Ellen G. White: The Australian Years: 1891-1900 (vol. 4)


The McCullagh Apostasy

Following close on the Bell experience was the apostasy of Stephen McCullagh. Ellen White was more saddened than surprised when she received a telegram late in March, 1897, from A. G. Daniells that Elders McCullagh and C. F. Hawkins had turned away from the message. Hawkins, a relatively new believer who had come from the ministry in the Wesleyan Church, had been led away by McCullagh, with whom he had been assigned to work. McCullagh had a background of nine years in the Adventist ministry and was a dedicated and efficient evangelist, working both in New Zealand and Australia. Now he had repudiated the Seventh-day Adventist Church and was drawing with him other members of the Adelaide church, which he pastored. In situations of this kind, there is usually no one cause to which such actions can be assigned. In this case it would seem that the home situation figured largely; it could be traced back to the time Ellen White first met him and his wife in New Zealand. 4BIO 275.1

On August 16, 1893, at Hastings, New Zealand, while Ellen White was working with the McCullaghs, she picked up her pen and wrote them a letter: 4BIO 275.2

Dear Brother and Sister McCullagh,

It is with sadness that I learn of your affliction. I sympathize with you in your daughter's illness, and we all pray for you. But, my brother and sister, there is a work that must be done for yourselves, as well as for your child, and I have hope that this work will be done. But let me tell you that unless you are willing to learn, you will not, cannot, obtain that Christian experience which it is so essential for every one of us to have. I have been much pained as I have thought of your family. 4BIO 275.3

She wrote of right impulses that often motivated Mrs. McCullagh, and also of a very critical attitude toward others in the church, and the negative influence she exerted on her husband. She cited an instance of this kind, in the experience of another couple, that had taken place within the decade. The Lord allowed the accusing and critical tongue of the wife of a prominent minister to be forever silenced by paralysis, limiting her vocabulary to a word or two. Mrs. White observed: “Thus a talent, which if rightly employed would have done good to the church and to the world, was laid in ruins.” Both husband and wife were left almost useless in the work of the Lord. 4BIO 275.4

Referring to the same couple, she mentioned also that “neither he nor his wife accepted the principles of health reform, chiefly because of her insinuations and misinterpretations.” She referred to still another case of a husband-and-wife team engaged in evangelism; he was a powerful speaker and his wife possessed unusual ability and influence. 4BIO 276.1

She wrote of the indulgence and mismanagement in the family that led to sad results, and told of how” today this family have no connection with the truth. Because of mismanagement, father, mother, and children are lost to the cause of God.—Letter 40, 1893. 4BIO 276.2