The Life of Ellen White by D.M. Canright

Chapter 12 - Her High Claims Disproved

No prophet of God ever made stronger claims than did Mrs. White. In Spiritual Gifts, Vol. II., page 293, she says: "I am just as dependent upon the Spirit of the Lord in relating or writing a vision as in having a vision." Here she claims that the very words in which her visions are recorded are of divine inspiration. But I know that the words in her books and written "testimonies" are not inspired; for:

1. She often changed what she had written, and wrote it very differently. I have seen her scratch out a line, a sentence, and even a whole page, and write it over differently. If Go gave her the words, why did she scratch them out and alter them? Does God change his mind that way?

2. I have seen her sit with pen in hand and read her manuscript to her husband, while he suggested changes, which she made. She would scratch out her own words and put in his. Was he inspired too? She denied this. In "Testimonies," Vol. I., page 612, she says: "I have never regarded his judgment as infallible, nor his words inspired." And yet in preparing her writings she would take his words in preference to her own.

3. As she was ignorant of grammar, she employed accomplished writers to take her manuscript and correct it, improve its wording, polish it up, and put it in popular style, so her books would sell better. Thousands of words, phrases and sentences, not her own, were thus put in by these other persons, some of whom were not even Christians. Were their words inspired too?

4. One of her employees worked for over eight years preparing her largest book. After completing it, she said: "I got a little here, and a little there, and a little somewhere else, and wove it all together." The manager of one of their largest publishing houses, who was intimately acquainted with her work, said that he did not suppose that Mrs. White ever prepared a whole chapter for one of her popular subscription books. They were all the work of others.

5. In gathering matter for her books Mrs. White often copied her subject matter, without credit or sign of quotation, from other authors, none of whom claimed divine inspiration for their writings. See the chapter on her plagiarisms. Were these authors inspired?

6. Many of the things which she says "I saw," "I was shown," "I have been shown," are now known to be false. These expressions abound in her writings for the church. In the one small book, "Early Writings," they occur 409 times. But God does not show his prophets things which are not true. Therefore God did not show her what she claims he did.

7. The denominational leaders often treated her writings as they would any ordinary literary production, and not as the inspired word of God. Here is the testimony of one who knows:

"This is to certify that I was proof-reader in the Review and Herald office here for six years, beginning in 1898. Many times when testimonies from Mrs. White were received, passages were cut out and left out as it suited those in authority in the office. (Signed) W.R. Vester."

On Oct. 7, 1907, at Battle Creek, Mich., a church committee called on Dr. J.H. Kellogg to inquire into his religious views, especially his attitude toward the testimonies of Mrs. White. The interview lasted eight hours, from 8:30A.M. till 4:30P.M., was stenographically reported, and covered 164 typewritten pages. The doctor allowed that Mrs. White meant to be a Christian woman, but held that her testimonies were not reliable. He gave many instances where she contradicted well known facts - contradicted what she herself had written, and denied what she had said. He gave many instances where officials had simply used her to get testimonies to suit their projects. He gave instances where these officials had cut out of her testimonies parts they did not like, put other pieces together to change the meaning, and then, with her name signed, used them to further their schemes, and "down" men they wished to silence.

On page 48 of this report the doctor says: "These men have frequently cut out large chunks of things that Sister White had written, that put things in a light that was not the most favorable to them, or did not suit their campaigns that way; they felt at liberty to cut them out so as to change the effect and the tenor of the whole thing, sending it out over Sister White's name. I know that, and I think you know it too." The committee could not contradict him. This shows how little respect the officials have for the testimonies.

On page 51 the doctor says: "I do not believe in Mrs. White's infallibility, and never did. I told her eight years ago, to her face, that some of the things she had sent me as testimonies were not the truth, that they were not in harmony with facts; and she herself found it out." She finally confessed to him, he said, that she had been mistaken.

On page 96 he says again: "I know that fraud is being perpetrated right along, and I have no sympathy with that at all. I know that people go to Sister White with some plan or scheme they want to carry through under her endorsement of it, and stand up and say, 'The Lord has spoken!'"

In fact, that is the way a large share of her "testimonies" were given; that is, through the influence of some one over her, to write what he wanted written.

On page 62, G.W. Amadon, for many years head printer in the Review office, and a member of the committee who examined Dr. Kellogg, said:: "You know, in the days of the Elder [Elder James White], how her writings were handled, just as well as I do." Dr. Kellogg replied: "Of course I do." That is, Elder White manipulated them to suit himself. Later, others did the same thing.

On page 130 the doctor says Mrs. White said to him: "Dr. Kellogg, I sometimes doubt my own experience." That was in 1881. This shows that all along, at times, she was not sure that her visions were of God.

On the same page the doctor says that Elder White came to him one day and said: "Dr. Kellogg, it is wonderful; my wife sometimes has the most remarkable experiences; the Lord comes near her and she has the most remarkable experiences; and then again the very devil comes in and takes possession of her."

These statements throw some remarkable sidelights on the life of Mrs. White, and give additional proof that she was not inspired.

8. She herself suppressed some of her own writings, for which, at the time of their first publication, she claimed divine inspiration. See the chapter on "Damaging Writings Suppressed."

9. Lastly, in the revision of some of her books she directly contradicts what she had previously written. Thus, in all editions of her book, "Great Controversy," page 383, from 1888 up to 1911, of the fall of Babylon referred to in Rev. 14:8, she said: "It can not refer to the Romish Church." She applied it altogether to the Protestant churches. But in the revised edition of 1911 this statement was changed to read: It can not refer to the Romish Church alone." Before this it could not refer to the Roman Church at all; but now she says it does apply to that church, and to that church particularly, but not to it alone. It includes others. Here is a direct contradiction if ever there was one. What, then, becomes of her claim to divine inspiration for her writings, and to the still more presumptuous claim of her followers that her writings are "the only infallible interpreter" of the Bible? Does God change his mind and contradict himself in that way?

The foregoing chapters have clearly shown the real source of her inspiration.

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