How to investigate Ellen’s testimonies?
Thomas Kuhn’s groundbreaking work, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, argued that each scientific field is beholden to a prevailing paradigm. The paradigm provides a way of explaining facts—even facts that would otherwise appear to contradict the paradigm’s key tenets. Turns out it requires more than facts to cause a scientist to abandon a paradigm.
So too, it is eminently possible to gather all the facts on Ellen G. White—her life, her work, her testimonies and prophecies—and to accommodate our views of the Bible, inspiration, history and biblical interpretation to the paradigm that says she was a prophet inspired by God.
But we think it is far more reasonable (and faithful!) to evaluate Ellen within the context of scripture and Church history, rather than the other way round.
Here are a few suggestions as to what might help someone gain the perspective to properly evaluate the life, work and teachings of Ellen G. White.
For those involved in Adventism, it can be a daunting prospect to begin to investigate the foundations of your faith. In their compassionately written book, It's Okay NOT to be a Seventh-Day Adventist, former Seventh-day Adventists Arthur and Teresa Beem explore the history and doctrine of Adventism. Their book will help provide a new vantage point for gaining perspective on the fruits of Ellen G. White’s labor.
Build basic Christian literacy
When setting out to evaluate Ellen G. White’s prophetic claims, it is really important to really grasp that Christianity did not begin in the nineteenth century. Now that might seem a weird thing to say because we all know that Christianity is around 2,000 years old. But despite Christianity’s age and history, Seventh-day Adventism tends to focus one’s attention on events from the mid-nineteenth century onwards.
When we truly grasp the scope, depth, power and wisdom within ancient Christianity, we gain the perspective to evaluate Ellen in a completely new light.
The making of a testimony
It can be helpful to understand the processes that actually went into Ellen’s testimonies. For most of her career, Ellen managed to keep a tight rein over the making the her testimonies.
Thanks to Merritt Kellogg, we have an independent eye-witness account of the making of a testimony. Making this account even more compelling are the acts of arson, general mayhem and untimely deaths inspired by this particular testimony.
Get the insights you won’t hear in Sabbath School or Pathfinders by reading the eye-opening Ellen G. White and the Chicago Buildings Vision Fiasco.
If Ellen G. White is an inspired prophet of God, then her signature teachings of Sabbath observance and the Investigative Judgment ought to stand up to scrutiny.
It is our considered opinion that the best vantage point for evaluating Ellen’s claims lies in a sustained investigation of the biblical doctrines for which she taught and advocated.
See our suggested approaches to evaluating these doctrines on the following pages.
The most detailed and thoroughly researched analysis of the question of the Sabbath is given in our signature investigative analysis Lying for God.
May God bless us all as we seek to be conformed to His will.