Ellen G. White and Her Critics


Chapter 1—Mrs. White and the Seventh-day Adventist Church

There are two distinguishing marks of the Seventh-day Adventist Church that set it apart as nothing else could. The first is this: The belief that this church arose at a prophetically appointed time to accomplish a last work for God that was foretold by the prophets. EGWC 21.1

An attack upon this belief is a blow at the very heart of Seventh-day Adventism. This, its critics have not been slow to see. That explains why there has been an incessant attack upon the record of its early formative years, the 1840’s, when the great Advent Awakening in America stirred the whole land, and lands beyond. If it could be proved that Seventh-day Adventists sprang from a wildly fanatical, ascension-robed religious rabble, our declaration that God raised us up would sound fantastic, even sacrilegious. EGWC 21.2

To attempt to escape the attacks by moving off the historical foundation would be only to surrender our claim to justification for launching a distinctive church. That is why the rugged pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church struck back vigorously and unceasingly at such untruthful and libelous attacks. * EGWC 21.3

The historical sketch in chapter 13 will present a picture of a disappointed company of some 50,000 persons who, under Millerite preaching, had expected the Lord to come on October 22, 1844. We shall then see a penniless little group that withdrew from the once-large Adventist body. On their heads was the derision that had descended on all Adventists, and to that was added the harsh criticism of their former fellow believers and of others, because they began to preach the sacredness of the seventh-day Sabbath. And as if that were not enough to bring to them a sense of complete discouragement and defeat, they had to contend with that curse of all religious awakenings, the fanatical type of individual, who attempts to take over the confidence and control of newly forming companies of believers. Onlookers in the late 1840’s, and for some time beyond, dismissed this little Sabbath-keeping Adventist group as a ragtag end of a raveled-out movement that would soon be nothing more than a curious paragraph in the history books. EGWC 21.4

Onlookers today do not thus dismiss Seventh-day Adventists, and for good reason. They are now found in every part of the world, numbering nearly a million, despite their strict rules for membership. Schools, publishing houses, and hospitals in numerous lands attest also the growth and strength of this religious body. EGWC 22.1

But little do these onlookers know of the hard upward path the Seventh-day Adventist movement has traveled since the 1840’s—the grinding poverty, the ridicule from each side of that path, the enticements of fanatics to turn from it, and the not infrequent shortsightedness of leaders who seemed content to allow the Advent pilgrimage to drag its steps when it ought to have been ever quickening its pace toward the immediate goal of world missions, and the ultimate goal of heaven. EGWC 22.2

And how shall we explain the growth, the unity, the vigorous work of missions, education, publishing, and medicine, that mark the Advent movement and that evoke commendation and praise, even if sometimes grudgingly, from those who look on? We say, of course, that the good hand of our God has been upon us. But God works through particular agencies in displaying His goodness. EGWC 22.3