Medical Ministry


The Testimonies and the Meaning of Words

The significance of certain terms also may change materially over a period of years. However, a careful study of basic principles, as revealed through an accumulation of the counsels, makes clear the intent of the author and thus the proper course of action. MM xiv.1

The student of Ellen G. White's health counsels is aware of the frequent condemnation of the use of drugs and the appeal for the employment of simple remedies. A hundred years ago, and for many years thereafter, the remedies employed by physicians were usually those which we know now to be potent poisons. Often the cause of the disease was not known. The germ theory was not yet well established, and treatments usually dealt with symptoms. Anyone familiar with the medical literature of the time is aware of the high mortality rate and of the short life expectancy. He is aware of the nature of many of the medications which were used by physicians. Many died as the result of the use of the drugs prescribed. [Note: for a documented picture illustrating this, see “Story of our Health Message,” Chapter 1, entitled “The Times of this Ignorance.”] The voice of Ellen White crying out against this disregard of life was not a lone voice, but she spoke from a heart which could feel and a mind enlightened by inspiration. MM xiv.2

The careful student will avoid misapplying the references to drugs. Never will he sweepingly apply the condemnation of drugs to tested remedial agencies made available through scientific research. He will find from a review of the Ellen G. White statements, putting line with line and precept with precept, that her references to “strong drugs” and “poisonous drugs” and the use of “medicines which ... leave behind injurious effects upon the system,” are qualifying factors which must be taken into account. See the assembled statements on the use of drugs in Selected Messages 2:279-285. MM xiv.3

He will find that Mrs. White employed remedial agencies and took advantage of true advances in medical science during the later years of her life. He will observe that her position was neither extreme nor fanatical, but rational and in keeping with scientific findings and a conservative appraisal of those findings. He will observe that through all the Spirit of Prophecy counsels on health, the emphasis is on preventive medicine. There is a call to guard the body, to cultivate simple habits of living, and to take advantage of the restorative agencies available to all. MM xiv.4

Medical personnel, as they seek to understand the prevention, cause, and treatment of disease, and as they seek to employ the medical work as the “right arm” of the third angel's message, will find these counsels, warnings, and encouragements of divine origin to be a timely aid. MM xv.1

The Board of Trustees of the Ellen G. White Estate

Washington, D.C.

November 1, 1962.