Wolf among the sheep – The False Prophet: Ellen G. White

14 And the Lord said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. 15 Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name although I did not send them, and who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not come upon this land’: By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed.” Jeremiah 14:14-15

I want to start out by being upfront about my background with the Seventh Day Adventists. From 1969 to 1973 I attended and then graduated from Columbia Union College in Takoma Park, Maryland. This college is now better known as Washington Adventist University. Takoma Park in those days was a weird blend of hippies and Adventists. In those days it was to the Adventist Church what the Vatican is to the Catholic Church and Salt Lake City is the Mormons. They had much influence in that town since even today Takoma Park is a “dry” town with no alcohol sales. The hippie influence on the town could be seen since Takoma Park is a nuclear free zone. To this day I can only determine that God had His hand in my decision to attend this school because I had never even heard of the Adventists until two showed up at our home right before I chose a college.

I was raised in a theologically liberal minded Presbyterian Church in Woodbridge, NJ. The Old White Church was established in 1675 and the first several pastors were non-conformist ministers banished to the colonies by the Church of England. The theological trajectory of that church had bottomed out by the time I attended and the ten minutes homilies the pastor gave each Sunday had no impact on me.  I will say right up front, neither my Presbyterian up bringing or my time at Columbia Union College made any impact on my spiritual orientation. I can now look back and praise God for that.

The one thing I remember distinctly from my years at CUC was the name of Ellen G. White. I was required to attend dorm worship six times a week where attendance was taken, attend the mega Sligo Seventh Day Adventist Church during the school day twice a week, and take at least one theology course each school year. Sister White was quoted as often as Scripture. The teachings of Sister White were at the center of Sabbath School teaching and her teachings were authoritatively presented in the theology classes I was required to take. The Daniel and Revelation class I took was almost entirely pulled from her writings.

The genesis of the Seventh Day Adventist movement was with the Millerite Movement. William Miller was a New York farmer and a lay Baptist pastor. Theologically astute, Miller spent years studying prophetic Scripture, particularly the prophecies in the Book of Daniel. He became fixated on Daniel 8:14: “For 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.” From this verse he determined that the Second Coming or Advent of Jesus Christ would be approximately during the time period 1843-1844. When the Millerite predictions did not occur the movement splintered. This period in Millerite/Adventist history is known as the Great Disappointment [1]

The movement began to fragment after Christ did not return with one branch believing in what became known as shut-door theology. They believed that 1844 actually marked the door of salvation being shut not Christ’s return. It held that William Miller had heralded the final call for salvation and all who did not accept his message were lost. One young Millerite that held to this belief was Ellen Harmon (White). In her first recorded vision she was shown that the Door of Mercy was shut to those Millerites that denied William Miller’s leading in 1844 and the rest of the wicked world.

“While praying at the family altar, the Holy Ghost fell on me, and I seemed to be rising higher and higher, far above the dark world. I turned to look for the Advent people in the world but could not find them–when a voice said to me, “Look again, and look a little higher.” At this I raised my eyes and saw a straight and narrow path, cast up high above the world. On this path the Advent people were travelling to the City, which was at the Egw1899farther end of the path. They had a bright light set up behind them at the first end of the path, which an angel told me was the Midnight Cry. This light shone all along the path and gave light for their feet so they might not stumble. And if they kept their eyes fixed on Jesus, who was just before them, leading them to the City, they were safe. But soon some grew weary, and they said the City was a great way off, and they expected to have entered it before. Then Jesus would encourage them by raising his glorious right arm, and from his arm came a glorious light which waved over the Advent band, and they shouted Hallelujah! Others rashly denied the light behind them and said that it was not God that had led them out so far. The light behind them went out leaving their feet in perfect darkness, and they stumbled and got their eyes off the mark and lost sight of Jesus and fell off the path down in the dark and wicked world below. It was just as impossible for them to get on the path again and go to the City, as all the wicked world which God had rejected. They fell all the way along the path one after another, until we heard the voice of God like many waters, which gave us the day and hour of Jesus’ coming. The living saints, 144,000 in number, knew and understood the voice, while the wicked thought it was thunder and an earthquake. When God spake the time, he poured on us the Holy Ghost, and our faces began to light up and shine with the glory of God as Moses’ did when he came down from Mount Sinai.”[2]

Ellen White at this point firmly believed the door to salvation was shut. There is no question of her belief in the ‘shut door’ doctrine from 1844 until 1851, yet this visionary would later deny she held to this cultic position. Subsequent visions clearly confirm her belief in the ‘Shut door’ doctrine. It was only after 1851 that her position modified. Can a prophet of God deny what she claimed to be a vision from God Himself?  An Old Testament prophet served as God’s servant in communicating God’s Word to His people. True prophets never spoke on their own authority or shared their personal opinions, but rather delivered the message God himself gave them. For instance, God promised Moses, “Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” (Exodus 4:12). God also assured Moses, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.” (Deuteronomy 18:18). To Jeremiah, ““Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.” (Jeremiah 1:9). God commissioned Ezekiel by saying, “And you shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear, for they are a rebellious house.” (Ezekiel 2:7). And many of the Old Testament prophetic books begin with the words, “The word of the LORD that came to . . .” (Hosea 1:2; Joel 1:1; Micah 1:1; Zephaniah 1:1;  Jonah 1:1). Amos claimed, “This is what the LORD says” (Amos 1:3).

So, if Ellen White’s visions were from the Lord, we need to ask why subsequent visions contradicted her first vision? We also need to ask why if God commissioned her to speak His words and, if He put the words in her mouth, why did she need to plagiarize or paraphrase other writers of her day?  The Lord God Himself answered that in Jeremiah 23:30 “Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, declares the Lord, who steal my words from one another.”

From 1844 to 1863 White allegedly experienced between 100 and 200 visions, typically in public places and meeting halls. She claimed to have received about 2,000 prophetic dreams and visions between 1844 and 1909 which formed the basis of her personal testimonies, sermons, articles and books. Ellen White clearly stated that her visions and her writings were from the Lord and not her own ideas or opinions: “Weak and trembling, I arose at three o’clock in the morning to write to you. God was speaking through clay. You might say that this communication was only a letter. Yes, it was a letter, but prompted by the Spirit of God, to bring before your minds things that had been shown me. In these letters which I write, in the testimonies I bear, I am presenting to you that which the Lord has presented to me. I do not write one article in the paper expressing merely my own ideas. They are what God has opened before me in vision — the precious rays of light shining from the throne.” (Testimonies for the Church, Issue 31, Page 63, By Ellen Gould Harmon White) If this is so why did she outright plagiarize and borrow the writings of contemporary authors so much?

The charges of plagiarism and paraphrasing other authors has been irrefutably and publicly revealed beginning with a book written by Ronald Numbers titled Prophetess of Health written in 1976. Numbers book revealed Ellen White’s borrowing from contemporary health reformers of her age. Numbers caused many Adventists to question whether or not her writings were inspired and therefore did they hold any authority.

Walter Rea followed Numbers by releasing his book White Lie which revealed further revelations as to the extent of her plagiarism. With this incontrovertible evidence the Seventh Day Adventist Church needed to deal with the charges Numbers and Rea documented. In 1982, Dr. Fred Veltman, then chairman of the religion department of Pacific Union College, was asked to analyze these charges against Ellen White. Dr. Veltman spent eight years at the cost of approximately $500,000 to study White’s book The Desire of Ages. The Desire of Ages is one of White’s most popular and widely read books. It was written detailing the life of Jesus Christ and was first published in 1898. Veltman’s research was printed in the Adventist church’s official magazine for clergy named Ministry. These finding can be viewed here and here. He concluded that Ellen White did use sources without giving credit, and that she, at times even denied doing so. The Desire Of Ages, he noted, was dependent on secondary materials. The study reached five conclusions:

  1. Ellen White used literary sources when writing The Desire of Ages.
  2. The content of Ellen White’s commentary on the life and ministry of Christ, The Desire of Ages, is for the most part derived rather than original.
  3. The special character of Ellen White’s commentary is to be found in its practical use of Scripture and in its stress on spiritual realities and personal devotion.
  4. Ellen White used a minimum of 23 sources of various types of literature, including fiction, in her writings on the life of Christ.
  5. Ellen White’s literary assistants, particularly Marian Davis, are responsible for the published form of The Desire of Ages.

She claimed to have received about 2,000 prophetic dreams and visions between 1844 and 1909 which formed the basis of her personal testimonies, sermons, articles and books. As of 2015 more than 100 White titles are available in English, including compilations from her 100,000 pages of manuscript. Numbers, Rea and Veltman show that there was massive amount of “borrowing” and outright plagiarizing at all levels of Ellen White’s writings. It also revealed the extent that her writings were inaccurate or just plain wrong and therefore she could not be speaking for God. In conclusion there is a movement within the Adventist Church to de-emphasize her writings as prophetic but to describe them as still beneficial to read. In conclusion the truth is that she was a false prophet and she should be shown no honor at all. The Lord God Himself has told us “Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, declares the Lord, who steal my words from one another.” Jeremiah 23:30

[1] The Great Disappointment in the Millerite movement was the reaction that followed William Miller’s predictions that Jesus Christ would return during the 1843-1844 time frame. Miller’s proclamations occurred during the time frame of the Second Great Awakening in American history. Miller himself did not specify an exact time, however many prominent members of the movement did and when Christ did not return this led to the Great Disappointment and a splintering of the movement.

[2] A Word to the “Little Flock”, p. 14., published by James White in 1847 and contains Ellen White’s first published visions.

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11 thoughts on “Wolf among the sheep – The False Prophet: Ellen G. White

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  1. Hello David,

    I personally have been led to the Church of Jesus Christ in these last days to give the message of warning to a perishing world. I believe the message of three angels in the book or Revelation and as the Spirit that was in Elijah, we too must lead people back to the foundation of faith that was once delivered unto the saints. The prophets of old did not prophecy smooth things neither did they prophecy innovative things. The true prophets led people back to the law and the true testimony. I believe that you have a misconstrued understanding of the prophet of God who is the late sister White. I too believe differently in the teachings now, especially the Godhead truth which had been taken out of the fundamental teachings of the Seventh Day Advent faith movement.

    What you are talking about is the great disappointment in 1844 which you would have already known, yet this had been obscured as it had been named, “shut door” theology which gives it a different perspective, being under a false light. This is not the work of the Holy Spirit. The great disappointment was allowed by God, as He hewed for Himself a remnant people who will be keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus Christ (Revelation 14:12). Sister Whites life had been one of consecration, tireless labor and a great sacrifice for the cause of God and as a result, many people got to know God’s Holy name in the light of Jesus.

    And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.

    Revelation 10:8-11

    1. “Sister Whites life had been one of consecration, tireless labor and a great sacrifice for the cause of God and as a result, many people got to know God’s Holy name in the light of Jesus.” She also was a plagiarist, The Study “Was Ellen G. White a Plagiarist? revealed this and was published in the Adventist Review, September 17, 1981. God didn’t need a plagiarist to reveal His truths.

      1. God does not always give direct revelation as a substitute for common knowledge that may be gained by normal means. so let God be true and truth is common property. Those materials are for the glory of God and i believe that is what she did using good and reliable historians” to provide convincing evidence for nonbelievers of the portrayal of events she had seen in vision or that were in harmony with views she wished to present. Writers of the Bible used the language of other Bible writers without giving credit. Also the quantity of quoted matter has been greatly exaggerated by her critics, and the nature of it is descriptive, historical, or relating to prophetic and doctrinal exposition.

        The disappointment the disciples of Jesus when He was crucified is likened on the disappointment the believers of truth also experience and this led them to study more what the prophecy really was since they had mistaken the cleansing of the sanctuary for earth instead of being the heavenly sanctuary, thus God led their minds to the heavenly things.

        “The subject of the sanctuary was the key which unlocked the mystery of the disappointment of 1844. It opened to view a complete system of truth, connected and harmonious, showing that God’s hand had directed the great advent movement and revealing present duty as it brought to light the position and work of His people. As the disciples of Jesus after the terrible night of their anguish and disappointment were “glad when they saw the Lord,” so did those now rejoice who had looked in faith for His second coming. They had expected Him to appear in glory to give reward to His servants. As their hopes were disappointed, they had lost sight of Jesus, and with Mary at the sepulcher they cried: “They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him.” Now in the holy of holies they again beheld Him, their compassionate High Priest, soon to appear as their king and deliverer. Light from the sanctuary illumined the past, the present, and the future. They knew that God had led them by His unerring providence. Though, like the first disciples, they themselves had failed to understand the message which they bore, yet it had been in every respect correct. In proclaiming it they had fulfilled the purpose of God, and their labor had not been in vain in the Lord. Begotten “again unto a lively hope,” they rejoiced “with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”

        Both the prophecy of Daniel 8:14, “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed,” and the first angel’s message, “Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come,” pointed to Christ’s ministration in the most holy place, to the investigative judgment, and not to the coming of Christ for the redemption of His people and the destruction of the wicked. The mistake had not been in the reckoning of the prophetic periods, but in the event to take place at the end of the 2300 days. Through this error the believers had suffered disappointment, yet all that was foretold by the prophecy, and all that they had any Scripture warrant to expect, had been accomplished. At the very time when they were lamenting the failure of their hopes, the event had taken place which was foretold by the message, and which must be fulfilled before the Lord could appear to give reward to His servants.

        Christ had come, not to the earth, as they expected, but, as foreshadowed in the type, to the most holy place of the temple of God in heaven. He is represented by the prophet Daniel as coming at this time to the Ancient of Days: “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came”—not to the earth, but—“to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.” Daniel 7:13.

        This coming is foretold also by the prophet Malachi: “The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 3:1. The coming of the Lord to His temple was sudden, unexpected, to His people. They were not looking for Him there. They expected Him to come to earth, “in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel.” 2 Thessalonians 1:8.

        But the people were not yet ready to meet their Lord. There was still a work of preparation to be accomplished for them. Light was to be given, directing their minds to the temple of God in heaven; and as they should by faith follow their High Priest in His ministration there, new duties would be revealed. Another message of warning and instruction was to be given to the church.” – {Christ in His Sanctuary 150-152}

      2. “Also the quantity of quoted matter has been greatly exaggerated by her critics, and the nature of it is descriptive, historical, or relating to prophetic and doctrinal exposition.” You obviously did not read the study. The Adventist Church refutes this quote.

  2. brother David i will read the study and get back with you. Our eternal salvation is worth that and I know every soul is precious to the Lord. We all have a capacity and may we use it for the glory of the Lord. God bless man and thank you.

  3. I know she had done much good, but very much bad too. You guys must be true to God and let any man or woman be a lier. I have much to prove, but first you must get past this foundational corners of proof: If anyone relates a prophetic prediction, and it does not come true, then the Bible says that person is not a prophet but a lier. also, if anyone predicts something that cannot be predicted, that person is a false prophet and a lier. No one can predict the date and hour of the coming of Jesus, she did, that, by default makes her a false prophet – BY DEAFAULT, no ifs and buts about it and no conditions. The Bible says, NO ONE knows the date or the hour. and if your angel tells you the date or the hour – well what does that say about that angel?

    1. I appreciate your comment. There is no doubt in my mind she was a false prophet. There are way too many instances in her prophecies not coming true and if that is so “what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken.” Also – there is no doubt in my mind that the Lord did not appoint a plagiarist as one of His prophets.

  4. I was raised as a Mormon left that cult when I was in my twenties, hadn’t went to any “church” for about 40 years, met a friend she told me about the SDA, went with her a few times, next thing I knew I was getting baptized again. What raised a red flag for me was when Iread their beliefs the one that says we believe the SDA is the remnant church, I said to myself that sounds just like the LDS basically they are saying they are the only true church just like the Mormons claim. When the pandemic hit they closed the church for about a year, it is open now but I have not been back for almost 2 years now and do not plan on going back, I told my friend I did not believe that Ellen White was a true prophet and she went off on me and defended her, I said believe what you want but don’t expect me to. I mentioned that the shut door policy and the investigative judgement are not in the Bible, it just went in one ear and out the other with her. So glad I’m not blinded by the lies anymore. I compare Ellen White with Joseph Smith both of them were wolves in sheep’s clothing.

    1. I hear you but I pray that your experiences with the Mormon and SDA “churches” do not discourage you from finding a Bible believing Church for you to attend. God brought us together as a Church as He prescribed in Acts 2:42-47 to be a Fellowship of the Believers. That Church “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

      God did not intend for us to be His follower outside a fellowship of believers. Be strong and check the doctrinal statements online of the Churches in your area. I pray you will find one.

  5. You need to pray deep and earnestly for the Lord to guide you in to all truth David. We all do. Let us not be found to be throwing stones at those who have moved as they were led to do their part for the truth. I pray that you look into these things with a humble and teachable heart and that you may be led into all truth.

  6. The Scriptures from beginning to end have been revealed to us by God through the Prophets and Apostles. They were God’s voice in His revelations, through Scripture, and were not the writings of mere men. The fact is that Ellen White has been attested to as a plagiarist through research conducted by the Adventist Church itself and others. God spoke the Word into existence. God did not need a plagiarist to reveal His Word. Scripture warns us over and over again to beware of those that would lead us astray.

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