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Question

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

 
Extended Question

[Adventist denominational employees can be fired if they state that they do not believe that Ellen White is the infallible interpreter of Scripture for the Seventh-day Adventist. The text of the first extended question acknowledges that fact. The second form of the question shown below can be asked of any Adventist.]

Format for an Adventist denominational employee:

The undeniable fact is that you, and all of Adventism treat Mrs. White as the infallible interpreter of Holy Scripture. If Mrs. White is the infallible interpreter and you cannot disagree with her on the Investigative Judgment, on anything else - if that's true, then she has become a pope above the Scriptures. Who can now judge Mrs. White? The moment anybody quotes Scripture to disagree with her the denomination says, "You're controverting the Spirit of Prophecy."

What is the solution to the dilemma? If she is the infallible interpreter, then nobody can judge her. If she is not the infallible interpreter, then she is subject to the Scripture, and all these men who are making just criticisms, exegesis, theories, and so on are just as entitled to it as Mrs. White was.

There are numerous Adventist sources where men have specifically stated that she is the interpreter of authority.

{Addressee}, you involve yourself in circular reasoning because if the Bible is supposed to be the judge of everything, and there is someone who judges the Bible, or interprets the Bible for you, that is the final court of appeal for you. To quote Mr. Delafield of the Ellen White Estate and others, then you're in a circle. There's no way to ascertain truth. There's no way to break out of that circle.

Once you have an interpreter of Scripture, a final court of appeal that tells you what Scripture means -- as soon as you judge Scripture by that, as soon as you have someone who has made doctrinal errors in the past, even on the deity of Christ and the doctrine of the atonement and other things, and that person is raised to that position or authority, you have polarization around that person.

1 Corinthians, chapter 14, says that the prophet who exercises the spiritual gift is to be tested. And how do you test that prophet? You have to test that prophet by the authority of God.

And when you find that Mrs. White is inconsistent with the Word of God, when you prove it from the Greek and from the Hebrew, when you give good solid exegetical arguments, and in love as a lifelong member of a denomination you take a stand saying, "This is wrong. This is what Scripture says", then the Spirit of Prophecy is invoked against you, and you're down the tubes. That's what I'm protesting against.

Adventist pastors, hundreds of them. I want to know all about these hundreds of people who come up with the same material, and the same arguments, and the same facts, and they're gone! The denomination fires them. I want to know. Is that showing them love? Is that showing compassion? I don't think so.

{Addressee}, I want a simple "Yes" or "No" answer. No long explanations. Just a simple "Yes" or "No" answer.

Do you believe that Ellen White is the infallible interpreter of Holy Scripture for the Seventh-day Adventist denomination? Yes or no?

I know all the classic Adventist answers:

  • We do not believe that the writings of Ellen White are an addition to the canon of sacred Scripture.
  • We 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.

"We do not believe...."

"We do not believe that Ellen White is the infallible interpreter of Scripture for the Seventh-day Adventist."

Why isn't that there? Because, in fact she is. And if you cross her, {Addressee}, you will not be there.

I will guarantee you, {Addressee}, if you start writing articles using Scripture to call into question specific teachings of Mrs. White, you won't be a denominational employee for very long either.

Do you believe that Ellen White is the infallible interpreter of Holy Scripture for the Seventh-day Adventist denomination? Yes or no?

 


Format for an Adventist that is not a denominational employee:

The undeniable fact is that you, and all of Adventism treat Mrs. White as the infallible interpreter of Holy Scripture. If Mrs. White is the infallible interpreter and you cannot disagree with her on the Investigative Judgment, on anything else - if that's true, then she has become a pope above the Scriptures. Who can now judge Mrs. White? The moment anybody quotes Scripture to disagree with her the denomination says, "You're controverting the Spirit of Prophecy."

What is the solution to the dilemma? If she is the infallible interpreter, then nobody can judge her. If she is not the infallible interpreter, then she is subject to the Scripture, and all these men who are making just criticisms, exegesis, theories, and so on are just as entitled to it as Mrs. White was.

There are numerous Adventist sources where men have specifically stated that she is the interpreter of authority.

{Addressee}, you involve yourself in circular reasoning because if the Bible is supposed to be the judge of everything, and there is someone who judges the Bible, or interprets the Bible for you, that is the final court of appeal for you. To quote Mr. Delafield of the Ellen White Estate and others, then you're in a circle. There's no way to ascertain truth. There's no way to break out of that circle.

Once you have an interpreter of Scripture, a final court of appeal that tells you what Scripture means -- as soon as you judge Scripture by that, as soon as you have someone who has made doctrinal errors in the past, even on the deity of Christ and the doctrine of the atonement and other things, and that person is raised to that position or authority, you have polarization around that person.

1 Corinthians, chapter 14, says that the prophet who exercises the spiritual gift is to be tested. And how do you test that prophet? You have to test that prophet by the authority of God.

And when you find that Mrs. White is inconsistent with the Word of God, when you prove it from the Greek and from the Hebrew, when you give good solid exegetical arguments, and in love as a lifelong member of a denomination you take a stand saying, "This is wrong. This is what Scripture says", then the Spirit of Prophecy is invoked against you, and you're down the tubes. That's what I'm protesting against.

Adventist pastors, hundreds of them. I want to know all about these hundreds of people who come up with the same material, and the same arguments, and the same facts, and they're gone! The denomination fires them. I want to know. Is that showing them love? Is that showing compassion? I don't think so.

{Addressee}, I want a simple "Yes" or "No" answer. No long explanations. Just a simple "Yes" or "No" answer.

Do you believe that Ellen White is the infallible interpreter of Holy Scripture for the Seventh-day Adventist denomination? Yes or no?

I know all the classic Adventist answers:

  • We do not believe that the writings of Ellen White are an addition to the canon of sacred Scripture.
  • We 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.

"We do not believe...."

"We do not believe that Ellen White is the infallible interpreter of Scripture for the Seventh-day Adventist."

Why isn't that there? Because, in fact she is. And if you cross her, {Addressee}, you will not be there.

Do you believe that Ellen White is the infallible interpreter of Holy Scripture for the Seventh-day Adventist denomination? Yes or no?


 
Typical Responses

Background:

Obviously this question strikes at the very jugular vein of Adventism. It correctly acknowledges that the Seventh-day Adventist Church does indeed consider Ellen White to be an infallible interpreter of Holy Scripture for the Seventh-day Adventist denomination. That is the undeniable fact.

Most questions typically deal with cultic symptoms found within Adventism, such as 1844 and the Investigative Judgment and other unbiblical beliefs. The question deals directly with the cause.

The fact is that Ellen White is the infallible interpreter of Holy Scripture for the Seventh-day Adventist denomination. Her word is final. Adventists approach the Bible with the intent of finding biblical support for her teachings. They then can present an ellaborate thesis that appears to be from the Bible by connecting together particular proof-texts that prove whatever position her teachings take.

An Adventist who finds themselves in the uncomfortable position of having to respond to this question will answer in vague generalities. They have to be continually brought back to the question, and requested to answer with a simple "Yes" or "No".


Typical Responses:

Response:

Ellen White does not address every issue in Holy Scripture and therefore cannot be considered the Adventist interpreter of Scripture--some issues, yes, but not all. As far as infallibility, she never claimed it (1SM 37). I do believe that she can be trusted for the light she sheds on Scripture as she calls the mind to let Scripture interpret Scripture. I do believe that God chose her to call attention to forgotten aspects of the greater light of Scripture because He knew she would faithfully "declare to others what the Lord has revealed" (2SG 62).

Many historic Adventists misunderstand the role God called Ellen White to play in the comprehension of Scripture. It is no wonder that some of these should stumble and relinquish their trust in her inspiration.

Rebuttal:

Notice how the respondee sidesteps the question. Prevarication (to be deliberately ambiguous and evasive) is a very common tactic that Adventists use. You will ask what should be a straight-forward question, and they will reword it, and then deliver an answer for the reworded question. The original question is:

"Do you believe that Ellen White is the infallible interpreter of Holy Scripture for the Seventh-day Adventist denomination? Yes or no?"

An appropriate response to this prevarication might be:

  1. It is irrelevant whether she claimed infallibility, or not and you know it. We are not talking about what she claimed. We are talking about how Adventists (including you) choose to use her.
  2. Whether she addresses every issue in Scripture, or not, is equally a diversionary tactic, and you know it. That point is likewise irrelevant.
  3. Also, it is immaterial that the contradictory statement of Fundamental Beliefs states that Adventists don't make Ellen White an infallible interpreter of God's Word because the fact is that they do.

Often times this same core question has to be repeated over and over. Frequently the respondee will refer the questioner to the Adventist Fundamental Beliefs, in an effort to evade the intent of the question, which is to ask the Adventist what they personally believe.

 
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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.