The Ellen G. White Writings


Ellen G. White Biographical Writings

In her preface to Spiritual Gifts, volume 2, a biographical work entitled “My Christian Experience, Views and Labors,” Ellen White states: EGWW 46.2

In preparing the following pages, I have labored under great disadvantages, as I have had to depend in many instances, on memory, having kept no journal till within a few years. In several instances I have sent the manuscripts to friends who were present when the circumstances related occurred, for their examination before they were put in print. I have taken great care, and have spent much time, in endeavoring to state the simple facts as correctly as possible. EGWW 46.3

I have, however, been much assisted in arriving at dates by the many letters which I wrote.—Page iii. EGWW 46.4

The appendix appearing in the first 400 copies carried this statement: EGWW 46.5

A special request is made that if any find incorrect statements in this book they will immediately inform me. The edition will be completed about the first of October; therefore send before that time. EGWW 46.6

These statements at times have been drawn upon as an indication of the pains taken by Ellen G. White in preparing her writings, and incidentally revealing the sources of her information. Such information is used rightfully only as explaining the preparation of biographical material. To apply it to her work in general is unwarranted and misleading. EGWW 46.7

We have but to turn to the preceding volume, Spiritual Gifts, volume 1, which appeared within six months of the great controversy vision of March 14, 1858. It embodies the expressions, “I saw,” “I was shown,” and so forth, more than once for each page of the book. Or we may turn to the third volume of the series, published in 1864, and read in the preface: EGWW 46.8

Since the great facts of faith, connected with the history of holy men of old, have been opened to me in vision ... EGWW 47.1

In the biographical account she does not say, “I was shown that at the age of nine years an accident happened to me which was to affect my whole life.” This information she got from her mother and from her memory. EGWW 47.2

But in Spiritual Gifts, volume 3, subtitled Important Facts of Faith in Connection With the History of Holy Men of Old she states, “I was then carried back to creation, and was shown ...” EGWW 47.3

In none of the score or more books issued during her life did she include words of the character that appeared in the Preface of her biography of 1860, for the writing was in a different field. EGWW 47.4

A factual approach, then, to the question of inspiration helps us to see that the prophet could think ordinary thoughts and could converse on ordinary topics. He refrained from confusing the sacred with the common. He was careful not to set forth in his teachings his own opinions or conclusions, nor were his messages molded by the current philosophies or concepts, even though the messages may be couched in the phraseology of the times and deal with local conditions or situations. It was his task to correctly present the message God entrusted to him. EGWW 47.5

At times this was in marked contrast to current concepts. In presenting truths as revealed he was aided by the Spirit of God. In his presentation there was the basic concept, at times embellished by points drawn from his mind enriched and molded by the visions, and when dealing with certain subjects, with some details drawn from sources of common knowledge—places, distances, dates, and so forth. The prophet’s inspired message could embody an inaccuracy in a minor detail not consequential to the basic concept or on a minor point in the field of common knowledge, the “accuracy or inaccuracy, of which human research suffices to inform men.” This does not in any measure diminish the weight or the authority of the statement as a whole. EGWW 47.6

Inspiration acts not on the man’s words or his expressions but on the man himself, who, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, is imbued with thoughts. But the words receive the impress of the individual mind. The divine mind is diffused. The divine mind and will is combined with the human mind and will; thus the utterances of the man are the word of God.—Selected Messages 1:21. EGWW 48.1