Ellen G. White and Her Critics


First Part of Charge Number 1

1. That slaves were spiritually ignorant, when “in truth slaves were often more godly than their masters.” But Mrs. White did not say that all slaves were spiritually ignorant. In fact, she declared as emphatically as do the critics that “slaves were often more godly than their masters.” Only a few pages beyond this passage (page 193) now under discussion is her statement: “I saw the pious slave rise in triumph and victory” (Spiritual Gifts, p. 206). Only two paragraphs before the disputed paragraph on page 193 she speaks of “the tears of the pious bond-men and bond-women” (page 191). In the same connection she hurls anathemas at the cruel masters. We do not know how she could have more clearly taught that “in truth slaves were often more godly than their masters.” EGWC 334.5

The language of the whole chapter from which the brief passage in debate is quoted, makes clear that Mrs. White is speaking of two classes of slaves: (1) the “pious” slave, who evidently has a knowledge of God, knows right from wrong, and acts in harmony with that knowledge. All that is implicit in the word “pious.” (2) The slave “kept in ignorance,” who knows “nothing of God, or the Bible,” who fears “nothing but his master’s lash,” and who does not hold “so elevated a position as his master’s brute beasts.” In making this distinction Mrs. White conforms to history. All slaves were not treated alike. Some slave owners were much more considerate than others, and some did provide for their slaves certain opportunities for religious instruction. EGWC 335.1

Mrs. White, looking forward to the great day of God, “saw the pious slave rise in triumph and victory.” She saw the slave that had been kept in complete ignorance allowed to sleep on in the grave and “be as though he had not been.” EGWC 335.2