Ellen G. White and Her Critics


Charge Number 1

“Mrs. White and her husband began poor.... But as soon as they became leaders, they commercialized their work.... They soon had abundance, and used means for themselves lavishly.” EGWC 516.2

Yes, they began pathetically poor. They were leaders from the first. But after twenty years of leadership they were still so far from affluence that when James White had a “stroke” in 1865, they were compelled to sell some of their household belongings to provide necessary cash for living. The story is found in Testimonies for the Church 1:582, 583. In the years that followed, until his death in 1881, during which time he suffered much from ill-health, there is no evidence that he acquired any great possessions. The critic frankly admits he has no better authority than “it is said,” for his statement that James White left behind “some $15,000 or $20,000.” There are no facts to support the “it is said.” EGWC 516.3

It may be remarked, in passing, that one of the reasons why Mrs. White and her husband never laid by any sum of money was that they consistently put back into the work of God most of what they received. Here is a statement she made in 1888, not many years after her husband’s death: EGWC 516.4

“I do not begrudge a cent that I have put into the cause, and I have kept on until my husband and myself have about $30,000 invested in the cause of God. We did this a little at a time and the Lord saw that He could trust us with His means, and that we would not bestow it on ourselves. He kept pouring it in and we kept letting it out.”—MS. 3, 1888. EGWC 516.5

A present-day critic, focusing on her later years, and noting that she received not only salary but also royalties on her books, has raised the question as to what she did with her money. He admits that she “was not extravagant in her home or person.” Hence she must have spent her money in some unusual, perhaps questionable, way. The real import of his question will be evident when we come to charge number 2. But first let us answer the question: What did she do with her money? There are two parts to the answer: EGWC 517.1