Ellen G. White and Her Critics


Her Life an Open Book

The description of Mrs. White’s life that we shall briefly give is drawn mostly from Seventh-day Adventist publications, largely her autobiographical sketches, which are available to the public. No one, so far as we have been able to discover, has challenged the published description of her life. EGWC 28.1

If Mrs. White was an epileptic, a hysteric, or a schizophrenic, with the personality and characteristics that belong to such people, there would surely be many incidents in her life, if the facts concerning them were known, that would prove embarrassing. Yet Adventists have never sought to hide any facts concerning her. We hardly could have done so if we had tried. For seventy years she was before the public, and thus her life, like that of most other public personages, was an open book. From that open book both friend and foe alike can draw. But how meager indeed is the evidence on which to build even the appearance of a case against her! That fact is significant. We wish now to show that when the fuller picture of her life is presented the bits of so-called evidence lose whatever apparent weight they had. EGWC 28.2

Mrs. E. G. White, born Ellen Gould Harmon, began life at Gorham, Maine, November 26, 1827. While she was a small child her parents moved to Portland, Maine. At the age of nine she was struck in the face by a stone thrown at her by another school girl. She bled profusely, lay in coma for three weeks, and seemed about to die. But she slowly recovered a measure of health. In her autobiography she thus comments on this experience: EGWC 28.3

“For two years I could not breathe through my nose. My health was so poor that I could attend school but little. It was almost impossible for me to study, and retain what I learned.... EGWC 28.4

“I had a bad cough, which prevented me from attending school steadily. My teacher thought it would be too much for me to study, unless my health should be better, and advised me to leave school.”—ELLEN G. WHITE, Spiritual Gifts 2:11, 12 (1860). EGWC 28.5

Her own account of her childhood years, immediately following the accident, reveals her as exceedingly frail; in fact her health was so poor that she did not attend school after she was twelve years old. She complained of a bad cough. She was deeply religious, and refers to the effect produced on her by the preaching of the doctrine of hell fire: “The horrors of an eternally burning hell were ever before me.”—Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 32. She tells of praying for long hours in great anguish. EGWC 28.6

This was her experience when she was not more than fourteen or fifteen years old. About this time she talked with a kindly minister who spoke to her of the love of God, and her fears were greatly relieved. EGWC 29.1