Counsels to Writers and Editors


Chapter 21—Independent Publishing

Danger of Independent Work—It is necessary that something should be done to guard the interests of those who believe the truth for this time. Christ has given many warnings to the effect that false doctrines, false prophets, and false christs would arise and deceive many. From the light that God has been pleased to give me, His humble servant, I know that these prophecies have been fulfilling, and testimonies have not been few that have been given to meet these things as they have come up all along through our religious experience. Great delusions will arise, and even “of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” Even Satan will disguise himself, and appear as Christ. CW 152.1

I can see plainly that should everyone who thinks he is qualified to write books, follow his imagination and have his productions published, insisting that they be recommended by our publishing houses, there would be plenty of tares sown broadcast in our world. CW 152.2

Indiscriminate Use of the Testimonies—Many from among our own people are writing to me, asking with earnest determination the privilege of using my writings to give force to certain subjects that they wish to present to the people in such a way as to leave a deep impression upon them. It is true that there is a reason why some of their matters should be presented: but I would not venture to give my approval in using the testimonies in this way, or to sanction the placing of matter which is good in itself in the way which they propose. The persons who make these propositions, for aught I know, may be able to conduct the enterprise of which they write, in a wise manner; but nevertheless I dare not give the least license for using my writings in the manner which they propose. In taking account of such an enterprise, there are many things that must come into consideration; for in using the testimonies to bolster up some subject which may impress the mind of the author, the extracts may give a different impression than that which they would were they read in their original connection. CW 152.3

I am also receiving printed matter, tracts and leaflets, from one and another, which present a large array of Scriptures, put together in a way that would seem to prove certain theories; but they only prove the theories in the estimation of their authors; for truth set in a framework of error, diverts the mind from the real subject which should take the attention, and aids error in calling the minds of men away from the present truth which is essential for this time. These persons bring certain Scriptures together, and interpret passages of the Bible, so as to give coloring to their views; but they are wresting the Scriptures to make them appear to say that which they do not say. False theories will thus be propagated in the world to the very end, and as long as there are printing presses and publishing houses, erroneous matter will be presented for publication, and books will be prepared for public circulation. CW 153.1

Guard Our Publishing Houses—Should there be no guard against the publication of erroneous theories, our own publishing houses would become the agents for disseminating false theories. Writers make a world of one or two items of theory, which others cannot regard as important, and then the writer thinks his ideas are greatly belittled. CW 154.1

Two or three days ago I received a chart from one who professes to be a Sabbathkeeper in California, and he feels very sore over the fact that the Pacific Press does not pay respect to his productions, and accept the light he would present to the world. There will be gods many and lords many that will be struggling for recognition; but should the persons that feel such a burden to pour out something original upon the world, walk humbly with God in meekness and contrition of spirit, the Lord would recognize them and give them the grace of His Holy Spirit, in order that they might do the very work, according to their ability, which God would have them do. CW 154.2

You may say, What does Sister White mean? Is she classing me with these erratic workers whom she has mentioned? No, I do not; but I would present the difficulties that should make our publishing houses cautious, in order that you may see the necessity of measures being taken at our office of publication, to discourage the infatuation with which many are taken, in thinking that the Lord has laid upon them a burden to write and to publish a variety of matter that would not only not be for the benefit of the churches at this time, but would be to the injury of the one who engages in the enterprise. I wish you to see that something must be done to guard the people from impostors, and that there was need to make resolutions that should discourage the determination of men to put their imaginary theories into print. CW 154.3

You know how it was with Brother -----. He wrote much, and he thought that what he wrote should be published. Then the Lord wrought upon his mind, and he gave up the idea, and burned up his manuscript. But he could not let it be, he reproduced his theories, and upon his death he left money and charged his wife that she should have his manuscript published. She did not think it so essential that the matter should be published as he did, and after she had given the manuscript into the hands of the proper persons for publication, she withdrew it and gave up all the burden of its publication. Brother -----'s production was never printed. He was a good man, beloved of all who knew him; but the matter which he had brought together was not the subject that should appear, not meat in due season for the flock of God. It was of a character that would start into life erroneous theories that would be nourished by human agents, and would bear fruit in dissension and discord. CW 155.1

The Need of a Book Committee—We found it necessary to take steps in the formation of a book committee, whose duty it should be to look into the matter offered for publication, and to decide as to whether or not the matter was worthy of publication. If the men on the book committee are in touch with Christ, if their eyes are anointed with the eyesalve which Jesus recommends them to buy of Him, then, and only then, can they be proper judges as to what will be profitable matter for publication. CW 155.2

It is highly proper that manuscripts shall be carefully examined before receiving the endorsement of the Review and Herald, and having the benefits of the influence of the office. CW 156.1

Your writings, I presume, are just as they should be; yet it may be necessary that they should go through the process of being examined carefully and critically. If no fault can be found with them, they should receive the notice and the commendation that is due to such class of work. You are dealing strong blows against tradition and errors that lie at the foundation of a heresy that will destroy the souls of those who receive it. A wide door to destruction is open to all those who believe in the immortality of the soul, and do not believe that Christ alone brings life and immortality to light. I believe the book you have written will do good in enlightening many who are in darkness; but for all this, my brother, you surely can see that barriers have to be erected in our publishing houses concerning this bookmaking business. You can see that if no measures were taken to bind about this line of work, very singular productions would be poured upon the world under the endorsement of our offices of publication.... CW 156.2

Do not understand me as approving of the recent action of the General Conference Association, of which you write; but in regard to that matter it is right that I should speak to them. They have many difficulties to meet, and if they err in their action, the Lord knows it all, and can overrule all for the good of those who trust in Him. I sympathize with you in your difficulties and perplexities, but I must advise you to wait, patiently wait. These delays may seem to you to be very tedious, and to be working you personal injury; but please do not take this view of the matter. If you will put your trust in God, and wait patiently a short time, I trust that everything will be adjusted satisfactorily.... You may have to wait awhile for the adjustment of the matters that trouble you; but do not get yourself into worse temptations by feverish frettings, or by seeking to obtain relief by any means contrary to the will of God. CW 156.3

You speak of humbling yourself by having to wait for the sanction of the board upon your book. Some things have passed into history very recently that have sharpened up the vigilance of the book committee. Advantages have been taken in the publishing line which has hurt the offices and will continue to hurt them because a heavy debt has been incurred through the publication of matter that never came before the book committee for their consent, and of which they had no knowledge until the office was involved to the amount of $5,000.—Letter 49, 1894. CW 157.1

Close Criticism of All Writings—The Lord did not lead in the production of some of the statements that are made in this book [Living Temple]. He has given us His word, and this word is to be the man of our counsel. It seemed to me passing strange that men who have been long in the work cannot discern the character of this book. A great deal of scripture is used, but it is woven in and brought together in such a way that to many minds error is made to appear as truth. Erroneous theories are so presented that those who receive them will certainly be misled, and led on step by step by the enemy. CW 157.2

If ever there was a time when the writings of every one connected with our work should be closely criticized, it is now. The Lord has made known to me that His word is to be studied, and as no such representations as those made in Living Temple are made in the word, we are to reject them. We are to take the word as God has given it to us. If Christ had thought it essential for such theories to be presented to human minds, He would have included them in His teachings. As our Owner and Redeemer, He has put in His word all the instruction that is necessary for our salvation.—Manuscript 127, 1905. CW 158.1