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


Chapter 5—1905 Closes With Battle Creek Issues

The issues at Battle Creek that Ellen White referred to in her little birthday talk on November 26 concerned largely the credibility of the messages of counsel and correction emanating from Elmshaven—was Ellen White influenced to write as she did? Questions were raised regarding the authorship of some of the letters and manuscripts carrying her signature. Were they written by Ellen White or by others? 6BIO 56.1

Dr. J. H. Kellogg was working desperately to hold all medical institutions under the control of the International Medical Missionary and Benevolent Association. Church leaders and Ellen White were calling for conference ownership and control. Dr. Kellogg and Elder A. T. Jones were working earnestly to reestablish Battle Creek as an important educational center. The testimonies consistently counseled against such a move. 6BIO 56.2

When Jones in the spring of 1905 left the work in Washington to which he had been called, he returned to Battle Creek to throw himself wholeheartedly into the bold venture of starting a “university” in connection with the Sanitarium (The Review and Herald, December 28, 1905). They had the buildings—the old Battle Creek College plant just across North Washington Street from the Sanitarium. The prime need was for students—Seventh-day Adventist students. But many church members were aware of Ellen White's warnings against Seventh-day Adventist youth going to Battle Creek for their education. Only by discrediting her message could students in any number be secured. How better could this be done than by questioning the real authorship and authority of the testimonies emanating from Ellen White's northern California headquarters? 6BIO 56.3

The counsels against elevating Battle Creek and making it an educational center could be traced back to the General Conference session of 1903. In a general letter addressed to the church, written four months later on August 13, 1903, Ellen White declared: 6BIO 57.1

My dear brethren: I understand that efforts are being made to establish a college in Battle Creek, after the Lord has plainly stated that there should not be a college there, giving the reasons. He said that the school was to be taken out of Battle Creek.... 6BIO 57.2

The establishment of a college in Battle Creek is contrary to the Lord's direction. The Lord does not look with favor upon this plan, or upon those who devised it.—Letter 207, 1903. 6BIO 57.3

Late that year two E. G. White articles appeared in the Review and Herald, carrying the message to rank-and-file Adventists: 6BIO 57.4

The Lord is not pleased with some of the arrangements that have been made in Battle Creek.... It is not pleasing to God that our youth in all parts of the country should be called to Battle Creek to work in the Sanitarium, and to receive their education.—December 10, 1903. 6BIO 57.5

A week later another warning appeared: 6BIO 57.6

The light given me by the Lord—that our youth should not collect in Battle Creek to receive their education—has in no particular changed. The fact that the Sanitarium has been rebuilt does not change the light. That which in the past has made Battle Creek a place unsuitable for the education of our youth makes it unsuitable today, so far as influence is concerned....

Because the Sanitarium is where it ought not to be, shall the word of the Lord regarding the education of our youth be of no account? Shall we allow the most intelligent of our youth in the churches throughout our conferences to be placed where some of them will be robbed of their simplicity through contact with men and women who have not the fear of God in their hearts?—December 17, 1903 (see also Testimonies for the Church 8:227, 228). 6BIO 57.7

Ellen G. White's communications continued to sound warnings. 6BIO 57.8

On May 4, 1904, she wrote: 6BIO 58.1

How can we encourage the plans to gather our youth into Battle Creek, when our heavenly Father has said that this place is not to be made a great center for educational work?—Letter 151, 1904.

On June 23 she wrote: 6BIO 58.2

I was bidden to warn our people on no account to send their children to Battle Creek to receive an education, because ... delusive, scientific theories would be presented in the most seducing forms.— Manuscript 64, 1904.

These counsels were soon brought together and published in Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 6, “Testimonies to the Church Regarding Our Youth Going to Battle Creek to Obtain an Education.” 6BIO 58.3

The year 1905 marked the rapidly growing rift between the medical interests headed by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, and church leaders and the church organization itself. 6BIO 58.4

The steps taken following the General Conference sessions of 1901 and 1903 to bind the medical work to the denomination were seen by Dr. Kellogg as a challenge to the institutions he dominated. The organization of a medical department and the appointment of a medical department secretary confirmed this in his mind. In seeming desperation he launched an aggressive program to develop Battle Creek Sanitarium into an even stronger base of influence and entered upon an aggressive campaign to unsettle confidence in Ellen White and church leaders. 6BIO 58.5