Appendix E

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Basic Presuppositions Shared by Most Shut-door Critics

The underlying issue that has divided critics and affirmers regarding the shut-door issue has been the question of what happened in heaven on October 22, 1844. Critics ask, If the atonement was completed on the cross, and Jesus went immediately into the Most Holy Place phase of His high-priestly ministry at that time, what would be the purpose of a second-apartment ministry?

To some degree, most all critics who assert that Ellen White held the extreme shut-door position prior to 1851/2 also reject the Biblical teachings that place significance on the 1844 date; that is, they do not find a change of ministry in the Bible and thus reject Ellen White’s teachings on this subject. With that presupposition, it is only a half step toward rejecting Ellen White as a reliable theological teacher, especially in her vision-messages that taught the change of Christ’s ministry in 1844.

Affirmers, on the other hand, believe that Ellen White not only received her vision-views from God, but led the way in a growing understanding of the Biblical teaching regarding the larger intent of the sanctuary doctrine. This viewpoint accepts the sanctuary doctrine as a further unfolding of the Great Controversy Theme wherein the universe is involved in the process of settling earth’s rebellion—the process that culminates in the sealing of God’s people in the final generation which, in turn, is linked to the completion of Christ’s ministry in the Most Holy Place.

Thus, how one relates to the doctrine of the atonement immediately affects his/her understanding of: (1) the validity of the Millerite seventh-month movement; (2) the validity of the significance of October 22, 1844; (3) the connection between the Sabbath and the sanctuary message; (4) the meaning of “the third angel’s message”; and (5) the validity of Ellen White as a trustworthy prophet.

In summary, if one presupposes that there is no Biblical significance to October 22, 1884, the next step is to conclude that Ellen White was in error, not only in interpreting Christ’s high priestly ministry but also in identifying with certain shut-door positions prior to 1852.

If one presupposes, on the basis of many Biblical lines of support, that a significant event occurred on October 22, 1844, then Ellen White’s vision-messages of the 1840s appear coherent, integrating, and understandable.

Further, if for other reasons one rejects the authenticity of Ellen White’s role as God’s messenger, then it would be difficult to attach credibility to her assertions in the 1840s. Presuppositions often drive the research; presuppositions often predetermine one’s conclusions.

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