Ellen White
Ellen White Answers
Ellen White Answers
Ellen White
Answering the questions and critics on Ellen G. White
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Seventh-day Adventists have a high view of the Bible and regard it to be the revealed and inspired Word of God. Their view of inspiration is holistic, embracing the different processes of inspiration found in Scripture, such as: theophanic (Exod. 3:1-5), prophetic (Rev. 1:1-3), verbal (Exod. 31:18), historical (Luke 1:1-3), wisdom (Pro. 1:1-7;Ecc. 1:1) existential (Lam. 3:1), epistle (Phil. 1:1-2), and praise-worship (Ps. 34:1). As such, their understanding of inspiration is best described as plenary-thought rather than verbal. “Plenary” emphasizes Scripture in its entirety and “thought” suggests that the biblical writers thoughts, rather than their words, were inspired. This view endeavors to capture the dynamics of both the divine and the human in the experience of revelation-inspiration. Ellen White expressed this view best: “It is not the words of the Bible that are inspired, but the men that were inspired. Inspiration acts not on the man’s words or his expressions but on the man himself, who, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, is imbued with thoughts. But the words receive the impress of the individual mind. The divine mind is diffused. The divine mind and will is combined with the human mind and will; thus the utterances of the man are the word of God” (Selected Messages, vol. 1, 21).

Ex-Adventist critics of Ellen White often apply to her writings a more rigid view of verbal inspiration, presupposing that every word a prophet writes must come directly from God and be inerrent. While they don’t believe her writings are inspired at all, this view is the standard by which these critics judge her writings. The problem with this view is that it diminishes the human side of inspiration found in the Bible and Ellen White. In SDA history some supporters of Ellen White espoused this incorrect view and some still do today. The studies below provide an indirect response to this faulty understanding of revelation-inspiration.

Note: If you are looking for a concise introduction to this subject, try the four articles below with the # sign.

The following documents (unfortunately, not online) are definitive statements of a Seventh-day Adventist theology of revelation-inspiration:

*”The Word of God,” in Seventh-day Adventists Believe: An Exposition of the Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church  2nd ed. (Silver Spring, MD: General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 2005), 11-21.

*Peter Maarten van Bemmelen, “Revelation and Inspiration,” in Handbook of Seventh-day Adventist Theology, ed. Raoul Dederen (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald, 2000), 22-57.

*Norman R. Gulley, Systematic Theology: Prolegomena (Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 2003), 227-384.

*Fernando Canale, “Revelation and Inspiration,” in Undersanding Scripture: An Adventist Approach, ed. George W. Reid (Silver Spring, MD: Biblical Research Institute, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 2005), 47-74./p>

Ellen White’s definitive statements on her understanding of inspiration

# “Ellen White’s Understanding of How God Speaks”

The following links are lecture notes and articles by Seventh-day Adventist thologians on revelation-inspiration in the Bible and Ellen White:

*Dr. Roger Coon, previous associate director of the Ellen G. White Estate”

Lecture notes used for his seminary classes taught at the SDA Seminary during the 1980s and 1990s.

“Inspiration/Revelation: What it is and How it Works”

“Infallability, Inerrancy, and the Prophets

*Dr. Denis Fortin, Dean of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Lecture notes for his seminary class presently taught at the SDA Seminary

*Dr. Angel Manuel Rodriguez, director of the Biblical Research Institute at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists:

“Issues on Revelation and Inspiration” An important article addressing the danger of taking thought inspiration too far in approaching the Bible.

*Dr. Frank Holebrook, previous associate director of the Biblical Research Institute:

“Biblical Doctrine of Inspiration and Authority”  A careful theological discussion of these two important concepts

*Dr. Juan Carolos Viera, previous director of the Ellen G. White Estate:

# “The Dynamics of Inspiration” A helpful discussion of six models of inspiration found in the Bible.

*Dr. Herbert Douglas, prolific SDA author and theologian, author of the textbook, Messenger of the Lord: The Prophetic Ministry of Ellen White:

# “Verbal Inspiration or Thought Inspiration” A section from his book, Messenger of the Lord, used in many college and seminary classes on Ellen White’s prophetic ministry.

*Dr. Alberto Timm, director of Brazilian Ellen G. White Research Center”

“A History of Seventh-day Adventist Views on Biblical and Prophetic Inspiration (1844-2000)” Anyone wanting to know the history of SDA views on inspiration, this is the definitive study.

*Dr. Jud Lake, professor of Preaching and Adventist Studies, Southern Adventist University, and editor of ellenwhiteanswers.org.

“Ellen White and Inspiration” This is a video on YouTube of one of my presentations at the 2005 Ellen White Summit (61 minutes). Here I present a biblical model of revelation-inspiration-illumination with PowerPoint visuals and apply it to Ellen White and the plagiarism charge.

The next two links below are chapters from my doctoral dissertation on the homiletical method of esteemed evangelical homileitcal scholar, Dr. Haddon Robinson. Part of this dissertation, An Evaluation of Haddon Robinson’s Homiletical Method: An Evangelical Perspective (Th.D. dissertation, University of South Africa, 2003), involved analyzing Robinson’s view of Scripture and inspiration. In the process, I discussed the subjects of revelation, inspiration, inerrancy, and authority in the context of contemporary evangelicalism. Motivated readers may find the discussion relevant to the Adventist understanding of these theological concepts. Keep in mind this is a doctoral dissertation and not light reading.

Chapter 3: “Robinson’s View of Scripture” Here you will find a detailed discussion of revelation, inspiration, inerrancy, and authority in the context of contemporary evangelical thought.

Part of Chapter 6: “An Evaluation of Robinson’s Method: New Pointers”  This link will take you to the entire chapter, but only pages 234-237 are relevant to inspiration. In the context of this chapter I am providing pointers for Robinson’s method. I should point out that Robinson’s expository method must be mastered by all my preaching students, if they want to pass my homiletics classes.

 Did Ellen White contradict herself on thought inspiration? Although she formally taught a plenary-thought view of inspiration, on occasion she used the term “dictated” in describing the Bible writers. Did she contradict herself? Or did she mean something other than word-for-word dictation? In this article I analyze the statements in their literary contexts and also address her use of the expression, “inspired words.”

For an interesting discussion on how Ellen White’s inspiration is viewed in the SDA church, see the Wikipedia article: “Inspiration of Ellen White” Be aware that Wikipedia articles are sometimes edited by different individuals so you should confirm the citations. In general, though, it is a helpful and reliable resource.