On Ellen G. White and Roman Catholicism
Dear Pastor and Mrs. Ch.,
Because we may not have a chance to discuss Chapter 35 of The Great Controversy in detail, I have decided to record my comments here, and you may read them at your leisure (or I will read them to you when I come; I haven't decided).
In this letter, I am going to be up front with you. I am going to bare my soul. I think that this is the way you would want it. I will not deceive you about how I think and feel at any time.
As you read it, please bear in mind that when I first investigated the Adventist church, I had no opinion. You have asked me to approach the chapter with an open mind. I have approached Adventism in the past with an open mind. But I never had a mind so open that I allowed my brains to fall out! I now have some definite opinions, but I will be objective in the sense that when White says something I agree with, I will say so. Equally, I will be straightforward in my disagreements. My attitude toward White has already been stated. I want nothing to do with her. This chapter does not change my attitude. But remember that this is not intended as a personal attack on you. I love you both. Both of you are searching, and I applaud the difficult position you have placed yourselves in voluntarily. We all want to serve God better. I know of no better way right now than to go through the painful examinations that we are pursuing. As for me, feel free to point out the problems in the Lutheran church. I am equally open in that area, even though I do not defend it in the same way, nor do I defend Martin Luther in the same way. You appear to defend Ellen White's writings more vigorously than you defend the Adventist church, and I find this curious. I have reached the conclusion that White shares in the responsibility for most of the problems you see. My husband and I both will never find the Adventist church acceptable as long as it pays any attention to her writings. It is the reason why we cannot legitimize it by attending a service. She is so far from the mark of a godly leader that we don't even know where to start in giving the details. To follow her is blatantly to disobey the meaning of Psalm 1:1-2. I would find it much more reasonable to defend Adventism generally than to defend her.
The reason why White is indefensible is because she made a lifestyle of blatantly disobeying several of the commandments, while preaching the importance of them, and of one in particular. In order to utilize the writings of others in the way in which she did, she had first to covet their writings. Then she had to steal them. And then she had to lie about where her writings came from. White continued to do this all her life. Several Adventists have expressed the same thoughts you have, that the materials should be shared because they are of a spiritual nature. This is, perhaps, debatable. If people were not allowed to charge for the books they published, most of them would be unable to publish the books at all. That is simple economic reality. If an author just happens to be well enough off that he can contribute his work to the public domain, and he chooses to do so, then he deserves praise (but so does God, because all glory belongs to Him). On the other hand, if the author would be unable to devote the time to writing the books if he were not compensated, then reality dictates that he must charge for them. When he has spent part of his life writing a book, then he is entitled to the profits from that book. The principle of God giving the increase to those who worked the fields is firmly established. Remember, the only requirement God laid on the Israelites whose crops He prospered was the tithe. The godly authors of the books White copied would be required to do no more. There is no difference between spending time and effort cultivating a crop and spending time and effort producing a book. Both of them take a piece of a person's life. Both of them are the production of goods. While the author has the right to contribute his book to the public domain, or to give someone like White permission to utilize the book without compensating him, White has NO right to take it without the author's permission. This is theft. It is forbidden by the Decalogue. Failure to keep the Sabbath on Saturday as opposed to Sunday has not the human victims that theft does. I think you and I would agree that theft is a sin. You seem to feel that theft for the purpose of teaching people about God is acceptable. I do not agree. As far as I am concerned, theft in the name of God is thousands of times more reprehensible than mere theft. God is not honored by people who sin in His name. Please think about this.
There are those who argue that because the original authors should have put their work in the public domain, it is all right for White to steal it as long as she does it for the sake of Christianity. If this argument were true, then by the same tokeb she should have given her books away. She did not. This argument holds no water; it represents a double standard. Other people may not get the money they have earned for their work, but White may profit from that work in the name of spreading Christianity. The rightful owners are not entitled to what the thief is. Does this make any sense to you?
There are those who have argued that White was ignorant of the law. There are several answers to that. First of all, she claimed she was not ignorant of the Ten Commandments. Secondly, she and her colleagues showed a knowledge of legal requirements by stipulating that anybody who quoted Adventist materials had to acknowledge where the information came from. The ironic part of it is that she would have been legally in the clear if she merely had told us where her plagiarisms came from. It is hard not to reach the conclusion that she WANTED the glory for the work of others, for herself, that she felt her work could not stand on its own, and that she had to take the words of others in order for her work to be credible. It has been argued that she used the words of others because they said it best. Again, all she had to do is acknowledge where it came from.
It has been argued that she did not profit by taking the work of others, and that she died a poor woman. If she got the revenue from her books, she profited. The fact that she may have died poor does not change this. Many people who get great riches do not manage their money well and die poor. However, White did not die poor. She had a collection of over 1100 books, which remain in her estate. In her day, this represented great wealth: books were expensive. She also had the space to store these books. She may not have had a lot of cash, but she was wealthy nonetheless.
Because I realize that all of this might still not be fully understood, I will discuss some other aspects of it. I gave you the descriptions of three possible Christian approaches to ethics. The reason I gave you this material is because it helps explain what was wrong with White's plagiarism. The book from which I got this material also had an explanation of some nonchristian ethical ideas, such as situation ethics. I want to examine White's plagiarism in the light of these different approaches. The first Christian approach was an absolute one. If Ellen White stole, she violated Christian ethics. End of argument. The second approach is one of reasoning that if the options open to someone are all bad, then you choose the least evil of them, and ask God's forgiveness for having done evil. It is the position closest to mine. But did Ellen White ask forgiveness for plagiarizing? We have no evidence that she did. Did she have only evil choices? No. There are at least two good options open to her. The first would have been to acknowledge her sources. The information would still have gotten out, and been made available to people for their spiritual enlightenment. The second would have been for her to recommend strongly that people read the books from which she stole the material. This choice would have been a good one, because in taking only part of the works, she may have left out valuable insights. If the material was out of print, she could have had the church reprint it. Another choice she had part of the time would have been to ask permission to reprint the material. And still another would have been to turn her royalties over to the people who wrote the books in the first place. In each instance, the information would still be made available to people for their spiritual enlightenment. There was no reason for her to steal and lie to make the information available. This brings us to the third Christian approach, which is to weigh the relative merit of different courses of action, and where there was a more important duty, to reason that God does not hold us accountable for the lesser duty that conflicts with it. Did Ellen White do this? No. Since she had alternatives that did not involve committing an evil act, her choices do not fall within the purview of that part cular approach. Rather, her actions fall squarely within situation ethics, which is decidedly not Christian. In this case, she, and Adventists, justify her actions because of the good that should come out of it. In other words, they reason that the end justifies the means. Ellen White's actions clearly violated both the Ten Commandments and the law of her day. There was no excuse for this. Unfortunately, people who can accept what she did, and rationalize it, no longer have a clear moral vision. It is therefore not surprising that the Adventist church demonstrates ethical problems. We will be getting into this as time goes on.
Perhaps the problem is that Adventists do not understand that plagiarizing is stealing. In order to understand this, all one must do is to look up the definition of plagiarizing. It involves appropriating for oneself something that was written by another and belongs to that other. This is clearly an act of stealing. Now, it is understandable that N's parents may not understand this, because in the Chinese culture, there is no concept of intellectual property. Because of this problem, however, the Chinese people are not able to benefit from intellectual property produced in other nations, because people will protect their own interests. Even with this consideration, however, they should understand why White's activity was dishonest and contrary to God's law. White lied about where the material came from. That is a sin. She violated the laws of the United States. This is a clear violation of Romans 13. Even if plagiarism itself is not understandable, lying and violating Romans 13 should be perfectly understandable. The fact is, when someone takes someone else's writings, he victimizes that person. This is a violation of the commandment to love one's neighbor as oneself.
As I have mentioned, I have a legal background. I have also studied Walter Rea's book, and personally verified over 75% of his examples. I have compared the originals with the copies. The similarity between the copies and originals of many of them is striking. Suppose that I were on a jury that had to determine whether or not she is guilty of plagiarism. Given the evidence at my disposal, I would definitely have to find her guilty. The Adventist church is an accessory after the fact, which makes the church likewise guilty. You may argue that no one sued White for her actions. However, that is beside the point. Whether or not what someone does is illegal or sinful does not depend on how the victim reacts! I hope by now you begin to see why we have such a problem with White, and why we cannot go to her writings for guidance on anything. To begin with, they aren't even hers! And in the second place, we will not violate Psalm 1:1-2. A person who lives a lifestyle of serious sin is an ungodly person, and a person who wilfully violates several commandments and then preaches strongly in favor of keeping another is a hypocrite and scornful, and for that reason, no Christian has any business paying any attention to her, even if everything she said is Gospel truth. I have plenty of evidence that her writings are full of error, but that will take longer to show. Because the Adventist church promotes her writings and uses them for guidance, the church is not legitimate, and we cannot do anything to legitimize it.
You may argue that because we are saved by grace alone, none of these things should be a consideration. However, White refutes this nicely in Chapter 35, and Paul also refutes it. He says that it is not right to sin more that grace may abound more. When a person sins because he can be forgiven, he is no longer in a position to receive forgiveness. Jesus always told people they had to turn from their wicked ways. The woman taken in adultery is a prime example. Jesus did not condemn her, but He told her to go and sin no more. Our status with God as forgiven depends on our being truly repentant. A person who never confesses that plagiarism is wrong, and who actively aids in covering it up so that the public and church members will not know about it is not repentant. A person who continues to sin in the same way wholesale all her life is not repentant. I am not talking about a person who struggles with a besetting sin. I am talking about a person who excuses a besetting sin.
One of the biggest problems I have with G having become an Adventist is that since he became one, he has been willing to excuse such immoral behavior, whereas formerly he would take a firm moral stance against it. It is one of the reasons why I maintain that he is not as close to God as he was before becoming an Adventist. He may put on a good show, but the fruits is what we must examine. A failure to defend moral principles and to speak out clearly against their violation is an evil fruit, not a good one.
Before going on, I want to make sure you both understand what I have just said, so let us pause here to make sure.
As promised, I am reading the chapter in Great Controversy before I read the Time article. As a result, none of the comments on the chapter take into account the Time article, nor did I modify them after reading it. I will discuss the chapter generally to begin with. When I get to specifics, I will quote from the chapter, and follow it immediately with my comments.
To begin with, the chapter opens with a tone that I find unacceptable, a kind of unexpressed hatred of the Catholic church that I feel leaks over into a hatred of Catholics. I realize this is a matter of opinion, but let me state why I have that opinion. It is simply because White pays attention to him. The Catholic church should be no factor in the situation at all. If it wants to go off and commit error, I am not going to modify my Christian behavior or outlook with its problems in mind. Truth and righteousness are not defined by the actions of people who engage in falsity and evil. Personally, I am indifferent to the pope. I really don't care what he says. If he does something that I agree with, I will give him the credit he deserves. Other than that, I want nothing to do with him.
I personally have no use for Romanism, but for some people, it is a delicate task to differentiate between false doctrines and those who hold them. I do not feel Ellen White does this successfully. It is nothing explicit, but more of an overall attitude that I am picking up. I find this repugnant. I find the same tone in "The Mark of the Beast" by Everson. Personally, I do not think the Roman church is the issue. The devil is the issue. The false teaching in the Roman church is but one of the many ways in which the devil deceives people, and I would rather take on a global approach, to inoculate people against all error and heresy. We have over 3000 cults in the United States today. Because we cannot teach against each separate cult explicitly, it is far more useful to form some more general rules for discernment.
One must also bear in mind that the Roman Church embraces most of the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith, including the Trinity and the deity and humanity of Jesus, and His bodily resurrection from the dead. If the Roman church is a cult, then so is the Seventh-day Adventist church. The Roman church has a pope; the SDA church has its female pope: Ellen G. White.
To single out the Roman church for undue attention does not seem particularly useful. It also gives the Roman church way too much control over us, in the form of negative control. When we react to the Roman church instead of simply steering a course for righteousness, then the Roman church is controlling us. Because the Roman church is so large, some knowledge of its error is a good idea, but I would not give it separate treatment that suggests it is somehow a cut "above" the cults, or somehow an order of magnitude more dangerous. All cults are dangerous. Each cult is designed to deceive a different kind of person.
I spoke of an unexpressed hatred. Ellen White is the source of Everson's attitude. I have found it repeatedly in her writings.
I think that it is plain that the second coming will not take place before the year 2000 unless you totally spiritualize Revelation. Why? Because the seven year tribulation begins with worship in the temple at Jerusalem, and it is a fact that the reconstruction of the temple has not yet begun. Even if the temple were dedicated today, it still wouldn't help, because there are only five years left before the year 2000, and the great tribulation requires seven years.
[Guess what! I was right! It is now 2001, and the second coming hasn't happened yet.]
Although I have not read the entire chapter as I write these particular words, I think a few comments on the pope as a candidate for the Antichrist are in order. I don't find it very likely that the pope will be the Antichrist. Who do I think the Antichrist will be? I am persuaded that it is much more likely that the Antichrist will be a Moslem. I say this even though I have not yet read the article in Time. Why? I don't care what the article says. It can make all the claims it wants that paint a picture that fits the description of the Antichrist. This does not make it so. One of the Adventist theses is that the Antichrist will forbid worship on Saturday, and mandate it on Sunday. There is no biblical basis for this. There is also no biblical basis for inserting the pope into the prophecies of Revelation.
The likelihood that the Antichrist is any Catholic pope is so remote to a person who truly understands the world situation that the Adventist position is pretty ridiculous to that person. Adventist claims about the Pope simply do not make a case for me. They are ludicrous. Anybody that can take White's thesis seriously is demonstrating a serious lack of understanding and ignorance of the international situation.
In reading the chapter, because of my experience in studying her writings, I can just about tell you which paragraphs are largely plagiarized, and which are pure Ellen White. I can tell, among other things, by the writing style. I contacted Walter Rea to ask him where the material in the chapter came from. He sent me information. When I have a chance, I will verify it personally. In the case of chapter 35, he said that White plagiarized most of the chapter from two writers. One of them was an Adventist writer. Presumably she had his permission. Either Rea or Canright said that often books were published under Ellen's name because they would sell better. In that case, she wasn't stealing. In that case it is strictly a matter of deception. The deception, in my opinion, is deadly, because it gives her support for the claim that she was a prophet, and this made it easy for people to accept her false doctrines. The thing about her doctrines is that they are subtle. They sound correct on the surface, and for the most part, they are. But when she leads people astray, it subtly undermines the basic gospel message that we are saved by grace alone. It operates to instill fear in the hearts of Adventists. I am convinced that the reason why N has a melancholy personality is because deep down inside she does not have that reassurance that she is saved. I think that the thing that attracted her to G was that he did. By lying to the public and to Adventists about where Ellen's writings came from, Ellen and the church deceived people. She does not deserve the credit for coming up with the ideas, even if they prove to be prophetic.
Read the closing verses of Revelation. It says that anybody who adds to the book will have added to him the plagues written in the book. Jesus closed the canon of Scripture. I don't want to touch that one with a ten foot pole. White reinterprets much of Scripture and casts a slant on it which is totally unbiblical. Her life was one of hypocrisy. She preached so many things she did not personally observe. I have ample documentation of some of these things. For example, she preached vegetarianism, while blatantly consuming, of all things, shellfish, which is not only meat, but forbidden under the Jewish dietary laws. This is hypocrisy. Jesus soundly condemns this type of hypocrisy in Matthew 23. People who practice this type of hypocrisy are actually cursed by Jesus. I don't think we can afford to play around with Ellen White. The spiritual penalties are plain.
Now to specifics.
"The religious service of the Roman Church is a most impressive ceremonial. Its gorgeous display and solemn rites fascinate the senses of the people and silence the voice of reason and of conscience. The eye is charmed. Magnificent churches, imposing processions, golden altars, jeweled shrines, choice paintings, and exquisite sculpture appeal to the love of beauty. The ear also is captivated. The music is unsurpassed. The rich notes of the deep-toned organ, blending with the melody of many voices as it swells through the lofty domes and pillared aisles of her grand cathedrals, cannot fail to impress the mind with awe and reverence."
As you are aware, Martin Luther did not reject the use of church art and the best music. We are to worship God with every talent we have, whether it be art, music, or architecture. God commanded the Israelites to build a magnificent temple, and gave specific instructions for the art it was to contain. It was very costly art, and the temple was built with costly materials. Why did God do this? I am convinced that it is because God realizes the need for this kind of thing to impress upon us the majesty of God. Too many Protestant churches trivialize God by making everything comfortable and familiar. The place of ritual is to put us in a reverent frame of mind. I miss this kind of aid to my attitude toward God when it is not there. It makes the church service too mundane. It becomes something not set apart. The liturgy is often labeled a Catholic thing. It is not. It is a Jewish thing. If you look at a Hebrew text of the Bible, you will find that above and below the letters there are diacritical marks. The ones below are vowels. The ones above are musical notation, called cantillation. If a person can read them, he can duplicate the melodies that were designated to be used in the public reading of that text. I have been to Jewish services where people who are trained to interpret this musical notation will read it aloud with the proper melodies. This was going on long before Jesus was born. These marks were part of the Masoretic text, which as I recall dates from about the same time as the Septuagint. This is the basis for the liturgy. In Christianity, the liturgy is the only form used in routine worship which exacty quotes the Bible. All other hymns are, at best, paraphrases. One of the reasons why I like the liturgy is because it quotes the Bible.
I attended a concert at the Adventist Academy. It did not do for me what the simple singing of Christmas carols in the Catholic church did for me, the time I attended, of all things, a concert given by the University music department. The totally secularly sponsored concert did more for me spiritually than the Adventist presentation. The wonderful organ in that church, the acoustics, and the fine music lifted my spirit to God, and gave me a real sense of joy that Jesus has come to earth. The Adventist concert just left me feeling depressed. I find no scriptural basis for rejecting our artistic and musical heritage, as so many churches do. Even some Adventist churches recognize the value of our artistic heritage. There is a splendid stained glass window in D V Adventist church. God made us with the capacity to love beauty. God is a God of magnificent beauty. God would want us to contribute our own capacities to produce and appreciate beauty to His worship. The Psalms are full of references to using musical instruments to praise God. To condemn the Roman church for recognizing the need for beauty and for setting up an atmosphere where we can be reverent to God makes no sense to me at all.
"This outward splendor, pomp, and ceremony, that only mock the longings of the sin-sick soul, is an evidence of inward corruption."
I am not affected in this manner at all. My longing is for a God I can hold in total awe. These kinds of expressions aid in this. There is a place for examining my relationship with God in terms of the sins I have committed and the act Jesus did to secure their forgiveness. Having done this, I also have a place for opportunity to bask in the magnificence of God. I have sometimes stated that Freemasonry is the unfinished business of the church. Men find Freemasonry appealing because of the fellowship that they miss in their churches. They find it appealing because of the charitable activity that is not taking place in the churches. And they find it appealing because the ritual and ceremony satisfy an inner need. You don't find many people who belong to churches that practice ritual being attracted to Freemasonry. There is a part of the human spirit that needs it. To deny this is to deny one important facet of being human, and God is there to satisfy all our needs.
The time when I am most in the mood to worship God, when I feel most edified, and when I am most able to offer up the best of my praises, takes place when I am sitting at a fine organ playing the most difficult compositions of which I am capable. The purest act of worship for me is not a verbal one, but a musical one. We are told that we will be singing God's praises forever in heaven. Music is the highest expression of our relationship with God, and for that reason, the gift of music is one of the most important God can give. It far surpasses the gift of healing, because that is for this life only. Music is forever. I must give God the most exquisite music of which I am capable. Whatever else one can say about Catholics, they do understand this, and for this we must give them credit. I won't quote the rest of what White says about this subject, because it is a rehashing of the same idea, and my remarks still apply to the rest of it.
"The church's claim to the right to pardon leads the Romanist to feel at liberty to sin..." Read the rest of the paragraph. White makes a valid point. The confessing of one's sins to a priest is certainly a trap both for the sinner and for the priest. I imagine that the priest often revels in the sexual soap opera to which he is privy. Certainly receiving absolution for performing an act of penance is used as an excuse by many for indulging in sin, not to mention the aspect of work-righteousness involved. But on the other hand, White is completely off-base in condemning the idea that the church can pardon. I would say that the authority to pardon is not vested in the church, but in the believer, and if she were to distinguish this, it would be well. But she does not. Since the church is made up of believers, the distinction is of less import than it might appear at first blush. The authority to pardon sin actually comes from a couple of Bible passages where Jesus tells, on one occasion, Peter, and on another occasion, all of the disciples, that they have the keys to heaven and hell, and whatsover they remit will be remitted in heaven, and whatsoever they retain shall be retained in heaven. Among other things, Jesus is talking about the authority to declare that a person's sins are either forgiven or not forgiven. This authority is very real. Lutherans call this authority the Office of the Keys, after the words of Jesus giving the keys to heaven and hell. It is vested in all believers. Adventists do not practice the Office of the Keys. They never reassure the believer that his sins have been forgiven. Coupled with the doctrine of Investigative Judgment, this is a deadly combination that totally wipes out the assurance of a believer that he has been saved. We need to hear that Jesus has purchased forgiveness of our sins. To fail to reassure the believer is, to my mind, the highest form of cruelty. The manner in which the Lutherans practice the Office of the Keys is quite specific, and carefully constructed. We cannot see into the heart to know who is truly repentant, and the Lutheran construction takes this fact into account. A Lutheran service, particularly one in which Communion is taken, contains a general confession of sins. It is assumed by the absolution pronounced that the public confession was sincere. If it was not, then the absolution does not apply. "Upon this your confession I by virtue of my office as a called and ordained servant of the word announce the grace of God unto all of you, and in the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen." It is an announcement of forgiveness, based upon Jesus' death on the cross, and is done by Jesus' command. The pastor is not taking it upon himself to make the decision to make this announcement. Jesus commanded it. Lutherans practice private confession only when the believer feels the special need to be reassured about some sin that particularly worries him. I have never availed myself of this opportunity, but it is made clear to the Lutheran that this is available for those who need it. Because it is so seldom used, it is not a significant problem for the pastor.
The Adventist failure to reassure the repentant believer that Jesus has forgiven him specifically and its teaching of the doctrine of Investigative Judgment puts the Adventist church squarely into the category of a spiritually abusive church. I will get into considerable detail on this in the future, but suffice it to say that it is manipulative, and it captures people with fear. Romanism captures its people with fear, and so does Adventism. I see no difference. It is the same kind of fear, and for the same reason. I cannot stress this too much.
"...it is easier to mortify the flesh by sackcloth and nettles and galling chains than to crucify fleshly lusts."
Luther would not agree. He tried the route of mortifying his flesh, and discovered that he could not make one iota of progress toward getting right with God for his smallest sin. It was the total despair that arose out of his attempts that compelled him to search the Scripture, where he found the blessed truth that we are saved by grace alone. Luther found that the fleshly lusts were so overwhelming that there is no way mortifying the flesh would ever make a dent in his guilt. Our fleshly lusts cannot be crucified. They will plague us until the day we die. But there is nothing easy about mortifying the flesh, because the honest person knows that it avails nothing. I think that Ellen White completely misses this point. The true Christian in the Roman church is not going to fall into the traps White pictures. And there are some true Christians in that church, just as there are true Christians in the Adventist church.
"This degrading confession of man to man is the secret spring from which has flowed much of the evil that is defiling the world and fitting it for final destruction." White is speaking here of the Catholic confessional. While this sentence is written in a way which hedges her bets ("from which has flowed much of the evil"), the overall meaning of the sentence is clearly to blame this particular institution for things for which I can find much more likely causes. For example, among the causes preparing the world I include pornography, public schools, cults, the media, political liberalism, abortion, evolution, etc. etc. White often overstates her case, and in the process destroys her credibility.
"There is a striking similarity between the Church of Rome and the Jewish Church at the time of Christ's first advent. While the Jews secretly trampled upon every principle of the law of God, they were outwardly rigorous in the observance of its precepts, loading it down with exactions and traditions that made obedience painful and burdensome." First of all, the Pharisees were not a church. The word "church" applies to something very specific, and it did not even exist until Pentecost. White needed to learn to be rigorous with her language, because important concepts hinge on what a person writes in the area of religion. Secondly, the criticism she levels here can be just as easily leveled at the Adventist church, with all of its outward requirements in diet and lifestyle. The exactions that the Adventist church require boggle my mind. It is as if it pours everyone into the same mold, totally ignoring the fact that God made us as individuals, with different needs and different preferences. In the area of diet alone this is so obvious. There are many things a vegetarian must eat that some member of my family is allergic to. In addition, some of my family members simply cannot afford the kinds of foods that must be eaten to get good nutrition. My sister, mother, and several of my children are allergic to beans. In order to get a complete protein on a vegan diet, they must then eat nuts. Nuts are very expensive. None of their medical problems can be handled with diet; believe me, we tried. In addition, much of the food that sustains them came directly from congregation members. The Bible tells us that we are to eat the things we are given with thanksgiving. One congregation member gave them an entire cow. This provided their protein needs for many weeks. What are they supposed to do? Refuse the gift? Throw away the cow? Adventism would require it. This makes no sense. But to clinch the matter, there is one Bible verse that totally defeats the whole Adventist position: "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer." I Timothy 3:1-5. Nothing could be more explicit! You say we are in the latter times. This passage applies to our world. Some people are giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. I have found numerous examples of White's hypocrisy, including the one mentioned: that she herself indulged in shellfish while preaching vegetarianism. She spoke lies about where her writings came from; she spoke lies about the vegetarian requirement. She spoke lies about health in general. Her writings are full of scientific and medical nonsense. The clincher is that she commanded people to abstain from meats. This is the same sin and error that the New Age movement lays on the people, and it comes straight out of Hinduism. It is one thing to become a vegetarian out of personal choice. But the church and its leaders nave no business requiring it. And that is precisely what the Adventist church does. You don't measure up if you don't do this, and there is such social pressure to conform. Half the time I talk to Adventists, this is all they can talk about. Remember that Peter had to face this very same issue when he had the vision of the unclean animals being lowered in a cloth from the sky, and God telling him that Peter may not call unclean what God has called clean. In that passage, there are two meanings. The first meaning is that Peter may not label the gentile unclean, but the second is that in the church age, the dietary laws of the Jews are null and void. In other parts of the New Testament, we learn that strong people eat meat, and weak people eat herbs. These passages can be taken two ways: the physically strong or weak, and the spiritually strong or weak. The latter interpretation is the more important. Adventism is creating spiritually weak people with its vegetarianism. The Timothy passage also condemns the Catholic church for requiring a celibate priesthood, and celibacy of nuns and monks. So this puts the equation just as plainly as I have. The Adventist church and the Roman church are one and the same in their practice of heaping burdensome unbiblical requirements on people. White's statement is the pot calling the kettle black. I have no respect for her condemnation of the Roman church under the circumstances.
White goes on to condemn the wearing and using of crosses. There is a distinction between the Roman use of the cross and the use that Protestant Christians make of it. The Roman church always uses a crucifix. This is a cross with the body of Jesus on it. This is a symbolic representation of the practice of the Mass, in which the Roman church crucifies Jesus anew every Sunday, in plain contradiction to Jesus' words "It is finished." Protestants, on the other hand, wear the empty cross as a visual witness that they are Christians. I find this act completely acceptable. You have no idea how much it bothered me that G quit wearing his lapel cross when performing music publicly, after he became an Adventist. It was as if he now wants to hide his status, even as he hides his marital status by not wearing a wedding ring. Has G become ashamed of the Gospel of Christ? He may not mean this by his actions, but sometimes actions speak louder than words. The only positive thing I can think of is that at least he is not advertising his confusion and error, and making me publicly ashamed of him. But it does make me ashamed that he has adopted such a ridiculous requirement. White goes on to cite a verse in Matthew 23. I have just read a book on Matthew 23, having to do with false spiritual leaders, and I find so many of the author's statements fit Adventism so perfectly! Matthew 23 is a sound condemnation of Adventism.
I mentioned the shame I feel about G. He is in a state of rebellion. Why? Because both his parents clearly told him to have nothing to do with Ellen White, and to stay out of the Adventist church. He did it anyway. This is a direct violation of the commandment to honor parents. That is rebellion. He is always looking for the time when God will zap him out of the sky. God sent us to guide him, and I have told him so. He acknowledges that perhaps God intends him to listen to his parents, but it has not changed a thing. The Bible tells us that the sin of rebellion is elated to the sin of witchcraft. This is very serious!
"The worship of images and relics, the invocation of saints, and the exaltation of the pope are devices of Satan to attract the minds of the people from God and from His Son." I agree completely. But White does not go far enough. These practices are a blatant form of idolatry, and strictly forbidden by the Ten Commandments. For this practice, God will condemn millions of Catholics. Fortunately, not all Catholics do things like this, but unfortunately the vast majority do. They can rationalize their practice all they want, but it is still an abomination to God. Furthermore, White fails to note that the practice of Sabbath-observance in particular (because Jesus is our Sabbath rest) and of vegetarianism are also devices of Satan to attract the minds of the people from God and from His Son. They are a distraction. And so are doctrines like Investigative Judgment. Once more, the pot calls the kettle black.
In the paragraph beginning "The Roman Catholic Church, uniting the forces of paganism and Christianity...", White condemns the Inquisition, but not by name. I think this paragraph is a good example of White's lack of prophetic ability. The Roman church is only one of several institutions that have done this. In our day, we also look to Naziism, Soviet Communism, and Chinese Communism for examples of the same kind of activity. The Roman church never developed the methods that these people used. Their barbarity has been unsurpassed, and the Roman church's Inquisition never could hold a candle to it. But White misses an even more important point which she merely hints at, and that is the syncretism of Romanism, whereby it combines pagan practices and beliefs with its Christianity. She needs to discuss this in detail, and she misses it almost completely.
"Christ gives no example in His life for men and women to shut themselves up in monasteries in order to become fitted for heaven." I agree completely.
"Was Christ ever known to consign men to the prison or the rack because they did not pay Him homage as the King of heaven?" Not when He walked the earth. This is because He did not come as King but as Saviour. But when the judgment comes, God will do far more than the Roman church could ever do. White distorts reality in a subtle way, and denies that God is offended by our failure to acknowledge Him. The Bible makes it clear that we are not to fear those who can kill the body (such as the Roman church), but rather Him Who can destroy both body and soul in hell (namely, God). White would do well to set the record straight.
White cites II Thessalonians 2:3-4. In this passage, Paul writes that a man will sit in the temple of God, viewing himself as being God. I am sure that White meant St. Peter's in Rome. But this is NOT the temple of God. The temple of God is lying in ruins in Jerusalem. St. Peter's has never been the temple of God, because it was built under Romanism in the first place.
White goes on to say that the Protestant churches are more like Rome than they used to be but that Romanism has not changed. In her day, this was true. In recent times, however, this is not true at all. Today, we have Masses in the vernacular. The Latin Mass is all but forbidden totally. The homilies that are preached are much more full of the concept of grace than they used to be. [And the practice of Reconciliation used for aborted women is a phenomenal extension of the concept of grace.] Vatican II represented a substantial movement in the direction of Protestantism.
White also condemns false science. It is easy to read into her words a condemnation of evolution. I would assume this is what she is talking about. She says that false science will pave the way for the papacy. I see the opposite happening. False science is leading people into atheism. The papacy blatantly promotes God in order to enslave people. A very different thing is this. Furthermore, there is a substantial and growing scientific creationist movement among Catholics.
"Nay, more, they are opening the door for the papacy to regain in Protestant America the supremacy which she has lost in the Old World. And that which gives greater significance to this movement is the fact that the principal object contemplated is the enforcement of Sunday observance--a custom which originated with Rome, and which she claims as the sign of her authority." Here is the source of Everson's thesis. She is just as wrong as he is. I have substantial empirical evidence that the Roman church had nothing to do with the observance of Sunday. To begin with, the observance of Sunday began with Jesus! It happened due to four events in Jesus' life: the Resurrection, the journey to Emmaus, and the two times Jesus appeared to the disciples in the locked room. Jesus clearly established that He appears to us on Sunday. By instructing the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, Jesus established, by example, that Sunday is the day for instruction in the Word of God. Sunday observance was cemented in with Pentecost. The Church was born on Sunday. The early Christians observed Sunday in commemoration of the Resurrection, which is the most important doctrine of the Christian faith. Moving worship to Saturday is effectively denying the Resurrection, and with that, the essence of the Christian faith. This is why I will not worship on Saturday instead of Sunday. Paul makes it clear that the Resurrection is the doctrinal center of the Christain faith. We learn from reading Acts that Paul acted in concert with the early Christians to observe Sunday. We learn from the writings of the early church fathers that Sunday worship was almost universal, and that they soundly condemned keeping the Sabbath on Saturday. I am giving you the documentation I promised, and will let it speak for itself. On the other hand, Romanism did not begin until the fourth century, several centuries after Sunday observance became the norm. And when it did begin, it was a far cry from what we have today. All of the heresies that Romanism promotes had yet to be developed. Yes, the Roman church takes credit for Sunday. But Romanism lies. It does not deserve the credit. At the same time, the Roman church takes credit for being the only Christian church in continuous existence since the time of the Apostles. That does not make that claim true, either. The only Christian church in continuous existence since the time of the Apostles is not the Roman church, but the Ethiopian church. If you study the early history of Rome, you also learn that the leadership of the "church" was divided between Rome and Constantinople, and that division has existed continuously since it first happened. There has never been a time when Rome's hegemony was not under challenge. The Eastern Orthodox church also observes Sunday, and it has absolutely nothing to do with Rome, and this constitutes part of the proof that Sunday observance was universal among Christians, because Constantinople predates Rome's political power. White shows ignorance of early Church history.
White also shows her ignorance of Protestant history. The Reformers, particularly Luther, were adamantly opposed to Saturday observance. Luther had absolutely no reason to promote Rome's agenda; quite the contrary. Luther's opposition had another basis entirely. White talks as if Sunday observance was recent in her time in Protestantism, and she fails to acknowledge that the Protestants always observed Sunday. Sabbath-keeping was dead in the water since the time of Paul's condemnation of Judaizers in Galatians. Sabbath-keeping has always been the rare exception.
White correctly pegs the edict of Constantine in 321 AD. But it has nothing to do with Christian observance of Sunday, which had already been going on for nearly three centuries. Constantine merely made his brand of Christianity the state religion, nothing more.
White notes that Eusebius wrote in favor of Sunday. But I am not aware that any Christian of note ever claimed that Sunday was the new Sabbath. There was no attempt to move the Sabbath. It was simply discontinued. Since the Bible clearly indicates that Christ is our Sabbath rest, and that the Sabbath is a type of Christ, like all other types of Christ, such as the animal sacrifices, it is to be discontinued, and the allegiance transferred directly to Christ. I see Sabbath observance as a distraction of our loyalties from Christ to a day of the week. This is another reason why I refuse to worship on Saturday instead of Sunday. I want the world to know where my loyalties lie. My loyalties lie with the Lord of the Resurrection, and I commemorate His Resurrection by choosing Sunday as my day of explicit worship.
Support of the Sabbath was practiced to some extent among certain legalistic colonies in the New World. It was probably one of a number of reasons why these religious groups never amounted to anything.
As a child, I regarded Sunday as the Lord's day, as it is even called in Revelation. I had never heard of Constantine, and I knew nothing of Romanism. There are millions of Christians just like myself. White overreaches to imply that Rome has anything to do with these Christians' observance of Sunday.
Needless to say, the rest of White's verbiage on this subject is a curious mixture of fact and fiction. The fact that White cites other authors does not change this fact. Her citation of the miracles claimed by the literature is probably the most blantant example. These authors may have written these things, but the likelihood that all of these things actually happened is nil. It is much more likely that these became tales perpetuated by, perhaps, even the Roman church, for ends of its own. But the end of the Roman church was not Sunday worship, but control. To the extent that it promoted Sunday worship, it was for the purpose of control, not to establish Sunday. What the Roman church did to pervert the Christian practice is beside the point. It has no more bearing on the authenticity of the practice than spiritism has on whether or not the doctrine of soul sleep is true or false. A doctrine or practice stands on its own, not on what people do to pervert it. Believe me, if we had to throw out some doctrine or practice because the devil found a way to pervert it, we would have to throw out the entire Bible, because the devil has perverted all of it in one way or another. I can spend a real gold piece to purchase goods even if someone is making pieces out of brass. And I can follow Christ's example even if the Roman church tried to make hay while the sun shone.
Christian observance of Sunday is not based on Scriptural authority, but on Scriptural permission. It is based on the desire of Christians to honor Christ, with His full consent and cooperation. We have Sunday by example, not command. This is because Christ commands no activity of a ceremonial nature at all. We are now sons, and not slaves. We are not under a yoke of the law. And for this reason, it would have been inappropriate for Christ to command. We are free in Christ to worship anytime and anywhere we please, and it is made clear that our worship is to be continuous: "Pray without ceasing."
"The churches of Africa held the Sabbath as it was held by the papal church before her complete apostasy." Here White contradicts herself. She made the case that the papal church always observed Sunday, and here she claims otherwise.
Adventists make a big thing out of Sunday being made mandatory by law, but they state that it will be at the behest of Rome. This is simply historical fiction. The Sunday Blue Laws that kept all stores closed and forbade other activities on Sunday were all passed by Protestant legislators in a country where Catholics had virtually no political power. It might interest you to know that Adventists side with the Ku Klux Klan and the Freemasons in condemning Roman Catholicism. My recent intense study of both shows that much anti-Catholic bigotry was being promoted by both groups. Catholics are responsible for one of the most vigorous court decisions ever handed down by the Supreme Court for the rights of parents over the schooling of their children. Oregon passed a law making public school attendance mandatory at the behest of the Klan. The purpose was to drive Catholic schools out of existence. The Supreme Court found this law unconstitutional in the case Pierce v. Society of Sisters. This was a case brought against the government for refusing to recognize the right of an order of Catholic nuns to educate children in a parochial school. It is a seminal case in the legal basis for the right to homeschool, and explicitly recognized the right of parents to educate their children in their own religious beliefs. I think we need to give credit where it is due, and frankly, the Roman church deserves some credit for guaranteeing our rights as parents.
White ends her essay by an appeal to the idea that the Roman church is growing in political power and that this power will be used to enforce Sunday. Recent history shows that the political power Rome wields in the United States is nil. John F. Kennedy was a Catholic, but to my knowledge, he promoted no law or practice that had anything to do with Romanism. Four cardinals testified before the United States Senate to promote the end of abortion by means of a human life amendment to the United States constitution. I was a personal witness to their testimony, for I, too, had testified that day. In spite of the extreme efforts of millions of Catholics to end abortion, a goal that is as worthy as any I have seen, abortion continues unabated today. Where is the vaunted political power White claims? It has become so bad that it is a federal felony to exercise freedom of speech in front of an abortion mill, trying to persuade women to spare their children.
White nowhere addresses the biblical evidence for Sunday. I have discussed some of it above. She cannot prove her case without discussing these passages, and she does not even mention them.
But the crown of her faulty thesis is her interpretation of the Revelation passage about the mark of the beast as being Sunday worship, and her claim that the beast is the papacy. These are all her interpolations. The papacy is not mentioned in the Bible, but if you read White, you gather that it is. We would do well to return to the Bible to see what it really says and ignore White. The passage regarding the mark of the beast is very specific. It refers to a mark which is in the forehead or the hand of a person, involving a number, 666. Without the mark, no one can buy or sell. How does this have anything to do with Sabbath-keeping? White doesn't say. The Revelation passage actually contradicts White's thesis, because buying and selling is what you do the rest of the week. The mark of the beast keeps people from using money on the other six days of the week, whatever they might be. It has nothing to do with refraining from commerce on one day a week, which is part of the Sabbath observance. White does not tell us how being forced to keep Sunday has anything to do with something being placed in the forehead or hand of a person. She does not address the meaning of the number 666. White simply cannot read, it appears. And of course we now see the fullblown thesis upon which Everson based his essay. White's chapter is just as repugnant to me as Everson's booklet, and for the same reason. I am puzzled that anyone can be so turned off by Everson and yet be so turned on by White covering the same ground. Maybe you can explain this, because it certainly makes no sense to me. You know, it would be nice if we could solve the world's problems by keeping Saturday. Wouldn't that be a nice, neat, easy solution? No such luck. Life is not that simple. It will require a great deal more effort on the part of everyone to legislate evil out of existence. The Bible indicates it cannot be done. Sabbath-keeping is nothing but a simplistic solution to a very complex problem, and one that cannot possibly work. If it had a prayer, the world would have become perfect long ago. The Jews used to say that the Messiah would come if one person kept the Sabbath perfectly. Goodness knows, they tried. The Sabbath is no magic talisman that one can rub and get the miraculous result. By putting attention on the Sabbath as the panicea, we can divert attention from the real issues of life.
White is a hypocrite. She fusses and fumes over keeping one commandment and neglects the other nine. How anybody who had no regard for the rest of the Decalogue can pontificate the way she does on the Sabbath is beyond me. No honest person would dream of doing it. My reading of the chapter just made me more opposed to paying any attention to White whatsoever. Her scholarship is shoddy. No, it is nonexistent. Her attitude is lacking in mercy and charity. If every word she said were true, I would want nothing to do with her god. Such a god is punitive and not loving. Such a god is satisfied with trifles and winks at the most victimizing behavior imaginable. White can steal wholesale from the hapless victims of her plagiarisms, and if it is brought to light, the church will just cover it up, like Watergate. The church's university can honor a mass murderer [abortionist Edward Allred] by accepting his donations of blood money, and wink at the outrage of this. But the Adventists are the righteous ones, the center of attention, the special people, the remnant, because they worship on Saturday. The hypocrisy of this is truly mind-boggling.
When I talked to Walter Rea, he said that almost the entire chapter 35 is taken from Protestantism and Popery by Henry Melville, and the writings of J. N. Andrews, and that this is never acknowledged. Then there is that introduction. I asked Walter Rea about that. No, it wasn't in the original edition. It was added later. It is rather like a kid getting his hand caught in the cookie jar. Sure, he'll admit he took the cookies when he can see that you can see them in his hand. But until then, forget it. White and the Adventist church are the same way. They will admit it only when they get caught. There is nothing admirable about that.
Now I will discuss the articles in Time magazine [about the pope being named man of the year]. All I can say about them is, ho hum, what else is new? I have known this stuff for a long time. This is partly because I have been reading The Wanderer, a conservative Catholic newspaper, for many years. I subscribe to get the pro-life news, but I sometimes read the articles about what is going on in the Catholic church. I guess you didn't know about the things in the Time articles. I knew what happened at Cairo, at the population conference, but I don't consider it bad. Everything talked about in Time that the pope is taking credit for is good, righteous stuff. Don't get me wrong. I have no use for the false doctrines in the Roman church. But if the pope wants to do something that is right, who am I to argue with him? It won't flummox me into accepting Rome. As for what happened at Cairo, I honestly don't know whether to give the pope credit or to assume that what happened there was due to my prayers, and the prayers of thousands of other Protestants. I have had that kind of answer to prayer before. God could have used the pope as an instrument, but frankly, the pope could not have accomplished what he did without God's permission. Of course Time is ballyhooing the pope. He was chosen as man of the year. I also noticed that a pope has been man of the year before. So I really don't put much stock in the article.
I notice that Time says Billy Graham paid the pope a compliment. But then I have known that Graham has a screw loose since he went to Moscow and pronounced that there is no persecution of Christians going on there.
I looked in vain for any reference to the idea that the pope would like to make Sunday worship legally mandatory anywhere. This is the one thing that would have, perhaps, legitimized White's point of view. But, on the contrary, the article explicitly said that the pope does not like to rule. The truth is, the Roman church is a dying church. Vocations are way down. Attendance is down. Many parishes have become farces, with clown masses and homosexual desecrations taking place regularly. Many parochial schools have closed. The people are not nearly as faithful to orthodoxy as they used to be. Rome maintains no standing armies, and has very little influence on political systems or governments anymore. I simply do not see the Roman church as the political force that White would have us believe. As I said before, I consider the pope a very unlikely candidate for the beast or the Antichrist. Yes, I know that the reformers sometimes said he was the Antichrist. This was only natural, because the pope was their enemy. But they have already been proven wrong.
For the first time, Rome is losing major ground in Latin America. Recently in the news they told of demonstrations against the Pope's visit there. These are being done by evangelicals. Large numbers of people there are turning to evangelical denominations. When I was a child, my mother played for services in a Spanish Lutheran church in Austin, Texas. I still have some of the things a grateful member gave my mother. Anti-Catholic literature in Spanish is being circulated here. There is a Spanish evangelical bookstore here, being run by friends of mine. I see many Protestant Spanish congregations in the south part of the city. I am aware of a number of people who have left, or learned of salvation by grace and stayed behind to reach others. I know of only one person who has joined, and his family doesn't even say the rosary.
I am including a paper I wrote on Everson's essay. Perhaps it will help further to explain why the Adventist position that Rome will be the power that provides the mark of the beast is in error.
I did not mean to give you the impression I was angry with you the other day. I am impassioned in my attitude toward White, but it has nothing to do with you. Sometimes I just cannot keep my cool when discussing her. I am sorry; I feel as strongly about it as I ever did about abortion. Abortion kills the bodies of babies and denies them the opportunity to hear the Gospel. White deceives people right out of the kingdom of heaven. They are both deadly in an eternal and spiritual way, and I cannot separate them. Both of them impassion me, and that is the way it will always be.
I don't mean to sound harsh. I just don't have any patience whatsoever for Ellen White, and I am tired of pussyfooting around about it. For all practical purposes, White is responsible for corrupting my son and destroying his innocence. Were it not for her influence, Adventism would be very different today. Without White, there would never have been the deep grief that I have experienced over seeing G turn from the simplicity that is in Christ Jesus to extreme legalism, putting himself once more into the slavery of the law and of sin. Our righteous lives are not ours, but God living through us. For us to spend one moment or one iota of attention on how to live to please God or show our gratitude is to arrogate unto ourselves the work which the Holy Spirit is performing in us, to dethrone God and place ourselves at the center of attention. It is egotistical to the core. I simply have to repudiate all of this with every bone in my body, as loudly as I can. There comes a time when a person must take a stand, and having thoroughly investigated, for me that time is now. I want nothing to do with White. If G loses his salvation, which I consider a real possibility, then White is to blame. Do you realize what agony it is for me to read anything that has her name on it? Do you have any idea what agony it is for me to watch G no longer willing to take a firm moral stand on lying, stealing and killing? To watch while he ignores his moral responsibility toward the people who have helped him, to watch him disobey the commandment that tells a child to honor his parents? To select moral leadership that violates Psalm 1:1-2? Do you understand the difference between being in agony because your son refuses to have anything to do with God and is in knowing rebellion, and being in agony because your son believes he is doing God's will and has no idea how deceived he is? Do you have any idea how much harder it is to reach the man who thinks he is living for God as opposed to the one who knows he is not? Do you have any idea what feelings I feel when I realize that the spiritual leaders my son is following are not willing to stand up for righteousness, either? That they are willing to overlook the plagiarism, and give White credit she doesn't deserve? I talk to both of you out of love for you and for G, N, and her family. It is agony for me to do this. I want to turn my back on it, put it out of mind, and refuse ever to think about it again. I cannot do this. White rubs my nose in my pain. Her hypocrisy, her violation of the rights of people who earned their living in the same way my husband does, by producing intellectual property, her theft from people whose necessities of life were produced the same way mine have been all my life, it just hurts me to the bottom of my soul. I talk about her with you to try to show you what a phony and a fraud she appears to be to outsiders, people who do not have a vested interest in overlooking the problems she presents, and why no godly person has any business having anything to do with her. I love you both, and hope that someday you will see what I see. I just don't know any better way to convey the gamut of emotions I feel over White, and how the raw wound is opened by reading her works, and the salt rubbed in by the pound. I read White because I love the Adventist people, and I must take her seriously as they do. But it is torture to my soul, and agony for my heart. I hope that you now have a better picture of how I really feel.
Love in Christ,