Ellen G. White: The Progressive Years: 1862-1876 (vol. 2)


The Butler Paper on Leadership

The seeds sown by Butler in his Saturday night presentation at the General Conference session entitled “Leadership,” introducing a concept seemingly favorably received, but hazardous, took root. Soon the full address was published in a pamphlet and distributed throughout the denomination. Over the next four or five years it was the occasion of discussion and concern. Basically, as James White later pointed out, it took the position that 2BIO 400.2

One man was to be recognized as the visible leader of Seventh-day Adventists, as Moses was the visible leader of the Hebrews; and what made this a very painful subject to us was the fact that the position was taken that we should be recognized as that leader.—Ibid., May 23, 1878 2BIO 400.3

When he started publishing the Signs of the Times in Oakland, California, in June, 1874, he devoted several editorials to the subject, opening his remarks by quoting Matthew 23:8,“One is your Master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren.” He pointed out: 2BIO 400.4

Jesus addressed these words to the twelve, in the hearing of the multitude. And while they were a rebuke to the scribes and Pharisees, they were also designed to impress the disciples with the great truth that should be felt in all coming time, that Christ is the only head of the church.—The Signs of the Times, June 4, 1874. 2BIO 400.5

The influence of the Butler address was to be clearly seen at the next General Conference session. 2BIO 400.6