Ellen G. White and Her Critics


Chapter 19—Mrs. White’s Attitude Toward Other Churches

Charge: Mrs. White speaks of all the churches in the most scathing language. She declares that God has forsaken them. This is uncharitable, un-Christian, for even if there are defects in the churches, they contain many devout souls. What makes her harsh charges against the churches even more unreasonable is that this denunciation of them was precipitated by their refusal to accept the false Adventist preaching that Christ would come to earth in 1844. EGWC 295.1

As an introduction to our answer let us quote at length from the passage in Mrs. White’s writings from which a small portion is presented by critics in proof of this charge: EGWC 295.2

“I saw the state of the different churches since the second angel proclaimed their fall. They have been growing more and more corrupt; yet they bear the name of being Christ’s followers. It is impossible to distinguish them from the world. Their ministers take their text from the Word, but preach smooth things. The natural heart feels no objection to this. It is only the spirit and power of the truth, and the salvation of Christ, that is hateful to the carnal heart. There is nothing in the popular ministry that stirs the wrath of Satan, makes the sinner tremble, or applies to the heart and conscience the fearful realities of a judgment soon to come. Wicked men are generally pleased with a form without true godliness, and they will aid and support such a religion. Said the angel, Nothing less than the whole armor of righteousness can overcome, and retain the victory over the powers of darkness. Satan has taken full possession of the churches as a body. The sayings and doings of men are dwelt upon instead of the plain cutting truths of the word of God.... EGWC 295.3

“I saw that since Jesus had left the Holy place of the heavenly Sanctuary, and had entered within the second vail, the churches were left as were the Jews; and they have been filling up with every unclean and hateful bird. I saw great iniquity and vileness in the churches; yet they profess to be christians. Their profession, their prayers and their exhortations, are an abomination in the sight of God. Said the angel, God will not smell in their assemblies. [Cf. Genesis 8:21 and Amos 5:21.] Selfishness, fraud and deceit are practiced by them without the reprovings of conscience. And over all these evil traits they throw the cloak of religion. I was shown the pride of the nominal churches. God was not in their thoughts; but their carnal minds dwell upon themselves. They decorate their poor mortal bodies, and then look upon themselves with satisfaction and pleasure. Jesus and the angels looked upon them in anger. Said the angel, Their sins and pride have reached unto heaven. Their portion is prepared. Justice and judgment have slumbered long, but will soon awake. Vengeance is mine, and I will repay, saith the Lord. The fearful threatenings of the third angel are to be realized, and they will drink the wrath of God. An innumerable host of evil angels are spreading themselves over the whole land. The churches and religious bodies are crowded with them. And they look upon the religious bodies with exultation; for the cloak of religion covers the greatest crimes and iniquity. EGWC 295.4

“All heaven beholds with indignation, human beings, the workmanship of God, reduced to the lowest depths of degradation, and placed on a level with the brute creation by their fellow men. And professed followers of that dear Saviour whose compassion was ever moved as he witnessed human woe, heartily engage in this enormous and grievous sin, and deal in slaves and souls of men. Angels have recorded it all. It is written in the book. The tears of the pious bond-men and bond-women, of fathers, mothers and children, brothers and sisters, are all bottled up in heaven. Agony, human agony, is carried from place to place, and bought and sold. God will restrain his anger but a little longer. His anger burns against this nation, and especially against the religious bodies who have sanctioned, and have themselves engaged in this terrible merchandise. Such injustice, such oppression, such sufferings, many professed followers of the meek and lowly Jesus can witness with heartless indifference. And many of them can inflict with hateful satisfaction, all this indescribable agony themselves, and yet dare to worship God. It is solemn mockery, and Satan exults over it, and reproaches Jesus and his angels with such inconsistency, saying with hellish triumph, Such are Christ’s followers!“—Spiritual Gifts 1:189-192. (See also Early Writings, 273-275.) EGWC 296.1

This statement by Mrs. White from Spiritual Gifts, volume 1, is representative of several declarations that she made in the days immediately following 1844 regarding the state of the Churches. Mrs. White sets forth as perhaps her most striking proof of the deplorable state of the churches the fact that many church members, including ministers, kept slaves. But that fact is not revealed in the charge. EGWC 296.2

If the reader has scanned the literature of the critics, he will notice that they also quote briefly from Mrs. White’s words in an earlier chapter in this same volume of Spiritual Gifts. They give her words on page 172 in which she speaks of the church members who are ensnared by Satan, after their rejection of the first and second angels’ messages. Then they indicate that there is a break in their quotation, and follow immediately with these further words from page 172: “The churches were elated, and considered that God was marvelously working for them, when it was another spirit. It will die away and leave the world and the church in a worse condition than before.” EGWC 296.3

Now, what is the part in between that has been left out? Here are the missing sentences: EGWC 297.1

“Some he [Satan] deceives in one way and some in another. He has different delusions prepared to affect different minds. Some look with horror upon one deception, while they readily receive another. Satan deceives some with Spiritualism. He also comes as an angel of light, and spreads his influence over the land.” EGWC 297.2

With these quotations and omissions before us let us now review briefly certain facts regarding the beginnings of the Advent movement found in chapter 13, to place Mrs. White’s strong words in their historical setting. The movement began to take definite shape in the United States about the year 1840, under the preaching of William Miller and a rapidly increasing number of ministers and lay preachers of various religious bodies. Contrary to popular misconception and caricature, the essence of this preaching was not a definite time for the Lord’s return, though the time element did color it increasingly toward the last. Its essence was this: first and most prominently, a revival of the doctrine of the personal, literal coming of Christ to bring a sudden end to this present evil world, to destroy the wicked and save the righteous, and thus bring in that better world for which Christians have ever prayed. This preaching was in direct conflict with the popular teaching in virtually all Christendom that the world was to be gradually changed to righteousness by a “spiritual” coming of Christ, that is, a coming of His Spirit in increased measure to this earth to convert all hearts and thus surely, though slowly, to usher in an earthly millennium. The Adventists, under Miller, declared that such teaching was a denial of the most primary of Bible doctrines, a doctrine which the holy apostles and the early church all believed and preached, and which the Protestant Reformers revived after long years of papal darkness. Unquestionably, the Adventists in the 1840’s were right in declaring that the popular teaching at that time was a denial of the apostolic teaching on the Second Advent of Christ. EGWC 297.3