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

Chapter 29—(1874) The Prophet-Apostle Relationship

While James and Ellen White were struggling in Oakland to start the Signs of the Times, the Review and Herald ran a five-part series of articles titled “Visions and Prophecy—Have They Been Manifested Among Seventh-day Adventists?” These were written by the president of the General Conference, George I. Butler, and set forth a well-thought-out and Scripture-supported line of presentation. [The entire series in facsimile form is found in The Witness of the Pioneers, currently available at the adventist book centers. Articles 4 and 5 of the series may be found as filler in the Ellen G. White present truth and review and herald articles, Vol. 1, pp. 120, 138, 156, 169, 186, 189, 211, and 212.] The first appeared in the issue of May 12, 1874, and opened: 2BIO 424.1

Perhaps there is nothing in this age of the world that excites greater prejudice than the claim that visions and miraculous manifestations of God's Spirit are to be witnessed in our time.—The Review and Herald, May 12, 1874. 2BIO 424.2

After devoting three articles to the Biblical backgrounds and accounts of manifestations of the prophetic gift, Butler in the fourth article introduced Ellen White and her work and demonstrated how she was one on whom the mantle of the gift of prophecy was laid. From firsthand knowledge he wrote of the visions, which he described, and then of her ministry, with which he was personally acquainted. Strong evidence of the integrity of the gift as seen in her experience included the fulfillment of predictions, the knowledge of secret things opened to her, and how her work stood the tests of the claims of the prophet as set forth in the Bible, especially the one Christ gave, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” He discussed the relation of her writings to the Scriptures. 2BIO 424.3

In his closing articles Butler observed: 2BIO 425.1

We have tested them as a people for nearly a quarter of a century, and we find we prosper spiritually when we heed them, and suffer a great loss when we neglect them. We have found their guidance to be our safety. They never have led us into fanaticism in a single instance, but they have ever rebuked fanatical and unreasonable men. They everywhere direct us to the Scriptures as the great source of true instruction, and to the example of Jesus Christ as the true pattern. They never claim to be given to take the place of the Bible, but simply to be a manifestation of one of those spiritual gifts set in the church by its divine Lord; and as such, should have their proper weight.—Ibid., June 9, 1874

At no other time was such space given in the Review to this matter so vital to the church. Butler was 39 years of age; Ellen White was 46. 2BIO 425.2