Manuscript Releases, vol. 10 [Nos. 771-850]


MR No. 785—Revision of Denominational Books

[Note: W. W. Prescott, former president of Battle Creek College, who had from 1903 to 1909 served as editor of the Review and Herald, and was in 1910 carrying leadership responsibilities, and A.G. Daniells, president of the General Conference, having espoused the so-called “new view” of the identity of the “daily” of Daniel 8:13 (See SDA Encyclopedia article, “Daily”), were drawn into heated discussions with advocates of the “old view” expounded by Uriah Smith in his much-used and fruitful book Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation. This led to two particularly distressing developments as Ellen White saw it. First was that with forces engaged in divisive controversy, evangelism, and particularly city evangelism, was seriously neglected. Second, there was talk of the possible revision of books in which the old view was advocated, particularly the widely sold Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation.] 10MR 49.1

Ellen White gave no support to either side in the controversy which she declared was not “a subject of vital importance” and certainly “not to be made a test.” Further, it was one on which she had no light. (Selected Messages 1:164.) As to the proposed revision of books, she wrote on July 31 1910, dealing with the question nearly two weeks before penning the testimony to Elder Daniells quoted in this release. She declared that: 10MR 49.2

In some of our important books that have been in print for years, and which have brought many to a knowledge of the truth, there may be found matters of minor importance that call for careful study and correction. Let such matters be considered by those regularly appointed to have the oversight of our publications. Let not these brethren, nor our canvassers, nor our ministers magnify these matters in such a way as to lessen the influence of these good soul-saving books. Should we take up the work of discrediting our literature, we would place weapons in the hands of those who have departed from the faith and confuse the minds of those who have newly embraced the message. The less that is done unnecessarily to change our publications, the better it will be.—Manuscript 11, 1910 (Published in Selected Messages 1:165). 10MR 49.3

Events quickly followed which led Elder Daniells to heed Ellen White's counsel and led him to engage for a time in city evangelism and changed his viewpoint. Two years later, when Ellen White appointed five trustees to take charge of her writings on her death, Daniells was one named by her to carry that responsibility.—Alw.] 10MR 49.4

Representations have passed before me which indicate that you [A. G. Daniells] and Elder [W. W.] Prescott and others united with you have been inclined to search out things to be criticized or condemned in our printed publications. Were encouragement given you, changes and revisions would be made in accordance with the ideas that you have in mind. But you must never forget that Satan, disguised as an angel of light, is always ready to encourage anything that would lead to a loss of confidence in our denominational literature. He would be pleased to keep many minds employed in picking flaws in publications that God has blessed. 10MR 49.5

The enemy of all truth well knows that if minds can be kept occupied in searching for and giving wide publicity to imperfections in books that have been printed and widely circulated, great weakness will be brought to our work. Time would pass rapidly, and the great work needed in our cities would remain undone. Besides, there would be created in the minds of many an uncertainty as to the value of our publications that have done a good work and many minds would become absorbed in a further search for possible errors in our literature. 10MR 49.6

The result would be the creation of a feeling of uncertainty in the minds of many as to the value of our denominational literature in general.... 10MR 49.7

Satan and all his hosts are on the battlefield. The enemy of our souls has acted the part of a busy agent in presenting the thought that many of our books now in print are in need of general revision. He would be glad to have our brethren receive the impression that many changes must be made. He would delight to insinuate questioning and doubt into the minds of many of our people. 10MR 49.8

I have been instructed that the Lord is not the author of the proposal to make many changes in books already published. If information regarding this sort of work, even as regards the few instances where revisions are needed, should become widespread, seeds of doubt would spring up in many minds. Satan would be busy at work implanting seeds of distrust and unbelief, and it would require much labor to remedy the evil that would be wrought.—Letter 70, 1910, pp. 2, 4. (To A. G. Daniells, August 11, 1910.) 10MR 50.1

White Estate

Washington, D. C.,

April 2, 1980.