The Story of our Health Message


Health Education Needed

Obviously the first step in accomplishing the task to which they were commissioned was to become acquainted with the laws of life and educate others concerning them. With no literature of their own, save the article entitled “Health,” written by Mrs. White, they rejoiced to find writers and lecturers who had adopted and were advocating sound reforms in health practices. SHM 104.3

“Our people are generally waking up to the subject of health,” Elder White again wrote in December, 1864. “And,” he added, “they should have publications on the subject to meet their present wants, at prices within the reach of the poorest.”—The Review and Herald, December 13, 1864. SHM 104.4

He realized, however, that in order to give Seventh-day Adventists the education they needed in health principles, more was necessary than for them to read merely the literature that had been produced by others who had blazed the trail before them. Among these heralds of reform there was not always agreement, and there were some errors to be shunned. To avoid extreme or erroneous views, they needed the divine guidance which was supplied as truly as in the advocacy of sound and lasting truths in health reform. True, there was a good library of health works written by advanced thinkers among the physicians and physiologists of the day, who not only urged needed reforms but gave good and logical reasons for their acceptance. It was, however, necessary for Seventh-day Adventists that there should be a stronger appeal than mere factual scientific statements. These reforms were to be seen as “a part of the third angel’s message,” and “just as closely connected with it as are the arm and hand with the human body.”—Testimony for the Church 11:41. (Vol. I, p. 486.) SHM 105.1

Elder White might purchase from twenty to twenty-five dollars’ worth of books on health, issued by Jackson, Trall, Coles, Shew, Graham, Alcott, and other health reformers. Some of these books might be placed in the book stock of the Review and Herald office and be advertised and recommended. But only a very few of the rank and file of Seventh-day Adventists would either go to the expense of purchasing such voluminous and sometimes technical works, or be interested in reading them. So it was that Elder White recognized the urgent need for Seventh-day Adventists to have publications “to meet their present wants” and “at prices within the reach of the poorest.” SHM 105.2

As an initial step in meeting these needs, Elder White announced the plan for publishing six pamphlets. Mrs. White was to “furnish a liberal chapter in each number on health, happiness, and miseries of domestic life, and the bearing which these have upon the prospects of obtaining the life to come.” SHM 106.1

No extravagant claims of “skill as physicians” were to be made. It was the plan to fill the pamphlets with material drawn from “personal experiences from the Word of God, and from the writings of able and experienced health reformers.” It was hoped that the information thus disseminated might enable some of the readers to “preserve vital force, live healthfully, save doctor’s bills, and be better qualified to bear with cheerfulness the ills of this mortal life.”—The Review and Herald, December 13, 1864. SHM 106.2