Ellen G. White and Her Critics


An 1887 Editorial Clarifies Question

The Scriptures repeatedly speak of the manifestation of the gift of prophecy by those who were never called of God to write a portion of the Bible. Yet what they said under the direction of the Holy Spirit was inspired counsel from Heaven, and thus counsel that should be heeded. But giving heed to it did not cause men to turn from the Holy Bible, but rather the opposite. This thought was well stated by Uriah Smith in 1887. We quote in part: EGWC 89.1

“We stand on the great Protestant platform that ‘the Bible and the Bible alone’ is our rule of faith and practice. We believe that God by his grace and his providence has given existence to the book we call ‘the Bible’ as a revelation of his will to man; that holy men wrote it, as God spoke to them face to face, or moved upon them by the Holy Spirit, or revealed truths to them in visions or dreams, or by the influence of his Spirit called up to unerring remembrance experiences through which they had passed; that thereby we have a volume composed of the Old and New Testaments, which God calls his ‘two witnesses’ (Revelation 11:3); that this volume is complete in itself, and is to have nothing taken from it nor added to it; and that this is set forth as the standard and test of all moral teaching, all spiritual exercises, and all revelation purporting to be either human or divine. The skeptic would call this a very fanatical view of the Scriptures; but so we hold, nevertheless. EGWC 89.2

“But these Scriptures make provision for the operation of the Holy Spirit, not only in ordinary, but in extraordinary methods in the church to the end of time. These latter are explicitly enumerated in 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4. They have been expressly ‘set in the church.’ 1 Corinthians 12:28. Prophecies of their especial revival in the last days, are numerous. See Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17; 1 Corinthians 1:7; Revelation 12:17; etc. Among these is expressly mentioned the gift of ‘prophecy’ (1 Corinthians 12:4, 10; 13:2); and in Joel’s prophecy of the operation of the Spirit in the last days, ‘prophesying, seeing visions, and dreaming dreams’ are particularly mentioned, showing that the gift of prophecy is to be manifested through vision. But what was given in this way would not constitute another Bible nor an addition to the Bible. The gifts were in general operation in the days of the apostles. But when Paul said that ‘all Scripture is given by inspiration of God,’ there is no evidence that he referred to the work of the four daughters of Philip, the evangelist, ‘which did prophesy’ (Acts 21:9), nor of Philip when an angel of the Lord spoke to him, and instructed him to go toward the south, where he met the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26), nor of Cornelius when he was instructed in vision by an angel to send for Peter (Acts 10:3), nor of those who came down from Jerusalem to Antioch (Acts 11:27), nor of Agabus who bound himself with Paul’s girdle, and declared, ‘through the Holy Ghost,’ that thus the owner of the girdle should be bound at Jerusalem. Acts 21:11. Nor has ‘the abundance of the revelations’ with which Paul was favored (2 Corinthians 12:7), been incorporated into the book known as ‘the volume of inspiration.’ They probably related more to the local duties and necessities of those times. But in all these instances, as well as those mentioned above, God was imparting instruction to his people by his Holy Spirit; though it was not designed to enter into that volume which he was preparing for the world as a general revelation of his will. EGWC 89.3

“In saying this, we detract in no jot or tittle from the sacredness or importance of the gift of prophecy in the church, nor of our obligation to be instructed thereby. When a manifestation is given, and, being tested by the Scriptures, is found in the circumstances of its giving, its nature, and its tendency, to be a genuine operation of the Spirit, we would submit to any candid person to say how it should be regarded. It comes to us as a divine message; it is ‘a ray of light from the throne’; it is instruction by the Holy Spirit; and to resist it, knowingly, is to resist the Spirit, as did the Jews to whom Stephen said: ‘Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.’ Acts 7:51.”—The Review and Herald Extra, December, 1887, p. 11. EGWC 90.1

We thank God for the Bible, blessed Book that guides our feet along the path of life. We thank Him also for the manifestation of the Spirit of prophecy in these last days, to enlighten our minds the better to understand that Book. EGWC 90.2