Messenger of the Lord


Section VII—How to Evaluate Criticism

Chapter 41—Truth Still Makes One Free

“It is important that in defending the doctrines which we consider fundamental articles of faith, we should never allow ourselves to employ arguments that are not wholly sound. These may avail to silence an opposer, but they do not honor the truth. We should present sound arguments, that will not only silence our opponents, but will bear the closest and most searching scrutiny.... In meeting an opponent it should be our earnest effort to present subjects in such a manner as to awaken conviction in his mind, instead of seeking merely to give confidence to the believer.” 1 MOL 468.1

In a letter to A. G. Daniells, December 31, 1913, W. C. White referred to some of his mother’s letters that were being misused: “Regarding the Fitzgerald letter and the Watson letter and other letters which may perplex us and others, it might be much easier to repudiate a few documents that perplex us, and say they were forgeries, but it is the truth that makes us free, and I do not know of any way in harmony with the law of God than to deal with these matters just as they are.” 2 MOL 468.2

To “deal with ... matters just as they are” is precisely the aim of this book. Thus, we shall consider some of the charges, allegations, and insinuations that accompanied James and Ellen White during their lifetime (and ever since). The charges and criticisms are generated by at least seven groups: MOL 468.3

1. Those who reject anyone who claims to be a modern prophet, including Ellen White. MOL 468.4

2. Those who fail to utilize basic, commonly accepted rules of interpretation as discussed in chapters 32 to 34. For example, to understand a letter written by Ellen White or one to her by a contemporary requires an understanding of the rules of interpretation. To read into the letter the reader’s presuppositions often leads to faulty conclusions. Further, to read a letter of someone who is in conflict with Ellen White without a background of that writer’s personal history and points of view will lead to faulty conclusions. MOL 468.5

3. Those who rely on rumors and hearsay with no documentary evidence for their allegations. Little credence should be given to information that exists only in the memory of an avowed critic of Ellen White. MOL 468.6

4. Those who see editorial changes in a prophet’s writings and call them “suppressions.” MOL 468.7

5. Those who are troubled by apparent literary dependency. MOL 468.8

6. Those who carry personal presuppositions about how a prophet should function. For example, they believe that prophets “should have full knowledge” from the start of their ministry; their predictions should be unalterable, their writings exempt from all errors, discrepancies, and mistakes, and never include uninspired sources. For them, prophets never express merely personal opinions in their writings. MOL 468.9

7. Those who accept Ellen White as an inspirational devotional writer but reject her theological ministry. MOL 468.10