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Exposing Adventism - Did Ellen White disobey Matthew 18:15-17?

Did Ellen White disobey Scripture in exercising her spiritual "gift of prophecy", or did she submit herself to acting in accordance with the words of Jesus concerning sin in the church?

Let's examine what Jesus said in Matthew 18:15-17

15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

Jesus laid out the steps for confronting a brother or sister who is in error or sin:

  1. Go to them in private to confront them. If they listen, do nothing further.
  2. If they do not listen, then take 2 or 3 witnesses with you the second time.
  3. If they still will not listen, tell it to the church.
  4. If they do not listen to the church, let them be as a Gentile or tax collector.

Let's see how Ellen chose her action in similar situations:

It has been a matter of great perplexity to me to know what course to pursue with messages given me for individuals. I have often written messages of reproof for different ones, and given them to these persons, and they have laid them away, and have said nothing about them. Their course has shown in many instances that they were not affected by the messages, and they have continued to have a bad influence in the church, who were ignorant of the reproof given.

My course is now clear to wrong the church no longer. If reproofs are given I dare not commit them alone to the individuals to be buried up by them, but shall read what the Lord has seen fit to give me, to those of experience in the church, and if the case demands, bring it before the whole church. The great delicacy which some have manifested lest others should learn that they have been reproved, proceeds from a lack of humility, and unwillingness to acknowledge their wrongs. (Spiritual Gifts, Vol 2, page 293, paragraphs 1, 2)

It appears Mrs. White decided that her reproofs went unheeded; but instead of following the steps outlined by the Lord, she chose to skip the basic step of going to the person in private, in order to restore him. She decided to bare their sins first to other people, or even to the church at large, with no opportunity for private repentance.

How intimidating and manipulative this was! To have to worry that a testimony would be broadcast about you to the church at large, without following the Lord's instruction as to how to handle this. I'm sure many people quaked in their shoes in fear that Sister White might have a "vision" about them! This was written in 1860, the year the denomination was officially formed.

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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.