Ellen G. White: The Early Elmshaven Years: 1900-1905 (vol. 5)


Chapter 22—“Meet It!”

It had been hoped that in connection with the destruction of the book plates in the Review and Herald fire, Dr. Kellogg would abandon the matter of publishing The Living Temple. But instead he sent the manuscript to a commercial printer in Battle Creek. Three thousand copies of the book were printed and began to make their way among Seventh-day Adventists. 5BIO 294.1

When the book came from the press, discerning readers clearly saw that certain chapters were literally peppered with pantheistic teachings. Those in sympathy with the new philosophy held that this understanding of God would lead to holy living and to a deeper religious experience. As Seventh-day Adventist workers met, the conversation inevitably turned to the “new light” set forth in The Living Temple. Ellen White was still silent on the matter. The book was now in the field and being pressed upon the conferences with the urging that its sale would help to meet the costs of rebuilding the Battle Creek Sanitarium. 5BIO 294.2

The leading officers of the General Conference, on July 31, 1903, wrote a letter to conference presidents, pointing out that the book had been considered at the 1902 Autumn Council, and that certain teachings in it were seriously questioned: 5BIO 294.3

“It seemed to the Committee that while it was not a proper thing for a General Conference council to pass formally upon any question of religious teaching, it was likewise not a proper thing to recommend the circulation of literature so seriously criticized.”—DF 15c, W.A. Spicer, “How the Spirit of Prophecy Met a Crisis,” copy A, p. 31. 5BIO 294.4

In the meantime, the attention of many church leaders was much taken up with moving the Review and Herald and the General Conference headquarters. As mentioned earlier, in August they took possession of the property they had rented in Washington at 222 North Capitol Street, where they set up headquarters. Autumn Council had to be planned for, and it was decided that it should be held right there in Washington. 5BIO 295.1

As Elder Daniells listed the important points to be considered at the Council, the matter of pantheism and The Living Temple was not included. He mentioned a number of progressive moves that he hoped could be made. He referred to the experience of the Autumn Council the year before in Battle Creek, which was disrupted by elements that made it impossible to do aggressive planning. This was likewise so, he said, of the General Conference session held in Oakland. Now he fondly hoped the meeting planned for October would be “a council of peace, harmony, and hard work” (AGD to WCW, October 23, 1903). He felt sure that in the quiet of Washington the leaders could get down to the business that needed to be done. 5BIO 295.2

In his own heart Daniells hoped that the question of pantheism would not be brought up, but he did not mention this in the letter to the union presidents. He stated that while they were together in Washington they must give study to the work there, give attention to the various features that must be developed, and establish priorities. He wrote: 5BIO 295.3

Every step taken thus far has been in obedience to the instruction the Lord has given us through His servant, Sister White. Every suggestion we have to make regarding the development of the work will be based on the same instruction. How fast and by what means we should carry out this instruction, which must eventually be fully obeyed, must be decided by the Committee in council.—AGD to General Conference Committee, September 4, 1903. 5BIO 295.4

In due time in the summer of 1903 a copy of The Living Temple arrived at Elmshaven, but Ellen White did not look at it. This was not unusual, for often in a crisis she refrained from reading materials that had a bearing on the situation, lest it be said she was influenced by what she had read. On the basis of the light she received from the Lord, however, from time to time she mentioned the book. 5BIO 295.5

Finally, as the crisis developed, Willie suggested to her that perhaps she should read some of the passages. So on September 23 he sat down by her side and went over some of the statements dealing with theological matters (22 WCW, p. 219). This put her in a better position to speak more specifically in regard to the book. 5BIO 296.1

When she was questioned as to why she had not spoken publicly about it earlier, she stated that she had assumed that those who were leading the church should have wisdom to know how to deal with problems of this character. 5BIO 296.2