Ellen G. White and Her Critics


Chapter 30—Literary Borrowings and Inspiration
The Plagiarism Charge—Part III

The obvious purpose behind the charge of plagiarism is the endeavor to show that Mrs. White really did not write, as she claimed, by inspiration of God. We have discovered that her literary borrowings were limited, and that she cannot rightly be charged with any attempt to deceive. Thus only one question more remains to be considered: Did Mrs. White’s borrowings invalidate or in any degree dilute her claim that she wrote by inspiration of God? EGWC 459.1

We could hardly hope to provide an answer to this question that would be satisfactory to all, and for the reason that it involves at least in part, another question: What is the nature of inspiration? Devout theologians through the centuries have never been able to agree on the answer. And this is to be expected, for the divine inspiration of a prophet, whereby he presents to us messages that are different in quality and authority from the messages of others, is obviously a manifestation of the supernatural, and thus beyond our full comprehension. However, some observations may be made that will bring the matter into clearer focus and help us to settle the particular problem before us, that of the inspiration of Mrs. White’s writings. EGWC 459.2

There are two extreme positions that have been held on the subject of inspiration. At one extreme stand certain ultraloyal believers in the Bible and the supernatural, who picture a prophet as being so essentially different from other men that he dwells in a kind of vacuum, isolated completely from any human influence or ideas, with his hand moving, as it were, automatically under divine dictation, and lo an inspired manuscript is created! We respect those who hold such an extreme position, but we disagree with them in their view. EGWC 459.3

The other extreme is that of the religious liberals, who think of prophets simply as good men, but perhaps no more inspired than great poets, or artists, for example, According to this view, prophets, though they wrote with great spiritual power, revealed an insight that might be different in degree but not in kind from that of other great writers. EGWC 460.1