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CHAPTER 17

Did Mrs. White Suppress Some of Her Writings?

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Section Titles
1. Interlocking of Two Theories
2. Elder and Mrs. White's Relation to Seven-Year Theory
3. The “Suppression” of Two Publications
4. The Publication of “Experience and Views”
5. “Experience and Views” Out of Print
6. Publication of “Early Writings”
George I. Butler's Statement
The Charge Regarding “Early Writings”
The “Early Writings” Charges Answered
Contents of 1847 Tract
The Charge Narrowed Down
7. Uriah Smith's Statement
Undependability of Memory
8. Those Deleted Passages
The Messages of Ancient Prophets
The Key Question Answered
The Honorable Motives for Deletions
The First Cry of Suppression
Deletions to Avoid Repetition
Reasoning to Opposite Conclusions

Charge: This charge may be divided into eight parts:

1. That the belief in the “shut door” and the belief in Bates's “seven-years” period were interlocked, and that the abandonment of one necessitated the abandonment of the other.

2. That “a few months before this seven years ended, Elder White and his wife became convinced that this [seven year] theory had to be given up.” Therefore they promptly set out in the summer of 1851 to suppress earlier publications that taught the shut door and the seven-year theory.

3. That they suppressed A Word to the “Little Flock” and Present Truth and started a new paper called The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald.

4. a. That they published, “in August, 1851,” a sixty-four-page pamphlet, Experience and Views, which, though drawn almost wholly from A Word to the “Little Flock” and Present Truth, makes no mention of them.

b. That certain passages that teach the shut door were deleted from the visions as reprinted in Experience and Views.

5. That Mrs. White's work Experience and Views was allowed to go out of print to conceal abandoned shut-door teachings.

6. That when Mrs. White's Early Writings was published in 1882, a further attempt was made to conceal the earliest publications:

a. In a statement by George I. Butler.

b. In the wording of the preface.

7. That Uriah Smith, long the editor of the Review and Herald, made damaging admissions which support the charge that these earliest publications were suppressed.

8. That when the particular deletions made in Mrs. White's earliest writings are examined, they provide proof positive that she wished to suppress abandoned teachings, very particularly her teachings on the shut-door and seven-year theory.

1. Interlocking of Two Theories

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There is no evidence to support the prime charge—so vital to the whole argument—that the shut-door view and the seven-year theory were interlocked. On the contrary, the facts already


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presented reveal that these two views were not. James White believed in the shut door, but refused to believe in the seven-year theory. Hence the alleged abandonment of one did not require the abandonment of the other.

2. Elder and Mrs. White's Relation to Seven-Year Theory

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No proof is presented that Elder and Mrs. White “became convinced” that the seven-year theory had to be given up. They never accepted it, and thus never wrote in behalf of it. Therefore, what would there be to suppress concerning it?

Further, there is no proof that James White suddenly changed his view on the shut-door in the summer of 1851. Nor have the critics even attempted to provide proof. The evidence is clear that he had not really abandoned the shut-door view in the summer of 1851—but more on this point later. Then just what would be the motive for suppressing certain early documents in that allegedly significant summer of 1851?

3. The “Suppression” of Two Publications

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Simple dates in the calendar disprove the claim that the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald—known briefly as the Review and Herald—was launched because certain theories had been abandoned. The theories are said to have been repudiated in the summer of 1851. The Review began publication in November, 1850!

The documentary evidence is clear that the Review was not published to suppress anything that had gone before. Note these facts:

a. The last issue of Present Truth was published in November, 1850. The first issue of the Review followed immediately in that same month and was sent out to the same readers. The first issue contained an editorial note, which read in part: “We hope to be able to send you this enlarged size of the paper quite often.”—Review and Herald, vol. 1, no. 1, p. 7. This is not one publication suppressing another, but one simply continuing the other, and in expanded form. The new title probably reflected the name Advent


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Review, which had been used to designate several issues of a little paper that James White had helped to publish in 1850.

b. In that first issue of the Review and Herald, under the title “Publications,” is listed Present Truth! There were some back copies left. The editor wanted these circulated—not suppressed!

c. An Extra of the Review, published July 21, 1851, contains an article which the editor states “was written in 1847, and published in a tract, entitled ‘A Word to the Little Flock.’”—Page 4. That was eight months after the launching of the Review, which was allegedly started, not simply to supplant, but to suppress this little tract, so that even the memory of it might be forgotten!

d. How could the Review have been launched to conceal the seven-year theory, when the Review, as we discovered, is the only one of the three publications that even mentions it? Or how could it have been launched to conceal the shut-door theory, so freely discussed in Present Truth and A Word to the “Little Flock,” when the Review simply continued the discussion?

e. In the first volume of her Testimonies for the Church, Mrs. White relates the story of the founding of Present Truth, and adds: “In 1850 it was issued at Paris, Maine. Here it was enlarged, and its name changed to that which it now bears, The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald.”—Page 89. That was written about 1884, or thirty-four years after the Review is supposed to have been launched so that even the memory of Present Truth might be forgotten! If Present Truth contained embarrassing teachings, why mention it at that late date! People might begin hunting for copies of it!

4. The Publication of “Experience and Views”

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a. There is supposed to be proof of suppression in the fact that Present Truth and A Word to the “Little Flock”—both of which discuss the shut door—are not mentioned in Experience and Views, though most of the material is reprinted from them. We think our readers will conclude that the discussion under Number 3 makes this “proof” quite pointless. In preparing a book


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a publisher does nothing unusual, nothing dark or questionable, in drawing material from a tract and from articles in different issues of a journal, without referring to the fact that the author's material had earlier appeared in other publications.

b. When Experience and Views was published, critics also noted that there were deletions from certain of the visions there reprinted, and that some of these deletions at least apparently dealt with the shut-door doctrine. Here, said they, is double proof that a methodical endeavor has been made to suppress every trace of the no-more-mercy-for-sinners doctrine that Adventists abandoned in 1851. That this “proof” was being vigorously presented in the 1860's is revealed by Uriah Smith's rejoinder in the Review and Herald of July 31, 1866, pages 65-67.

The worthlessness of this “proof” will become evident as the examination of the charges is continued.

5. “Experience and Views” Out of Print

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The book Experience and Views, published in 1851, and the Supplement, published in 1854, went out of print in a relatively few years. Immediately the cry was again raised, “Suppression.” The mere fact that they were out of print is supposed to be all the proof required to support the charge. According to the critics of the time the book was “suppressed” because we “had become ashamed of it,” and “dare not publish it.”* And of course the occasion for our being “ashamed” would be primarily because of shut-door doctrine in it. That is the prime reason offered for our “suppressing” any of our early literature.

Obviously, charges 4 and 5 are contradictory. It is because we are listing the whole long record of “suppression” charges through the years that their contradictory quality appears. While later critics generally focus on 1851, when Experience and Views was published, as the date when suppression took place, earlier critics


* The charge evidently was first given general circulation in a tract published by two ex-Adventists, Snook and Brinkerhoof, in 1866; and then repeated by an H. E. Carver, in an 1870 tract. We have not been able to find copies of these tracts, and must rely for our statements on a discussion of their arguments that is found in the Review and Herald. See Supplement, August 14, 1883. This Supplement was published to answer certain charges regarding Mrs. White, particularly the charge of suppression.


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argued that this 1851 work had so far failed to suppress abandoned views that it was finally allowed to go out of circulation!

6. Publication of “Early Writings”

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In 1882 there came from the Seventh-day Adventist presses a book bearing on its outside cover the title Early Writings. The contents consists of a reprint of the following:

a. The 1851, sixty-four-page pamphlet Experience and Views, to which is added a four-page appendix of new material. (See Early Writings, current edition, pp. 78-83.)

b. The forty-eight-page 1854, Supplement toExperience and Views.

c. Spiritual Gifts, volume 1, that had originally appeared in 1858.

The title page reads thus:

Early Writings of Mrs. White.


EXPERIENCE AND VIEWS,
AND
SPIRITUAL GIFTS, VOLUME ONE,
BY
MRS. E. G. WHITE


SECOND EDITION


Review and Herald: Battle Creek, Mich.
Pacific Press: Oakland, Cal.
1882.

Each of the three parts of this edition of Early Writings is separately paged. The first two parts—Experience and Views and the Supplement—are introduced by a “Publishers' Preface.” We quote it in full, because certain statements in it are the basis for grave charges by critics.

“The second edition of this little book appears in response to a long-standing wish, expressed by many, that it be published. ‘Experience and Views’ was first published in 1851, and all Who were acquainted with the experience and labors of the author, as well as those especially interested in


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the cause in which she labored, supplied themselves therewith. But as the cause was young, only a small edition had been printed, and after a few years it was all sold. Other books were printed treating more fully many of the subjects presented in this, and it was not supposed that there would be a sufficient demand for this book to warrant its republication. As, however, the labors of Mrs. White have become more public and extended, a widespread interest has arisen in all her works, especially in these earlier views, and the call for the publication of a second edition has thus become imperative.

“For the above reason we are happy to present this book to the public at this time; and for still another reason we take peculiar pleasure in its republication. Our opponents have been wont to make loud claims that there was a desire and an ‘attempt to suppress these views, because the work has been so long out of print. The presence of this book will be a sufficient refutation of the groundless charge.

“Foot notes giving dates and explanations, and an appendix giving two very interesting dreams, which were mentioned but not related in the original work, will add to the value of this edition. Aside from these, no changes from the original work have been made in the present edition, except the occasional employment of a new word, or a change in the construction of a sentence, to better express the idea, and no portion of the work has been omitted. No shadow of change has been made in any idea or sentiment of the original work, and the verbal changes have been made under the author's own eye, and with her full approval.—Publishers.”—Pages iii, iv.

This publishers' preface is followed immediately by the preface which James White wrote in “August, 1851” for Experience and Views. The publishers entitled it “Preface to First Edition.”

The third section of Early WritingsSpiritual Gifts, Volume One—is introduced by a “Publishers' Preface,” which reads in part, as follows:

“Volume one of ‘Spiritual Gifts,’ first published in 1858, has for some time been out of print, for the following reasons: Mrs. White's views on the subjects here presented have since been more complete and full than at the time when this book was first printed. Many of these later views are written out and published in the new series entitled ‘Spirit of Prophecy,’ which was designed to take the place of the previous volumes. But it is now thought best to republish this, as here presented, for the reason that many desire to have the matter in this condensed form, and also because the range of subjects is much wider than has yet been presented in the volumes of ‘Spirit of Prophecy.’”


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George I. Butler's Statement

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When Early Writings was published, George I. Butler, president of the General Conference, wrote an article in which he mistakenly declared that the book contained “the very first of the published writings of sister White.”—Review and Herald, Dec. 26, 1882, p. 792. A critic quickly took hold of this and charged that Butler claimed that Early Writings contained “all her early visions.”

Butler corrected his error of statement in an article in which he said in part:

“We want the reader distinctly to notice that we did not claim [in the Review and Herald, Dec. 26, 1882] that Early Writings contained ‘all her early visions,’ as Mr. ——— tries to make us say. This we have never said. We did suppose, however, at the time, that ‘Experience and Views,’ and the ‘Supplement’ to the same, contained her earliest ‘published writings,’ but were mistaken. There is quite a difference between this and what Mr. ——— undertakes to make me say, that the book in question contains ‘all her early writings.’ I stated in that article that many of our people ‘desired to have in their possession all she had written,’ and that this republication of ‘Experience and Views’ and ‘Supplement’ was undertaken because of this desire, but did not say this comprehended all she had written in the early part of this work, or that they were ‘all now republished,’ as he says.”—Review and Herald Supplement, Aug. 14, 1883, p. 4.

The Charge Regarding “Early Writings”

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The charge of suppression in relation to the publication of Early Writings is in two parts:

a. In the words of the most prominent critic, whose ideas all others seem to have copied: “‘Early Writings,’ published in 1882, claims to contain all the early writings of Mrs. White, with ‘not a word omitted.’ … But they [the omitted passages] are not [included]. Why were they suppressed?”

b. Early Writings, 1882, carries the line, “second edition,” and reprints James White's preface to Experience and Views, 1851, under the title, “Preface to the First Edition.” This is false, continue the critics. The first edition of Mrs. White's writings was A Word to the “Little Flock,” 1847. But no reference is made


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to this edition because Adventist leaders do not wish their members to know of this true first edition, which contains abandoned teachings.

The “Early Writings” Charges Answered

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The answer can be brief and direct:

a. The publishers of Early Writings in 1882 did not claim that it contained all of Mrs. White's early writings. Instead, they stated in the preface that they were publishing a “second edition” of a certain “little book,” entitled Experience and Views, which, they added, was “first published in 1851.” No statement could be more accurate. Hence James White's preface to the 1851 edition could only be decribed by them as “Preface to first edition.” And all of this “first edition” is faithfully reprinted in 1882, as the publishers declared. There is nothing in the 1882 Preface that suggests that Early Writings contains all of her early writings. Instead, the publishers specifically state which of her early writings they are reprinting. The plausibility of this whole charge disappears when it is laid alongside the text of the 1882 Preface.

b. In the light of these facts the question as to what should be considered the true first edition of Mrs. White's writings really becomes irrelevant. But since the critics claim that the 1847 tract, A Word to the “Little Flock,” was the first edition of Mrs. White's writings, let us give the facts that bear on this claim. The tract opens with an explanatory note regarding its contents, which we quote in part:

“The following articles were written for the Day-Dawn, which has been published at Canandaigua, New York, by O. R. L. Crosier. But as that paper is not now published, and as we do not know as it will be published again, it is thought best by some of us in Maine, to have them given in this form.”—Page 1.

Contents of 1847 Tract

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The note is signed “James White.” In this tract, as has been elsewhere noted, are two of Mrs. White's visions and a letter of hers to Eli Curtis, which occupy about eight pages. There is a page


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by Bates. The remaining fifteen pages are filled with James White's material. He apparently believed, and rightly so, that the tract was primarily from his pen, for he signed his name at the close. When he said that “the following articles were written for the Day-Dawn” he could hardly have had in mind Mrs. White's two visions. They had both been published shortly before—and doubtless were still available—one of them in the Day-Star and on a broadside, the other simply on a broadside. The occasion for the twenty-four-page tract, therefore, was not really to publish Mrs. White's writings, but certain “articles” that he had written, though he might appropriately include two visions of hers, plus her letter to Curtis, and remarks by Bates. Why should James White, poverty stricken, go to the expense of bringing out an “edition” of Mrs. White's writings when the really vital part of those writings that he did publish in the tract—the two visions—was already in print?

No book publisher would think of describing A Word to the “Little Flock” as the first edition, or any edition, of Mrs. White's writings. But all book publishers would agree that if a book first published in 1851 is reprinted in 1882, the latter should be described as the “second edition.” Which is another way of saying that the 1851 edition should be properly described as the “first edition.”

The Charge Narrowed Down

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The republication of Experience and Views in 1882 silenced the charge of suppression that had been raised when it went out of print about 1860. The explanation that Experience and Views did not claim to contain all Mrs. White's earliest writings, took the edge off the charge that certain unpublished writings were suppressed when Early Writings was published. The critics therefore have narrowed down their charge to this:

When the text of two of Mrs. White's visions, as published in Experience and Views, is compared with the text of their earlier appearance in A Word to the “Little Flock,” it is found that there are some omissions. These deletions, it is charged, can be explained only as evidence of a desire to suppress abandoned beliefs.


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And how was this charge met by Butler and the publishers of Early Writings? By the prompt publication of these two visions in undeleted form as a twelve-page tract entitled To the Remnant Scattered Abroad. The tract was advertised at “3 cts. a copy.”—Review and Herald, Aug. 28, 1883, p. 560.

7. Uriah Smith's Statement

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Uriah Smith joined the staff of the Review in the early 1850's. Canright, who left the Seventh-day Adventist ministry in 1887, stated that in 1883 he received a letter from Smith in which Smith declared that he had not seen a copy of A Word to the “Little Flock” since the 1850's. This is supposed to show how effectively the little tract had been suppressed—not even the editor had seen a copy in about thirty years.

Reference to the files of the Review reveals that in 1866 Smith ran a series entitled “The Visions—Objections Answered.” In it are found several references to this tract in terms of specific pages and quotations. For example, in the issue of July 31, 1866, he comments thus on the source of a quotation: “This is based on language found in Word to the Little Flock, p. 19, as follows.” Then he gives the text of the passage. Further in this July 31 issue he says: “Those who have the Word to the Little Flock, and can read it for themselves, will notice …” An editor would not speak thus to his subscribers if he had any reason to think that the tract had disappeared or been suppressed.

Undependability of Memory

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Smith is supposed to have been in such darkness regarding early documents that he did not even know that Experience and Views, published in 1851, was not a full reprint of everything written previously by Mrs. White. Again let us refer to his Review article of July 31, 1866, in which (p. 66) he quotes a passage from the tract, A Word to the “Little Flock,” giving page number, and then adds: “This is omitted on page 10 of Experience and Views.”

Whether Smith did, or did not, write a letter to a certain critic


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in 1883 is really beside the point. The files of the Review reveal that he was well acquainted with the tract and its relation to Experience and Views. Smith was an honest man. If he wrote the letter, and he may have, it is a choice exhibit of how the best of men can have the worst of memories at times. Seventeen years can blur the memory of incidents for most people.

Incidentally, Smith's series in the 1866 Reviews was later placed in book form, thus becoming a source of permanent reference in Adventist homes. And the president of the publishing house at that time was James White, who is supposed to have set out, long before, on a campaign to suppress even the mention of the tract!

8. Those Deleted Passages

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We think the evidence permits the conclusion that no effort was made by James White or by other church leaders through the years to suppress early documents containing Mrs. White's writings. It is a fact, however, that some of her early writings were not reprinted in later years. It is also a fact that some of the early writings that have been reprinted through the years have had sentences and even paragraphs deleted from them and other revisions made.

The critics declare that if Mrs. White received inspired messages, those messages, without any deletions, should have been preserved. And consistently, if it is wrong to fail to reprint a certain sentence or paragraph from a message, how much worse to fail to reprint the particular message itself.

Thus the problem before us may be considered in terms of two questions:

a. May a true prophet revise or delete or perhaps even not preserve his God-given messages?

b. And if it is proper for a prophet to do so, were Mrs. White's revisions, deletions, et cetera, in harmony with the kind of changes made by Bible prophets; or did she make changes with an evil intent to deceive and conceal?

What does the Bible reveal concerning the messages of the prophets?


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The Messages of Ancient Prophets

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a. Their inspired messages were often given only orally. Hence there was no preservation of these messages.

b. A message delivered orally was not always presented in identical language to different audiences. This is evident from the brief transcripts that have been preserved. And when more than one inspired scribe has preserved an account of a heaven-born message, the scribes may vary the account, all of them together giving only a small fraction of what was said. Note the variations in the reports on Christ's words as found in the four Gospels. Note again Luke's report of how Paul related a certain experience to three different groups, as recorded in Acts, chapters 9, 22, and 26. Probably Paul stressed different aspects of the narrative to fit different audiences, a most reasonable procedure, we all agree.

c. There is nothing in the Bible to suggest that God expected His prophets to put all their inspired messages finally in written form, which is the only way they could be preserved for the edification of men.

d. God did not see fit even to have preserved the messages of some prophets who had put their words on parchment. See, for example, 1 Chronicles 29:29, and 2 Chronicles 9:29. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians—see 1 Corinthians 5:9—was not preserved. What Bible translators and editors call his first epistle is really his second.

But perhaps the critics would reply that the Bible prophets may not have had the opportunity to preserve their words, or that God Himself did not see fit to preserve them, and that that was different from Mrs. White's taking the initiative in dropping out certain of her writings, or parts of them. But is mankind any less deprived of the messages by the former situation than by the latter? And is not the only purpose in preserving the writings the edifying of those who might later read? Furthermore, inasmuch as God has not seen fit to preserve much of the messages that prophets have given, might He not have enlightened the prophets as to which parts should be set down for permanent record? Might He not have enlightened Mrs. White?


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e. Prophets have added to their messages when writing them a second time. Jeremiah dictated to his secretary, Baruch, a message for king Jehoiakim. But the king threw the scroll in the fire. Then the Lord instructed Jeremiah to take another roll “and write in it all the former words that were in the first roll.” But the record adds that not only were the words of the first roll reproduced, but “there were added besides unto them many like words.” Evidently the changed condition called for an addition to the first message. If God enlightened Jeremiah to make an addition to a written message, might He not enlighten Mrs. White similarly?

Lovers of the Bible find no difficulty with this portrayal of the varied ways in which inspired messages are brought to men, how they are varied, and how they are preserved or not preserved. Why should we? We do not question God or the prophets. How do we know what liberty God gives to prophets? Who are we to say whether a prophet, who proceeds under divine guidance, should add to or subtract from a message he had given at a particular time and place, before he again gives that message? The facts are that we know very little about the mysterious relation that God sustains to His prophets.

This whole matter of revisions, deletions, or additions is certainly of more practical significance in our modern age of printing than it ever could have been before. Today it is a matter of editions of books, and sometimes the books are to reach widely different groups.

The Key Question Answered

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It is evident that Mrs. White had a Scriptural precedent for making changes and deletions. We come, thus, to the key question: Were the changes that she made in her writings consistent with the procedure of Bible prophets, or did she follow an evil course in an endeavor to destroy the evidence that she had formerly believed certain views?

Remember, it is charged that her motive in deletions was specifically to hide a discarded belief in the shut-door and the seven-year theory, and that the change of belief came in the


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summer of 1851. Following are facts, which, we think, provide a clear answer to this key question:

a. The Review and Herald continued to present the shut-door theory beyond the summer of 1851, certainly beyond the time when Mrs. White made the deletions from her first vision, which deletions constitute the key exhibit in the charge. If she and her husband were scheming in unison, why should she suppress her abandoned view ahead of him? In the Extra of the Review and Herald of July 21, 1851, is found her first printing of the first vision with the deletions in question. But that same issue contains a report by James White on a tour he made in New York State. He speaks of meeting, among others, an Elder Jesse Thompson, and adds:

“Bro. Thompson was intimately acquainted with Bro. Miller, and traveled much with him. But when our work for the world closed in 1844, instead of setting himself to work, as some did, to try to re-arouse the churches to the subject of the Advent, he remained silent, until he heard the message of the third angel.”—Page 3.

“When our work for the world closed in 1844.” Upon finding language like this in the years before 1851 critics declare in unison: This is shut-door doctrine, clear and explicit. But James White is supposed to have abandoned, suddenly, all shut-door belief right at this time, and that is given as the reason why certain deletions were made in Mrs. White's earliest visions. Yet the documentary evidence reveals that in the same issue of the Review that prints for the first time her earliest visions with deletions, James White used language that is identical with his shut-door language of earlier years. Hence, taking the very premises of these critics we must conclude that whatever her motive for the deletion, that motive was not a desire to conceal allegedly abandoned views on the shut door.

b. James and Ellen White are pictured as having done such a thorough job of eliminating all traces of evidence that they once held the shut-door view that they did away with certain early publications. But when they brought out Experience and Views in 1851, they left in statements that appear to teach the shut door


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as definitely as any of the deleted passages. It is this fact that caused critics in the 1860's, when Experience and Views had gone out of print, to charge that we feared to reprint it because it contained discarded views. But this little book was reprinted in 1882 as a section of Early Writings, a work still current. More on this point at the close of the chapter.

Surely all this adds up to only one possible conclusion: The deletions made in certain early visions cannot be explained as illustrations of an evil endeavor to hide an abandoned view.

c. It is alleged that a program of suppression was carried on, not simply to hide a formerly held belief in the shut-door, but also to hide a belief in the seven-year theory. But the only two passages in Mrs. White's writings that critics have even attempted to interpret as supporting that theory are passages that have appeared undeleted to the present day. Yet she was supposed to have given up the theory in 1851—though the evidence reveals that she never held it—and to have taken most sweeping steps to do away with the evidence of her former belief.

d. There are other deletions besides those that appear to deal with the shut door. But we are unable to find much reference to them in the charges of critics, except the blanket charge that a prophet should never withdraw anything once uttered. The reason they make no particular case out of most of these other deletions is that they can discover no semblance of sinister motive for the eliminations. In the absence of evidence for such motive the reasonable conclusion is that she must have had an honorable reason for what she did. But this reasonable conclusion is fatal to the charge before us. Once we have proved that there is nothing necessarily wicked in making a deletion, we place upon the critics the heavy responsibility of proving that a certain few deletions were made with evil intent.

The Honorable Motives for Deletions

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The foregoing, it seems to us, provide ample proof that deletions in Mrs. White's early writings ought not, to be explained in terms of the grave charge before us. This frees us to look for


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honorable motives, which are not difficult to find. Consider these facts:

a. Deletions may be made to save expense. The pioneers were pathetically poor. They really had no money with which to print, except as they took it from funds that should have been used to provide food and clothing. It was in those darkest days there came from the press the sixty-four-page pamphlet entitled A Sketch of the Christian Experience and Views of Ellen G. White, a name we shorten to Experience and Views. The printing of this was the first endeavor to gather into one publication a real collection of Mrs. White's earliest writings. And it is the text of some of her visions as given in this pamphlet that has drawn most of the fire from critics regarding deletions.

The range and the purpose of this pamphlet is clearly stated by Mrs. White in the opening paragraph. She says:

“By the request of dear friends I have consented to give a brief sketch of my experience and views, with the hope that it will cheer and strengthen the humble, trusting children of the Lord.”—Page 3.

Note that phrase: “a brief sketch of my experience and views.” While any publisher would describe this sixty-four-page pamphlet as the first edition, or more accurately, the first collection, of her writings, no publisher, indeed no one who allows an author's words to have their ordinary meaning, would conclude that this first edition contained all that the author had written up to that time. A “brief sketch” is something far short of a complete presentation of an author's writings.

The First Cry of Suppression

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This may seem like stressing the obvious, but the facts are that this pamphlet, when published, soon became the occasion of questioning by some of the Sabbathkeeping group. They were in distress because “some visions were not included” in this pamphlet. They were in such distress that they “groaned and wept” and publicly spoke of “their losing confidence in the work.” Now, let Mrs. White continue the narrative:


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“My husband handed the little pamphlet to Elder Hart, and requested him to read what was printed on the title page. ‘A SKETCH of the Christian Experience and Views of Mrs. E. G. White,’ he read.

“For a moment there was silence, and then my husband explained that we had been very short of means, and were able to print at first only a small pamphlet, and he promised the brethren that when sufficient means was raised, the visions should be published more fully in book form.”—Letter 225, 1906.

This explanation, coupled with the realization that the word “sketch” indicates a less than complete presentation, allayed the fears of the brethren and resulted in a request for forgiveness for their criticisms and for their fears that “you were concealing from us some of the light we ought to have.”

Deletions to Avoid Repetition

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b. The longer an author writes on related themes the more likely he is to repeat certain ideas. This is inevitable. That Mrs. White did so is no strange thing.

And how would a prophet or anyone else remove repetitions? By deletions! Now listen to Mrs. White's own explanation for her earliest deletions in the text of a vision, her first vision. We quote her words prefacing this vision as it appeared in the Review and Herald Extra, July 21, 1851:

“Here I will give the view that was first published in 1846. In this view I saw only a very few of the events of the future. More recent views have been more full. I shall therefore leave out a portion and prevent repetition.”

It was the very fact that the substance of all the teachings in deleted passages, or in visions not reprinted, is found in some variant form in current works that largely explains why no complete text of her earliest writings has been available through the years. Critics have insisted that we dare not publish them, that such publication would wreck the faith of younger ministers and shake the church to pieces. But these extravagant claims are no longer heard. All the issues of Present Truth, and A Word to the “Little Flock,” that were supposed to have been suppressed, have been reproduced in facsimile, plus other early works. Thousands of copies have been sold to ministers and laity. And nothing explosive


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has happened! Why should it? What the church read in these reproduced writings of Mrs. White was simply a variant of what they had been reading for long years in her current books!

Reasoning to Opposite Conclusions

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To this key fact we shall let the critics themselves testify. Canright, in an extended work against Mrs. White, comes to the climax of his quotations from her that are supposed to prove that she taught the shut-door doctrine of no more mercy for sinners, and declares:

“Hear her once more on this subject. After Jesus left the Holy Place, she says: ‘I did not see one ray of light pass from Jesus to the careless multitude after he arose, and they were left in perfect darkness…. Satan appeared to be by the throne trying to carry on the work of God. I saw them look up to the throne and pray, “Father, give us thy spirit;” then Satan would breathe upon them an unholy influence.’ ‘Early Writings,’ pp. 55, 56; ed. 1907.

“Her teaching here is as clear as day—not one ray of light comes to sinners since 1844, but all are left to the devil! What is the use of Adventists denying that she taught this doctrine? She certainly did teach it.” (Deletion after “darkness,” by Canright.)

Canright is quoting from the 1907 edition of Early Writings, which is the current one! * In the next chapter of his book he discusses, under the title, Damaging Writings Suppressed,” certain passages that have been deleted from Mrs. White's earliest writings and declares that these deletions were made to hide the doctrine of the shut door that she allegedly abandoned in 1851. Now his climactic proof “that she taught this doctrine,” is, as we have noted, the quotation from the 1907 Early Writings. But this was not deleted; instead, it steadily receives wider and wider circulation through the promotion efforts of the Seventh-day Adventist publishing houses that sell Early Writings!

By the singular logic of this critic, so confidently relied upon by those who have followed him, we may reason ourselves into one or the other of two opposite conclusions by taking one or the other of two emphatic declarations made by him:


* The text of Early Writings has remained unchanged since it was first published in 1882. The difference in the editions is chiefly in the paging.


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1. We may start with his statement that Mrs. White is teaching the shut door in this quotation from the currently available Early Writings, and thus reach the conclusion that she never abandoned that doctrine and hence never suppressed the fact that she taught it.

2. Or we may start with his statement that she did abandon the shut-door doctrine in 1851, methodically suppressing every former reference to it—even to doing away with A Word to the “Little Flock” and Present Truth—and thus reach the conclusion that her words in Early Writings obviously cannot teach the shut-door doctrine.

To this dilemma and absurdity do we come when we pursue the suppression charge to its logical, or rather illogical, end.

NOTE: Those who wish to make a detailed study of all the deletions in Mrs. White's earliest writings are referred to Appendix J, p. 619. See also Appendix F, p. 586, for Mrs. White's own explanation of certain deletions.

 

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