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Exposing Adventism - Those Picture Idols!

Ellen White chastised others for having photographs -- "idols" she called them, along with the usual stern denunciation calling down the wrath of God on both them, and their "picture idols".

"During the night I was sorely distressed. A great burden rested upon me. I had been pleading with God to work in behalf of his people. My attention was called to the money which they had invested in photographs. I was taken from house to house, through the homes of our people, and as I went from room to room, my Instructor said, "Behold the idols which have accumulated!"
Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, September 10, 1901, Paragraph 1. Article Title: No Other Gods Before Me.
"This making and exchanging of photographs is a species of Idolatry. Satan is doing all he can to eclipse heaven from our view. Let us not help him by making picture-idols. We need to reach a higher standard than these human faces suggest. The Lord says, "Thou shall have no other Gods before me.""
Messages to Young People, page 316, paragraph 3, Chapter Title: Self Gratification. A Species of Idolatry.
After going from home to home, and seeing the many photographs, I was instructed to warn our people against this evil. This much we can do for God. We can put these picture-idols out of sight. They have no power for good, but interpose between God and the soul."
Messages to Young People, page 318, paragraphs 2 and 3. Chapter Title: Self Gratification
"Every true child of God will be sifted as wheat, and in the sifting process every cherished pleasure which diverts the mind from God must be sacrificed. In many families the mantel-shelves, stands, and tables are filled with ornaments and pictures. Albums, filled with photographs of the family and the photographs of their friends, are placed where they will attract the attention of visitors. ....Is this not a species of idolatry?"
Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, January 14, 1901, paragraph 1. Article Title: No Other Gods Before Me.
"As I visit the homes of our people and our schools, I see that all the available space on tables, what-nots, and mantlepieces is filled up with photographs. On the right hand and on the left are seen the pictures of human faces. God desires this order of things to be changed. Were Christ on earth, He would say, "Take these things hence." I have been instructed that these pictures are so many idols, taking up the time and thought which should sacredly devoted to God."
Messages to Young People, page 316, paragraph 1. Chapter Title: Self Gratification.
"We have for years been waging war with spiritual idolatry. ... I am pained to see the photographs multiplied and hanging everywhere."
The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, page 887, paragraph 3. Chapter Title: Diary entries.
"These photographs cost money. It is inconsistent for us, knowing the work that is to be done at this time, to spend God's money in producing pictures of our own faces and the faces of friends?"
Messages to Young People, page 316, paragraph 2
"Many spend considerable money for photographs to give their friends"
Counsels on Stewardship, page 295, paragraph 1

Let's see how Ellen White applied what God showed her to her own life.
"I do not think I shall ever get a picture to equal the one Dunham has made for me. He says I had better have the large one put on a small card. What do you think of this plan?"
Letter 17, 1876, p. 2 (To James White, April 30, 1876)
"Dunham gave me one dozen of these pictures of yours. Shall I send them to you? What do you think of them? I told him I did not like them. They did not look natural, but you can use them. If so let me know."
Letter 21, 1876, p. 2 (To James White, May 5, 1876)
"If you have your father's pictures, please bring them. I want to show them. My pocket album I left at Healdsburg."
Letter 15, 1882, p. 1. (To W. C. White, May 23, 1882)
"Lathrop is as pleased a man as you ever saw with the pictures, especially of you. He says that she will sell you the negative for five hundred dollars. Beside what we take, it will bring him that much custom. He thinks Ingleson's a flat affair. He [Lathrop] has your picture in the window for show."
Letter 1a, 1876, p.1. (To James White, March 24, 1876)
The inflation calculator at http://www.westegg.com/inflation/ shows that "$500 in 1876 would cost $8861.80 in 2006"

In article 9 of her will, she leaves her "picture idols" for her two sons!
NINTH: My household furniture, dishes, carpets, pictures, photographs, and clothing, I give and bequeath in equal parts to by sons, James Edson White and William C. White.
Even though SDAs in Norway were following her advice and actually burning and destroying their own photographs, there is no evidence that EGW ever destroyed one of hers.

Obviously she didn't follow the advice God gave her, because photographs and photo albums of herself, her husband, children, family and friends are still on display at "Elmshaven " and in the millions of books distributed around the world.

The Ellen G. White Estate Website show "picture idols" of Ellen White and her family, early church leaders and workers. They proudly announce a database of 1200 of these photos. http://www.whiteestate.org/photos/photos.asp

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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.