Set Free by Truth
An Adventist Couple Investigates the Ellen White Literary Controversy
Below is a letter written by an Adventist couple to their SDA Pastor when they resigned their membership. Their names have been removed to preserve anonymity. At the bottom is a PDF attachment with a lot of study information.
March 25, 2005
I became an Adventist over twenty years ago and have been a member of the local church family for the past fifteen years. I was convinced of Adventist teachings and doctrines. Throughout these years, I have tried to be faithful in service to the church’s youth and music ministries, in giving, in witnessing, and in Sabbath keeping.
Last year my husband, a non-Adventist, started to become more involved with me in my church activities. He began attending services and meetings with me more frequently, and even participated with me by volunteering to help with the church social committee. Last fall he was persuaded to attend all of the “Understanding Revelation Prophecy Seminar” lectures. Following that seminar he attended follow-up classes and small group meetings and we began studying Ellen White’s The Great Controversy.
As we studied Ellen White’s writings and Adventist history we were surprised to discover that claims were made that the The Great Controversy was at least partially copied from other writers. We were at first disbelieving, but after researching it ourselves by comparing Ellen White’s writings to earlier works from the original authors’ books we got from the library, we saw it was true with our own eyes. Much of the copying was almost word-for-word with no credits given. We found that other of her books and writings also contained plagiarized material.
To our further amazement and disappointment, we learned that the Adventist General Conference has been aware of this “literary borrowing” for over eighty years and has not denied it. Instead, the Conference has gone to great lengths to excuse it. As we continued to study her writings, those of her critics and apologists, the authors she copied from, and the Bible, we have concluded that she is neither a prophet nor are her writings inspired by God.
We were counseled by leaders and teachers that we did not need to believe that Ellen White was a prophet of God to become or remain an Adventist. However, on my baptismal certificate is a “Summary of Doctrinal Beliefs”. Doctrinal Belief number twenty states,
“The church is to come behind in no gift, and the presence of the gift of the spirit of prophecy is to be one of the identifying marks of the remnant church. Seventh-day Adventists recognize that this gift was manifested in the life and ministry of Ellen G. White.”
This summary was later updated as belief number seventeen to state,
“As the Lord’s messenger, her [Ellen White’s] writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction.”
Following this discovery about Ellen White, we have studied other Adventist doctrines and believe they conflict with and are unsupported by the Bible.
We want all of you to know that we hold no animosity against any Adventist individual. On the contrary, many of our dearest friends are in the church, which makes this decision even more difficult. No interpersonal problems whatsoever have led to my decision to resign my membership. I cherish the love and support I have both received and been able to give to my Adventist family over the years. We will especially miss my participation in the music ministry of the church choir and the Adventist ladies singing group that ministered to small churches throughout our state.
We have by no means done an exhaustive study of Ellen White’s hundreds of publications and Adventist church doctrine, but enough contradictions and problems have been revealed to us to convince us that we cannot remain (or in my husband’s case to become) Adventists. We would be happy to be contacted at any time to discuss the details and show more examples of our findings that have led us to this decision.
We were torn between whether or not to attach a detailed explanation, but we decided it was better to discuss some examples of what we have learned rather than leaving anyone wondering if we had made this important decision without earnest study and prayer. Therefore we have summarized some of our reasons in an attachment.
Please remove me from the membership rolls of the local Seventh-day Adventist Church. To avoid any misunderstandings about my reasons for leaving, I have copied this letter and attachment to each of you individually.
I offer a special thanks to the church pastors, and several loving lay members who have taken their time to council us and provide us literature to help us in our search for the truth and God’s will. We thank the many family and church members who have been praying for our successful search for truth.
In the Name of Christ our Savior,
Copies: Church Elders and leaders; SDA friends.