Thursday, July 16, 2015

100 years ago: The death of Ellen G. White

A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Matthew 7:18

On July 16, 1915, Ellen G. White died at the age of 87. Mrs. White, born Ellen Harmon, co-founded the Seventh-day Adventist Church and remains its most influential individual. The church originated from William Miller's false prophecy that Jesus Christ would return in 1843. When that didn't happen, the date was revised to 1844, and when He still didn't return, some of the Millerites, including Mrs. White and her husband James, founded the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The SDA Church teaches many biblical truths, but unfortunately, also teaches some things that have the effect of undoing some of those truths. The Seventh-day Adventist Church summarizes its doctrines in a statement of 28 Fundamental Beliefs. According to the Beliefs page of the SDA web site:

Seventh-day Adventists accept the Bible as the only source of our beliefs. We consider our movement to be the result of the Protestant conviction Sola Scriptura—the Bible as the only standard of faith and practice for Christians.

According to Fundamental Belief 17: The Gift of Prophecy, Ellen G. White's "writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested." The Seventh-day Adventist Church seems to be talking out of both sides of its mouth here, claiming that the Bible is the only standard of faith and practice, while upholding Ellen G. White's writings as a "continuing and authoritative source of truth." To me, that says that the SDA's standard is the Bible plus the writings of Ellen G. White. The big problem I have with views such as those of the SDAs is that if the Bible is "the only standard of faith and practice," then further revelation from God is unnecessary. To allow any extrabiblical sources of revelation as coming from God is to contradict the principle of Sola Scriptura. Mrs. White's visionary experiences, which resulted in over 40 books, led Seventh-day Adventists to regard Mrs. White as possessing the biblical gift of prophecy--a view not shared by this blogger. The physical phenomena that accompanied Mrs. White's "visions" indicate control by a seducing spirit rather than by the Holy Spirit.

I disagree with the Seventh-day Adventist Church's emphasis on the Sabbath. According to Fundamental Belief 20, "The beneficent Creator...instituted the Sabbath for all people as a memorial of Creation. The fourth commandment of God's unchangeable law requires the observance of this seventh-day Sabbath..." In fact, the Sabbath was not instituted for all people, but only for Israel. Only Israel was required to observe the Sabbath, and only Israel was judged by God for failing to keep the Sabbath (e.g., Ezekiel 20:12-24). Gentile nations were never required to keep the Sabbath, and weren't judged by God for failing to keep it; they were judged for the way they treated Israel (e.g., Obadiah 10-20). When Jewish church leaders assembled in Jerusalem to decide on whether Gentile converts had to keep the law of Moses, the only requirements that were imposed on them were to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood; from animals that had been strangled; and from sexual immorality (Acts 15:19-29). Keeping the Sabbath wasn't a requirement (nor, for that matter, was tithing). The SDAs and others of similar views like to ask where in the New Testament the Sabbath was changed from Sunday to Saturday. The answer is--nowhere. The Sabbath and the Lord's Day are different observances. The Sabbath was mandatory and only for Israel, while the Lord's Day is voluntary and observed by Jewish and Gentile Christians within the church.

I disagree with the part in Fundamental Belief 22: Christian Behavior that states that we are to "abstain from the unclean foods identified in the Scriptures." When Jesus declared that it was the things that came out of a man and not what went into him that made him unclean, he was declaring all foods clean (Mark 7:15-23).

I have a big problem with Fundamental Belief 24: Christ's Ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary, where it says: "In 1844, at the end of the prophetic period of 2300 days, He entered the second and last phase of His atoning ministry. It is a work of investigative judgment which is part of the ultimate disposition of all sin, typified by the cleansing of the ancient Hebrew sanctuary on the Day of Atonement...The Investigative judgment reveals to heavenly intelligences who among the dead are asleep in Christ and therefore, in Him, are deemed worthy to have part in the first resurrection." On the contrary, when Jesus said, "It is finished" (John 19:30)--an accounting term meaning "paid in full"--He was on the cross, not in Heaven. Jesus fully paid the penalty for sin on the cross, and didn't need to complete the work of atonement in Heaven. The SDA doctrine of "Investigative Judgment" is a serious error based on the false prophecy concerning 1844, and isn't found in Scripture--which again shows that the Bible is not in fact the only rule of faith and practice for the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

While the Seventh-day Adventist Church upholds many sound biblical teachings, the errors that the SDA Church upholds, and the origins of the SDA Church indicate that the tree that produced the Seventh-day Adventist Church is corrupt rather than good.

1 comment:

  1. I have their book, "Seventh-day Adventists Believe..." but I just haven't gotten around to reading it yet -- I recently found it at Goodwill.

    I wrote an article exposing some of the SDA's doctrinal problems, with which I prove they are a cult: