess. 5:20- 21.
SDA’s will agree with this.
John tells us:
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1 – 3.
SDA’s will agree with this, too.
And, so, let us do as Paul and John tell us to do, shall we? It may sound simple to you, but please remember the advice I received from my Christian teacher at my SDA high school nearly 37 years ago: he told me to study only the “true” dollar bill. So, all I ever studied was through the filter of SDA theology. I believed that was what I saw in the Bible. I didn’t understand what “proof texting” does. And most SDA’s are just like me.
For me, that took me to the beginning. Remember: I was reading stories from the contemporaries of Ellen White. I was reading her earliest published documents.
The very foundation of Adventism, before they were Seventh-day Adventists, is Ellen White’s complete endorsement of William Miller’s method, and his message. Mrs. White states God’s hand was guiding the timelines of prophecy (that W. Miller taught), and it should not be altered in any way. See EGW Review and Herald 1850-11-01.
And yet, the prophecy failed. Of this failure, she says that it is God’s fault: He led them to the wrong date (1843), and again to the wrong date in the spring of 1844, and again to the date of October 22, 1844.
William Miller used “proof texting” to support his timelines. This is a method that has been found to be unreliable and debunked. Theologians no longer use this method, although it was popular in the 18th Century. William Miller, and most of his followers, went on to state that nothing happened on October 22, 1844.
DOES IT MATTER?
Only the prophetic visions of Ellen White state that anything happened on that day. The SDA beliefs of the Sanctuary Doctrine, which come from this prophetic vision of hers, are integral to so much of SDA doctrine, that the question of whether or not she is a prophet matters. See EGW Early Writtings, pages 232 – 234.
The Saving Message from God: The 1843 message was from God, and it was a testing point for people to accept the message that Jesus was coming in 1843 and be saved, or reject that message that He was coming in 1843 and be lost. Further, the non-adventist ministers of all of the other churches that taught their flock that “no man knows the hour of His coming” have “the blood of souls” upon them, and are condemned by God: “He turned His face from the churches…” EGW, Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 1, pg 136.
QUESTION: What is “the Saving Truth”
What IS “the saving truth.”
After the disappointment of 1844, the Millerite Adventist movement split into two groups:
Then, in Dec. 1844, Ellen White says she had “given up” on the shut door. But, by the end of Dec. 1844, she began to have a series of visions that taught that the door of mercy WAS shut. In her visions, she claims that God has told her that no one else will ever be saved.
Others (Open-Door Adventists) rashly denied the light behind them, and said that it was not God that had led them out so far. The light behind them went out leaving their feet in perfect darkness, and they stumbled and got their eyes off the mark, and lost sight of Jesus and fell of the path down in the dark and wicked world below. It was just as impossible for them to get on the path again and go to the City, as all the wicked world which God had rejected. They fell all the way along the path one after another, until we heard the voice of God like many waters, which gave us the day and hour of Jesus’ coming. See “To the Remnant Scattered Abroad,” in A Word to the Little Flock, May 30, 1847, pg. 14.
EG White’s second vision in February 1845 teaches the same Shut Door:
At length my soul seemed to be in agony, and while she was talking I fell from my chair to the floor. It was then I had a view of Jesus rising from His mediatorial throne and going to the holiest and Bridegroom to receive His Kingdom. They all said it was entirely new to them. The Lord worked in mighty power, setting the truth home to their hearts. Sister Durben knew what the power of the Lord was, for she had felt it many times; and a short time after I fell she was struck down, and fell to the floor, crying to God to have mercy on her. When I came out of vision, my ears were saluted with Sister Durben’s singing and shouting with a loud voice. Most of them received the vision, and were settled upon the shut door. See A.L. White, “Ellen G. White and the Shut Door Question,” Letter 3, 1847, pp 49-51.
This is a Vision from God, according to EG White.
James White, her husband, wrote an article in which he was quite explicit in his teaching of the Shut Door of mercy, as taught from EG White’s visions. He said:
“Behold, the Bridegroom Cometh was actually raised, swelled louder and louder throughout the land, until that advent people were fully awake, anxiously expecting to see Jesus on the 10th day of the seventh (Jewish) month (Oct. 22, 1844). When we came up to that point of time, all our sympathy, burden and prayers for sinners ceased, and the unanimous feeling and testimony was that our work for the world was finished forever.
…The reason why the living branches felt that their work was done for the world was because the 2300 days were ended,… Jesus is still merciful to His saints, and ever will be, and Jesus is still their advocate and priest. But the sinner… was left without an advocate when Jesus…shut that door in 1844. The professed church, who rejected the truth (the 1844 message) was also rejected and… He hath withdrawn Himself from them.” See James White, The Present Truth, May 1850.
I cut out some of it, because James White uses 1000 words where 10 will do. A product of his times. But, I encourage you to look it up for yourself, and read the entirety. The meaning has not been altered at all.
There is much, much more evidence of the Shut Door theology of Ellen G. White. She held to this belief and continued to have visions in which she declared there were no real conversions to Christ after Oct. 22, 1844. She stated “Some appeared to have been really converted, so as to deceive God’s people” but there were no conversions possible after that date. EGW The Present Truth, August 1849, pg 22.
I invite you to research this yourself. Eventually, EGW, James White, and the other early founders changed their belief, about 1852. The children of the Adventists were reaching “the age of accountability.” This posed a problem, as it meant their children could not be saved. There are letters to and from EGW, and other early church members, discussing this dilemma. By 1852 they discarded the Shut Door belief, and there are later publishing’s by EGW and the church that both deny she ever wrote or stated the belief, and that also state she did but they changed their minds on it.
However, during the 8 years or so that this was at the core of their beliefs, she had many Visions from God stating it was the absolute truth.
This was shocking to me. God said this. GOD SAID THIS?
The biblical standard for a prophet is 100% accuracy. “If they speak not according to this word, there is no light in them.” Therefore, the Shut Door is sufficient proof to ME that EGW is a false prophet.
However, her prophet career lasted some 60 years, and she wrote and published a great deal during that time. It has provided a great deal of evidence that she contradicts the Bible, she contradicts herself, and she has provided failed prophecies.
The biblical standard is 100%. It is a high standard, and she does not come anywhere close to the standard.
WHERE DO I GO FROM THERE?
From here, I went to the church leadership. Didn’t they know this? I mean, if it’s not true, just say so. The church doesn’t need EG White for its doctrines, just the Bible.
As I continued to read, I found that Uriah Smith grew to reject EGW as a prophet. This became a real conflict, and James White forced him to either endorse her, or leave the church. Other of the early church members write that U. Smith wrestled with this. In the end, he made an ambiguous public statement, which J. White accepted, and U. Smith remained in the church. But, his contemporaries record that he never again accepted EGW as a prophet.
J. Kellogg had a falling out with EGW. He decided she was not a prophet, and he was leaving the church. EGW wanted him to leave the Sanitorium: the church had paid to build it. He refused. The sanitorium burnt down, and he still refused. He persuaded the Board of Directors to side with him, and they kept the sanitorium and rebuilt it without the church. There was a lot of scorched earth between them, with various accusations going back and forth.
Canright was very big in the SDA church, having joined in 1856. He was very close to James White, and he served in many church positions, including in the General Conference. He eventually reviewed the evidence and struggled with a personal realization that EGW was a false prophet. He met with many of the leaders over this, and ultimately left.
The General Conference was confronted with some legal problems associated with a number of EGWs publishings, in the 1880’s. Some they made changes in, and others they discontinued publishing altogether: like the book EGW wrote and published on the life of Paul. It was entirely derived from another author’s book that had been published 49 years earlier. She had lifted the content, re-published it in her own name, and claimed it was shown her in vision. This was such a scandal, they had to pull the manuscript from any further publishings.
Every generation or so, the leadership has had to struggle with what to do about the problems associated with Mrs. White’s publishings, and the evidence of information that demonstrate contradiction with the Bible, and even of herself, all of which is evidence (from a biblical perspective) that she is not a prophet. “What do we do about the problem of The Testimonies?” In addition, they have been confronted about what to do with the problem of the Sanctuary Doctrine. There is no biblical evidence to support the doctrine. The church uses Daniel 8:14, but they are well aware that their use of it is not in context with the Bible, or with the historical record. However, it is all they have got. It has proven a serious problem every generation. In 1919 the General Conference put together a committee assigned to the task of dealing with Mrs. Whites vast plagiarism (whole entire manuscripts copied and put her name on it, and claimed as visions), the Sanctuary “problem” and the “problem with the Testimonies.” But, they did not know what to do, as to go public about it would splinter the church and dismantle their “central pillar” and they risked their hospitals and schools. So, they decided to seal up the report and the Minutes for 50 years. These were unsealed 50 years later, and made available in 1972.
In the 1950s the church leadership was again confronted with what to do with the “problem” of the Sanctuary Doctrine. They put together a committee of renowned theologians, who spent five years studying the matter and exploring it. In the end, they concluded there was no biblical support for the doctrine, but if they made that public then there was no “uniqueness” to the SDA church, and it would splinter the church and they risked losing their hospitals and universities. They decided to disband the committee with no recommendations.
From this group, others went forward with the research. The most prominent was Desmond Ford. For more information, you can read his dissertation.
And, there is much, much more. There is much more I have already found, and I am sure there is a vast larger amount I haven’t found: I have only been doing this for a couple of months, and I have to take big breaks from it, because it upsets me so much.
WHY DOES THIS MATTER TO ME?
EGW, through her visions, states that in the last days you will be saved by which day you observe as Holy. If it is not Saturday, you will be lost.
If EGW is not 100% accurate, she is not a prophet of God.
I have been so frustrated and angry that I could have been duped. How did that happen? I am an intelligent person. I have studied the Bible a great deal over the past 37 years since I became a Christian.
But, I only studied it the “SDA way.” That “real dollar bill,” just as my teacher told me when I was still a child. I have seen the Word of God through a pin-prick hole in my box, and thought it was the full view. Now, I don’t even know where to start. So, I have started by reading Romans. Just reading it. And prayer. I put myself in God’s hands, and I pray God will lead me.
Thank you to Canright, and to Dale Ratzlaff, and to Jerry Gladson, and to Proclamation! magazine, and to Walter Rae, and to everyone who has provided references and resources on the internet which assist the layman (like me) to find the documents that would otherwise not be available to the average person.
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