2009 SDA Sabbath School Quarterly
Prophetic Gift
Lesson 7

An Alternative Viewpoint by Dirk Anderson

Reprover of Sin

In Tuesday's section Pfandl explains that part of Ellen White's prophetic duties included reproving sins. While Pfandl claims "it was a work she did not enjoy", she certainly took up the task with great vigor. In the early years, Ellen and James would call a local church together and publicly rebuke individual sins before the whole congregation. For example,

She [Ellen White] called the congregation in Wright, Michigan, together one afternoon in 1867 to hear her read fifty-one pages of "testimony" she had written conerncing various church members. "Those reporoved," James reported, "were, of course, surprised to hear their condition described, and were thrown into great trial."1
If there was one talent that Ellen White was known for, especially in her younger years, it was her ability to instill the fear of God in her followers. A cursory reading of her "testimonies" reveals that one of her favorite sins to rebuke was "solitary vice", which she believed caused a wide variety of dreadful maladies, including "blindness" and "insanity".

Mrs. White reserved her most brutal barbs for those who dared to question her prophetic calling. Mrs. White would tolerate different views on some subjects, but one thing she would absolutely not tolerate under any circumstances was someone who questioned her prophetic gift. According to her former friend, Israel Dammon, those who "took a stand against the visions, she saw them 'doomed, damned, and lost for ever, without hope.'"2 Here is but a tiny sample of the derogatory statements she made of her opponents:

Pfandl writes:
Like the prophets of old, Ellen White had to reprove sins known only to the individual and God.
This statement would lead one to believe that Mrs. White received her information about private sins from God. Ministers who were closely associated with the Whites knew otherwise. The following appeared in the March 20, 1889, edition of the Healdsburg Enterprise newspaper. It is written by a reporter who attended a lecture given by D.M. Canright, a former SDA minister closely associated with the Whites for 25 years. It reveals the true source of Ellen White's knowledge of the "sins" of others:
He [Canright] once requested an interview with her [Ellen White] in the house of Mr. A.W. Smith, of Worcester, Mass., and made certain statements to her regarding several persons in the S.D.A. Church. A day or two later, Mrs. White wrote a testimony, or revelation, which Mr. Canright says was evidently based upon the facts recently related to her by him.
Another time an elder was needed in one of their churches in Maine. Mr. Canright thought a certain man was just the one for the office, but found it difficult to persuade him that he ought to take it. Very well, there is a way to convince him. Mr. Canright went to Mrs. White and laid the matter before her. He told her this was just the man for the office, but that he needed more confidence, needed to feel that God loved him. Sabbath morning she rose very solemnly in the congregation to make known a revelation. She pointed out the young man Mr. Canright had designated shortly before, and gave the message, "God had shown her that he was a precious child of God, and He wanted him to take the office." God calls his servants to their work, but this man was "called" of Canright and holds office through a lying message...
Sometime later Mr. Canright tells us he was carrying on a great meeting and having great success in pulling down a Baptist church. But a Mr. Fargo, who, I think he stated was president of the conference, was a very cautious man and did not supply the needed assistance, and Mr. Canright was obliged to stop the work. Then he says he sat down and wrote to Sister White in Basel, Switzerland. Why did he write to her unless he expected her to forward a "revelation" that would convince Mr. Fargo that he was wrong and Mr. Canright was right? The result justified his expectations. Four weeks later they sat in general conference listening in silence, with bowed heads to a letter from Mrs. White. God had shown her that Brother Fargo was not energetic enough in the work of the Lord and he was rebuked. "Mr. Fargo was a very conscientious man," says Mr. Canright, "and he wept and was greatly distressed when he heard that he had displeased God."
For more examples of Adventist brethren sharing the "sins" of others with Sister White, click here.

Fulfilled Civil War Prediction?

In the last lesson we learned of Mrs. White's failed prediction about the return of Christ. In this lesson Pfandl describes a couple of successful predictions. The first regards the Civil War:

For instance, on January 12, 1861, three months before the outbreak of the American Civil War, Mrs. White received a vision in the Parkville, Michigan, church in which she was shown battlefields covered with the dead and dying. As she related what she had seen, she told her listeners, “There are men in this house who will lose sons in that war.”—Pacific Union Recorder, March 7, 1912 (Arthur L. White, Ellen G. White: The Early Years, vol. 1, p. 463). No less than five families in the room that day lost sons in the Civil War.
There are several facts to consider here. The vision occurred on January 12, 1861. Three weeks prior to the vision, South Carolina had seceded from the Union, followed by Mississippi (Jan. 9), Florida (Jan. 10), and Alabama (Jan. 11). Thus, at the point of the vision on Jan. 12, four states had seceded and it would appear to any astute observor that Civil War was imminent.

Another fact to consider is the source of the information. It was reported by Elder Loughborough in 1912, a whole 51 years after the supposed event took place. Assuming Loughborough told the story correctly, one must still question whether it would take prophetic knowledge to figure out a war was about to commence and that someone sitting in a large congregation would end up dying. (There were 623,026 casualties in the bloody Civil War--more than all other wars in U.S. history combined.8)

If Civil War predictions prove one's prophetic abilities, then Mormon prophet Joseph Smith's prediction far exceeded Ellen White's. In 1832, 29 years before the war, Smith predicted a war would start in South Carolina:

1. Verily, thus saith the Lord concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls.9
So, did Ellen White receive divine insight? Or did she just make an educated guess that anyone else in the congregation could have made? You decide. (For deeper study into Mrs. White's Civil War predictions, click here)

Fulfilled Ecumenical Prediction?

Next, Pfandl describes Mrs. White's frightful prediction of a three-fold union between Protestants, Catholics, and Spiritualists:

In 1885, Ellen White predicted: “When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism . . . then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near.”—Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 451.
For more than one hundred fifty years, Adventists have been warning the world about the coming reconciliation between Catholics and Protestants—even when all political and religious indications made such a reconciliation seem impossible. Today, of course, the impossible has become all but inevitable, as time and again Catholics and various Protestants are coming together on a whole host of issues. Most interesting, and again in line with what Ellen White wrote more than a century ago, the Protestants are the ones who are making the most incredible compromises, all in order to bring about this unity with Rome. Though there’s still much to unfold, these events are leading to an amazing fulfillment of prophecy and are another powerful vindication of Ellen White’s prophetic gift.
To begin with, Mrs. White foresaw Spiritualism as a great power that would unite with Protestants and Catholics to persecute Seventh-day Adventists for going to church on Saturday. Mrs. White's scenario may have seemed plausible in the 1880s. The Spiritualist movement had reached its peak by 1870. However, by the early 1900s it was in rapid decline. The scientific community failed to validate Spiritualistic phenomena, and the movement declined and moved to the fringes of society, where it remains today. Both Catholic and Protestant churches, along with most secularists and Jewish groups, reject modern psychics, Tarot card readers and so forth. Christian churches as a whole reject communication with the spirits of the dead.

In the late 1800s, adherents to Spiritualism greatly out-numbered those in the Seventh-day Adventist church. However, 100 years later we find the opposite to be true. Adventists now greatly out-number Spiritualists by nearly 100-to-1.

So, one third of the prophecy has already failed. That leaves us with a two-fold union between Protestants and Catholics. Seventh-day Adventists have certainly been leading out in the effort to make Ellen White's prophecy come true. In 1977, Dr. Bert Beach, as an official representative of the SDA Church, presented the Pope a golden medallion of "friendship" (see picture from www.TruthOrFables.com on the right).

It is interesting to find Adventist corporate executives speaking out of both sides of their mouths on this subject. When it suits their purposes, such as proving Ellen White's divine foresight, then her anti-Catholic language constitutes a "fulfillment of prophecy". However, when it makes them to appear radical, they are quick to admit that Ellen White was only saying what other Protestants of her day were saying. Notice what General Conference President Neal C. Wilson said under oath:

Although it is true that there was a period in the life of the Seventh-day Adventist Church when the denomination took a distinctly anti-Roman Catholic viewpoint...that attitude on the church's part was nothing more than a manifestation of widespread anti-popery among conservative Protestant denominations in the early part of this century and the latter part of the last, and which has now been consigned to the historical trash heap so far as the Seventh-day Adventist Church is concerned.10
SDA corporate executives cannot have their cake and eat it too. Either Ellen White had divine foresight about the Catholic threat, or else she was merely repeating the anti-Catholic sentiment of her time period. Which was it?


1. Ronald Graybill, Ph.D., The Power of Prophecy, unpublished doctoral dissertation submitted to John Hopkins University, p. 9 (Baltimore, Maryland, 1983).

2. An Examination of Mrs. White's Visions, 1877.

3. Ellen White, Letter 1, 1880.

4. Ellen White, Kress Collection, p. 33.

5. Ellen White, Manuscript Release #760, p. 4.

6. Ellen White, Letter 2, 1881.

7. Ellen White, Manuscript 11, 1850.

8. U.S. Army Military History Institute, Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

9. Joseph Smith, "Revelation and Prophecy on War", December 25, 1832, Doctrines and Covenants, p. 144.

10. Neal C. Wilson, former president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Court Transcript of United States vs the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission vs the Pacific Press Publishing Association and the General Conference, Reply Brief for Defendants, p 4, Civil Case #74-2025 CBR, presided over by Judge Charles B. Renfrew, U.S. District Court, San Francisco, California, 1974-1975.

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