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


The Beginning of a Turnaround in Battle Creek

To aid in the crisis situation at Battle Creek, Littlejohn had been asked in January to take charge of “District No. 3.” The Battle Creek church, with its 497 members (The Review and Herald, April 17, 1883), comprised the largest part of the district. This was done with the understanding that he would take “the special oversight of that church” (Ibid., January 30, 1883). Within two weeks it was announced that he would “render special assistance on the Review,” signing articles W. H. L. (Ibid., February 13, 1883). This move was made to bring in a more positive influence in the Battle Creek church and in the contents of the Review. On February 18, Butler wrote to Ellen White of this move, declaring, “Brother Littlejohn seems to be decided on the right side and to be firm and clearsighted. He expressed himself as fearful of a great crisis in the near future.” Testifying to the effectiveness of his ministry is a news note in the Review of April 17 titled, “Bright Spots in Battle Creek,” in which it is reported: 3BIO 222.4

On Sunday afternoon [April 8] a large percentage of the members of the church convened in the auditorium of the Tabernacle to attend to the business of the regular church quarterly meeting. On that occasion resolutions were passed acknowledging the truthfulness of the testimony which condemned the church for the course pursued by them in the college troubles, and expressing an earnest desire for the reopening of the college in the near future, and pledging a hearty support to the trustees in carrying out whatever plan they may adopt for the management of the school. 3BIO 223.1

On a previous occasion resolutions had been passed by the church, expressing an earnest desire that Elder G. I. Butler [who was residing in South Lancaster so that his children could be in an Adventist school] should return to this place, and favor the church with his valuable labors. At this time a letter was read from him acknowledging the receipt of the resolutions, and expressing his intention to return to Battle Creek at no distant date.—Ibid., April 17, 1883 3BIO 223.2

Then on a triumphant note the report concludes: “On the whole, the cloud seems to be lifting, and sunshine of God's favor to be resting again upon the church.” 3BIO 223.3

With a strong base of support in the majority of the church officers and members, Littlejohn began to get positive materials into the Review. The issue of May 8 carried the first of a series of three rather scholarly articles on “Seventh-day Adventists and the Testimony of Jesus Christ.” 3BIO 223.4

The way was being prepared for a comprehensive, sound answer to the blast from Marion, Iowa, in the “Extra” of the Sabbath Advocate. On August 14, 1883, a sixteen-page Review and Herald supplement was published, dealing with the main issues raised by the Church of God writers. The entire issue of 624 column inches was given to a defense of Ellen White and the Spirit of Prophecy. It included items from such men as Uriah Smith and W. C. Gage, whose influence had been something less than in full support of the Spirit of Prophecy and the stance of church administration. 3BIO 223.5

The comparatively short items contributed by Smith and Gage expressed their position on Ellen White's visions, claiming confidence and support but expressing their viewpoints, which were somewhat at variance from those held by the body of Adventists. 3BIO 224.1

Butler came out strongly in full support of the Spirit of Prophecy as represented in Ellen White and her work. In the heart of one six-column article titled “The Visions: How They Are Held Among Seventh-day Adventists,” he declared: 3BIO 224.2

They have always been held in high esteem by the most zealous and humble among us from the start. They have first called attention to every important move we have made in advance. Our publishing work, the health and temperance movement, the college, and the cause of advanced education, the missionary enterprise, and many other important points have owed their efficiency largely to this influence. 3BIO 224.3

We have found in a long, varied, and, in some instances, sad experience, the value of their counsel. When we have heeded them, we have prospered; when we have slighted them, we have suffered a great loss.—RH, Supplement, August 14, 1883. 3BIO 224.4