Ellen G. White and Her Critics


Three Phrases Examined

Let us examine three phrases in this statement: EGWC 99.6

1. “Described Saturn.” But in this passage Mrs. White did not speak of the planet “Saturn,” either by name or by any identifying description. EGWC 99.7

2. “Having only seven moons.” It might be astronomically true that the particular world on which she saw Enoch has “only seven moons.” But the facts are that Mrs. White, speaking of that world, which she identifies only as a place that Enoch was visiting, does not use the restrictive term “only.” EGWC 99.8

It is easy to see what is here being attempted. The reader is asked to believe that when Mrs. White said, “had seven moons,” she really meant to say, had “only seven moons.” Then on the sheer assumption that this is the 1846 vision, the reader is asked to believe that Mrs. White is describing Saturn. Therefore she is a fraud because she specifically declared in her 1846 Topsham astronomy vision, not simply that “I see seven moons,” but that Saturn has “only seven moons.” EGWC 100.1

But in this singular sequence of reasoning the critic has made a fatal revelation. He reveals that in order to prove his case against Mrs. White he really needs to have her say that the planet, which he, on pure assumption, informs us is Saturn, had “only” seven moons. But the documentary evidence declares that she used neither the word “Saturn” nor “only.” In other words, he himself discloses that he realizes that “I see seven moons” does not mean the same as “having only seven moons.” EGWC 100.2

3. “Relating this vision.” The only possible reason for citing this passage from the 1849 Broadside (Early Writings, 40) is the assumption that Mrs. White is here relating the 1846 Topsham astronomy vision. And what proof is submitted in support of that assumption? None. True, there is a similarity in a phrase or two to the description of the 1846 vision as given by Loughborough and Mrs. Truesdail from memory many years later. But literary authorities who have to do with old writings would conclude that any similarity of phrase is most easily explained on the theory that Loughborough and Mrs. Truesdail blurred together their memory of what she heard in 1846 and their memory of what they read of what Mrs. White had written in 1849, or later. EGWC 100.3

The mere fact that Mrs. White discusses other worlds in 1846 and again in 1849 does not thereby prove that she is dealing with one vision. Did she have only one vision of other worlds? In the only specific reference which she herself made to the 1846 vision she says, “I was wrapt in a vision of God’s glory, and for the first time had a view of other planets.” Then it is reasonable to conclude that she may have had views of “other planets” subsequent to 1846. Mrs. Truesdail, who was a witness to various visions, bears the same testimony. She speaks thus of Mrs. White’s 1846 vision: “This was her first view of the planetary world.” EGWC 100.4

But let us look more carefully at the text of the Loughborough document, on which both friend and foe must rely for Mrs. White’s words in vision. The phrases “I see four moons,” “I see seven moons,” “I see six moons,” are phrases standing apart from any context. We have only Loughborough’s descriptive connections. Mrs. White did not write out what she saw, nor did anyone else, at her dictation, or from her description, when she came out of vision. EGWC 101.1

We wonder what kind of problems would present themselves in evaluating the prophets of old if the believer in the Bible had to harmonize with science a collection of exclamatory phrases recorded by bystanders while the prophets were in vision! EGWC 101.2

One more point: How does the record of the phrases of Mrs. White’s astronomy vision come down to us? The vision was in 1846. But, as already stated, the phrases are first found in Loughborough’s book published in 1892, almost half a century later. And was he writing from personal memory? No. He was writing from the memory of what he had been told—most probably by Bates—years before he wrote in 1892. * Would any court admit such evidence as valid under any circumstances? No! We might add that Mrs. Truesdail, in 1891, also wrote from memory. EGWC 101.3