In placing certain restrictions on diet Mrs. White goes counter to the New Testament, which informs us we are not “subject to ordinances” and that “the kingdom of God is not meat and drink.” The Jerusalem Council proves that the ancient ceremonial laws are abolished. See Acts 15:28, 29.
This indictment collapses when the true basis for Mrs. White's teachings is set forth. Through the centuries there have been those who placed prohibitions on certain foods and drinks for ceremonial reasons. But Mrs. White does not. Nor is any attempt made to prove that she does. The charge simply assumes she does. There is not one line in her writings that could support the contention that she believed that merely refraining from some article of diet, or merely carrying out a certain regimen of living, would in itself have any saving virtue or any ceremonial significance.
There is nothing mysterious, occult, or ceremonial about her health teachings. No one is more emphatic than she that “the kingdom of God is not meat and drink.” Rom. 14:17. But she often uses the New Testament text: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Cor. 10:31. There is no conflict between these texts. They are not contradictory, they are complementary.
Our physical habits, including our eating habits, have a relation to religion. Man is a complex being composed of body, soul, and spirit. Whatever affects one part of man affects, at least indirectly, the other parts. The medical world has recently come to realize this and gives particular attention to it in terms of psychosomatic medicine. This term simply means soul-body medicine. The medical
world speaks of the interaction of the mind and the body of man, and sometimes of the interaction of body, mind, and spirit. Thus Mrs. White is building on an obviously rational foundation when she erects her health teachings, as she certainly does, on the premise that there is a definite interaction between the different parts of man.
Even Mrs. White's critics will surely agree to this premise. They know that if evil ideas are brought to the mind through lewd conversation or pictures, for example, there may be calamitous effects upon the body in lustful excesses that break down the physical constitution. Here the scripture is fulfilled that evil communications corrupt good manners. The evil began with the mind, but it did not end there. The body, too, was affected. The reverse is also true, that words of cheer and happiness and hope spoken into the ears of an individual can mean new health to his body. Here applies the scripture that a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.
The critics will also agree to the premise when the action begins with the body and the reaction affects mind and spirit. They agree that liquor drinking is bad. They subscribe to the rather obvious truth that when liquor goes into a man's stomach it reflexly affects his mind and benumbs his spiritual faculties. Here apply the warnings of Scripture against strong drink. To the extent that a person's mental and spiritual faculties are benumbed, to that extent he is unable to understand the will of God or to give obedience to it. And it is because the baleful effects of liquor are in direct ratio to the amount consumed that temperance societies, which at first were only moderation societies, now quite rigidly insist on total abstinence.
Mrs. White's teachings on healthful living simply carry the logic of the premise to its ultimate conclusion. She declared that there are habits and practices other than liquor drinking that adversely affect the body and in turn affect mind and spirit. For example, she went on to indict tobacco, And we think that at
least some of her critics will follow her in this. Nor will they be impressed by the question so confidently asked by the smoker: Where is the text in the Bible that prohibits the use of tobacco? Further, the critics will certainly subscribe to Mrs. White's teaching that overwork not only affects the body adversely but may also dull the mind and spirit to the point where spiritual truths cannot be clearly discerned.
Likewise we believe they will agree with her declaration that bad air, lack of sleep, and lack of proper exercise by sedentary workers have a deleterious effect on the body, and at least indirectly on the mind and spirit. What minister but has grieved at seeing his congregation drowsing when they should have been listening to spiritual truths? And the trouble need not be ministerial lack of fire; it may simply be lack of fresh air. In other words, what we take into our lungs, as well as into our stomachs, can have vast effects on mind and spirit.
We think that the critics will go a step further in agreement with Mrs. White's teachings on health. She says much about the value of abstemiousness and the evils of gluttony. Nothing is more prominent in her health views. She makes plain that the food eaten may be wholesome, but if eaten to excess will produce, first, a bad effect on the body, and in turn a clouding of mental and spiritual faculties. What minister is there but has noticed with dismay that at an afternoon service there may be such drowsiness that some worshipers receive little if any spiritual good from the service? And is it not generally agreed in the ministerial fraternity that the trouble may lie, not in the quality of the spiritual food being offered by the minister, but in the quantity of literal food that has been eaten by the worshipers?
We are also sure that the critics will heartily subscribe to another important feature of Mrs. White's teaching—the importance of cleanliness and the health-giving value of frequent bathing. Seventh-day Adventists did not create the saying “Cleanliness is next to godliness,” but we subscribe to it. We also find ourselves in agreement with what modern medicine has to say about the value, to the body, of water, used both internally and
externally. And when the body is in good condition, the mind and spirit can more easily apprehend important truths.
To sum up: Critics believe as firmly as does Mrs. White that our physical habits are interlocked with our spiritual life. They will agree that constant liquor drinking may cause a man to lose heaven, even though they admit that abstinence from drink gives him no guarantee of final residence there. They will agree that the man who knows the value of soap and water is presumptuous in praying to be saved from disease unless he comes to God literally with clean hands, even though they admit that bodily cleanliness does not assure such salvation. Nor will the critics hesitate to agree, in the light of modern medical findings on overweight, that a man may dig his grave with his teeth, even though they insist that he can never hope to eat his way into heaven by abstemiousness. And, consistently, they will also need to agree that a man who knows of the deleterious effects of overeating would be presumptuous in following up an enormous meal with a prayer to God for long life.
In short, the critics really believe that the kingdom of God does have a certain relation to “meat and drink” and “washings,” and that a man's eternal life, to say nothing of his present life, may be vitally affected by his physical habits, including dietary habits. They are sure that obedience to physical laws will help us to “keep under” the body (1 Cor. 9:27), and thus aid us on the heavenward journey, even though such obedience cannot, in itself, guarantee heaven to us. And in so believing they are not one whit the less believers in the prime truth that we are saved by grace and not by works.
Even so with Mrs. White. She set forth the principles of healthful living as being vital to healthy bodies, and in turn to healthy minds and spirits. She declared that some might lose heaven who knowingly and willfully violated these principles. At
the same time she rebuked those who took the other extreme of viewing healthful living, particularly diet reform, as a form of penance whereby a man may ensure entrance to heaven. To a family that took this extreme, she wrote:
“I saw that you had mistaken notions about afflicting your bodies, depriving yourselves of nourishing food. These things led some of the church to think that God is surely with you, or you would not deny self, and sacrifice thus. But I saw that none of these things will make you more holy. The heathen do all this, but receive no reward for it. A broken and contrite spirit before God is in his sight of great price. I saw that your views concerning these things are erroneous.”—Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 205.
To others, who made light of the whole subject of health reform, she wrote:
“Some have sneered at this work of reform, and have said it was all unnecessary; that it was an excitement to divert minds from present truth. They have said that matters were being carried to extremes. Such do not know what they are talking about. While men and women professing godliness are diseased from the crown of their head to the soles of their feet, while their physical, mental, and moral energies are enfeebled through gratification of depraved appetite and excessive labor, how can they weigh the evidences of truth, and comprehend the requirements of God? If their moral and intellectual faculties are beclouded, they cannot appreciate the value of the atonement or the exalted character of the work of God, nor delight in the study of his word. How can a nervous dyspeptic be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh him a reason of the hope that is in him, with meekness and fear? How soon would such a one become confused and agitated, and by his diseased imagination be led to view matters in altogether a wrong light, and by a lack of that meekness and calmness which characterized the life of Christ, be caused to dishonor his profession while contending with unreasonable men? Viewing matters from a high religious stand-point, we must be thorough reformers in order to be Christ-like.”—Ibid., pp. 487, 488.
In the following words Mrs. White sets forth the principle underlying the whole doctrine of health reform that she preached:
“Let it ever be kept before the mind that the great object of hygienic reform is to secure the highest possible development of mind and soul and body. All the laws of nature—which are the laws of God—are designed for our good. Obedience to them will promote our happiness in this life, and will aid us in a preparation for the life to come.”—Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, p. 120. See also Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 23.
Flesh food was only one of a number of foods that Mrs. White said are not ideal foods. Against some she was more pronounced than against others. She gave the following reasons for discarding certain foods and drinks:
1. Simply unwholesome, and thus place an unnecessary strain on the digestive system.
2. Possible or probable carriers of disease.
3. Unduly stimulating, or irritating, to the body.
4. Their use necessitates taking the lives of God's creatures.
These are not mystical or ceremonial reasons, and certainly not moral reasons in the sense in which the word “moral” is usually understood. Rather they are physical and humanitarian reasons. They acquire a moral quality because of two facts: (1) The laws of nature are the laws of God, and (2) our physical habits react upon our mental and spiritual faculties and upon our physical strength and life span. We are to dedicate all our strength—physical, mental, and spiritual—to God, and thus to eschew any habit or practice that would impair or cut short our service for God. Many Christian churches think of liquor drinking as having a moral aspect, sometimes even to the extent of disfellowshiping a drinker. But the act of drinking is a physical act. It acquires its moral quality because of the reflex effect upon the mental and spiritual faculties and upon bodily efficiency and life expectancy that results from the entrance of the liquor into the body. Many would also agree that the same may be said of tobacco.
On a logical extension of such reasoning rests Mrs. White's declaration that all our physical habits and practices have a moral quality. Here the command of Paul takes on peculiar significance: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Cor. 10:31.
Though Mrs. White set forth the ideal diet program for the Christian, she presented it with repeated appeals to avoid extremes, to be sure that in discarding certain foods and drinks the diet is
not impoverished. Nothing could more sharply distinguish her from the fanatic than this fact that she did not present these dietary teachings in a sweepingly unqualified way, with no notice taken of the specific needs of the body, the dietary limitations of different countries, the degree of knowledge of food preparation possessed by different people, and the speed with which some can adapt themselves to a changed diet. For example, she wrote:
“We do not mark out any precise line to be followed in diet; but we do say that in countries where there are fruits, grains, and nuts in abundance, flesh food is not the right food for God's people.”—Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 159.
Then she adds almost immediately: “We are not to make the use of flesh food a test of fellowship.”
The substance of her whole teaching regarding the subject of diet might be summed up thus: We should eat the most nutritious, most wholesome food available, seeking ever to walk in all the light revealed, that in our physical life we may ever more fully come into harmony with the divine laws that should govern us physically, even as we seek, by God's enabling grace, to come ever more fully into harmony with the divine laws that should govern us spiritually. The true Christian never loses sight of the fact that physical law and moral law are alike expressions of the mind and the will of God. He “giveth to all life, and breath, and all things,” for “in him we live, and move, and have our being.”
Acts 15:28, 29 is quoted to support the claim that all restrictions on meat and drink have been done away in the Christian Era, because the ceremonial requirements of Judaism have been done away. We have already shown that there is nothing ceremonial in the dietary teachings of Mrs. White. We wish, now, to show that the very text quoted to prove that in the Christian Era there are no restrictions on foods really proves the opposite. The Jerusalem Council deliberated on the question of ceremonial requirements and prohibitions and decided that strictly ceremonial features of the Old Testament Era were no longer binding. The question before them was not whether the Gentiles should be
allowed to eat meat. That was allowed by Moses, who was “read in the synagogues every sabbath day.” Hence the council ruling did not discuss it, but the council, so far from saying that what the Gentiles ate had no relation to right living, specifically set up certain restrictions: “That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which,” added the council, “if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.”
No Christian reasons that if a man keeps himself from fornication he has fulfilled all the moral requirements of Christianity. Then why should anyone reason that the limited dietary restrictions set up by the council—and they were restrictions—represent all that might be listed? Mrs. White simply provides reasons why certain further restrictions should be placed upon the diet.
Christ ate meat. Mrs. White, in condemning meat, condemns Him.
This charge is virtually answered by what has already been presented. Christ ate the best food that was available. That, we have no reason to doubt. And does Mrs. White's advocacy of a fleshless diet set any higher standard than this? The answer is No. Of course it might be added that we know next to nothing about His diet. The record does not reveal whether He specially selected one kind of food in preference to another. We know, for example, that in a place where there was no food except a few loaves and fishes, He used this food for the multitude. There is nothing in Mrs. White's writings that would condemn this. If the record teaches us anything, it teaches us that He simply used the best food obtainable with which to feed the hungry. Mrs. White wrote of her own experience: “When I could not obtain the food I needed, I have sometimes eaten a little meat.”—Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, p. 118. (See also Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 394.)
But perhaps someone may say, regarding Christ's having fed fish to the people: “If meat eating is so far from the ideal food, so bad for the body, Christ would certainly have known this and
would have worked a miracle, if necessary, to provide better food.”
This statement owes its impressiveness to its alleged insight into just what Christ would have done under certain conditions. Mrs. White's health teachings covered much more than abstinence from meat eating. She had much to say about various features of diet and about bathing, exercise, sleep, fresh air, to mention only part of the teachings. She also said much about the danger of disease from different kinds of foods. Most people will agree that this teaching is valid and that the following of it means better health for people, less disease. They also will agree that Christ knew the value of these teachings, for He knew all things. But can anyone show that Christ spent time lecturing, for example, on disease prevention, the danger of germs, the value of frequent bathing? No. Then why should we be asked to explain why He did not say or do something about meat in relation to health?
The simple facts are that Christ, as He hastened about from city to city, dealt only with the most primary spiritual problems confronting man. And as regards their physical maladies, He immediately healed them, thus providing proof of His divine claims. Spiritual work must be done for men's hearts before they are in any mood to understand that their bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost and that they should glorify God in their bodies. The revelation of the ways of God toward man is progressive. The black paganism that confronted the apostles called for them to focus, likewise, on the most primary spiritual values in all their preaching.
“On the question of meat eating, Mrs. White uses language that is positively against God's Word.” For example: “In Testimonies, Vol. 1, p. 548, she calls meat eating ‘a suggestion of Satan.’”
The critic presents a long list of statements in the Bible that set forth God's permission to use flesh foods, and illustrations of their being used. The reader is supposed to conclude that she flies in the face of Scripture.
Let us first present, in its context, the phrase quoted from Mrs. White:
“Some think that they cannot reform, that health would be sacrificed should they attempt to leave the use of tea, tobacco, and flesh-meats. This is the suggestion of Satan. It is these hurtful stimulants that are surely undermining the constitution and preparing the system for acute diseases, by impairing Nature's fine machinery, and battering down her fortifications erected against disease and premature decay.”—Testimonies, vol. 1, pp. 548, 549.
Mrs. White does not call “meat eating ‘a suggestion of Satan.’” She speaks, instead, of what some “think” and of the source of their thought. They “think that they cannot reform.” Is it not such thinking as this that keeps multitudes from making spiritual progress on innumerable matters? And would not any minister tell a man who said that he could not “reform” that such thinking was “a suggestion of Satan” and “positively against God's Word”?
The question of whether, under some conditions, meat might be the best food available is not even under discussion here.
Christians quite uniformly believe that it may be wholly consistent with the objective of progress in the path toward the ideal, even to urge “reform” in some practices that the holy prophets permitted and sanctioned by a specific code. Moses permitted the Jews a “bill of divorcement.” But did Christ speak approvingly of this? No. He reminded His hearers that “in the beginning it was not so.” Not only did Moses permit slavery; he gave specific instruction as to how the slaves should be marked and how long they might be kept in servitude. Within the memory of some still living in America that Scriptural fact has been employed by Christian ministers, to say nothing of multitudes of laymen, to prove that those who wished to abolish slavery were, in the words of the charge before us, using “language that is positively against God's Word.” And what was the best answer to that reasoning? “In the beginning it was not so.”
Those who call men back to Eden are not speaking “against God's Word.” The story of Eden is the foundation of God's Word; the restoration of Eden, the goal of the plan of salvation. Nothing more definitely distinguishes Mrs. White in her writings than her presentations of the beauty and perfection of Eden as a stimulus to higher and holier living in word and in deed. And in the particular
matter before us, that of diet, nothing more clearly distinguishes Mrs. White in her presentation of the Edenic ideal of a fleshless diet than her warnings against extremes, her reminders that circumstance of country and a person's condition may alter cases, and her appeals to judicious endeavor in leading men along the path toward Eden.
Mrs. White fulfilled Paul's prediction concerning some who “in the latter times” would “depart from the faith,” “forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received.” (See 1 Tim. 4:1, 3.) See also her letter to a “Brother and Sister V.”
The one authentic passage from Mrs. White that is quoted to give plausibility to the charge of “forbidding to marry” is this:
“In this age of the world, as the scenes of earth's history are soon to close, and we are about to enter upon the time of trouble such as never was, the fewer the marriages contracted, the better for all, both men and women.”—Ibid., vol. 5, p. 366.
The context of this passage is an appeal to a young woman who was about to contract a marriage with an unbeliever. The quoted statement is followed immediately with the lines:
“Above all, when Satan is working with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, let Christians beware of connecting themselves with unbelievers.”
Let us grant that this statement regarding “the fewer the marriages” is a difficult one; but it is no more difficult than certain passages in the Bible that seem to go contrary to the general tenor of Scripture. For example, take these words of Paul: “But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none.” 1 Cor. 7:29. Taken alone, what a perplexing text that is, much more perplexing than what Mrs. White has said. Nor is this the only statement that Paul made regarding marriage that is “hard to be understood.”
But lovers of the Bible insist that Paul's words should be viewed in the larger context of his other statements. He declared that marriage is honorable, and gave counsel on the proper relation
of husbands and wives, parents and children. So did Mrs. White. She wrote at length regarding the duties of parents to children and children to parents. She also set forth principles that should govern the youth in the selecting of a life companion.
Other than the one passage from Mrs. White, critics do not cite any statements in our church paper, or any other representative literature published by Seventh-day Adventists, “forbidding” or even discouraging marriage. Their failure to do so is significant!
Evidently, then, Adventists are not the ones whom Paul foresaw when he predicted that some would arise “forbidding to marry.” But if Adventists are not the ones whom Paul forecast as “forbidding to marry,” they can hardly be the ones he forecast as “commanding to abstain from meats.” In his prophecy those who do the first seem evidently to be the ones who do the second!
There is general agreement among Bible commentators that Paul's prediction refers, first of all, to the Gnostic heresy, which even in his day was beginning to trouble the church. Listen to the words of a scholarly commentary concerning Gnostic teaching:
“Marriage and begetting children were wrong, because the condition of marriage was looked upon as an institution of the Demiurge; * and because, in this way, souls pure and innocent in a former state were imprisoned in impure bodies, and, by union with corrupt matter, became sinful and wretched…. Manichaeus held that wine sprang from the blood and gall of the devil. Perhaps the food here designated is only meat (comp. Rom. xiv. 2, 21). The command probably arose from the Gnostic fancy, that the materials which nourished the body were not the work of the Most High God, but of the Demiurgus.”—Lange's Bible Commentary, Notes on 1 Tim. 4:3.
There is also quite general unanimity among commentators that Paul's prediction finds its larger fulfillment in the Papacy.
We need not tarry to consider what Mrs. White is supposed to have said in a letter to a “Brother and Sister V,” for the office of the E. G. White Publications has no record of any such letter.
* Demiurge: “in some Gnostic systems, an inferior, not absolutely intelligent, deity, the creator of the world, identified by some with the creator God of the Old Testament, and distinguished from the supreme God.”—Webster's Dictionary.
Indeed, the key number given by the critic is not the correct one for letters from Mrs. White.
“Every person who knows anything about the Bible, must know that pork eating is forbidden, and yet, Mrs. White as the self-appointed mouthpiece for God, said that pork was ‘nourishing, strengthening food,’ and that those who taught that it was wrong to eat swine's flesh were making ‘a time of trouble for themselves.’
“This she claims was shown her in vision.” (See Testimonies, vol. 1, pp. 206, 207.)
Later she condemned the eating of swine's flesh. (See Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 96.)
What did Mrs. White really say on this matter of pork? The facts are these: In 1859 she wrote a letter to a family who are identified only as “Dear Bro. and Sister A.” The letter is printed in Testimonies, volume 1, under the title “Errors in Diet.” Note the plural, “Errors.” What these various errors may have been we can only infer from the letter that Mrs. White wrote to them. She says:
“I saw that you had mistaken notions about afflicting your bodies, depriving yourselves of nourishing food. These things lead some of the church to think that God is surely with you, or you would not deny self, and sacrifice thus.”—Page 205. Then she adds, “Some have gone to extremes in regard to diet.”
She goes on: “I was referred back to our experience in Rochester, N. Y. I saw that when we lived there we did not eat nourishing food as we should, and disease nearly carried us to the grave.” She explains that the reason was that they were poor and trying to save money to promote the work of God. But, she adds, “I saw that God does not require any one to take a course of such rigid economy as to weaken or injure the temple of God.” This is followed by her discussion of the general principle that those who labor with their hands and those who labor in word and doctrine “should eat of nourishing, strengthening food to build up their strength.”
It is clearly evident from this first half of her extended letter that Mrs. White was correcting these people in regard to (1) wrong ideas on economy, the kind of economy that would actually give
them insufficient diet; and (2) wrong ideas about “afflicting” their bodies with a view to acquiring added holiness in the eyes of others.
Then, in a new paragraph, she declares:
“I saw that your views concerning swine's flesh would prove no injury if you have them to yourselves; but in your judgment and opinion you have made this question a test, and your actions have plainly shown your faith in this matter. If God requires his people to abstain from swine's flesh, he will convict them on the matter. He is just as willing to show his honest children their duty, as to show their duty to individuals upon whom he has not laid the burden of his work. If it is the duty of the church to abstain from swine's flesh, God will discover it to more than two or three. He will teach his church their duty.”—Ibid., pp. 206, 207.
There is nothing in Mrs. White's letter to suggest that this family's “views concerning swine's flesh” were prompted by a sense of economy. There was nothing particularly expensive about swine's flesh compared with other flesh or with other foods. In the first half of her letter Mrs. White rebukes them for some “mistaken notions about afflicting your bodies, depriving yourselves of nourishing food.” If she was trying to tell these people that swine's flesh is “nourishing, strengthening food,” why would she say, “I saw that your views concerning swine's flesh would prove no injury if you have them to yourselves”?
Patently, then, whatever counsel Mrs. White had for them concerning their views on swine's flesh, it was not with regard to any possible nourishing, strengthening quality it might possess, but on other grounds. These other grounds are clearly set forth in the quotation already given. It is evident that this family had made the question of swine's flesh “a test,” and an occasion for assuming a holier-than-thou attitude. It has been the sad experience throughout all the history of Christianity that eminently worthwhile and even necessary reforms have sometimes had to be rebuked, for the moment, by high-minded men, because those who sought to bring in the reform used imprudent haste and methods, and even worse, unwarranted reasons. There is nothing in Mrs. White's statement that prevents the reader from believing in the possible importance of reform on the matter of swine's flesh. Her
only rebuke was to a certain family that she felt was approaching the matter in the wrong way.
Of course those who bring this particular charge—and those who have copied it—remind us that the Bible plainly forbids pork eating and declare that if Mrs. White were truly a prophet of God she would have known this and spoken out plainly. But she did not. Hence, they argue, she is not a true prophet.
But must a Prophet have all light and all knowledge on all questions of significance to the church at the very outset of the discussion of them? That question has been raised in earlier chapters, and illustrations provided to show that even to prophets God does not always give all the light at once. In view of this we hardly think that the fair-minded reader will find any grounds for indicting Mrs. White's claim to the prophetic gift because at the very outset she did not see that swine's flesh should not be eaten. Prophets are to be held to account, not for what they admit they do not know, but for what they claim God has revealed to them.
Mrs. White at first condemned the use of butter and eggs, but later she permitted their use.
The reasoning is this: If Mrs. White made a statement at one time, she is most surely contradicting herself, and thus proving herself a false prophet, if for any reason, she modifies that statement at a future time. With this underlying premise in the reasoning thus clearly stated, the reader is put on his guard concerning the validity of the charge before us.
We give now the longest list that we have found in any critic's writings of alleged contradictory statements on the matter of butter and eggs. It is in parallel form and representative. We give it for two reasons: (1) that no one may be able to say that we did not let the full force of the argument present itself; (2) because we believe that in the very passages quoted in allegedly damaging parallel fashion is to be found at least the key to a harmonization of the statements. Herewith is the list: *
* The extracts are quoted exactly from the original rather than from the critic's sometimes inaccurate transcription.
|“BUTTER AND EGGS CLASSED
WITH MEAT AND FORBIDDEN”
|“BUTTER AND EGGS SHOULD
NOT BE CLASSED WITH MEAT
AND SHOULD BE EATEN”
|  Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 21:
“We bear positive testimony against
tobacco, spirituous liquors, snuff, tea,
coffee, flesh-meats, butter, spices, rich
cakes, mince pies, a large amount of
salt, and all exciting substances used
as articles of food.”
 Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 367:
“Because we from principle discard
the use of meat, butter, mince
pies, spices, lard, and that which
irritates the stomach and destroys
 Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 485:
“One family in particular have
needed all the benefits they could receive
from the reform in diet; yet
these very ones have been completely
backslidden. Meat and butter have
been used by them quite freely.”
 Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 487:
“No butter or flesh-meats of any
kind come on my table.”
 Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 136:
“Children are allowed to eat fleshmeats,
spices, butter, cheese, pork,
rich pastry, and condiments generally….
These things do their work of
deranging the stomach, exciting the
nerves to unnatural action, and enfeebling
 Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 362:
“You place upon your tables butter,
eggs, and meat, and your children
partake of them. They are fed with
the very things that will excite their
animal passions, and then you come
to meeting and ask God to bless and
save your children. How high do your
|  Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 135:
“Milk, eggs, and butter should not
be classed with flesh-meat…. Let
the diet reform be progressive.”
 Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 162:
“Some, in abstaining from milk,
eggs, and butter, have failed to supply
the system with proper nourishment,
and as a consequence have become
weak and unable to work.”
 Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 163:
“I am instructed to tell them to eat
that food which is most nourishing.
I can not say to them: ‘You must
not eat eggs, or milk, or cream—you
must use no butter in the preparation
 Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 162:
“We should not consider it a violation
of principle to use eggs from
hens that are well cared for and suitably
fed. Eggs contain properties that
are remedial agencies in counteracting
These ten quoted passages are numbered for convenience in referring to them in the comments that will follow.
As already stated and illustrated, Mrs. White placed her dietary teachings primarily on a physiological basis. Though the physical laws that govern our being are divine and unchanging, the carrying out of those laws may call for changes or variations, at times, in our diet or in other of our practices. This may be due to various reasons, some of which we have touched upon already. Let us briefly enumerate the main reasons.
1. Difference in climate or country, with inevitable differences in available food supply. A certain combination of foods may be most ideal but may not be obtainable at certain seasons or in certain countries.
2. Difference in time. Foods that at one time might be banned as carriers of disease might at a later time and with different sanitary conditions be considered relatively unobjectionable.
3. Differences in the economic or educational status of people. Certain people may have neither the knowledge of dietary principles to enable them to cook without the use of certain ingredients nor the means to provide the most ideal foods. There was a time in America, for example, when fresh fruits, nuts, et cetera, were scarce—and hence costly—in some parts of the country, particularly, out of season.
4. Difference in people, as to age, temperament, physical state, and the like.
The strength of the charge that Mrs. White reversed herself on her dietary teachings resides in a refusal to take account of the various differences here listed. In judging Mrs. White, critics will not tolerate for a moment any application of the principle that circumstances alter cases, though they are ready to apply that adage to every other situation in life, including even some unusual situations in the Bible. Indeed, they are aware that Christ Himself provided an excellent illustration of the principle that circumstances alter cases. Said He to the caviling Pharisees:
“Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; how he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?” Matt. 12:3, 4.
Moses, the great prophet of God, had borne positive testimony that the shewbread should be eaten only by the priests. But Christ, who gave to all the prophets the words they should speak, informs the Pharisees of an exception to this positive testimony. By clear implication Christ indicates that David was blameless.
We cite this instance from Holy Writ, not to draw an exact parallel to anything that Mrs. White has written, but simply to illustrate the point that circumstances do alter cases, even to altering the application of a testimony given by a prophet of God.
Let us look at quotations Numbers 1 to 6, under the heading, “Butter and Eggs Classed With Meat and Forbidden.” The fact that butter and eggs are mentioned in the same list with meat does not necessitate the conclusion that Mrs. White considered them of equally unwholesome quality, equally bad as possible carriers of disease, or even comparable from a humanitarian standpoint. For example, to secure meat there must be a slaughterhouse, but to secure butter and eggs there need only be a dairy and a hennery. The whole argument the critic is trying to build here is based on the fallacy that simply because different foods are listed together as not the best for human consumption, therefore the person listing them must have considered them all of equal badness, and that furthermore the badness is of an intrinsic quality, so that under no condition could there possibly be any change in the nature of any of the items. Hence, if once bad, always bad. But there is nothing in Mrs. White's writings that permits such assumptions.
Mrs. White did speak, at the outset, against butter, and in emphatic terms. In fact, she made a number of statements about dairy products, in general, being questionable, And well she might,
There was no pasteurized milk, and thus no pasteurized butter. With a few possible exceptions, there was no government dairy inspection to determine health of animals or cleanliness of premises or sanitary procedures in handling the dairy products. Read this description of dairy cows written about the time Mrs. White began to make her statements on foods:
“The cows of the Sixteenth Street distillery stables were found, on examination by the Health Officer of New York, in horrible conditions: their ears were full of sores, their eyes ran rheum, their tongues were thickened and the edges raw, their nostrils were glanderous, their udders had externally large corroding ulcers, and inside the glands were stopped by the garget; while on their bodies, in various places, were large sores of different sizes—all betokening highly inflammatory conditions. So affected were the strength and health of some of the animals, that when lying down they had to be lifted up, and when up, had to be held up by straps passing under the body just behind the fore legs. Yet their milk, on subjection to chemical analysis, showed no morbid or poisonous constituents, and differed only in a slight degree from the milk of healthy cows. So the milk was declared good, and the stables were ‘white-washed.’ But who among thoughtful people believes the milk to be healthy? Chemistry is not omnipotent. What the laboratory fails to find, the stomach of a child can find; and so swill milk, used as a beverage or as food by children, has its poison distilled into their blood till health is lost.”—J. C. Jackson, M.D., quoted in How to Live, no. 1, pp. 21, 22.* (Italics his.)
Needless to say, the products of such a dairy would not be allowed on the market today. In fact, such cows would not be allowed in a dairy in any highly civilized land. What the chemists' eye could not discover in 1865, when this description was written, would be easily discoverable today.
Despite the danger of infected milk, Mrs. White did not go the whole way and condemn milk altogether and in all instances, as some at that time did. She uttered cautions regarding it, and warned that it should be boiled. But against butter she spoke out emphatically. Obviously, butter could not be boiled. And the length of time between production and consumption only increased
* This work was published in 1865. The exact date of Dr. Jackson's statement, quoted therein, we do not know. Evidently it was not long before, because his principal writing was being done in the 1860's. Thus we may conclude that the doctor is describing certain dairy conditions of the 1860's, the very time when Mrs, White was writing on dairy products.
the health hazard. There was little refrigeration and no pasteurization when Mrs. White first wrote regarding dairy products.
She also offered certain strictures on butter along with her general indictment of a large use of fats and greasy foods. She declared that these were not the most wholesome.
In her earliest writings on health she did not make much mention of eggs. She declared that they had a certain stimulating quality and that in certain instances, at least, their use by children should be avoided. Lay alongside quotation Number 6 another statement by Mrs. White written about the same time. Mrs. White writes to a “Dear Bro. and Sister E” regarding the moral habits of their children. Among other things, she says in her long letter to them:
“You cannot arouse the moral sensibilities of your children while you are not careful in the selection of their food. The tables that parents usually prepare for their children are a snare to them. Their diet is not simple, and is not prepared in a healthful manner. The food is frequently rich and fever-producing, having a tendency to irritate and excite the tender coats of the stomach. The animal propensities are strengthened and bear sway, while the moral and intellectual powers are weakened, and become servants to the baser passions. You should study to prepare a simple yet nutritious diet. Flesh-meats and rich cakes and pies prepared with spices of any kind, are not the most healthful and nourishing diet. Eggs should not be placed upon your table. They are an injury to your children. Fruits and grains, prepared in the most simple form, are the most healthful, and will impart the greatest amount of nourishment to the body, and, at the same time, not impair the intellect.”—Testimonies, vol, 2, p. 400.
We are to conclude from her statement that there is a certain relationship between a feverish, unhealthy condition of the digestive system and a stimulation of the sex organs.
Place beside this the fact that Mrs. White wrote much about the training of children and of taking every precaution possible, not only as to diet, but as to environment, education, and habits of life, to strengthen every noble aspiration and to build barriers against immorality. We are not here required to explore the broad area of the possible relation between diet and sex. We refer to the
matter only to explain why Mrs. White makes certain references that she does, to eggs, for example, in relation to the diet of children.
Most of the amazing discoveries as to the significance of diet in relation to all the bodily functions, and to health in general, have been made since Mrs. White wrote all these words.
Today medical men are attaching increasing significance to diet in relation to the functioning of body and mind. The presence or the absence, in almost microscopic quantities, of certain important ingredients, for example, vitamin B1 (thiamine), can change a normally cheerful, well-poised person into a nervous, irritable, moody creature. We refer to this unfolding marvel of the relation of food to the body and mind of man simply to suggest that the mere absence of supporting scientific proof for some particular statement on diet that Mrs. White has made provides no valid ground for dismissing it as irrational and fanciful.
Already scientific investigation in the field of nutrition has provided striking confirmation of many things that she wrote. For example, she declared that greasy foods, rich foods, pies, and gravies were unwholesome. Now note these words expressing current medical opinion as set forth in Hygeia, published by the American Medical Association:
“Recent medical opinion is that diet has much to do with the increase in coronary heart disease. People are more ‘civilized.’ They eat too much of animal fats; bacon, egg yolks, pie a la mode, gravy, cream, butter, fat meats. These foods produce an excess of cholesterol in the blood. Cholesterol is a fatty substance, a certain amount of which is normal in the blood. But when there is too much, plaques of cholesterol are laid down in the lining of the arteries, especially the coronary arteries. Practically all coronary thrombosis is due to deposits of cholesterol. On these deposits the blood clot forms, blocking the artery, and one has a thrombosis.”—Irene E. Soehren in March, 1948, p. 183.
The Hygeia author observes, regarding this prevalent and often fatal malady, that probably one man in thirty, over forty years of age, “will suffer an attack of coronary thrombosis this year.”
Deposits of cholesterol, which may be found in any part of the arterial system, become impregnated with calcium. The result is hardening of the arteries, with too often fatal results.
When Mrs. White wrote, in the 1860's and ‘70's, repeatedly and emphatically about the unwholesome quality of animal fats and greasy foods in general, of rich pies and gravies, no one knew anything about the relationship of these to the formation of an excess of cholesterol in the blood. But we know it today.
Quotations 7 to 10 are said to be contradictory to the first six. Here is the context in which quotation Number 7 is found:
“Concerning flesh-meat, we should educate the people to let it alone. Its use is contrary to the best development of the physical, mental, and moral powers. And we should bear a clear testimony against the use of tea and coffee. It is also well to discard rich desserts. Milk, eggs, and butter should not be classed with flesh-meat. In some cases the use of eggs is beneficial. The time has not come to say that the use of milk and eggs should be wholly discarded. There are poor families whose diet consists largely of bread and milk. They have little fruit, and cannot afford to purchase the nut foods. In teaching health reform, as in all other gospel work, we are to meet the people where they are. Until we can teach them how to prepare health-reform foods that are palatable, nourishing, and yet inexpensive, we are not at liberty to present the most advanced propositions regarding health-reform diet.
“Let the diet reform be progressive. Let the people be taught how to prepare food without the use of milk or butter. Tell them that the time will soon come when there will be no safety in using eggs, milk, cream, or butter, because disease in animals is increasing in proportion to the increase of wickedness among men. The time is near when, because of the iniquity of the fallen race, the whole animal creation will groan under the diseases that curse our earth.”—Testimonies, vol. 7, pp. 134, 135.
It is hard to believe that any reasonable person can find in this statement by Mrs. White any contradiction of her statement in quotation Number 1. The fact that in quotation Number 1 Mrs. White spoke against butter, as well as against a number of other foods, does not mean that she necessarily put it in the same class as all these other foods, but simply that she considered it on the wrong side of the line that divided between ideally wholesome
foods and other foods. In view of changing conditions of sanitation and dairy inspection, and in view of the needs of many families, it is not hard to see how Mrs. White might consistently give a qualified approval to butter and eggs, as she does. In fact her whole statement in Testimonies, volume 7, breathes a spirit of sweet reasonableness. She makes the question of the use of dairy products, and eggs in general, turn largely on the question of “disease in animals.” In other words, though sanitary precaution and dairy inspection may increase, disease may increase also, ultimately the latter outrunning the former. Her words are a rebuke to extremes at either end on the matter of health reform: “Let the diet reform be progressive.”
Quotations Numbers 8, 9, and 10 may be considered together, because they are drawn from the same place in Mrs. White's writings. We give them in their context:
“While warnings have been given regarding the dangers of disease through butter, and the evil of the free use of eggs by small children, yet we should not consider it a violation of principle to use eggs from hens that are well cared for and suitably fed, Eggs contain properties that are remedial agencies in counteracting certain poisons,
“Some, in abstaining from milk, eggs, and butter, have failed to supply the system with proper nourishment, and as a consequence have become weak and unable to work. Thus health reform is brought into disrepute. The work that we have tried to build up solidly is confused with strange things that God has not required, and the energies of the church are crippled. But God will interfere to prevent the results of these too strenuous ideas. The gospel is to harmonize the sinful race. It is to bring the rich and poor together at the feet of Jesus.
“The time will come when we may have to discard some of the articles of diet we now use, such as milk and cream and eggs; but it is not necessary to bring upon ourselves perplexity by premature and extreme restrictions. Wait until the circumstances demand it, and the Lord prepares the way for it.
“Those who would be successful in proclaiming the principles of health reform must make the word of God their guide and counselor. Only as the teachers of health reform principles do this, can they stand on vantage-ground. Let us never bear a testimony against health reform by failing to use wholesome, palatable food in place of the harmful articles of diet that we have
discarded. Do not in any way encourage an appetite for stimulants. Eat only plain, simple, wholesome food, and thank God constantly for the principles of health reform. In all things be true and upright, and you will gain precious victories.
“While working against gluttony and intemperance, we must recognize the condition to which the human family is subjected. God has made provision for those who live in the different countries of the world. Those who desire to be co-workers with God must consider carefully before they specify just what foods should and should not be eaten. We are to be brought into connection with the masses. Should health reform in its most extreme form be taught to those whose circumstances forbid its adoption, more harm than good would be done. As I preach the gospel to the poor, I am instructed to tell them to eat that food which is most nourishing. I can not say to them: ‘You must not eat eggs, or milk, or cream. You must Use no butter in the preparation of food.’ The gospel must be preached to the poor, but the time has not yet come to prescribe the strictest diet.”—Ibid., vol. 9, pp. 162, 163.
When the citations from Mrs. White are seen in this larger context, we believe that any possible question in the reader's mind will disappear.
Mrs. White did not live up to her own health teachings, though she claimed to. Here is the proof in parallel columns, headed
|“MRS. WHITE DID NOT EAT MEAT”||“MRS. WHITE DID EAT MEAT” *|
|“I have a well-set table on all occasions. I make no change for visitors, whether believers or unbelievers…. No butter or flesh-meats of any kind come on my table.”—Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 487, written 1868.||“When I could not obtain the food I needed, I have sometimes eaten a little meat; but I am becoming more and more afraid of it.”—E. G. WHITE in Christian Temperance (published 1890), p. 18.|
“In ‘Testimonies,’ Vol. 2, p. 485, in speaking of others who ate meat, she said: ‘These very ones have been completely backslidden. Meat and butter have been used by them quite freely.’
“Question—If others who ate meat had backslidden, what about the prophetess herself, who confessed in the ‘testimony’ given above that she ate meat, and that too, after she positively said: ‘No butter
* The quotations are copied from the original sources.
or flesh meat of any kind come upon my table?’ ‘Consistency thou art a jewel.’”
We give, below, in parallel columns, the context of the two passages quoted so briefly in the charge:
|“I have a well-set table on all occasions. I make no change for visitors, whether believers or unbelievers. I intend never to be surprised by an unreadiness to entertain at my table from one to half a dozen extra who may chance to come in. I have enough simple, healthful food ready to satisfy hunger and nourish the system. If any want more than this, they are at liberty to find it elsewhere. No butter or flesh-meats of any kind come on my table. Cake is seldom found there. I generally have an ample supply of fruits, good bread, and vegetables. Our table is always well patronized, and all who partake of the food do well, and improve upon it. All sit down with no epicurean appetite, and eat with a relish the bounties supplied by our Creator.”—Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 487.||“The table should be abundantly supplied with food of the best quality. If any have a perverted taste that craves tea, coffee, condiments, and unhealthful dishes, enlighten them. Seek to arouse the conscience. Set before them the principles of the Bible upon hygiene. Where plenty of good milk and fruit can be obtained, there is rarely any excuse for eating animal food; it is not necessary to take the life of any of God's creatures to supply our ordinary needs. In certain cases of illness or exhaustion it may be thought best to use some meat, but great care should be taken to secure the flesh of healthy animals. It has come to be a very serious question whether it is safe to use flesh-food at all in this age of the world. It would be better never to eat meat than to use the flesh of animals that are not healthy. When I could not obtain the food I needed, I have sometimes eaten a little meat; but I am becoming more and more afraid of it.”—Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, pp. 117, 118. (Also in Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 394.)|
Where is the conflict between these two passages? In the one Mrs. White is describing her “well-set table on all occasions” with generally “an ample supply of fruits, good bread, and vegetables.” In the other she explicitly states: “When I could not obtain the food I needed I have sometimes eaten a little meat.” Whether Mrs. White was here referring to instances when she was traveling abroad we do not know. But the facts are that just previous to the
writing of this statement in Christian Temperance in 1890 she had done considerable traveling overseas, and as all who have traveled know, it is often very difficult, particularly in some lands, to secure adequate supplies of fruits and vegetables and good milk.
But what about “others who ate meat,” whom Mrs. White describes as “backslidden”? Here is the context of these words:
“One family in particular have needed all the benefits they could receive from the reform in diet; yet these very ones have been completely backslidden. Meat and butter have been used by them quite freely, and spices have not been entirely discarded. This family could have received great benefit from a nourishing, well-regulated diet. The head of the family needed plain, nutritious food. His habits were sedentary, and his blood moved sluggishly through the system. He could not, like others, have the benefit of healthful exercise; therefore his food should have been of the right quality and quantity. There has not been in this family the right management in regard to diet; there has been irregularity. There should have been a specified time for each meal, and the food should have been prepared in a simple form, and free from grease; but pains should have been taken to have it nutritious, healthful, and inviting. In this family, as also in many others, a special parade has been made for visitors; many dishes prepared and frequently made too rich, so that those seated at the table would be tempted to eat to excess. Then in the absence of company there was a great reaction, a falling off in the preparations brought on the table. The diet was spare, and lacked nourishment. It was considered not so much matter ‘just for ourselves.’ The meals were frequently picked up, and the regular time for eating not regarded. Every member of the family was injured by such management. It is a sin for any of our sisters to make such great preparations for visitors, and wrong their own families by a spare diet which will fail to nourish the system.
“The brother referred to felt a lack in his system; he was not nourished, and he thought that meat would give him the needed strength. Had he been suitably cared for, his table spread at the right time with food of a nourishing quality, all the demands of nature would have been abundantly supplied.”—Testimonies, vol. 2, pp. 485, 486.
Here is a picture of a family “completely backslidden” from the whole idea of health reform. And what is the prime idea in health reform so far as diet is concerned? To provide the body with the best, the most nourishing, food available. This family evidently turned away from this idea in a variety of ways, even though they
knew better and, what is equally important, could evidently have secured the better food.
Why should anyone find a conflict between Mrs. White's statement regarding that family and her statement regarding herself: “When I could not obtain the food I needed, I have sometimes eaten a little meat”?
In an attempt to provide further proof that Mrs. White did not live up to her own teachings, critics quote a statement by her as follows:
“When the selfishness of taking the lives of animals to gratify a perverted appetite was presented to me by a Catholic woman, I felt ashamed and distressed. I saw it in a new light, and I said, I will no longer patronize the butcher, I will not have the flesh of slain animals on my table.—U. T., Aug. 30, 1896.” Published in Instruction Relating to the Principles of Healthful Living,* (lst ed.), p. 97.
This statement is cited for two purposes: (1) to prove that Mrs. White, though writing against meat eating over many years of time, was, as late as 1896, not following her own teaching; (2) that she did not really receive her antimeat-eating view from a vision but from “a Catholic woman.”
The brief quotation is from a letter written by Mrs. White, August 30, 1896, while she was living in Australia, and is addressed to a family in America. The first part of the long letter discusses the question of eating meat. Mrs. White is encouraging this family to take meat from their diet, and relates her own experience in the following paragraph, which contains the sentence quoted above:
“I have a large family, which often numbers sixteen. In it there are men who work at the plough, and who fell trees. These have most vigorous exercise, but not a particle of the flesh of animals is placed on our table. Meat has not been used by us since the Brighton [Australia] Campmeeting [January, 1894]. It was not my purpose to have it on my table at any time, but urgent pleas were made that such a one was unable to eat this or that, and that his stomach could take care of meat better than it could anything else. Thus I was enticed to place it on my table. The use of cheese also began to creep in,
* Generally known as Healthful Living. U.T., an abbreviation for unpublished testimony.
because some liked cheese; but I soon controlled that. But when the selfishness of taking the lives of animals to gratify a perverted taste was presented to me by a Catholic woman, kneeling at my feet, I felt ashamed and distressed. I saw it in a new light, and I said, I will no longer patronize the butchers. I will not have the flesh of corpses on my table.”—Letter 73a, 1896.
Lay alongside this a statement by Mrs. White in a letter written about the same time:
“Since the camp meeting at Brighton (January, 1894) I have absolutely banished meat from my table. It is an understanding that whether I am at home or abroad, nothing of this kind is to be used in my family, or come upon my table, I have had much representation before my mind in the night season on this subject.”—Letter 76, 1895, published in Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 488.
These two quotations, and the one already given from Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, page 118, reveal no inconsistency in Mrs. White's personal life. The reader will note that it is Mrs. White herself who provides the critic with the information he has concerning her life. He did not have to secure this by some private detective method. Mrs. White saw no reason to conceal her course of life.* From the outset she sought to follow a course in harmony with her teachings. She declared that there had been times when she felt it necessary to eat a little meat. This was strictly in keeping with her counsel that healthful living calls for eating the best food that is available. Now writing from Australia, she provides a further commentary on this point. In still another statement, written about this time, she describes her family's fare and her home in Australia, and again enunciates the principle that should govern in the matter of meat eating:
“We have plenty of good milk, fruit, and bread. I have already consecrated my table. I have freed it from all flesh meats. It is better for physical and mental soundness to refrain from living upon the flesh of animals. As far as possible we are to come back to God's original plan.”—MS. 25, 1894, in Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 488.
* Her very writing of the facts in a letter to a family, without requesting them to consider the letter confidential, is the best proof in the world that she did not consider that she had anything to conceal. Mrs. White well knew that what she wrote in letters would likely become public property erelong.
Who will say, from all the evidence before us, that Mrs. White did not follow out the basic principles she set down; namely, “as far as possible we are to come back to God's Original plan.” Her 1896 letter simply indicates that she had been loath arbitrarily to set diet limits for some who sat at her table.
But does this 1896 statement by Mrs. White prove that she got her “light” on abstaining from meat eating from “a Catholic woman” rather than in visions of the night as she had claimed through the years? Look once more at the whole paragraph. What was it that Mrs. White saw “in a new light”? Was it the basic view that meat was not best for food, or that it might carry germs? No. These and other reasons Mrs. White had stated repeatedly for about thirty years! What was the trouble at her table in Australia? She states that some who worked for her thought that they must have meat to eat, in order to do their heavy work. So, she adds, “I was enticed to place it on my table.” Then follows her statement about “taking the lives of animals to gratify a perverted taste,” and the appeal of the “Catholic woman.” What she saw, therefore, in a new light, was the taking of the “lives of animals to gratify a perverted taste,” and the relation of this to the plea of her workmen for meat. Her conviction that a flesh diet is not the best, she had set forth long before.
The critic asks why the quotation from Mrs. White's 1896 letter, which is given in the 1897 edition of Healthful Living, was left out of the 1898 edition. We do not know, but we think that the very use to which some have put the quotation provides the best clue as to why it was deleted. It was too brief to place Mrs. White's words in the proper context.
Now those who publish books know that in making a correction on a page, endeavor is always made not to throw the pages out of order. If this quotation from the 1896 letter had been sufficiently lengthened to give its true context, it would have necessitated a repaging of the book from page 97 onward, or else the throwing out of other important quotations. It was not imperative that the
quotation be retained, and hence, we presume the two sentences were deleted and another quotation put in its place. But in so simply explained a deletion as this someone discovers a dark, deep plot to suppress Mrs. White's writings.
We wish that the full paragraph from the August, 1896, letter might have been quoted in the 1897 edition of Healthful Living. It would have provided an excellent illustration of a principle that Mrs. White enunciated in 1895, which principle is set forth in a brief quotation further down on page 97 of Healthful Living:
“Those who have lived upon a meat diet all their lives do not see the evil of continuing the practise, and they must be treated tenderly.—U. T., June 19, 1895.”
It was because Mrs. White had “treated tenderly” some who sat at her table that she was confronted with the problem discussed in her 1896 letter. All reasonable people, we believe, will see in this whole incident only further proof that Mrs. White took no sudden, fanatical positions on the matter of diet, and most of all, was slow to make herself judge of the diet of others.
There is nothing original in what Mrs. White said on the question of health reform. It was all copied from other health reformers. Note these facts:
1. There were other health reformers in America before Mrs. White began to write on health. Some of these had written at length on the subject, and some had set up what might be described as health reform medical centers for treating the sick according to reform principles.
2. There can be found in Mrs. White's writings certain parallels to the writings of earlier health reformers.
3. In September, 1864, James and Ellen White visited one of these health reform institutions and there learned about health reform.
It is true that there were health reformers before Mrs. White began to write on health. The critics cite a few sentences from her that reveal a close similarity of thought and expression to the writings of other health reformers. For all we know they might have quoted several sentences more. But we think that the reader will be unimpressed by an exhibit of a few sentences, after studying
the facts set forth in the following chapters on plagiarism. It is also true that in September, 1864, Mrs. White and her husband visited a certain health reform institute operated by a Dr. Jackson, at Dansville, New York, called “Our Home,” to see what they could see and hear what they could hear.
And are we dependent on her critics for most of this information? No; we secure it from James White, Mrs. White, and those associated with them. That is an important point. If she were a deceiver, if she really had not received any direct illumination from Heaven, and was wholly dependent on others, would not her consciousness of that fact prompt her to conceal, as far as possible, from her readers the fact that there were other reformers teaching more or less the same as she, and certainly to conceal from her readers the fact that she had actually visited one of these health reform institutions!
In the year 1865, Ellen G. White and her husband, James White, published a series of six pamphlets bearing the general title How to Live, and numbered consecutively from l to 6. For each of these pamphlets* Mrs. White wrote an article under the general head “Disease and Its Causes.” The rest of the material in each pamphlet was taken largely from the writings of various health reformers. The names of the writers and of their publications are given, so that the reader need be in no doubt as to the source of the matter. In other words, when Mrs. White began to write extensively on the theme of disease and its causes, she placed those writings alongside the writings of others on the same subject. And it is in the very first of the six pamphlets that we find the article by her husband, James White, telling of their visit to Dr. Jackson's institution. The article begins thus:
“In the month of September, 1864, Mrs. W. and self spent three weeks at the health institute at Dansville, Liv. Co., N. Y., called, ‘Our Home.’ Our object in this visit was not to take treatment, as we were enjoying better health than usual; but to see what we could see, and hear what we could hear, so as
* Five of them contain sixty-four pages each, and one eighty pages.
to be able to give to many inquiring friends a somewhat definite report.”—How to Live, no. 1, p. 12.
We do not know how more effectively or openly the fact could have been stated that Mrs. White was making no claims to exclusive possession of light on the subject of health reform.
But right here an important question arises. We have found repeatedly in former chapters that critics like to make the sweeping charge that Mrs. White's teachings simply reflected the current thinking, whether the thinking was inside the church or out. They cannot tolerate the thought that she might have had an original idea, much less that the idea came from Heaven. But they well know that the views of the health reformers of the mid-nineteenth century were not generally held. Most medical practitioners ridiculed them.
We ask: Why did Mrs. White's writings on health fail to reflect the generally held views of the time, that were supported by virtually all medical men? Why, instead, did she turn so definitely against them, and give at least a measure of support to ideas that had no standing? This is a singular situation, indeed, and is quite contrary to what we should expect her to be doing if she was a fraud and was dependent for her views upon the ideas current at the time. If she was a cunning deceiver, seeking to build a reputation for herself, or if she was simply a harmlessly ecstatic soul, would she not be more likely to throw in her lot with well-established medical views rather than with new ones, seeing she could do so and still hold on to her distinctive theology? But the evidence shows that she did not.
We think that this remarkable fact will make the reader skeptical of the charge that Mrs. White simply borrowed her health teachings from others.
But there is an even more important question that demands answer. How would Mrs. White know to choose from among the varied views of reformers that which was good and discard that
which was bad? The reformers presented no simon-pure health counsel. For example, Sylvester Graham, who gave his name to graham bread, and who set forth several worth-while health ideas, made the great and grave dietary blunder of discounting, heavily, green, leafy vegetables. Some others held extreme views about milk. They declared that quite apart from its being a possible carrier of disease, milk was essentially a bad food for any but small children and infants. There were those who viewed salt as really a poison. And there were those who overemphasized rest and derogated physical exercise in the daily regimen of patients recuperating from various maladies. These are samples of mistaken views. It is no discredit to these early reformers that they did not have a full and wholly correct understanding of health principles, particularly dietary laws. We could not expect them to. That is the history of all reform.
What if Mrs. White, who agreed with some of Graham's views, had come out vigorously against green, leafy vegetables? What if she had declared that milk is essentially a bad food for any but small children and infants? What if she had declared that salt is a poison to the body and ought not to be used at all?
But Mrs. White did not take these positions. Constantly she warned against the danger of extremes in health reform. Where the Lord had not revealed some specific point definitely to her she frankly stated that the future might provide support for some current health view but that no one should run ahead to set up such a view as a standard for the church. She spoke of a “Bro. B” who was connected with the publishing house at Battle Greek and whose advocacy of certain extreme positions in The Health Reformer—the monthly health journal of the denomination—were open to censure:
“Bro. B. had urged the extreme positions of Dr. Trall. This had influenced the doctor to come out in the Reformer stronger than he otherwise would have done, in discarding milk, sugar, and salt. The position to entirely discontinue the use of these things may be right in its order; but the time has not come to take a general stand upon these points.”—Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 19.
Note that Mrs. White refers to the “extreme positions of Dr. Trall,” who was one of the prominent reforming doctors of the time, and who conducted a department in The Health Reformer.* She was not prepared at the time of writing to make any clear statement as to whether they should “entirely discontinue the use of these things.” But if she was controlled in her thinking and writing by what these health reforming doctors were teaching, why did she not feel clear to speak out dogmatically and in behalf of what Dr. Trail was advocating? He was not the only one who advocated what she declared were “extreme positions” on “discarding milk, sugar, and salt.” It would be safe to say that he rather represented the general sentiment of the reforming doctors. The only dogmatic speaking Mrs. White did in that connection was to brand the views as “extreme positions,” which they were. But when she did ultimately speak with definiteness regarding these articles of diet it was to urge, not abstinence, but moderation, as to salt and sugar, and to give caution as to the dangers of disease in milk. For example, in a letter she wrote in 1901 she declared:
“I use some salt, and always have, because from the light given me by God, this article, in the place of being deleterious, is actually essential for the blood. The whys and wherefores of this I know not, but I give you the instruction as it is given me.”—Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 344.
What if Mrs. White had endorsed the idea, promoted by some prominent health-reforming doctors, regarding the value of rest as contrasted with any physical activity as a program of recuperation from illness? We are sure the critics certainly would not rest until they had made full use of that in their charges. And they would work that charge more today than ever, for the importance of physical activity in the whole recuperative program has assumed unusual significance in recent years. But Mrs. White, instead of
* That he had many good ideas and that his work was valued, is made clear by the fact that he conducted a department in this journal.
endorsing any regimen that would frown on physical exercise in the recuperative program, consistently spoke of the interaction of body and mind, and thus of the value of exercise.
In the autumn of 1865 James White suffered what is commonly described as a stroke, which resulted in partial paralysis. Mrs. White took him to Dr. Jackson's institution at Dansville, New York. Of their experience there, in relation to the medical and other views promoted, she wrote:
“We did not feel that the three months passed at this institution was in vain. We did not receive all the ideas and sentiments and suggestions advanced, but we did gather many things of value from those who had obtained an experience in health reform. We did not feel that there was any necessity of gathering the chaff with the wheat.”—MS. 1, 1867.
But how would Mrs. White, who is supposed to be a pathetically ignorant, even if cunning, individual, know that some of the ideas presented at Dr. Jackson's institution were “chaff” and some “wheat”? And how would she be able to separate the chaff from the wheat? Might it not be an evidence of God's unique direction of her life and writings that she could thus distinguish and separate the one from the other?
We can think of no more pertinent discussion of these questions than that made by Dr. J. H. Kellogg, who was for many years the medical director of the Battle Creek Sanitarium.* In writing the preface to Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene,† in 1890, he declared:
“Nearly thirty years ago there appeared in print the first of a series of remarkable and important articles on the subject of health, by Mrs. E. G. White. These articles at once commanded earnest consideration by those who were acquainted with Mrs. White's previous writings and labors. Thousands
* The later name for the Western Health Reform Institute, founded by Seventh-day Adventists in 1866.
† The first part of this book is authored by Mrs. White, the last part by James White. Much of what here appears from her pen is found in one form or another in earlier publications, such as journals and pamphlets, as far back as 1864.
were led to change life-long habits, and to renounce practices thoroughly fixed by heredity as well as by long indulgence. So great a revolution could not be brought in a body of people without the aid of some powerful incentive, which in this case was undoubtedly the belief that the writings referred to not only bore the stamp of truth, but were indorsed by a higher than human authority. This is not the proper place for the consideration of the grounds upon which this belief was based, but the reader's attention is invited to a few facts of interest in this connection:—
“1. At the time the writings referred to first appeared, the subject of health was almost wholly ignored, not only by the people to whom they were addressed, but by the world at large.
“2. The few advocating the necessity of a reform in physical habits, propagated in connection with the advocacy of genuine reformatory principles the most patent and in some instances disgusting errors.
“3. Nowhere, and by no one, was there presented a systematic and harmonious body of hygienic truths, free from patent errors, and consistent with the Bible and the principles of the Christian religion.
“Under these circumstances, the writings referred to made their appearance. The principles taught were not enforced by scientific authority, but were presented in a simple, straightforward manner by one who makes no pretense to scientific knowledge, but claims to write by the aid and authority of the divine enlightenment.
“How have the principles presented under such peculiar circumstances and with such remarkable claims stood the test of time and experience? is a question which may very properly be asked. Its answer is to be found in facts which are capable of the amplest verification. The principles presented have been put to the test of practical experience by thousands; and whenever intelligently and consistently carried out, the result has been found in the highest degree satisfactory. Thousands have testified to physical, mental, and moral benefits received. Many of the principles taught have come to be so generally adopted and practiced that they are no longer recognized as reforms, and may, in fact, be regarded as prevalent customs among the more intelligent classes. The principles which a quarter of a century ago were either entirely ignored or made the butt of ridicule, have quietly won their way into public confidence and esteem, until the world has quite forgotten that they have not always been thus accepted. New discoveries in science and new interpretations of old facts have continually added confirmatory evidence, until at the present time every one of the principles advocated more than a quarter of a century ago is fortified in the strongest possible manner by scientific evidence.
“Finally, the reformatory movement based upon the principles advocated so long ago has lived and prospered until the present time, and the institutions
developed by it have grown to be the most extensive and the most prosperous establishments of the sort in the world; while other efforts, looking somewhat in the same direction, but contaminated by error, have either abandoned the principles of truth, and been given over to error, or have fallen into obscurity. It certainly must be regarded as a thing remarkable, and evincing unmistakable evidence of divine insight and direction, that in the midst of confused and conflicting teachings, claiming the authority of science and experience, but warped by ultra notions and rendered impotent for good by the great admixture of error,—it must be admitted to be something extraordinary, that a person making no claims to scientific knowledge or erudition should have been able to organize, from the confused and errortainted mass of ideas advanced by a few writers and thinkers on health subjects, a body of hygienic principles so harmonious, so consistent, and so genuine that the discussions, the researches, the discoveries, and the experience of a quarter of a century have not resulted in the overthrow of a single principle, but have only served to establish the doctrines taught.
“The guidance of infinite wisdom is as much needed in discerning between truth and error as in the evolution of new truths. Novelty is by no means a distinguishing characteristic of true principles, and the principle holds good as regards the truths of hygienic reform, as well as those of other reformatory movements. The greatest and most important reformatory movements of modern times have not been those which presented new facts and principles, but those which revived truths and principles long forgotten, and which have led the way back to the paths trodden by men of by-gone ages, before the world had wandered so far away from physical and moral rectitude.”—Pages iii, iv.*
A guide need not build roads in order to provide proof of his genuineness and worth, he needs only to be able to distinguish between roads, and to lead travelers on the right one. And is it not part of the task of one who speaks for God to direct us, amid the maze of paths on the journey of life, to that path which will most surely and safely carry us forward to our destination? It is through the voice of His prophets that the Lord sometimes fulfills the promise:
“And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” Isa. 30:21.
* See General Conference Daily Bulletin, March 8, 1897, p. 309, for Dr. Kellogg's statement that he wrote this preface.
If Mrs. White needed divine illumination in order to be able to discern between the paths that were said to lead to health—and they were many and often at right angles to each other—then we have really met the charge that she gave no evidence of knowing more than was current knowledge in her day, and that thus her visions are proved frauds.
But we do not say that Mrs. White simply pointed out the right road. She also blazed new trails when there was no road, or when all the roads led astray. That is evident as one compares her writings with those of other health reformers.
Let us look, in conclusion, at the key statement on which this charge rests. As already noted, James White wrote in 1865 that he and Mrs. White made a three weeks' visit to Dr. Jackson's health institution, called “Our Home,” at Dansville, New York, in September, 1864. Her writings in How to Live were in 1865, and her voluminous discussions of health in other bound books were later still. Hence, say the critics, it is clear that She gained her knowledge of the main ideas of healthful living at “Our Home.”
But there are some facts that the critics forget to state when they are presenting this apparently simple chronological proof of Mrs. White's dependence on others for her ideas on health. Let us list these briefly:
1. Dr. H. S. Lay, a Seventh-day Adventist physician, who became a member of the staff of “Our Home” in the summer of 1864, and the editor of The Health Reformer in 1866, wrote thus, in 1863, to James White as to the significance of certain reform work that he and Mrs. White had been doing:
“I now see clearer than ever before that while you both have so ardently labored to discountenance the use of tobacco, tea, and coffee among us, you have been doing the work of God.”—Letter, Oct. 11, 1863.
2. In the spring of 1864 Mrs. White's pamphlet entitled An Appeal to Mothers was published. This dealt chiefly with one
aspect of health and reveals that Mrs. White's mind and pen were already exercised on the care of the body. She includes in this a discussion of proper diet.
3. Not later than July, 1864, Mrs. White completed the writing of Spiritual Gifts, volume 4, for the preface is dated “July,” and it was published in August. Pages 120 to 151 constitute a chapter entitled “Health.” In this chapter she discusses at length the subject of diet, the evils of drugging as then senselessly practiced, and other principal aspects of the broad subject of health.*
4. James White, in his article in How to Live, number 1, which tells of their visit to “Our Home,” specifically states as to the diet there: “As we had lived almost entirely without meat, grease, and spices, for more than a year, we were in a condition to have our wants in the line of food fully met at the tables at ‘Our Home.’”—Page 16. Evidently he and Mrs. White did not go there to learn those features of reform!
5. While at the 1897 General Conference session Dr. J. H. Kellogg delivered an address in which he said, in part:
“Just before I came to the Conference I had a talk with Dr. Lay, and he told me of how he heard the first instruction about health reform away back in 1860, and especially in 1863. While he was riding in a carriage with Brother and Sister White, she related what had been presented to her upon the subject of health reform, and laid out the principles which have stood the test of all these years—a whole generation.”—General Conference Daily Bulletin, March 8, 1897, p. 309.†
In the setting of these facts we are prepared to give maximum credence to the answer that Mrs. White returned to a straightforward question, asked by fellow Seventh-day Adventists in 1867, long before the critics framed their charges:
* The same issue of the Review and Herald in which James White states, “We now design to spend a few weeks at the health institution called Our Home, at Dansville, N.Y.,” announces that Spiritual Gifts, Volumes 3 and 4 are “ready.” (See issue of Sept. 6, 1864, pp. 116, 120.)
† This statement by Dr. Kellogg is not to be classed as an unsupported reminiscence. He had just talked with the person he quoted, and he immediately left a permanent record of the substance of that talk. Furthermore, Dr. Lay's reminiscence regarding Mrs. White's promotion of certain health teachings in 1863 tallies with his 1863 letter we quoted. Incidentally, it also tallies with a reminiscence of W. C. White, son of Mrs. E. G. White, who was present on one occasion when she and Dr. Lay talked together on health. (See Review and Herald, Nov. 12, 1936, pp. 3, 4.)
“Did you receive your views upon health reform before visiting the Health institute at Dansville, N. Y., or before you had read works on the subject?”*
We give, in full, her answer as set forth in the church paper:
“It was at the house of Bro. A. Hillard, at Otsego, Mich., June 6, 1863, that the great subject of Health Reform was opened before me in vision. I did not visit Dansville till August,† 1864, fourteen months after I had the view. I did not read any works upon health until I had written Spiritual Gifts, Vols. iii and iv, Appeal to Mothers, and had sketched out most of my six articles in the six numbers of ‘How to Live.’ I did not know that such a paper existed as the Laws of Life, published at Dansville, N. Y. I had not heard of the several works upon health, written by Dr. J. C. Jackson, and other publications at Dansville, at the time I had the view named above. I did not know that such works existed until September, 1863, when in Boston, Mass., my husband saw them advertised in a periodical called the Voice of the Prophets, published by Eld. J. v. Himes. My husband ordered the works from Dansville and received them at Topsham, Maine. His business gave him no time to peruse them, and as I determined not to read them until I had written out my views, the books remained in their wrappers. As I introduced the subject of health to friends where I labored in Michigan, New England, and in the State of New York, and spoke against drugs and flesh meats, and in favor of water, pure air, and a proper diet, the reply was often made, ‘You speak very nearly the opinions taught in the Laws of Life, and other publications, by Drs. Trall, Jackson, and others. Have you read that paper and those works?’ My reply was that I had not, neither should I read them till I had fully written out my views, lest it should be said that I had received my light upon the subject of health from physicians, and not from the Lord. And after I had written my six articles for How to Live, I then searched the various works on Hygiene and was surprised to find them so nearly in harmony with what the Lord had revealed to me. And to show this harmony, and to set before my brethren and sisters the subject as brought out by able writers, I determined to publish ‘How to Live,’ in which I largely extracted from the works referred to.”‡—Review and Herald, Oct. 8, 1867, p. 260.
* This question, along with several others, was sent to Mrs. White, as she explains in a prefatory note, by the “Wisconsin and Illinois Conference Committee.” Her letter of reply, sent to the Review and Herald for publication that all the readers of the church paper might be informed, is dated, “Pilot Grove, Iowa, Sept. 26, 1867.”
† That the actual time of Mrs. White's stay at Dansville was September is clearly established by James White's statements before and after their stay. The apparent discrepancy of the “August” date disappears when the facts concerning their journeyings are presented. They left Battle Creek August 24 “to spend something like three months in the Eastern States.” (Review and Herald, Aug. 30, 1864, p. 112.) They spent Sabbath, August 27, in Rochester, New York. Following this they went to Dansville. (Review and Herald, Sept. 6, 1864, p. 116.) It is evident, then, that when Mrs. White spoke of visiting Dansville in “August,” she was referring to the date when they left headquarters in Battle Creek on their long trip that was to include Dansville.
‡ Mrs. White does not mean that her articles in How to Live were largely extracted from others, but that these six pamphlets contained many articles from others. As already stated, each pamphlet contained only one article by her.
The words of J. H. Waggoner may fittingly be quoted here. He mentions having listened to Mrs. White preach on the subject of health reform. He speaks with fervor of his conviction that her message on health and on other subjects is from God. Then he adds:
“We do not profess to be pioneers in the general principles of the health reform. The facts on which this movement is based have been elaborated, in a great measure, by reformers, physicians, and writers on physiology and hygiene, and so may be found scattered through the land. But we do claim that by the method of God's choice it has been more clearly and powerfully unfolded, and is thereby producing an effect which we could not have looked for from any other means. As mere physiological and hygienic truths, they might be studied by some at their leisure, and by others laid aside as of little consequence; but when placed on a level with the great truths of the third angel's message by the sanction and authority of God's Spirit, and so declared to be the means whereby a weak people may be made strong to overcome, and our diseased bodies cleansed and fitted for translation, then it comes to us as an essential part of present truth, to be received with the blessing of God, or rejected at our peril.”—Ibid., Aug. 7, 1866, p. 77.
Here is a frank statement in the church paper, long before critics spread their charges abroad, that we make no attempt to claim for Mrs. White exclusive possession of health reform ideas. What we do claim is this: That she was not dependent on others for her ideas; that she guided us safely and sanely on the road to health, warning us against many and tempting bypaths; and that she placed the health teachings in a certain spiritual context, cheering us along with the revelation that these teachings are designed of God to smooth our upward path to the kingdom.
We think the reader will agree that the evidence supports these claims.