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


A Call to Halt the Controversy

Ellen White watched with growing anxiety and distress the time-consuming controversy between leading brethren on an unimportant point and one on which she repeatedly said she had received no light. On July 31, 1910, she could restrain herself no longer. She took her pen and wrote: 6BIO 257.4

I have words to speak to my brethren east and west, north and south. I request that my writings shall not be used as the leading argument to settle questions over which there is now so much controversy. I entreat of Elders Haskell, Loughborough, Smith, and others of our leading brethren, that they make no reference to my writings to sustain their views of the “daily.” 6BIO 257.5

It has been presented to me that this is not a subject of vital importance. I am instructed that our brethren are making a mistake in magnifying the importance of the difference in the views that are held. I cannot consent that any of my writings shall be taken as settling this matter. The true meaning of the “daily” is not to be made a test question. 6BIO 257.6

I now ask that my ministering brethren shall not make use of my writings in their arguments regarding this question; for I have had no instruction on the point under discussion, and I see no need for the controversy. Regarding this matter under present conditions, silence is eloquence.—Manuscript 11, 1910 (see also Selected Messages 1:164). 6BIO 258.1

She pointed out that “the enemy of our work is pleased when a subject of minor importance is used to divert the minds of our brethren from the great questions that should be the burden of our message,” and she insisted that as this was not a test question, it should not be treated as such. Then in this connection, obviously speaking of Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation, which she held in high esteem, she wrote: 6BIO 258.2

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.— Ibid. (see also Ibid., 1:165). 6BIO 258.3

She pointed out that “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” and advised that “the less that is done unnecessarily to change our publications, the better it will be.”— Ibid. In closing the communication, she called everyone back to the earnest counsel that had been given to warn the cities. 6BIO 258.4

A few days later, on August 3, 1910, she addressed a communication to the ministry of the church: 6BIO 258.5

To My Brethren in the Ministry:

Dear Fellow Workers: I have words to speak to Brethren Butler, Loughborough, Haskell, Smith, Gilbert, Daniells, Prescott, and all who have been active in urging their views in regard to the meaning of the “daily” of Daniel 8. This is not to be made a test question, and the agitation that has resulted from its being treated as such has been very unfortunate. Confusion has resulted, and the minds of some of our brethren have been diverted from the thoughtful consideration that should have been given to the work that the Lord has directed should be done at this time in our cities. This has been pleasing to the great enemy of our work. 6BIO 259.1

The light given me is that nothing should be done to increase the agitation upon this question. Let it not be brought into our discourses, and dwelt upon as a matter of great importance. We have a great work before us, and we have not an hour to lose from the essential work to be done. Let us confine our public efforts to the presentation of the important lines of truth on which we are united, and on which we have clear light.—Letter 62, 1910 (see also Selected Messages 1:167). 6BIO 259.2

Then she referred to the last prayer of Christ calling for unity, brought to view in John 17, and commented, “There are many subjects upon which we can speak—sacred, testing truths, beautiful in their simplicity. On these you may dwell with intense earnestness. But,” she urged, “let not the ‘daily,’ or any other subject that will arouse controversy among brethren, be brought in at this time, for this will delay and hinder the work that the Lord would have the minds of our brethren centered upon just now.” And she pleaded, “Let us not agitate questions that will reveal a marked difference of opinion, but rather let us bring from the Word the sacred truths regarding the binding claims of the law of God.”— Ibid. 6BIO 259.3

As to the discourses of Seventh-day Adventist ministers, her counsel continued: 6BIO 259.4

Our ministers should seek to make the most favorable presentation of truth. So far as possible, let all speak the same things. Let the discourses be simple, and treating upon vital subjects that can be easily understood.... We must blend together in the bonds of Christlike unity; then our labors will not be in vain. Draw in even cords, and let no contentions be brought in. Reveal the unifying power of truth, and this will make a powerful impression on human minds. In unity there is strength.— Ibid. (see also Selected Messages 1:167, 168). 6BIO 259.5

She closed her appeal with the admonition that “while the present condition of difference of opinion ... exists, let it not be made prominent. Let all contention cease. At such a time silence is eloquence.”— Ibid. (see also Ibid., 1:168). 6BIO 260.1