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


Futility of Controversy Over Minor Doctrinal Points

These clear-cut messages, in which proponents of both sides of the controversy over the daily were named and called upon to cease and desist, brought to a halt open discussions and freed a number of the leading men involved to give attention to more important lines of endeavor. There was forever made clear the futility of involvement in doctrinal controversy on points of minor importance, or points on which there is no clear light in the Spirit of Prophecy writings. Among other factors, the incident brought to the front points for consideration in the study of revelation and inspiration, opening the way for positive, fruitful approaches. It did not, as was feared by the adherents of the old view, destroy confidence in the Spirit of Prophecy itself. 6BIO 260.2

At the same time it brought to view the lengths to which men who were brethren would go in attempts to accomplish their determined ends. One illustration of this was provided in the manner in which private personal testimonies were used. A linotype operator at the Review and Herald office, who had been reared in the Midwest in a community of “staunch old patriarchs” who had an undying love and zeal for the truth, was led to espouse the old view of the daily. He won the confidence of the custodian of the General Conference files containing in bound form testimonies sent to leading men, and gained access to materials that should have been held in confidence, testimonies to key individuals that at times dealt with matters between them and God. In the controversy, excerpts from these personal testimonies were used to discredit key men who held the new view. Daniells decried the access that was given to private testimonies and believed that shockingly indiscreet use was made of some of them. Certain men, he declared, seemed to have their pockets full of personal testimonies (AGD to WCW, August 5, 1910). 6BIO 260.3

As Elder Daniells traveled around the field, he was often called upon to deal with questions asked about Ellen White and the Spirit of Prophecy. This was true also in his correspondence. He found that taking into account the contextual considerations often solved what seemed to be difficult questions. When pressed as to why an ordained minister was managing a denominational sanitarium when Sister White had spoken against ministers performing largely administrative duties, he pointed out that the state of the man's health was a factor. He urged that it would not do to take a single statement and stretch it beyond its purpose and meaning. 6BIO 261.1

W. C. White repeatedly declared his position that statements in the Spirit of Prophecy must be taken in their proper context. On the question of the Early Writings statement in which the daily is mentioned, he considered it relevant that his mother had written much concerning the importance of the Advent Movement and of the 2300-year prophecy, while the nature of the daily itself was “wholly ignored” in all her writings except in one thirty-five-word sentence, found in the middle of the argument that “time has not been a test since 1844, and it will never again be a test.” To him the context of the statement found in Early Writings seemed to involve the entire article in which the statement was originally written, the entire scope of the Ellen White writings on the subject, and the historical background of the original writing (DF 201b, WCW to J. E. White, June 1, 1910). 6BIO 261.2

But larger issues than the identity of the daily concerned W. C. White: 6BIO 261.3

I have told some of our brethren that I thought there were two questions connected with this [daily] matter that were of more importance than the decision which shall be made as to which is most nearly correct, the old or the new view regarding the “daily.” The first is, How shall we deal with one another when there is difference of opinion? Second, How shall we deal with Mother's writings in our effort to settle doctrinal questions?—WCW to AGD, March 13, 1910. 6BIO 261.4