Ellen G. White and Her Critics


A Remarkable Preview of Our Time

We think that the most reasonable interpretation of her statements in this connection, is that she was describing events subsequent to the Civil War. If, as we believe, God opened before her the events of the future, what would she, in 1861, see as she looked into the future beyond Civil War days? She would see the first world war and the second world war, and doubtless another fearful conflict, of which the scientists speak. And could she have better described the conditions of the first half of the twentieth century than in the words just quoted from her? EGWC 129.1

In the light of this, we would ask a question: Would she have found in the popular theology of the 1860’s anything to prompt her to see such dire events ahead? The charge is that Mrs. White could see only what her contemporaries saw, and reflected their views. The widely held theological view in the last half of the nineteenth century was that the future held for mankind only increasing improvement and betterment, with the millennium not far away! No, Mrs. White was not prompted to see in vision what her contemporaries believed. She looked ahead and saw fearful war, pestilence, famine, and privation. Then she saw a little time of peace, and again devastation. We think that the unprejudiced reader will agree that the first half of the twentieth century has provided a startling historical parallel to her prophetic statement. EGWC 129.2

Note.—The privations that accompanied and climaxed the Civil War, especially for the Southern States, are scarcely realized by us who live long afterward. Here are some descriptions of conditions in the South as the war closed: EGWC 129.3

“While the negro population, whose labor was so indispensable a factor in the productive system, was thus occupied [in celebrating their new freedom], the returning Confederate soldiers and the rest of the white population devoted themselves with desperate energy to the procurement of what must sustain the life of both themselves and their former slaves. From many a family that had lived in luxury came pitiful cries for the humblest food; and in many regions where nature would have responded bounteously to slight human effort, the only thing that interposed between the population and famine was the commissary department of the Union army.”—WILLIAM ARCHIBALD DONNING, Reconstruction, Political and Economic, 1865-1877, p. 12. (The American Nation: A History, edited by Albert Bushnell Hart, vol. 22.) EGWC 129.4

“Unless the [Confederate] soldier was a land-owner his family was all but helpless. With a depreciated currency and exaggerated prices, his pay, whatever his rank, was too little to count in providing for his dependents. Local charity, dealt out by state and county boards, by relief associations, and by the generosity of neighbors, formed the barrier between his family and starvation.”—NATHANIEL W. STEPHENSON, The Day of the Confederacy, pp. 109, 110. (The Chronicles of America Series, edited by Allen Johnson.) EGWC 130.1

“A Freedmen’s Bureau official traveling through the desolate back country furnishes a description which might have applied to two hundred counties, a third of the South: ‘It is a common, an every-day sight in Randolph County, that of women and children, most of whom were formerly in good circumstances, begging for bread from door to door. Meat of any kind has been a stranger to many of their mouths for months. The drought cut off what little crops they hoped to save, and they must have immediate help or perish.’”—WALTER LYNWOOD FLEMING, The Sequel of Appomattox, pp. 13, 14. (The Chronicles of America Series.) EGWC 130.2

“During the latter months of the war the food in the southern prisons was very scarce and inferior, for the Confederates were unable adequately to feed even their own soldiers in the field.... EGWC 130.3

“Viewed by our present-day standards, the hospitals of the Civil War were horribly inadequate.... Moreover, the deaths from diseases such as dysentery, camp fever, and pneumonia were almost twice as numerous as those from fighting.”—SIR JOHN HAMMERTON and HARRY ELMER BARNES, editors, The Illustrated World History, p. 921. EGWC 130.4