Messenger of the Lord


Smith Addresses the Critics

Then Smith asked why objections arise against Ellen White: “We may emphatically ask the question which Pilate put to the Jews in reference to the Saviour, ‘Why, what evil hath He done?’” MOL 496.2

He proceeded to answer his question: “The first class is composed of those who believe, or did believe at the time their opposition commenced, the views held by Seventh-day Adventists, but in whom, or in someone with whom they sympathized, wrongs were pointed out and reproved by the visions.... The other class consists of those who are the avowed and open opponents of all the distinguishing views held by Seventh-day Adventists. Their opposition springs from a different motive from that of the first class.... They hate that system of truth with which the visions stand connected, and they attack the visions as the most sure and most effectual way of hindering the progress of that truth. In this they acknowledge the efficiency of the visions in advancing this work.” MOL 496.3

Smith summed up his description of the critics: “This covers the whole ground of the opposition; for we have never known any objection to arise which could not be traced to one or the other of these two sources.” 80 MOL 496.4

Presuppositions. Conscious or unconscious paradigms, or presuppositions, create intellectual grids that have blinded men and women since the first days this side of the Garden of Eden. Cain had his paradigm, into which his thinking must fit, and Abel had his. Copernicus and Galileo had to contend with the bitter atmosphere of hostile presuppositions among scholars in their day. Jesus and faithful believers have weathered rejection because the truth did not fit the expectations (the paradigms) of their contemporaries. 81 MOL 496.5

Ellen White obviously had to contend with those who opposed her ministry. She could see that the reasons people gave for rejecting her work were not often the “true” reasons: “Sinful indulgences are cherished, the Testimonies are rejected, and many excuses which are untrue are offered to others as the reason for refusing to receive them. The true reason is not given. It is a lack of moral courage—a will, strengthened and controlled by the Spirit of God, to renounce hurtful habits.” 82 MOL 496.6

Mrs. White recognized the problem of presuppositions: “Some, hearing through the medium of their own prejudices or prepossessions, understand the matter as they desire it to be—as will best suit their purpose—and so report it. Following the promptings of an unsanctified heart, they construe into evil that which, rightly understood, might be a means of great good.” 83 MOL 496.7

Everyone knows the subtle tug of doubt. Everyone has had to contend with that tug. Doubt keeps one prudent in the face of the unknown. Doubt, however, can become the Maginot Line for the uncommitted; too often we allow doubt to become synonymous with calm reason and see it as the mark of intelligence. If we relate to the Spirit of God as we would to a telephone marketer, we are misusing reason. MOL 496.8

Most people have observed the soundness of Mrs. White’s warning: “Satan has ability to suggest doubts and to devise objections to the pointed testimony that God sends, and many think it is a virtue, a mark of intelligence in them, to be unbelieving and to question and to quibble. Those who desire to doubt will have plenty of room. God does not propose to remove all occasion for unbelief. He gives evidence, which must be carefully investigated with a humble mind and a teachable spirit, and all should decide from the weight of evidence.” 84 “God gives sufficient evidence for the candid mind to believe; but he who turns from the weight of evidence because there are a few things which he cannot make plain to his finite understanding, will be left in the cold, chilling atmosphere of unbelief and questioning doubts, and will make shipwreck of faith.” 85 MOL 497.1

Believing in Ellen White’s ministry is not a creedal matter. Nor is it akin to believing that Jesus was born in Bethlehem or that she was born in Maine. But it is similar to believing that Jesus is a believer’s personal Saviour, which involves more than a mental commitment. Critics have found many “intellectually satisfying” reasons to dispute Biblical claims. Most often they are looking at the container, not the content. Or, they find “reasons” for rejecting Christ’s call for self-denial and to follow Him in joyful obedience to the will of God. MOL 497.2

Why? Because they are looking for a religion that their heart wants—“according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth” (1 Timothy 4:3, 4). MOL 497.3

When one looks at the messenger’s message, and not primarily at the limitations of the messenger, a distinctive and sturdy foundation is laid, safe enough to carry the “weight of evidence” that exists. MOL 497.4