Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers


Institutional Development

Institutional development followed quickly on the heels of the organization of the General Cnference. In the vision given to Ellen White in December, 1865, a medical institution was called for, and in response the leaders opened a small health institute in Battle Creek in September, 1866. Less than a decade later, in the messages which came from the pen of Ellen White, a school was called for. In 1874, Battle Creek College was built. Thus three major institutional developments forged ahead in Battle Creek, drawing an ever-enlarging number of Seventh-day Adventists into a rapidly growing denominational center. Men of business experience were called in to care for the business interests of the institutions. As the business interests expanded and developed and prospered, some of these men came to trust more in their business acumen than in God's messages of guidance. To them, business was business. TM xviii.2

Before a decade had passed the denomination was confronted with a struggle between the interests of an educational program founded on Spirit of prophecy principles and the educational program of the world, guided by men steeped in worldly policies and methods. TM xix.1

The pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church were largely self-made men. They were men of consecration, ability, and skill. One has but to read their writings to discern this. But, knowing the limitations of their scholastic backgrounds, they were inclined to feel very humble. When there came into their midst in the early 1880's an educator bearing his degrees, it is not surprising that he should be pushed ahead into the position of leadership in the educational work. Elevated quickly to a position of high trust at a time when he knew but little of the doctrines and history of Seventh-day Adventists, he was found to be unprepared for the responsibilities placed upon him. TM xix.2

The issues became painfully acute, with leaders and laymen in Battle Creek taking sides. Some were swept off their feet by the leadership of an educator with his degrees, while others endeavored to stand with those things set forth in the Spirit of prophecy counsels. The outcome was disastrous to the college and to the experience of those involved. Battle Creek College was closed for a year. Things said and positions taken left their marks on the experience of not a few leaders and church members. TM xix.3

It was in this period that the articles comprising Testimonies for the Church 5:9-98, were published, first in a pamphlet entitled Testimony for the Battle Creek Church. This pamphlet included not only that which was later republished in volume 5, but also more personal references dealing with individuals and situations in Battle Creek. One needs but to read the titles to sense the atmosphere of the times. The second chapter, “Our College,” carries subheadings, “The Bible as a Textbook,” “Object of the College,” and “Teachers in the College.” Following chapters are entitled: “Parental Training,” “Important Testimony,” “The Testimonies Slighted,” “Workers in our College,” “Jealousy and Faultfinding Condemned.” TM xx.1

These were difficult days, and as Ellen White went the following year into the 1883 General Conference session at Battle Creek, she was divinely led to give a series of morning addresses to Seventh-day Adventist ministers, presenting practical lines of counsel. Significantly, among these was one devoted to “Christ our Righteousness.” (See Selected Messages 1:350-354.) These historic circumstances form part of the background for the E. G. White counsels found in this volume. TM xx.2