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Exposing Adventism - SDA Pastor undermines confidence in Bible to build up Ellen White

If Adventist pastors and denominational leaders are asked the BIG question:

"Do you believe that Ellen White is the infallible interpreter of Holy Scripture for the Seventh-day Adventist denomination?"

And none of the following evasive answers work:

  • We do not believe that the writings of Ellen White are an addition to the canon of sacred Scripture.
  • We do not believe that the writings of Ellen White function as the foundation and final authority of Christian faith in Scripture.
  • We do not believe that the writings of Ellen White may be used as the basis of doctrine.
  • We do not believe that the study of the writings of Ellen White may be used to replace the study of Scripture.
  • We do not believe that Scripture can be understood only through the writings of Ellen White.

They will often respond as a last resort by undermining the Scriptures to build support for the doctrinal errors in Ellen White's writings. Here are some links that explain this in more detail:

Since Adventists do not usually want to openly acknowledge that they do indeed use Ellen White's writings to interpret the Bible, they will launch into a shockingly aggressive and unanticipated attempt to tear down the inerrancy of the Scriptures. Unless you are expecting this, it would be the last thing that most "transitioning Adventists" would expect from the spiritual leaders that they previously trusted for salvational guidance.

Warning! The material you are about to read can be devastating to your spiritual experience if you are not firmly grounded in a sound Evangelical understanding of Biblical inspiration and inerrancy.

Notice how SDA Pastor clearly has no problem finding errors in the Bible. Yet he is somehow unable to find even one error in all of the writings of Ellen White. One cannot help but wonder which source he values more. (Well, actually there is no question.)


Quote from SDA Pastor:

We are so much a part of the Christian world view that we likely do not see the circularity of this kind of reasoning.

"The Bible is inspired because it says it is inspired."

If that's all you've got, then why is "the Book of Mormon is inspired because it says it is inspired" incorrect?

Do you not realize that citing the claim of any book as proof of the book's claim is circular reasoning?

I happen to believe that its claim is correct, and I take a dim view of those who accuse me of believing otherwise. I am just asking you to think this through. The truth is, most of us believe that the Bible is inspired because that is what we were taught. There is probably not a time we ever considered it otherwise.

Until we think this through, we are unqualified to judge whether someone actually has been given the heavenly gift of prophecy.

Quote from SDA Pastor:

We respect the Word; we don't have to respect every application or interpretation of the Word as being inspired.

Quote from an inquiring former Adventist:

Ok, SDA Pastor. I heard you say:

"We respect the Word."

Now I would like to hear you say:

"We believe the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, to be the inspired Word of God, without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for the salvation of men and the Divine and final authority for Christian faith and life."

Quote from SDA Pastor:

Where does Scripture say "without error in the original writings"?

Just answer the question. I'd like it in a verse or two, or even in a single chapter.

Quote from an inquiring former Adventist:

SDA Pastor, if the Bible is not Gods' actual words to mankind, inerrant in the original manuscripts and providentially protected and passed on to us---then there is no reason to trust the Bible. The issue, for me, comes down to trust and authority. I cannot trust a book that has errors and is merely the product of mankind to be authoritative over my life.

Quote from SDA Pastor:

Why is this so hard to understand?

Over and over I have stated the possibility of error, but when I have actually analyzed what has been paraded as error, I have found that the parader missed something about the passage in question, and I have given the explanation. Of course, that doesn't suit the one who needs it to be in error.

This is as true of Scripture as it is of Ellen White's writings. I have provided a harmonization of the "errors" of Scripture I have raised just as I have done for Ellen White's supposed errors.

It is possible that a great number of the errors in Scripture were introduced by a careless copyist. Hebrew is not an easy language and its syntax changed over the years. But some factual "errors" do not lend themselves to this kind of explanation. Stories are told differently because the source of the stories are not the direct revelation of God, but the memories of eyewitnesses that do not remember all details the same.

Whether the minor discrepancy is original or introduced, it doesn't stop the Word of God from being the Word of God. If you have to have the Word of God totally accurate without any such flaw before you can accept it as God's Word, then you have no hope of having the Word of God because, even if the flaw is introduced, we do not have the original manuscripts for any of the Bible.

Your argument hinges on an assumption that cannot be proved or disproved. Your argument hinges on an a condition that Scripture never describes as existing. So why are you making such a big deal about it?

Why is this so important to you when Scripture is silent on it?

Quote from an inquiring former Adventist:

This would engender some appeal if only Ellen White wrote in harmony with Scripture. If only Ellen's additions could harmonize the various passages of Scripture with each other, in order to convey the message accurately in those Scriptures.

But she doesn't. Our balking comes from examination of Ellen's additions and commentaries to Scripture, which she does to produce a message that is related to the Bible in terminology only; Ellen's message is utterly foreign to the message of the Gospel.

Quote from an inquiring former Adventist:

Personally I have seen you explain why the Prophet wasn't in error quite frequently, including explanations that test all bounds of reason. But your approach to Scripture has been different. Perhaps you are blind to this behavior of yours.

So you wouldn't conclude that all Scripture is God-breathed? The historical accounts of Scripture are simply man's recollection of what happened?

It is a question about God, His power, and His character. Your view is only left with a few options. God inspires errors or God did not inspire all of Scripture. Now there are a few verses that it would be really handy for me if God did not inspire (of course if I started down that path I would end up with a whole set of revisions like the Clear Word). If things like verb tenses and singular/plural aren't important, then theology becomes a complete chaos. The details can no longer be trusted as having come from God, so how can we determine if a particular detail has doctrinal importance or not. Scriptural study becomes the process of confirming our doctrine, not uncovering truth.

I have presented my Scriptural case. I do not believe that Scripture is silent on the issue. You are welcome to address the specific details in the case that I have presented.

Quote from SDA Pastor:


Do you mind citing an example of a Bible contradiction that I haven't attempted to harmonize or explain?

All Scripture is God-breathed. The question is, what does that statement mean?

  • When Paul learned of the condition of the church in Colossae from Epaphras was that not God's breathing?
  • When Paul gives his opinion on certain matters that aren't a "commandment of the Lord," is that not God's breathing?
  • When Luke compiles eyewitness accounts of the events of Jesus' life to support the teachings given Theophilus, was that not God's breathing?
  • When the writers of the OT histories tell the stories of the monarchs of Israel on the basis of earlier histories, is that not God's breathing?
  • When Solomon gathers sayings from the ancient world for the book of Proverbs, is that not God's breathing?
  • When Micah borrows from Isaiah without mentioning his source, when Jude borrows from the pseudipigraphal Enoch, is that not God's breathing?
  • When Paul quotes pagan poets, is that not God's breathing?
  • When Jesus adapts the teachings of the rabbis, is that not God's breathing?
  • When John receives a symbolic representation of the great controversy between Christ and Satan and puts it into finite words, is that not God's breathing?
  • When Daniel struggles to understand a vision given him, by studying another contemporary prophet's writings, is that not God's breathing?

It's one thing to claim something is inspired while ignoring it. That's like saying, "My boss's word is law; I'm just not doing what he says."

This is ridiculous. Do you not understand what I am saying if I misspell a word or use grammar that ain't correct? If I describe the length of time I've been a pastor in general terms of twenty years, when it has actually been twenty-two years, does that essentially effect the truthfulness of my statement. If I mistakenly call my great grandfather my grandfather, does that call my believability into question?

With all due respect, 2 Tim. 3:16, if taken literally, makes no sense. Figuratively, we see that all Scripture bears the marks of God's inspiration. The statement does not say He insured that no error in grammar, no factual contradiction, no difference in perspective was ever introduced.

God worked through human beings who used human language, but it is still God's Word.

  • I don't disregard a prophecy in Revelation because it contains a few grammatical errors.
  • I don't disregard the Sabbath because there is a technical discrepancy between God's delivery of the fourth commandment, predicated on the Creation, and Moses's reminder to keep the fourth commandment because God brought them out of slavery and they therefore owed God their obedience.
  • I don't disbelieve the fact that Jesus healed a blind man because Luke 19:1 has Jesus healing the man before entering Jericho, and Matthew 20:29 and Mark 10:46 have him healing him upon leaving the city.
  • I don't disbelieve that a titulus was placed above Jesus' head, because the different Gospels give different descriptions of what was written on it.
And I suggest that neither should you.

Quote from SDA Pastor:

You mean unless you have a technically error-free Bible, you cannot believe?

Then you have a big problem, because the Bible you now have is built on a reconstruction of hundreds of manuscripts containing thousands of typographical differences.

The Bible is not "merely the product of mankind," but you cannot deny that God used humans to communicate His will, and He chose the writers of Scripture on their willingness to communicate in human language as faithfully as was humanly possible what God communicated to them. In some rare instances, the prophets did take dictation. Most of the time, they did not.

I've worked with translation. I've worked with the variants in translation. Maybe you haven't, and that is why you make the assumptions you do. The truth of the statements in God's Word is not troubled by such minutiae.

God bless as you wrestle with the facts as they are and not as you wish them to be.

Quote from an inquiring former Adventist:

Half right. The Byzantine line, aka 'Textus Receptus' does not have thousands of typographical differences. The Alexandrian line of manuscripts have the typographical differences and it is these manuscripts that Westcott-Hort based their translation on, as do most modern translations. That's why I stick to the KJV for a study Bible.

No, I cannot deny that God communicated through humans. What I deny is that God is so impotent that He cannot communicate exactly what He intends, in the exact words that He intends to be used. Sometimes this was done through dictation; at other times by bringing certain memories back into the minds of the disciples who wrote the gospels; and at other times by personal instruction of the communicant such as Paul.

I'm reminded of the saying 'the devil is in the details', and maybe you should be troubled by such minutiae.

God has blessed me, SDA Pastor. I have discovered millions of Christians who do not believe that the Bible has error and was only inspired by thought. I am so very grateful that I can worship with Christians for whom the Bible is Gods' sacred, actual word. In fact, I cherish the pronouncement given after a reading of Scripture that says 'the word of the Lord', and the congregation replies 'thanks be to God!'. I am thankful that I don't have to view the Bible as you do.

Quote from an inquiring former Adventist:

There is a very good presentation by Jon Rittenhouse on "The Inerrancy of the Bible" that was given at Former Adventist Fellowship Weekend 2007. Past Mark Martin has it posted at http://www.exadventist.com/Home/Audio/tabid/57/Default.aspx

Listen/Download - http://www.exadventist.com/audio/fafweekend07/JonRittenhouse2007.mp3

I listened to his presentation about six months ago. In it he tells the marvelous way in which God has preserved his word.

Quote from SDA Pastor:

I am afraid you have been misinformed.

So he used their minds and gave them perfect grammar? Then why did Paul and John and Peter use amanuenses (secretaries) to take dictation and correct their spelling and grammar?

If God didn't inspire by thought, then how did He inspire? You have cited examples yourself in which He didn't give specific words ("at other times by bringing certain memories back into the minds of the disciples who wrote the gospels; and at other times by personal instruction of the communicant such as Paul"). What you have described here is not verbal inspiration. It is thought inspiration.

Quote from SDA Pastor:

I guess I did read the Scriptures you posted, and they didn't stick with me because none of them directly support your bid for inerrancy. They say that God's word is the truth and that it "cannot be broken." If taken in an absolute sense, it means that there is no conditionality to God's Word, and we know that isn't correct. God's word to Nineveh was true, even though they repented and He didn't destroy them in forty days.

The truth doesn't have to be spoken with scientific accuracy, nor with perfect grammar. The truth can confuse whether Jesus healed a blind man on the way into the city or on the way out. The truth can even be remembered four different ways.

Mat. 27:37 (KJV) And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Mark 15:26 (KJV) And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Luke 23:38 (KJV) And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

John 19:19 (KJV) And Pilate wrote a title, and put [it] on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.
It's still the truth, and it is still SURE and trustworthy.

Quote from an inquiring former Adventist:

No, it's not! SDA's have come up with their own definitions of 'thought inspiration' and 'verbal inspiration' that differ markedly from the rest of Christianity. Read Wayne Grudens' section on the inspiration of the Bible in his book 'Systematic Theology'. He does a very good job defining and explaining what verbal, plenary inspiration is.

By the way, did not Christ say that every word that He spoke was from the Father? Would not the memories of those spoken words be indeed 'verbal inspiration'? I think so....

Quote from SDA Pastor:

God doesn't always reveal to us His criteria. Sometimes He does.
David was chosen over Saul because he was "a man after God's own heart" (1 Sam. 13:14).
Abraham was blessed as the "father of the faithful" because he "obeyed" God's voice, "kept" His "charge," His "commandments," His "statutes," and His "laws" (Gen. 26:5).

Ezek 2:7 (KJV) And thou shalt speak my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear: for they [are] most rebellious. {most...: Heb. rebellion}
8 But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee.

1Chr 28:9 (KJV) And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.
The only option to willingness is Spirit possession against the prophet's will.

Quote from an inquiring former Adventist:

So these are your man-made criteria, rather than God given ones. Thanks for clarifying.

Quote from SDA Pastor:

Did God inspire Aratus ("For we are his offspring," said to Zeus) and Menander ("Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.")? Paul quotes them, but ignores the application of their words to false gods. Paul didn't get these words directly from God. The words weren't verbally inspired. Rather He got the thought from God and used the words of pagan poets to express the divine thought.

I haven't been able to find a statement that says every word Jesus spoke was from His Father. The closest to that thought are these statements:

John 8:38 (KJV) I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.

John 12:50 (KJV) And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.
Again, Jesus' phrasing points to thoughts.

Quote from an inquiring former Adventist:

So let's try this again.

If she is inspired by the same Holy Spirit then the "greater focus" that she gives MUST be accepted, right? If not then what do you mean by inspired? If it is not inspired so as to be worth anything then why have it?

I really don't understand the church's reasoning on this point. I often hear that she was not an exegete and shouldn't be used to determine what the Scriptures teach. But if she is inspired and gives direct messages about key teachings then how do we not take her position as inspired?

For instance, the sanctuary teaching was endorsed repeatedly by Mrs. White.

Therefore you either view her writings as a source of truth when interpreting the types or you don't. If you do then how can you ever go just by the Bible or disagree with what she says?

But then you are implying that there is nothing objectionable, that she always will correctly harmonize. So why not just say that and admit that her harmonizations--if inspired by the same Spirit--are on the same level and are a source of truth.

The church admits she is a continuing source of truth. But then why not put it right next to the Bible as it must be if that is the case?

Quote from SDA Pastor:

From your vigorous reaction to the Scriptural evidence I have mentioned, it is apparent why you cannot deal with the same kind of thing in Ellen White's writings.

I'll bet your historic Adventist brother believes that the Bible is God's Word, that it is inspired, and that it should be obeyed. The theoretic construct being argued by formers ignores the evidence of human individuality everywhere apparent in Scripture.

Quote from SDA Pastor:

Your comment isn't very enlightening.

Paint your picture of how God actually inspired Scripture, so we can examine it to see if it stands up the the evidence in Scripture.

Quote from SDA Pastor:

I'm not sure that even ostriches actually put their heads in the sand, so why should you?

Avoiding the evidence of how different parts of the Bible were communicated doesn't help us understand how inspiration works. The only way to understand inspiration is to examine the evidence we have been given.

I am sorry that this exercise in Bible study troubles you. Perhaps it is because your concept of inspiration does not allow for all the evidence.

This may be tough for you to deal with, but I have it on the authority of a very good source that "the truth shall make you free."

Quote from SDA Member:

I fail to see how people can so blindly hold on to their concept of inspiration and judge other people who don't have that concept. Ellen White was not perfect, and her writings had errors in them like that thing about Adam and Noah and Enoch that you pointed out. I have no problem admitting that.

However, the Bible has similar errors, which I have pointed out, which do not affect the truth or inspiration or authority of the Bible except for those of weak faith, those who are skeptics and scoffers, and those who seek reasons to not believe the Bible. I don't fall into any of those three categories, so those errors mean nothing to me except to show the humanity of those who God inspired to write the scriptures.

To those who claim that the Bible was written without error, directly dictated from the mouth of God with human writers acting only as stenographers; they have the responsibility of dealing with errors such as that. No one here has done so. They just heap scorn upon us and jabber about Ellen White, trying to re-direct the point being made. That will continue, I know for a fact.

If I promoted the belief that every word Ellen White wrote came directly from the mouth of God, then the various discrepancies you've found would indeed show me to be quite mistaken in that belief. God wouldn't make a mistake saying that Enoch taught Noah, when it was actually Adam.

Yet you blithely ignore similar contradictions in the Bible just in order to keep your own point and belief about Scriptural inerrancy, ascribing something to the Scriptures that the Scriptures do not ascribe to themselves, and leaving yourself open to skeptics and scoffers. We are very clear about the hypocrisy of those on this board who have one standard to judge Adventism, yet ignore that standard when judging what is infinitely more important. Is it so important to you to discredit Adventism at the cost of discrediting yourself? It seems that way.

Quote from SDA Pastor:

I'm not trying to make anybody feel bad, but it is apparent that the evidence I bring up is really bothering some people. My tearing your comments down point by point will not be a very pleasant experience for you.

God's blessing on you as you grapple with the evidence.

Quote from an inquiring former Adventist:

So now you have taken us full circle. We are now back to the original question.

What is your final court of appeal that tells you what Scripture means? Ellen White?

On what point of doctrine do you not believe that Ellen White is the infallible interpreter of Holy Scripture for the Seventh-day Adventist denomination?

Quote from an inquiring former Adventist:

The real issue is bigger than a misplaced comma or historical fact.

Ellen White endorsed the sanctuary doctrine many times. This is just one example of the pillars that she so endorsed.

Can her teaching on that be wrong?

And if it can be wrong then how can she be a continuing source of truth?

And if she is a continuing source of truth then how can she not be interpreting the Scriptures on such oft repeated themes?

Here is the issue. Two sources of truth are not going to contradict. So how can you avoid the conclusion that she is an inspired commentary on those themes that she touches on, and especially those she touches on repeatedly?

Quote from SDA Pastor:

1 - Is there a sanctuary doctrine taught in Scripture? (Heb. 8-10) Y/N

2 - Does Hebrews refer to a two-compartment sanctuary in heaven? (Greek ta hagia) Y/N

3 - Does Hebrews say the sanctuary in heaven can be cleansed or purified? (Heb. 9:23) Y/N

4 - What part of the yearly festivals were fulfilled in Jesus' death, resurrection with the firstfruits, and sending of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost? spring or fall

5 - What part of the yearly festivals did not occur? spring or fall

6 - Does Paul make the connection between what Christ did on Calvary and the Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Feast of Tabernacles? Y/N

7 - When would we expect these festivals to be fulfilled? a. beginning of the Christian era, b. middle of the Christian era, c. end of the Christian era

8 - Was judgment taking place as Paul spoke to Felix? (Acts 24:25) Y/N

9 - Does Revelation say judgment is taking place when the final message before the harvest is being delivered? (Rev. 14:7) Y/N

10 - Does Jesus decide what reward to give after He comes to earth? (Rev. 22:12) Y/N

11 - When do all stand before the judgment seat of Christ? (2 Cor. 5:10)

Quote from an inquiring former Adventist:

I would love to look at all the details of the sanctuary with you.

However, that is not the topic of this discussion, and it not necessary to answer the questions I asked. The last time I went in depth with you on the sanctuary I was left hanging. You moved on to other topics. I realize that happens. So no big deal.

But are you going to answer the questions about inspiration that I asked?

Or is this just your way of saying that you agree with everything Ellen said about the sanctuary?

 

 
Our Observation

This Seventh-day Adventist Pastor's attempted repudiation of the official Seventh-day Adventist position is despicable.

Here is a quote from an official Seventh-day Adventist book I have in my library:

The Scriptures, in their original form, before errors of copyists and translators crept in, constituted the pure word of God and were the product of the Holy Spirit's working through holy men. And so carefully has the Spirit watched over and preserved this word in the hands of translators and scribes that even today the astonishing fact remains that although it has been translated into over one thousand languages and dialects, yet no essential truth has been lost; and the plan of redemption still shines forth from its pages with undimmed glory.

It should be carefully noted here that it is the book that is inspired and not the writers of the book. The writers "spake as they were moved by the holy Ghost." It is with what they spoke and set down in writing that we have to do. The men were only transitory instruments. They were not infallible, neither did they possess any special wisdom above that of their fellows. They were only men among men, and the Holy Ghost simply employed them as transmitting agents through which to convey messages of eternal import to the world. The instruments have long since past away, but that which was produced by them is still a quickening and regenerating agent. Thus it is truly said that the people are as grass, but the word of God shall stand forever. (See 1 Peter 1:24, 25.)

To emphasize further the fact that the inspiration of the Spirit lay in the writings and not in the writers, let it be here stated that many of the prophets themselves did not understand their own writings; and at times their prophecies were spoken without their intention or desire. Daniel, after writing out the details of a vision which pertained not to his day, but to the future, declared, "And I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it." Daniel 8:27 (The Holy Spirit, by General Conference President, William Henry Branson, 1933, pp. 24-25)

 
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Unless otherwise noted, all original material on this ExposingAdventism.com website is 2007-2008 by Gilbert Jorgensen. Careful effort has been made to give credit as clearly as possible to any specific material quoted or ideas extensively adapted from any one resource. Corrections and clarifications regarding citations for any source material are welcome, and will be promptly added to any sections which are found to be inadequately documented as to source.