Ellen G. White: The Lonely Years: 1876-1891 (vol. 3)


Chapter 16—(1882) The Year Battle Creek College Closed

The action to close Battle Creek College, taken by its controlling board in the summer of 1882, signaled a crisis of considerable proportions in the ranks of Seventh-day Adventists. The story is summed up in the statement of the chairman of the board, George I. Butler, published in The Review and Herald, September 12, 1882: 3BIO 187.1

When the matter of opening the college the present year came before the board for consideration, we were thrown into great perplexity. We could see little ground of hope for such a school as the Lord had shown we ought to have, while the present state of things existed. 3BIO 187.2

In three columns of the Review Butler took up the “present state of things,” some of which will be mentioned shortly; but it is easily seen that attitudes toward the counsels that had come to the church through the Spirit of Prophecy drew Ellen White prominently into the picture. 3BIO 187.3

The testimony written from Boulder, Colorado, on September 25, which Ellen White intended should be presented at the Michigan camp meeting, was finally read in December, 1881, before the General Conference in session (see Testimonies for the Church, 5:9-21). Also read at that time to a smaller group, including workers in the Review and Herald office, the Sanitarium, and the college, together with some of the delegates meeting in College Hall, was the fifteen-page testimony entitled “Our College” (Ibid., 5:21-36). This solemn message opens with the words: 3BIO 187.4

There is danger that our college will be turned away from its original design. God's purpose has been made known, that our people should have an opportunity to study the sciences and at the same time to learn the requirements of His word.... But for one or two years past there has been an effort to mold our school after other colleges.... 3BIO 188.1

I was shown that it is Satan's purpose to prevent the attainment of the very object for which the college was established. Hindered by his devices, its managers reason after the manner of the world and copy its plans and imitate its customs. But in thus doing, they will not meet the mind of the Spirit of God.—Ibid., 5:21-23. 3BIO 188.2