Prophets are not always aware of the time to which visions apply. While in Australia Ellen White wrote to a minister, reproving him for violating the seventh commandment. The minister, perplexed by the testimony because he had not committed adulterous acts, went to W. C. White for an explanation. Elder White reminded him that men may draw fine distinctions in this area but God looks at the heart. Within six months, this minister was dismissed from the ministry for the problem for which Mrs. White had reproved him.2
Also while in Australia she was shown a large building in Chicago . . . elaborately furnished. She was perplexed when told that no such building was erected in Chicago. But she knew what she had seen in vision: The Lord showed me what men were planning to do. I knew that the testimony was true, but not until recently was the matter explained.3
How was she enlightened? Judge Jesse Arthur, long-time attorney connected with the Battle Creek Sanitarium, visited with her in the summer of 1902. Judge Arthur told her that her testimony regarding a large building in Chicago was plain to him because he knew that preparations were being made to erect in Chicago a building corresponding to the one shown . . . in vision.
Later the judge confirmed his conversation with a letter written on August 27, 1902. He was the chairman of the building committee of three: The committee met [on June 26, 1899] and immediately formulated plans for the purchase of a site and the erection of such a building. I was instructed as chairman of the committee to open negotiations . . . and otherwise take steps to raise the necessary funds to purchase the site, and erect the building contemplated.4
Ellen White wrote to Kellogg on October 28, 1903: If this view had not been given me, and if I had not written to you about the matter, an effort would have been made to erect such a building in Chicago, a place in which the Lord has said that we are not to put up large buildings. At the time when the vision was given, influences were working for the erection of such a building. The message was received in time to prevent the development of the plans and the carrying out of the project.
After receiving these messages, Kellogg turned away from the Chicago project.5 Thus the reason for Ellen Whites vision was made clear.
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At times, Ellen White experienced how Nathan felt when he discovered that he had given David wrong counsel.6 She, too, had an opportunity to reverse counsel that she had given to the leading officers of the General Conference.
At the turn of the century, Edson White was leading out in working for the Blacks in the South, especially through publishing literature in the South for the South. His mother had strongly endorsed his work, primarily because it was the only significant work being done. As Edsons work developed, plans were made to establish a denominational publishing house in Nashville, Tennessee. But Edsons strength rested not in finance but in promotion, printing, and writing literature to fit the needs of the South. Debts were mounting dangerously at a time when denominational leaders were trying to stabilize the severe financial crisis that had overtaken the church. And leaders were hesitant to close down the budding Nashville publishing house because Ellen White had been supporting her son generally for his pioneering work.7
At a special meeting called at Elmshaven on October 19, 1902, church leaders needed counsel regarding denominational debt and the work at Nashville in particular. After Mrs. White heard the facts, she said: Gods cause must not be left to reproach, no matter who is made sore by arranging matters on a right basis. Edson should give himself to the ministry and to writing, and leave alone the things that he has been forbidden by the Lord to do. Finance is not his forte at all. I want the brethren . . . to act just as they would act if my son were not there. . . . I do not want anyone to feel that I am sustaining Edson in a wrong.
A. G. Daniells, General Conference president, satisfied with the interview, returned to Battle Creek with a copy of the interview in his pocket. Leadership was now assured that closing the Nashville establishment was the right thing to do.
But within twenty-four hours of the Elmshaven interview, Mrs. White wrote a letter that would change the whole picture. Prompted by a vision of the night (or night dream), she saw that closing the Nashville press was not necessary, that consolidation of the denominational publishing interests was not Gods plan, and that the Southern field [must] have its own home-published books.8
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A few weeks later, she explained to denominational leadership: During the night following our interview in my house and out on the lawn under the trees, October 19, 1902, in regard to the work in the Southern field, the Lord instructed me that I had taken a wrong position.
Further, she wrote words of encouragement, that from this center light will shine forth in the ministry of the word, in the publication of books large and small, that we have as yet merely touched the Southern field with the tips of our fingers.9
All those involved realized that they were experiencing the same emotions that stirred Nathan and David three millennia before. The Lord was very close to His people who wanted to listen to the Spirit of prophecy.
In 1849, the Adventist people gathered into various nuclei across New England and upper New York State. S. W. Rhodes, a discouraged former leader in the Millerite movement, refused social interchange. But his friends kept up their attention, though often rebuffed. The Whites did not feel that any further special effort in Rhodess behalf was warranted. However, while a group of Adventists were praying, Ellen White had a vision which was contrary to her former opinion and feeling relating to our going after Brother Rhodes, up to the time that the Spirit took her off in vision.10
In planning for the first church building at Avondale in 1897, discouragement prevailed. The depressed financial situation throughout Australia directly affected the development of the churchs educational and medical work. Ellen White knew that building the church was essential to the general spirit that should prevail in the further growth of the struggling college. Yet, she was willing to listen to the caution of the local leaders. She knew that they carried heavy burdens and that the financial picture was bleak. One day, in human sympathy, she mentioned to one of the leaders, We will not hasten the building of the meetinghouse.
But that night she had a vision that changed her ideas materially. In a letter to the person she had agreed with a few hours earlier, she said: I received instruction to speak to the people, and tell them that we are not to leave the house of the Lord until the last consideration. . . . Build a house for God without delay. Secure the most favorable location. Prepare seats that will be proper for a house of God.11
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Prophets grow in grace and knowledge as do other believers. In choosing His prophets and prophetesses, God has always selected the best for His purposesbut only the best at that time! He has chosen polygamists and doubters, even some who lied (e.g., Abraham and David).
No prophet saw the whole picture from start to finish. All prophets went through on-the-job-training. If we knew all the facts about each prophet, we would discover that each one kept learning more and more about his or her assignment, more and more about Gods plan for them and for His people. They had much to learn, much to unlearn. As a result, their messages became more precise as time continued.
Think of John the Baptist whom Jesus declared to be more than a prophet. . . . Among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist (Matt. 11:9, 11.) Yet John did not understand the nature of Christs kingdom.12 In his dramatic ministry, he misapplied Isaiahs prophecies and, to some extent, misunderstood the character of God. In prison, he was bitterly disappointed in his mission and considered himself a failure. John, with all of his Bible study and prophetic mission, had not fully comprehended the future, immortal life through the Saviour.13 Later, he even doubted the experience at the Jordan, the day he baptized Jesus: Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another? (Matt. 11:3).
Yet, Jesus applied to John Malachis term, My Messenger. Messenger, yes, but a lesser light, which was to be followed by a greater.14
Think of Peter whom God chose to be the gospel link to Cornelius, the Gentile centurion (Acts 10). Peter, blessed by Pentecost, still believed that the gospel of Christ was meant only for the Jews. He needed his theology changed, and a vision did it. Every step to the home of Cornelius was taken reluctantly.15 His shut-door theology was changed into a wide open door into the Gentile world and finally to Rome and his own crucifixion.
Ellen White was the first to recognize that her judgment and perception had greatly broadened and deepened through the years. She was a human messenger who, with all the human baggage common to prophets, constantly followed the Light. She spoke of this lifelong development process: With the light communicated through the study of His word, with the special knowledge given of individual cases among His people under all circumstances and in every phase of experience, can I now be in the same ignorance, the same mental uncertainty and spiritual blindness, as at the beginning of this experience? Will my brethren say that Sister White has been so dull a scholar that her judgment in this direction is no better than before she entered Christs school, to be trained and disciplined for a special work? Am I no more intelligent in regard to the duties and perils of Gods people than are those before whom these things have never been presented? I would not dishonor my Maker by admitting that all this light, all the display of His mighty power in my work and experience, has been valueless, that it has not educated my judgment or better fitted me for His work.16
Ellen White did grow, led along by the Spirit of God. Most Millerites who did not reject the 1844 experience believed that the door was shut (Matt. 25:10) to those who had rejected their midnight cry message as well as to the general population.17 The developing group that came to be known as Sabbatarian Adventists, of which James and Ellen White were a part, also retained this belief for a few years.
But Mrs. Whites first visions showed her the significance of October 22, 1844, and that the door was shut only to those who had consciously rejected the light of truth. Most probably, without the visionary leadership of Ellen White, the Sabbatarian Adventists would not have seen the larger picture of heavenly events relating to October 22. Her encouraging and instructive development of thought as to the role of Seventh-day Adventists in completing Gods last-day invitation to the world, became the churchs central, unifying element.
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When to begin the weekly Sabbath was another doctrinal issue on which Mrs. White was corrected by a visionan instructive story of how God gently leads His people along through His messengers. On Friday, November 16, 1855, the General Conference in session ushered in the Sabbath at 6:00 P.M., although the sun had set an hour before. They ended the Sabbath, the next day, at sunset! What happened?
For years Adventists had been generally following the reasoning of Joseph Batesthat sunset at the equator (6:00 P. M.) would be the most uniform way to handle the Sabbath on a round world, no matter what the time of year.18 (Beginning and ending the Sabbath at sunrise or midnight were other options.)
But other believers raised the question of Leviticus 23:32, from evening unto evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath. Trying to bring unity, James White had asked John N. Andrews to make a Biblical study of the issue and prepare a paper. When this paper was read on Sabbath morning at the 1855 General Conference, the matter was settled for James White and the rest of the delegatesall except Joseph Bates and Ellen White!
A few days later, November 20, Mrs. White had a vision that dealt with many matters, including validation of Andrewss Bible study. Both she and Joseph Bates capitulated wholeheartedly. Bible study, confirmed by vision, continued as the general rule in the development of Adventist theology.19
Commenting later, Uriah Smith wrote: Lest any should say that Sister White, having changed her sentiments, had a vision accordingly, we will state that which was shown her in vision concerning the commencement of the Sabbath was contrary to her own sentiment at the time the vision was given.20
Ellen Whites attitude toward eating pork was another example of how advancing light changed her personal interpretation of Scripture. In 1858 she wrote to the Haskells (Bro. and Sister A.) on a number of items, rebuking him for insisting that pork-eating was a violation of Leviticus 11:7: I saw that your views concerning swines flesh would prove no injury if you have them to yourselves; but in your judgment and opinion you have made this question a test. . . . If God requires His people to abstain from swines flesh, He will convict them on the matter.21
Why didnt God tell Ellen White that Haskells Bible study on Leviticus was correct, following her general pattern of confirming Bible study by the light revealed in vision?
Part of the answer may be found in the note written by James White in the second printing of this testimony to Haskell: This remarkable testimony was written October 21, 1858, nearly five years before the great vision in 1863, in which the light upon health reform was given. When the right time came, the subject was given in a manner to move all our people. How wonderful are the wisdom and goodness of God! It might be as wrong to crowd the milk, salt, and sugar question now, as the pork question in 1858.22
In the health reform vision of June 6, 1863, a broad array of health principles was revealed.23 In 1864 Ellen White made her first published presentation of that vision, a fifty-page chapter entitled Health, in Spiritual Gifts, volume 4. In reference to swines flesh she said: God never designed the swine to be eaten under any circumstances.24
In 1865 she prepared a series of six articles under the title Health, or How to Live.25 Here she amplified the injurious consequences of eating swines flesh, a fact that she continued to emphasize in her later books.26
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What can we learn from this experience wherein Ellen White changed her mind between 1858 and 1863? (1) She had received no light from God on swines flesh before 1863. (2) She didnt think it should create division among Adventists; it was not a test question. (3) When God makes His will known, it will be revealed to more than two or three. He will teach his church their duty.27 (4) The test of the logic involved in her change of opinion on eating swines flesh is that when the vision did come, the whole church saw the issue clearly and never again was there division regarding this issue. 28
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Ellen White was a timid, frail teenager when she was told by God to relate the visions to others. As we have seen, not all her visions or dreams were theological in content. Some contained reproof and counsel for individuals. At times the reproof was severe and not always appreciated. Mrs. White shrank from her prophetic duties.29
Describing her experience in 1845, when she was eighteen years old, Ellen White wrote: It was a great cross for me to relate to the erring what had been shown me concerning them. It caused me great distress to see others troubled or grieved. And when obliged to declare the messages, I would often soften them down, and make them appear as favorable for the individual as I could, and then would go by myself and weep in agony of spirit.30
In a letter written in 1874, she recalled the past thirty years: I have felt for years that if I could have my choice and please God as well, I would rather die than have a vision, for every vision places me under great responsibility to bear testimonies of reproof and of warning, which has ever been against my feelings, causing me affliction of soul that is inexpressible. Never have I coveted my position, and yet I dare not resist the Spirit of God and seek an easier position.31
In 1880, now fifty-two, Ellen White was at the Vermont camp meeting where she had several testimonies to deliver. She referred to these personal burdens: I have had many individual testimonies to write which has been quite a heavy burden on me in addition to my labors in talking the truth. (Talking the truth involved her daily sermons, altar calls, and her usual Sunday afternoon talk on temperance to Vermont audiences of from 1,000 to 4,000 people.) In reference to one couple, she wrote: I had some very bad, bad jobs to perform. I took Brother Bean and wife and talked to them very plain. They did not rise up against it. I cried myself, could not help it.32
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As noted earlier on page 29, a prophets responsibility covers far more than predicting the future. Prophets are primarily Gods messengers, His forth-tellers, not necessarily His fore-tellers. However, prophets, at times, are given information and instruction that indeed predicts the future.
Ellen White predicted specific events and general developments or trends:
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The May 27, 1856, Battle Creek conference is remembered especially for an unusual vision regarding some of the members in attendance.33 In the midst of the report is this prediction: I was shown the company present at the conference. Said the angel, Some food for worms, some subjects of the seven last plagues, some will be alive and remain upon the earth to be translated at the coming of Jesus.
What could this mean? Three days after the conference, Clarissa Bonfoey died. (Clarissa Bonfoey was a close friend of the Whites to whom they had entrusted Edson during his early years before they were able to set up their own home.) She seemed to be in good health at the time of the conference. As death approached, she expressed her conviction that she was one of those represented in the vision who would be food for worms.34
For years, some people kept lists of those present at that conference, believing that Jesus would come before all had died. But Ellen White had been given a picture of what might have been if Gods people had aroused themselves to their divine assignment. Mrs. White should not be held to a higher, tighter standard than we apply to Bible prophets.35 In 1883 she had to write: It is true that time has continued longer than we expected in the early days of this message. Our Saviour did not appear as soon as we hoped. But has the word of the Lord failed? Never! It should be remembered that the promises and threatenings of God are alike conditional. . . .
Had Adventists, after the great disappointment in 1844, held fast their faith, and followed on unitedly in the opening providence of God, receiving the message of the third angel and in the power of the Holy Spirit proclaiming it to the world, they would have seen the salvation of God, the Lord would have wrought mightily with their efforts, the work would have been completed, and Christ would have come ere this to receive His people to their reward.36
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Ellen White received her first Civil War vision on Sabbath afternoon, January 12, 1861, in Parkville, Michigan. For about twenty minutes the congregation watched with intense interest this 33-year-old woman. The vision over, she shared briefly what had been revealed to her.
Her words made a lasting impression (as reported by J. N. Loughborough, an eye-witness): Men are making light of the secession ordinance that has been passed by South Carolina [Dec. 20, 1860]. They have little idea of the trouble that is coming on our land. No one in this house has even dreamed of the trouble that is coming. I have just been shown in vision that a number of States are going to join South Carolina in this secession, and a terrible war will be the result. In the vision I saw large armies raised by both the North and the South. I was shown the battle raging.
Then, looking over the congregation, she continued: There are men in this house who will lose sons in that war.37
On August 3, 1861, at Roosevelt, New York, Ellen White had her second Civil War vision. It focused on the evil of slaverythe North was to blame for the continuing extension of slavery, and the South for the sin of slavery. She was given a view of the disastrous battle at Manassas, Virginia (First Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861), and observed the mysterious confusion in the advance of the Northern army.38
Further, she wrote; I was shown that many do not realize the extent of the evil which has come upon us. They have flattered themselves that the national difficulties would soon be settled, and confusion and war end; but all will be convinced that there is more reality in the matter than was anticipated. Many looked for the North to strike a blow and end the controversy.39
What shall we make of these Civil War visions? The Parkville vision occurred three months before the guns fired on Fort Sumter, April 12, 1861. At that time many people believed that there would be no war, but should war begin, it would be short and the North would win in a brief fight.40 (For an extended review of contemporary viewpoints that were in sharp contrast with the predictions of Ellen White, see Appendix O.)
Ellen White saw it differently. She predicted that war would come and that other States would join South Carolina in seceding from the Union. She saw large armies in brutal combat, and widespread carnage over a long period wherein men would waste away in prison.41
Regarding her solemn prediction that some families in her Parkville audience would lose sons in the war, Loughborough spoke some time later with the local elder of the Parkville church who had presided over that memorable Sabbath service. The elder identified five families, with a possible five additional families, who had lost loved ones.
Further, in these visions Mrs. White saw clearly that the main issue was slavery, and that God would permit both the North and the South to be punished until they confronted this issue. Many political and religious leaders saw this only after years of terrible struggle had killed and injured millions. The politics of Washington, interlocked with Southern sympathizers in Northern leadership, had kept the purposes of the war muddied. The Fugitive Slave Acts,42 requiring Northerners to return runaway slaves to their masters, is a good example of the political and moral confusion. Note how long it took President Lincoln to decide that it was time to issue the Emancipation Proclamation (on September 22, 1862, effective January 1, 1863).43
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Ellen Whites general predictions made in the waning years of the nineteenth century seem like a review of modern newspapers. Some could say that she was simply using the same sagacity that other thoughtful people were using when contemplating the future. But what she wrote and what thought leaders in her day were projecting were light-years apart.
The period between 1890 and 1914 is noted for millennial predictions, a time when the future looked bright with promise. In most all areas of Western society, whether in medicine, economics, technology, or scientific inventions, the picture of peace, prosperity, and a golden future was a prevailing sentiment.44
Some of the predictions Ellen White made contrary to the spirit of her age focused on the social world: Step by step, the world is reaching the conditions that existed in the days of Noah. Every conceivable crime is committed. The lust of the flesh, the pride of the eyes, the display of selfishness, the misuse of power, the cruelty, and the force used to cause men to unite with confederacies and unions . . . all these are the working of Satanic agencies. . . . The whole world appears to be in the march to death.45
I am bidden to declare the message that cities full of transgression, and sinful in the extreme, will be destroyed by earthquakes, by fire, by flood.46
I have been shown that the Spirit of the Lord is being withdrawn from the earth. Gods keeping power will soon be refused to all who continue to disregard His commandments. The reports of fraudulent transactions, murders, and crimes of every kind are coming to us daily. Iniquity is becoming so common a thing that it no longer shocks the senses as it once did.47
She turned to the development of international tensions and war: The tempest is coming, and we must get ready for its fury. . . . We shall see troubles on all sides. Thousands of ships will be hurled into the depths of the sea. Navies will go down, and human lives will be sacrificed by millions. Fires will break out unexpectedly, and no human effort will be able to quench them. The palaces of earth will be swept away in the fury of the flames. Disasters by rail will become more and more frequent; confusion, collision, and death without a moments warning will occur on the great lines of travel.48
Last Friday morning, just before I awoke, a very impressive scene was presented before me. I seemed to awake from sleep but was not in my home. From the windows I could behold a terrible conflagration. Great balls of fire were falling upon houses, and from these balls fiery arrows were flying in every direction. It was impossible to check the fires that were kindled, and many places were being destroyed. The terror of the people was indescribable. After a time I awoke and found myself at home.49
Soon great trouble will arise among the nationstrouble that will not cease until Jesus comes.50
Another perceptive insight ran cross-grained with the phenomenal optimism prevailing in 1909, the year of the following prediction regarding increasing economic and social impasses: There are not many, even among educators and statesmen, who comprehend the causes that underlie the present state of society. Those who hold the reins of government are not able to solve the problem of moral corruption, poverty, pauperism, and increasing crime. They are struggling in vain to place business operations on a more secure basis.51
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Ellen Whites previews of the rise of modern spiritualism were given when spiritistic manifestations were local, isolated, and more of a curiosity than anything else. Those 1848 displays of strange rappings involving the Fox sisters in Hydesville, New York, were shown to her as the revival of spiritualism in modern times. In reporting a vision seen March 24, 1849, she wrote: I saw that the mysterious knocking in New York and other places was the power of Satan, and that such things would be more and more common, clothed in a religious garb so as to lull the deceived to greater security.52 Spiritualism probably has never been more prominent in the history of the world than it is today. Adherents include people on all levels of society and in every economic class. Politicians and heads of government freely admit their reliance on spiritualist mediums. Who, other than Ellen White in 1849, had the insight to label the Fox-sisters-phenomenon as the beginning of a worldwide, sophisticated movement with tremendous implications for events in the last days?
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Another predictive area involves the astounding rise of papal influence, from virtual innocuousness in the nineteenth century to its current worldwide power and influence. In 1888, during the dark days of the papacy, Ellen White wrote: Let the principle once be established in the United States, that the church may employ or control the power of the state; that religious observances may be enforced by secular laws; in short, that the authority of church and state is to dominate the conscience, and the triumph of Rome in this country [the U.S.A.] is assured.
Gods word has given warning of the impending danger; let this be unheeded, and the Protestant world will learn what the purposes of Rome really are, only when it is too late to escape the snare. She is silently growing into power. Her doctrines are exerting their influence in legislative halls, in the churches, and in the hearts of men. . . . Stealthily and unsuspectedly she is strengthening her forces to further her own ends when the time shall come for her to strike. All that she desires is vantage ground, and this is already being given her. We shall soon see and shall feel what the purpose of the Roman element is.53
The 1980s and 1990s witnessed a dramatic recovery of world stature by the Pope of Rome, a far cry from those decades between 1870 and 1929 when the pope was the prisoner of the Vatican.54 The world was stunned to see the President of the United States and the Pope on the cover of Time magazine, February 24, 1992, under the words, The Holy Alliance. The feature article unfolded the story behind the collapse of communism. President Reagan and Pope John Paul II had been in close, highly secret, consultation for years as they worked together to destabilize the communist network. They regarded the U.S.Vatican relationship as a holy alliance; the moral force of their church combined with their fierce anticommunism and their notion of American democracy. Without this close cooperation between the Catholic Church and the United States, world developments in recent decades probably would have been vastly different.
Further, as if to single-handedly endorse Ellen Whites 1888 predictions, Time magazines cover for December 26, 1994, featured Pope John Paul II as Man of the Year. In that cover story, the Pope presented himself as the moral compass for believers and nonbelievers alike. Even Billy Graham, symbol of evangelical Protestantism, said of the Pope: Hes been the strong conscience of the whole Christian world.55
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But Ellen White saw more than the resurgence of papal adoration worldwide. She also saw what no person even a few years ago would have dreamedthe astonishing rapprochement between Catholics and Protestants, even evangelical Protestants! In 1885 she wrote: When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism, when, under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions, then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near.56
A landmark document that no one could have foreseen even in the 1980s was signed in joint declaration on March 29, 1994, by leading evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics. Perhaps the most significant event in the last 500 years of church history, the signing of this amazing statement entitled Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the 3rd Millennium, (ECT), substantially overturns the Protestant Reformation as it fulfills Bible prophecyand Ellen Whites predictions.57
One prediction yet to be completely fulfilled involves the threefold union of Protestantism, Catholicism, and Spiritualism (New Agers, etc.) in the concerted effort to enforce Sunday worship. With the stunning rapidity of recent Protestant-Catholic joint efforts, unified at the center by their common theological thread of the immortality of the soul, their further union with modern Spiritualism (New Agers) is not difficult to foreseenow. But not in the 1880s!58
All the above illustrations of Ellen Whites predictive ministry are interesting and, to a degree, coercive.
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What has amazed thoughtful people throughout the world is that her general comments on health, science, or environment have stood the test of the yearssomething that probably cannot be said about any other writer in the nineteenth century. That in itself is a remarkable achievement. More than that, her writings contain certain principles and developments that were not common in her day but today are well-validated.
For example, note her profound emphasis on how the mind affects the body in producing sickness;59 her warm concern for prenatal influences, including drugs and alcohol;60 and her monumental, interactive system of dietary principles that are increasingly supported by nutritional research. 61
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Equally interesting are the predictions Ellen White made regarding the worldwide expansion of Seventh-day Adventists, long before her colleagues could see any evidence for her optimism:
· November, 1848, Dorchester, Massachusetts: At a time of great financial stress, and appealing to no more than one hundred Sabbatarian Adventists, she predicted that the periodical her husband was starting would be small at first, but eventually its streams of light would go clear round the world.62
In 1995, Seventh-day Adventists had worldwide 56 publishing houses, 7,485 full-time literature evangelists, with worldwide sales of $99,253,123 (U.S. dollars), with literature being published in 229 languages (including oral evangelism. Adventists are working in 717 languages worldwide).63
· Speaking from a chair (mostly bedridden for eleven months) at the opening of the Melbourne Bible School (predecessor of Avondale College), August 24, 1892, Mrs. White said: The missionary work in Australia and New Zealand is yet in its infancy, but the same work must be accomplished in Australia, New Zealand, in Africa, India, China, and the islands of the sea, as has been accomplished in the home field [USA].64
Young A. G. Daniells, one of the first American expatriate workers in Australia, heard this prediction with astonishment and wrote later of the sense of being overwhelmed. All present felt that this prediction seemed like the wildest kind of speculation. . . . But some who were present have lived to see these staggering predictions strikingly fulfilled.65
· In 1894 Ellen White urged the Australian Adventist constituency of fewer than one thousand to plan immediately for a college to train workers for the Adventist mission to the South Pacific. Further, she envisioned a college that would break new ground after learning lessons from the difficult experiences at Battle Creek College. Few, even of her closest advisers, saw wisdom in her counsel, but without her visionary understanding of what the South Pacific needed and her tenacity to see the project through, neither Avondale College, nor much else in Australia and New Zealand, would be standing under the Adventist name today.
· In November, 1901, Ellen White wrote a severe warning to the board of trustees of the Review and Herald Publishing Association, the best equipped printing office in the state of Michigan.66 They had problems: about ninety percent of their work was commercial, some of it clearly inappropriate for Adventist publishers. Other problems revolved around interpersonal relationships.
After many previous warnings, Mrs. White made what amounted to a divine threat: I have been almost afraid to open the Review, fearing to see that God has cleansed the publishing house by fire. . . . Unless there is a reformation, calamity will overtake the publishing house, and the world will know the reason.67
Thirteen months later, December 30, 1902, a fire of unknown origin destroyed the complex. Nothing of value was saved. When leaders wanted to rebuild in Battle Creek, Ellen White objected, saying, Never lay a stone or a brick in Battle Creek to rebuild the Review office there. God has a better place for it.68
· On at least three occasions Ellen White urged her stunned colleagues to buy property in southern California for medical centers.69 On October 13, 1902, she wrote that properties with buildings especially suited to sanitarium work could be bought at much less than their original cost.70 Without this insight into Gods plan for southern California, Paradise Valley Hospital, Glendale Adventist Medical Center, and Loma Linda University would not be centers for Adventist outreach.71
· Before church leaders could get their breath after purchasing the Loma Linda property, Ellen White was painting the future of Loma Linda as the principal center for educating medical personnel. Far beyond any human dream, she was calmly adamant: This will be.72
Since Ellen Whites awesome prediction, Loma Linda University has graduated many thousands in various fields of advanced education. It is internationally known for some of its medical achievements.
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Ellen White had many experiences dealing with peoples secret problems. In 1858 she wrote about a farm family (father, mother, and grown daughter) who had moved to Illinois from New England three years earlier. Ostensibly the reason for the move was to introduce the work in the West. The husband went with one intention, his wife with another. His intention was to proclaim the truth, her intention was to have all their means laid out in house and lands.
As time went on, the husband disobeyed the call of God to gratify his wife and daughter, and was too willing to excuse or cover up his love of the world under a show of duty to his family. . . . I saw that unless she got out of her husbands way . . . the Lord would visit the family with judgment, and move her out of the way.
Soon disease came and the wife died. While the Whites visited the bereaved husband and father, Mrs. White had a vision of the spiritual struggle he was going through and was astonished at what was shown me. She was shown how the father was snared by the deceitfulness of riches and that the daughter was wrapped up in selfishness.
But time went on. In 1857 Ellen White had another vision regarding this Illinois family. She saw that he was not moving fast enough, that he was not using his means to advance the cause of God as fast as he should. Soon after that vision, she heard that this very prosperous father had died at the age of 51.
Why did Mrs. White report this private story in the church paper? She closed her article with these words: As I have seen that the reward of covetousness thus far upon this family should be a warning to the church, I cannot withhold from the people of God what has been shown me respecting them.73
Always the soul winner, she recognized a young watchmaker in Nimes, France, whom she had seen in vision. Once a believer, Abel Bieder had become discouraged and was, at the time, working on the Sabbath while he perfected his watchmaking trade. After meeting him at his shop, she invited him to meetings where she was to speak. She spoke privately with Abel, telling him that she knew the history of his life and his youthful errors.
I then entreated him with tears to turn square about, to leave the service of Satan and of sin, for he had become a thorough backslider, and return like the prodigal to his Fathers house. . . . I told him that I dared not have him cross the threshold of the door until he would before God and angels and those present say, I will from this day be a Christian.
The next day Abel resigned from his promising career, happy in the Lord. Soon Ellen White paid his fare to Basel so he could assist L. R. Conradi and James Erzberger in their evangelistic work.74
The N. D. Faulkhead experience in 1892 is a classic illustration of Ellen Whites prophetic ministry for the early Australian Adventists. When she went to Australia in 1891, Faulkhead was treasurer of the publishing house; he also held the highest positions in several secret organizations. As time went on, he became increasingly involved in his lodge work, and his church interests waned.
On the boat trip to Australia and soon after arrival, Ellen White had a comprehensive vision involving the publishing house generally and several personal testimonies, including one for the Faulkheads. When she went to mail the message, she felt strongly restrained: When I enclosed the communication all ready to mail, it seemed that a voice spoke to me saying, Not yet, not yet, they will not receive your testimony. She held the testimony for almost twelve months.75
During that time Faulkheads co-workers noticed his fading interest in his work and pleaded with him to reconsider his infatuation with the lodges. Ellen White saw in vision that he was a man about to lose his balance and fall over a precipice.76
One of the Australian Adventists asked Faulkhead what he would do if Mrs. White had a testimony for him in regard to his lodge affiliations. To this he responded, It would have to be mighty strong. That she indeed had a message for Faulkhead almost a year old, no one yet knew.77
Shortly after Faulkheads defiance, he had a dream that Ellen White had a message for him! In a few days, he met her and asked if she had something for him. Replying that she had, she proposed an early meeting in the future. But Faulkhead was eager: Why not give me the message now?
She told him that several times she had been ready to send the message but she was forbidden by the Spirit of the Lord to do so because the time was not ripe. But now was the time. She began to read the fifty-page manuscript, especially the portion dealing with his involvement with Freemasonry. She went on to reveal how he dropped small coins into offerings on the Sabbath but large coins into the treasury of the lodges. She heard him addressed as Worshipful Master.
Later, Faulkhead recalled: I thought this was getting pretty close home when she started to talk to me in reference to what I was doing in the lodges.78
Then it happened. After giving a certain movement of her hand, she said: I cannot relate all that was given to me.79
Faulkhead turned pale, recounting later: Immediately she gave me this sign. I touched her on the shoulder and asked her if she knew what she had done. She looked up surprised and said she did not do anything unusual. I told her that she had given me the sign of a Knight Templar. Well, she did not know anything about it.
Ellen White went on about how impossible it is to be a committed Christian and a Freemason. Then she made another secret sign, which she said my attending angel made to me. Faulkhead knew that this particular sign was known only to the highest order of Masons, and said later: This convinced me that her testimony was from God. . . . Immediately the statement that I had made to Brother Stockton, that it would have to be mighty strong before I could believe that she had a message for me from the Lord, flashed through my mind.
Faulkheads response to the interview was immediate. He told his co-workers the next day how God had spoken to him through Ellen White. His first work of the day was to dictate his resignation to his various lodges. But his lodge friends did not give up easily, insisting that he was honor-bound to serve out his term for the next nine months. The struggle was severe and fellow church members trembled for him.
At the end of those nine months Faulkhead wrote to Gods messenger: How thankful I am to Him for sending me a warning that I was traveling on the wrong road. . . . I can see now very clearly that to continue with them would have been my downfall, as I must confess that my interest for the truth was growing cold.
Faulkhead continued to serve the publishing house for many years and remained a strong spiritual leader in Australia.80
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1. For a partial list of Ellen Whites visions, see Appendix D.
2. Bio., vol. 6, pp. 98, 99.
3. Ibid., p. 96.
4. DF 481, Jesse Arthur to WCW, Aug. 27, 1902, cited in Bio., vol. 6, p. 97.
5. Ibid., pp. 97, 98. The Salamanca vision and the 1891 General Conference Session experience provide other examples of how a prophet is not always aware of the timing when the vision is to be presented to others. See pp. 149, 188. On another occasion, when Ellen White visited the Swiss publishing house in 1885, she recognized the press room as one that she had seen in vision. She shook hands with two young workers and then asked for the third worker. B. L. Whitney, president of the Swiss Mission, was puzzled until Mrs. White said, There is an older man here and I have a message for him. The other worker was in the city on business. Ten years before, she had seen this particular worker in vision and now she was reminded that she had a special message for him. This incident brought immense encouragement to all the workers in Basel. (Story in Bio., Vol. 3, pp. 293, 294.
6. 1 Chron. 17:1-15. See p. 35.
7. See Appeal for the Southern Field, cited in Daniells, AGP, p. 322.
8. Bio., vol. 5, pp. 187-193; Daniells, Ibid., pp. 323-327.
9. Daniells, AGP, pp. 327-329.
10. Hiram Edsons report in Present Truth (PT), Dec. 1849, cited in Bio., vol. 1, pp. 196-198. In the same issue of PT, Ellen White reported: While in vision the angel pointed to the earth, where I saw Brother Rhodes in thick darkness; but he still bore the image of Jesus. I saw it was the will of God that Brethren Edson and Ralph should go.
11. Bio., vol. 4, pp. 315-317.
12. The Desire of Ages, p. 215.
13. Ibid., p. 220.
15. The Acts of the Apostles, p. 137.
16. Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 686.
17. For a discussion of the Shut-Door issue, see chapter 44.
18. The Review and Herald, Apr. 21, 1851, pp. 71, 72.
19. See p. 170, 171.
20. Review and Herald, Aug. 30, 1864, p. 109.
21. Testimonies, vol. 1, pp. 206, 207.
23. See pp. 281-284 for an analysis of this vision.
24. The text continued: Swine were useful. In a fruitful country, where there was much to decay upon the ground, which would poison the atmosphere, herds of swine were permitted to run free, and devoured the decaying substances, which was a means of preserving health. Other animals were forbidden to be eaten by the Israelites, because they were not the best articles of food.Page 124.
25. Available today in Selected Messages, book 2, pp. 411-479.
26. Selected Messages, book 2, p. 417. See Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 392, and The Ministry of Healing, p. 314.
27. Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 207.
28. Ellen White never changed her position regarding eating pork as to making the issue a test question, even though she emphasized in her writings that God declared swine as an unclean food because of its unhealthy nature: If you are a Bible doer as well as a Bible reader, you must understand from the Scriptures that swines flesh was prohibited by Jesus Christ enshrouded in the billowy cloud. This is not a test question. Directions have been given to families that such articles as butter and the eating largely of flesh meats is not the best for physical and mental health. . . . I advise every Sabbathkeeping canvasser [literature evangelist] to avoid eating meat, not because it is regarded as a sin to eat meat, but because it is not healthful. MR, vol. 16, p. 173.
29. Bio., vol. 1, p. 61. Giving reproof never became easier.
30. Life Sketches, p. 90.
31. Selected Messages, book 3, pp. 36, 37.
32. Bio., vol. 3, p. 146. In a nearly thirteen-page testimony that was read at the Michigan camp meeting in 1881, she wrote near the close: Let none entertain the thought that I regret or take back any plain testimony I have borne to individuals or to the people. If I have erred anywhere, it is in not rebuking sin more decidedly and firmly. Some of the brethren have taken the responsibility of criticizing my work and proposing an easier way to correct wrongs. To these persons I would say: I take Gods way and not yours. What I have said or written in testimony or reproof has not been too plainly expressed. God has given me my work, and I must meet it at the judgment. . . . All through my life it has been terribly hard for me to hurt the feelings of any, or disturb their self-deception, as I deliver the testimonies given me of God. It is contrary to my nature. It costs me great pain and many sleepless nights.Ibid., pp. 184, 185.
33. The vision is reported in two parts: the powerful description of The Two Ways, and Conformity to the World.Testimonies, vol. 1, pp. 127-137.
34. Ibid., p. 132, footnote.
36. Manuscript 4, 1883, cited in Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 67, 68. This sad recognition of reality was reflected in her writings at least thirty times as recorded in Herbert E. Douglass, The End (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1979), pp. 161-167. This fact should not be obscuredthe delay in the Advent is not Gods fault or His arbitrary plan: We may have to remain here in this world because of insubordination many more years, as did the children of Israel; but for Christs sake, His people should not add sin to sin by charging God with the consequence of their own wrong course of action.Evangelism, p. 696.
37. Bio., vol. 1, p. 463.
39. Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 264.
40. How shortsighted most everyone was: A few days before the Parkville vision, on December 22, 1860, William H. Seward, secretary-of-state-elect to the Lincoln cabinet, predicted a peaceful settlement of the national crisis within the next sixty days.Cited in Henry S. Commager, ed., Documents of American History (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1863, 2 vols., 7th ed), I, pp. 366, 369. In mid-February 1861 Thomas R. R. Cobb, Georgia secessionist and committee member preparing the Confederate constitution, wrote: The almost universal belief here [Montgomery] is that we shall not have war.Cited in Edward Channing, History of the United States (New York: Macmillan Co., 1905-1925, 6 volumes), Vol. VI, p. 264. Two days before his Inaugural Address of March 4, 1861, Lincoln declared in Philadelphia: I have felt all the while justified in concluding that the crisis, the panic, the anxiety of the country at this time is artificial.Cited in Harpers Weekly, March 2, 1861, p. 135.
The Encyclopedia Britannica estimated that the Civil War cost a total of some $11,450,500,000 for the North alone. But the cost to the South was enormous; $4,000,000,000 cannot be exaggeration. It follows that, up to 1909, the cost of the war to the nation had approximated the tremendous total of $15,500,000,000 . . . and the death of probably 300,000 men on each side.11th ed., vol. XXVII, p. 710.
41. Loughborough, RPSDA, pp. 236, 237.
42. Fugitive Slave Acts of 1793, 1850, and upheld by Supreme Court in 1859: In the Rochester vision Ellen White wrote: The fugitive slave law was calculated to crush out of man every noble, generous feeling of sympathy that should arise in his heart for the oppressed and suffering slave.Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 264. The officers of the Southern army are constantly receiving information in regard to the plans of the Northern army. . . . Rebels know they have sympathizers all through the Northern army. . . . The spirits of devils, professing to be dead warriors and skillful generals, communicate with men in authority, and control many of their movements. . . . Many professed Union men, holding important positions, are disloyal at heart. Their only object in taking up arms was to preserve the Union as it was, and slavery with it. They would heartily chain down the slave to his life of galling bondage, had they the privilege. Such have a strong degree of sympathy with the South. . . . I saw that both the South and the North were being punished.Ibid., pp. 363-368.
43. In an August 22, 1862, letter to Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, President Lincoln wrote: My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could do it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.Carl Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years (New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1937), vol. 3, p. 567.
44. For a sampling of turn-of-the-century peace and prosperity sentiment, note the following: Since the Exhibition [London, 1851], western civilization has advanced steadily, and in some respects more rapidly than any sober mind could have predictedcivilization, at least, in the conventional sense, which has been not badly defined as the development of material ease, of education, of equality, and of aspirations to rise and succeed in life. The most striking advance has been in the technical conveniences of lifethat is, in the control over natural forces. It would be superfluous to enumerate the discoveries and inventions since 1850 which have abridged space, economized time, eased bodily suffering, and reduced in some ways the friction of life, though they have increased it in others. This uninterrupted series of technical inventions, proceeding concurrently with immense enlargements of all branches of knowledge, has gradually accustomed the least speculative mind to the conception that civilization is naturally progressive, and that continuous improvement is part of the order of things. . . .
In the seventies and eighties of the last century [19th] the idea of progress was becoming a general article of faith. Some might hold it in the fatalistic form that humanity moves in a desirable direction, whatever men do or may leave undone; others might believe that the future will depend largely on our own conscious efforts, but that there is nothing in the nature of things to disappoint the prospect of steady and indefinite advance. The majority did not inquire too curiously into such points of doctrine, but received it in a vague sense as a comfortable addition to their convictions. But it became a part of the general mental outlook of educated people. . . .
Within the last forty years every civilized country has produced a large literature on social science, in which indefinite progress is generally assumed as an axiom.J. B. Bury, The Idea of Progress (New York, N.Y.: Dover Publications, Inc. 1955), pp. 331, 332, 346, 348.
The spirit of optimism at the turn of the century is reflected in church historian Arthur Cushman Gifferts sermon entitled, The Kingdom of God, delivered several times during 1909: The modern age is marked by a vast confidence in the powers of man. For many centuries it was the custom to think of man as a weak and puny thing. Humility and self-distrust were the cardinal virtues, pride and self-reliance and independence the root of all vice. The change is not the fruit of speculation, a mere philosophical theory as to mans relation to the universe, but the result of the actual and growing conquest of the world in which we live. . . . Characteristic of the present time is its faith in the future, based upon its solid experiences of the past. . . . The great task of the Christian church of the twentieth century is ready to its hand. Upon the church devolves the chief responsibility for the bringing of the kingdom. . . . We are on the eve of great happenings. No one familiar with history and able to read the signs of the times can for a moment doubt it.Cited in H. Shelton Smith, Robert T. Handy, Lefferts A. Loetscher, American Christianity, An Historical Interpretation With Representative Documents (New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1963), pp. 286, 290.
45. Manuscript 139, 1903, cited in Evangelism, p. 26.
47. Letter 258, 1907, cited in Last Day Events, p. 27.
48. Signs of the Times, April 21, 1890, p. 242.
49. Letter 278, 1906, cited in Last Day Events, pp. 24, 25.
50. Review and Herald, Feb. 11, 1904, p. 8.
51. Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 13. Current books, magazines, and TV programs seem in concert in their lament regarding worldwide economic problems inherent in various degrees of government socialism, job dislocations caused by the information age, the moral corruption connected with drugs and alcohol and their contribution to the astonishing rise in crime worldwide, the stunning rise in teen-age pregnancies, etc. All these problems have contributed to rising government costs and increased taxation.
52. Early Writings, p. 43. A year later, Aug. 24, 1850, she wrote: I saw that the mysterious rapping was the power of Satan; some of it was directly from him, and some indirectly, through his agents, but it all proceeded from Satan. . . . I was shown that by the rapping and mesmerism these modern magicians would yet account for all the miracles wrought by our Lord Jesus Christ, and that many would believe that all the mighty works of the Son of God when on earth were accomplished by this same power.Ibid., p. 59.
53. The Great Controversy, p. 581. See also Last Day Events, p. 132.
54. No pope since 1870, when the unified Kingdom of Italy took over the papal territories, had stepped outside of the Vatican grounds until the 1929 Concordat with Mussolinis government.
55. Time, Dec. 26, 1994, p. 54.
56. Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 451. See The Great Controversy, pp. 445, 448, 449.
57. Revelation 13:3 foretold the day when all the world marveled and followed the beast [Papal Rome]. The essence of this declaration set forth by prominent evangelical and Catholic leaders is: Those who love the Lord must stand together; that which unites us is far more than that which divides. One of the signers, J. I. Packer, defended his endorsement in Why I Signed It (Christianity Today, Dec. 12, 1994): The plot-line of its 8,000 words is simply summarized. After stating that its concern is with the relationship between evangelicals and Catholics, who constitute the growing edge of missionary expansion at present and, most likely, in the century ahead, it announces its composers agreement on the Apostles Creed and on the proposition that we are justified by grace through faith because of Jesus Christ; it affirms a commitment to seek more love, . . . it sketches out a purpose of nonproselytizing joint action for the conversion and nurture of outsiders. . . . The drafters of ECT declare that they . . . understand the Christian life from first to last as personal conversion to Jesus Christ and communion with him, know that they must teach and live in obedience to the divinely inspired Scriptures, which are the infallible Word of God, and on this basis are brothers and sisters in Christ.
Charles Colson, another prominent signer, defended the ECT document in Why Catholics Are Our Allies, wherein he advocated: When confronting the non-Christian worldwhether in evangelism or political activismwe should present a united front. This is the goal of ECT . . . . Lets be certain that we are firing our polemical rifles against the enemy, not against those [Roman Catholics] fighting in the trenches alongside us [Protestants] in defense of the Truth.Christianity Today, Nov. 14, 1994.
58. Through the two great errors, the immortality of the soul and Sunday sacredness, Satan will bring the people under his deceptions. While the former lays the foundation of Spiritualism, the latter creates a bond of sympathy with Rome. The Protestants of the United States will be foremost in stretching their hands across the gulf to grasp the hand of spiritualism; they will reach over the abyss to clasp hands with the Roman power; and under the influence of this threefold union, this country will follow in the steps of Rome in trampling on the rights of conscience.The Great Controversy, p. 588.
59. Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 566 (1867); Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 184 (1872); The Ministry of Healing, p. 241 (1905).
60. Selected Messages, book 2, p. 442 (1865); Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 561 (1890).
61. See on pp. 320-336 her insights on the dangers of the free use of sugar and animal fats, the problems of obesity and irregularity of eating, the towering value of exercise, the challenge of childhood diet patterns, the dangers in flesh food, tea, and coffee, etc., in Counsels on Diet and Foods (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1938).
62. Life Sketches, p. 125.
63. 133rd Annual Statistical Report1995. (Published by General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.)
64. Life Sketches, p. 338.
65. The Abiding Gift of Prophecy, p. 309 (1936). Imagine how delighted and amazed those present in 1892 would be if they could see the remarkable outreach of Adventists throughout the South Pacific today.
66. James White, Life Sketches (Battle Creek, Mich.: Steam Press of the Seventh-day Adventist Publishing Assn., 1880), pp. 353-355.
67. Testimonies, vol. 8, pp. 91, 96.
68. General Conference Bulletin, 1903, p. 85.
69. See p. 189.
70. Letter 157, 1902, cited in MR vol. 4, p. 280.
71. D. E. Robinson, The Story of Our Health Message (Nashville, Tenn.: Southern Publishing Association, 1965), pp. 337-361.
72. Ibid., pp. 351, 352.
73. Review and Herald, April 15, 1858, p. 174. Ellen Whites first letter to this family is dated July 12, 1856.
74. Delafield, Ellen G. White in Europe, pp. 233-234, 236.
75. Letter 39, 1893, cited in Bio., vol. 4. pp. 49, 50.
76. Manuscript 4, 1893, cited in Ibid., pp. 50, 51.
77. DF 522a, N. D. Faulkhead to EGW, Feb. 20, 1908, cited in Bio., vol. 4, p. 51.
78. N. D. Faulkhead letter, Oct. 5, 1908, cited in Ibid., pp. 51, 52.
79. Letter 46, 1892, cited in Ibid.
80. Letter 46, 1892, cited in Ibid., p. 55.
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1. List some of Ellen Whites beliefs and opinions that were modified after receiving a vision.
2. Why do you think that God did not reveal all the truth that He wanted His messengers to know at the beginning of their ministry?
3. What Ellen White predictions have you observed being fulfilled in the last twenty years?
4. How would you have reacted to Ellen Whites insight if you had been N. D. Faulkhead?
5. List and discuss visions given in the following categories: Predictions; Direct counsel to individuals; An end-time vision.
6. Consider some times when Ellen Whites listening to God prompted her to communicate to others at precisely the right time the message that was needed.