Ellen G. White: The Later Elmshaven Years: 1905-1915 (vol. 6)


The Issue of Inspiration

In the case of the daily, however, those who held the old view, with Haskell in the lead, maintained that to veer away from it would strike a mortal blow to confidence in the Spirit of Prophecy because of what they claimed was her endorsement of that view in the chapter “The Gathering Time,” published in her first little book in 1851 and republished in Early Writings, 74-76. 6BIO 251.3

In this chapter, written in September, 1850, in the context of time setting and containing such expressions as “Time has not been a test since 1844, and it will never again be a test” and “The message of the third angel ... must not be hung on time,” she wrote: 6BIO 251.4

I have seen that the 1843 chart was directed by the hand of the Lord, and that it should not be altered; that the figures were as He wanted them; that His hand was over and hid a mistake in some of the figures, so that none could see it, until His hand was removed. 6BIO 252.1

Then I saw in relation to the “daily” (Daniel 8:12) that the word “sacrifice” was supplied by man's wisdom, and does not belong to the text, and that the Lord gave the correct view of it to those who gave the judgment hour cry. When union existed, before 1844, nearly all were united on the correct view of the “daily“: but in the confusion since 1844, other views have been embraced, and darkness and confusion have followed. Time has not been a test since 1844, and it will never again be a test.—Early Writings, 74, 75. 6BIO 252.2

The advocates of the old view maintained that the wording of this statement placed Heaven's endorsement on the view of the daily held by Miller and eventually repeated by Uriah Smith. The new-view advocates held that the statement must be taken in its context—the context of time setting. Ellen White's repeated statements that “I have no light on the point” (Letter 226, 1908) and “I am unable to define clearly the points that are questioned” (Letter 250, 1908), and her inability to make a definite statement when the question was urged upon her, seemed to give support to their conclusion. They were confident also that the messages given through Ellen White would not conflict with the clearly established events of history. 6BIO 252.3

While some who were involved in the discussion attempted to follow the counsel against agitating the matter of the “daily” as one of importance, and no articles on the subject appeared in the Review, Haskell did not remain silent. While he was willing to concede that the matter of the “daily” was one that should take a position of minor importance, and the question of the “daily” itself did not “amount to a hill of beans” (S. N. Haskell to WCW, December 6, 1909) and he had never preached on the subject, his concern was “to save the cause of God and those who believe the old views on the teachings of the Spirit of Prophecy” (S. N. Haskell to AGD, January 27, 1908). Writing to Elder Daniells on March 22, 1908, Haskell declared: 6BIO 252.4

It is the Early Writings that I would defend and as long as I believe they teach the view I take, and there are many others that believe the same, and if Sister White does not give any explanation in harmony with Prescott's idea to defend the testimonies for the sake of others I shall defend them. Must I be made to believe the testimonies teach a certain thing, contrary to my own judgment and the reading of the writings, when Sister White herself does not so explain it? 6BIO 253.1

Thus, with not a few the discussion took on a major significance—namely, the integrity of the testimonies and loyalty to the Spirit of Prophecy. The question of revelation-inspiration was pressed to the front. Quite a number of leaders became involved, but we may look to S. N. Haskell as representing certain views and Elders A. G. Daniells and W. C. White taking another position. All three had labored very closely with Ellen White and had unquestioned confidence in her call and work. The crux of the matter was an understanding of and interpretation of the Early Writings statement. Said Haskell: 6BIO 253.2

If Sister White says that she does not mean what she said when she said what she did on the “daily,” then I will say no more.—S. N. Haskell to CCC, March 30, 1908. 6BIO 253.3

Daniells just as pointedly made his understanding clear: 6BIO 253.4

I want to tell you plainly that it is my deep conviction that those who hold the new view and who interpret the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy in harmony with that view, as Brother Prescott has done in his tract, are the truest friends of the gift of prophecy in our ranks. I believe that those who interpret that passage in Early Writings as supporting the “old view” are doing your mother a great wrong. They are arraying her against the plain text of the Scripture, and all the reliable history of the world.

As I look at it, your mother and her writings need to be protected from such short-sighted expositors. Every time I review this study I am profoundly thankful that the passage in Early Writings is so susceptible of interpretation which is in harmony with both Scripture and history.... 6BIO 253.5

If they [our brethren] will expound Daniel 8:9-14 by the Scriptures and history they will establish a harmony between the Bible, the testimonies, and history, and this will establish the confidence of many thousands of our people.—AGD to WCW, February 22, 1910. 6BIO 254.1