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


Answer Regarding Chicago Buildings

She personally answered the questions concerning the vision given to her in Australia in which she was shown a large building in Chicago erected to serve the medical missionary interests. No such building existed, and the complaint was that Ellen White wrote a testimony of reproof for something that did not take place. 6BIO 96.2

She had dealt with this on March 8, 1903, but took it up again in 1906 on March 10. The earlier statement was sparked by a visit to Elmshaven by Judge Jesse Arthur, for many years an attorney connected with the Battle Creek Sanitarium. After attending important meetings at the St. Helena Sanitarium in June, 1902, he and Mrs. Arthur spent some time with Ellen White and key members of the office staff. 6BIO 96.3

The judge was in a cordial mood, having been deeply impressed with her presentations at the meetings, where, he declared, he had “heard the very things I needed to hear” (Manuscript 33, 1906). In the conversation, the matter of the vision of Chicago buildings was discussed. For several years there were features of this matter that perplexed Ellen White. Of the experience she wrote: 6BIO 96.4

When I was in Australia, I was shown a large building in Chicago. This building was elaborately furnished. I was shown that it would be a mistake to invest means in a building such as this. Chicago is not the place in which to erect buildings. The Lord would not be honored by such an investment of His means. 6BIO 96.5

She commented: 6BIO 96.6

Someone said that the testimony that I bore in regard to this was not true—that no such building was erected in Chicago. But the testimony was true. The Lord showed me what men were planning to do. I knew that the testimony was true, but not until recently was the matter explained.—Letter 135, 1903.

She then told of how the visit of Jesse Arthur and his wife cleared up all questions. He told Ellen White that the testimony was perfectly plain to him, “because he knew that preparations were being made to erect in Chicago a building corresponding to the one shown ... [to her] in vision” (Ibid.). She recognized that the vision was a warning given to prevent the carrying out of plans “not in harmony with God's will.” It did. No buildings were erected in Chicago. But individuals critical of her work later used this as an illustration that the visions were not reliable. 6BIO 96.7

Judge Arthur, after his return to Battle Creek, wrote on August 27, 1902, giving facts in the case. He told of how in late May or June, 1899, as leaders in Battle Creek sought recognition for the American Medical Missionary College, pressure was brought by the Association of American Medical Colleges for buildings in Chicago more suitable for medical education than the rented quarters in use. 6BIO 97.1

In response to this, the decision was made to erect, at the cost of $100,000 or more, a suitable and rather elaborate building. Judge Arthur himself was made chairman of a building committee of three. The judge described what took place: 6BIO 97.2

The committee met on [June 26, 1899] and immediately formulated plans for the purchase of a site and the erection of such a building. I was instructed as chairman of the committee to open negotiations ... and otherwise take steps to raise the necessary funds to purchase the site, and erect the building contemplated.—DF 481, Jesse Arthur to WCW, August 27, 1902. 6BIO 97.3

Mr. William Loughborough, a brother to the well-known Elder J. N. Loughborough, drew up the plans, and then they waited for Dr. Kellogg to return from a trip to Europe. The doctor discouraged proceeding with the project, the reason for which Judge Arthur says he never knew. 6BIO 97.4

It seems clear that Dr. Kellogg, having received Ellen White's reproof for erecting large buildings in Chicago, turned away from the project. Of this Ellen White wrote to Dr. Kellogg on October 28, 1903: 6BIO 97.5

In the visions of the night a view of a large building was presented to me. I thought that it had been erected, and wrote you immediately in regard to the matter. I learned afterward that the building which I saw had not been put up. 6BIO 97.6

When you received my letter, you were perplexed, and you said, “Someone has misinformed Sister White regarding our work.” But no mortal man had ever written to me or told me that this building had been put up. It was presented to me in vision. 6BIO 97.7

If this view had not been given me, and if I had not written to you about the matter, an effort would have been made to erect such a building in Chicago, a place in which the Lord has said that we are not to put up large buildings. At the time when the vision was given, influences were working for the erection of such a building. The message was received in time to prevent the development of the plans and the carrying out of the project.—Letter 239, 1903. 6BIO 98.1

The presentation of these facts satisfied most who were concerned and may for a time have done so for Dr. Kellogg. But the criticism that Ellen White wrote a message reproving Dr. Kellogg for something he did not do formed a convenient excuse for rejecting the testimonies. Dr. Kellogg in 1942 in his own home recounted the story to the author of this biography, presenting it as a basis for his impaired confidence in Ellen White and her work. 6BIO 98.2