The Ellen G. White Writings

Consistent and Repeated Declarations on a Critical Point

One such case relates to the personality of God and involves the Trinity. I have failed to find one instance in which Ellen White employs the term Trinity. However, she was clear on the subject of “the three highest powers in heaven—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost” (Evangelism, 617). She had been reared in the Methodist Church with a creed, the very first tenet of which declares: EGWW 156.2

There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body or parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things, visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there are three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.—The Doctrines and Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1888, pp. 16, 17. EGWW 156.3

Besides reacting against this doctrine she also had to meet the devastating teachings of the “spiritualizers” in the mid-1840’s. EGWW 156.4

The point of God being without body or parts was a question Ellen White in vision discussed with Jesus. She records it in her first book, published in 185 1: EGWW 156.5

I saw a throne, and on it sat the Father and the Son. I gazed on Jesus’ countenance and admired His lovely person. The Father’s person I could not behold, for a cloud of glorious light covered Him. I asked Jesus if His Father had a form like Himself. He said He had, but I could not behold it, for said He, “If you should once behold the glory of His person, you would cease to exist.” Early Writings, 55 (1882 edition). EGWW 157.1

In an explanatory statement published in 1854 Ellen G. White defines further just what she meant: EGWW 157.2

On page 55, I stated that a cloud of glorious light covered the Father and that His person could not be seen. I also stated that I saw the Father rise from the throne. The Father was enshrouded with a body of light and glory, so that His person could not be seen; yet I knew it was the Father and that from His person emanated this light and glory. When I saw this body of light and glory rise from the throne, I knew it was because the Father moved, therefore said, I saw the Father rise. The glory, or excellency, of His form I never saw; no one could behold it and live; yet the body of light and glory that enshrouded His person could be seen.—Early Writings, 92. EGWW 157.3

And she discussed the matter elsewhere in the book: EGWW 157.4

I have often seen the lovely Jesus, that He is a person. I asked Him if His Father was a person and had a form like Himself. Said Jesus, “I am the express image of My Father’s person.” Early Writings, 77. EGWW 157.5

Then follows a significant statement employing the word spiritualism 17 in a manner not usually employed by Seventh-day Adventists, and stemming from the work of “the spiritualizers,” who were heard in 1845 and onward for a few years: EGWW 157.6

I have often seen that the spiritual view took away all the glory of heaven, and that in many minds the throne of David and the lovely person of Jesus have been burned up in the fire of spiritualism.—Ibid. EGWW 157.7

Our forefathers consistently were averse to the doctrine of the Trinity as defined in church creeds, notably the Methodist. They saw in it an element that “spiritualized” away both Jesus Christ and God. James White in a letter sent to the Day Star and published in the issue of January 24, 1846, speaks of— EGWW 158.1

A certain class who deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. This class can be no other than those who spiritualize away the existence of the Father and the Son, as two distinct, literal, tangible persons, also a literal Holy city and throne of David.... The way spiritualizers this way have disposed of or denied the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ is first using the old unscriptural trinitarian creed. EGWW 158.2

James White’s use of the term spiritualizers helps to clarify Ellen White’s use of the term spiritualism as it appears in the quotations above, and this is a point we shall pursue. But before doing so, let us place on the record here four statements particularly significant in the light of the words from Early Writings quoted above: EGWW 158.3

In the beginning, man was created in the likeness of God, not only in character, but in form and feature.—The Great Controversy, 644, 645. EGWW 158.4

God is a being, and man was made in His image. After God created man in His image, the form was perfect.—Manuscript 117, 1898. EGWW 158.5

Man was to bear God’s image, both in outward resemblance and in character. Christ alone is “the express image” of the Father; but man was formed in the likeness of God.—Patriarchs and Prophets, 45. EGWW 158.6

When Adam came from the Creator’s hand, he bore, in his physical, mental, and spiritual nature, a likeness to his Maker. “God created man in His own image.” Education, 15. They bore in outward resemblance the likeness of their Maker.—Education, 20. EGWW 158.7

In laying a foundation for what is to come, we turn to the Review and Herald Extra bearing date of July 21, 1851. Note the date. James White under the heading “A Warning” declares: EGWW 158.8

We feel to pity, and mourn over the condition of our honest brethren who have fallen into the mischievous error and bewitching snare of modern spiritualism, 18 and we would do all in our power to help them.—Ellen G. White Present Truth and Review and Herald Articles, vol. 1, p. 16. EGWW 159.1