Messenger of the Lord


Differing Responses Depend on Circumstances and Attitudes

Dealing with those who have no personal experience with Ellen White’s writings. From her earliest years, Ellen White was sympathetic and patient with those who opposed her, especially those who had strong convictions about spiritual gifts in modern times. Some of the opposition had seen the fanatical exercises of a few who claimed the prophetic gift, and thus feared all claims, even Ellen White’s. 3 Others were opposed because they had been taught that the prophetic gift ended with John the Revelator on the Isle of Patmos. MOL 468.11

In the summer of 1861 Mrs. White counseled that those who were “God’s children” and yet “doubted the visions ... should not be deprived of the benefits and privileges of the church.” How were church members to relate to this group? She wrote: “Long patience and brotherly love should be exercised toward them until they find their position and become established for or against.” However, “if they fight against the visions, ... if they carry their opposition so far as to oppose that in which they have no experience, and feel annoyed when those who believe that the visions are of God speak of them in meeting, ... the church may know that they are not right.... When professed believers in the truth oppose these gifts, and fight against the visions, souls are in danger through their influence, and it is time then to labor with them, that the weak may not be led astray by their influence.” 4 MOL 469.1

Avoid a controversial spirit. Ellen White counseled two approaches to the “quibbles of our opponents who deal in slander and misrepresentations“: (1) the Nehemiah response—“I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3). Time devoted to “following the crooks and turns of dishonest opponents” is diverted from those “open to conviction [and] dying for want of knowledge“: (2) the direct response that should be “done promptly and briefly.... It is not the best policy to be so very explicit, and say all upon a point that can be said, when a few arguments will cover the ground, and be sufficient for all practical purposes to convince or silence opponents.” 5 MOL 469.2

Mrs. White often followed her own advice: “When errors come into our ranks we are not to enter into controversy over them. We are to present the message of reproof and then lead the minds of the people away from fanciful, erroneous ideas, presenting the truth in contrast with error.” 6 MOL 469.3