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A Dangerous Defense Arises

by Carl Martin


Over the past seven years, the volunteers at have attempted to retain a Christlike spirit in everything we write. As we study the allegations against Ellen White we always prayerfully ask the Lord to give us wisdom, love, and grace to do the job without anger or malice toward those who disagree with us. In this article we strive to continue in that tradition. We have also maintained our policy of not revealing any names, except in the case where a published book and its author are being discussed. We are urged in the Spirit of Prophecy to "press together" in unity as a people (Evangelism, p. 102) especially as we near coming crisis. However, we are also admonished to address dangerous issues that come into our church, especially when they affect the choices and well-being of the believers (Selected Messages 1, p. 205, etc.). In this essay we try to follow both counsels. Ellen White was very clear on the dangers of tampering with the authority aspect of the messages and herein we quote some of her strongest warnings. Some may not appreciate this but the warnings were given to us for a reason. We never judge the motives of Ellen White’s detractors and it is our continued policy to pray for them in the hope that they will once again appreciate God’s gift to His people. Let us all reach out in love to voices of dissent rather than attack them in anger. As we remember the goal of bringing them back into the fold, how could we do anything less? Let us also, like Daniel, associate ourselves with God’s people, even in their flaws and declare that "we" are heading in a dangerous direction and that "we" as a people need to wake up from our spiritual lethargy. May the Lord bless the readers of this article as they seek to know His will and may He lead us all into the promised truth that will set us free from any confusion. (John 16:13; 8:32).



Some may be surprised to learn that the open attacks on Ellen White by critics and former Adventists are not the most serious threat to the messages God has given His people. The various books and websites flatly denying the authenticity of Ellen White’s gift could, in some cases, simply cause a believer to dig even deeper into her books and thus reap a far greater blessing than if the attacks had never come. In our dealings with the webmasters of the various anti-Ellen White sites over the past 7+ years, we will commend them on at least one point; they have taken a clear and decided stand upon the platform of what they believe. They do not leave anyone in doubt as to their position. We may believe quite the opposite, but at least their opinion is not vague or ambiguous. Having concluded that Ellen White lied to her contemporaries about the visions and passed off her own opinion as inspired they do the only logical thing that such a believer could do: they reject her as a prophet, and in most cases, leave the church. They recognize that no true prophet has ever lied to God’s people while continuing in the prophetic ministry as messenger of the Lord. Ellen White herself said of her writings:

"God is either teaching His church, reproving their wrongs and strengthening their faith, or He is not. This work is of God, or it is not. God does nothing in partnership with Satan. My work... bears the stamp of God or the stamp of the enemy. There is no halfway work in the matter. The Testimonies are of the Spirit of God, or of the devil." (4T 230)

Her accusers certainly seem to agree; it must be one or the other.  This is one of the only points upon which we stand in total agreement with her critics. There can be no middle ground. They have made their choice and we have made ours. While our conclusions may be diametrically opposed to theirs, we are in agreement that God either works through a prophet in a reliable manner or He does not. At some point in the very near future every Seventh-day Adventist will have to face this question and settle it for himself or herself.  From a corporate standpoint this decision will have to be made, as well, for the spiritual direction of the church depends upon it.  We are heading toward a crossroads.  Every seed we sow bears its fruit.  Every action we take, individually and corporately, must be based upon the express will of God -- upon "every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4).  And how can we know the will of God?  We can know it only through the prophets, of course, from Moses to Ellen White.  And then the next question is, how reliable are those prophets?  We are not talking about individual sins in the prophet’s life, nor are we referring to inconsistencies in historical or descriptive detail (like how many rooms are in a building, etc.) but rather the counsel and doctrine that the prophet promotes or endorses. From Genesis to Revelation we see that God has never adopted a "inspired sometimes, human opinion other times" method when communicating to His people through prophets. If He were to do this it would create more confusion than if the prophet had never spoken in the first place. Yet in spite of God’s providential safeguard against such confusion, it has made its way into Christianity as a whole and is beginning to gain a foothold even in God’s remnant church. This confusion within poses far more of a threat to the messages than do the blatant, open attacks from without. It is with this backdrop that we begin our study.


Part 1

A Warning is Given

Satan has many deceptions for God’s people, but what is "the very LAST" one? Which one, when it occurs, tells us that he is making his last-ditch effort to sidetrack the church as a whole and confuse individuals within the remnant? Of course many of you know the answer, for God gave it to us over 100 years ago, as it appears in the statement below:

"The very last deception of Satan will be to make of none effect the testimony of the Spirit of God. ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish’ (Proverbs 29:18). Satan will work ingeniously, in different ways and through different agencies, to unsettle the confidence of God's remnant people in the true testimony." (Maranatha, p. 158 [LDE 77])

You have probably read this statement dozens of times and feel that you understand its meaning. But perhaps we should take another look -- a closer look -- at just what she means by this. The three phrases in that quote that should arrest our attention are "very last deception," "make of none effect," and "unsettle the confidence of God’s remnant people." Let’s examine all three of them.

"Very last deception": Suppose God had told Noah that the "very last" thing that would happen before He sealed the door of that giant boat would be to summon all of the animals into the ark in pairs and sevens. Would you, if you were among the fence-riders helping him build the ark, not take a long, hard, sobering look at the line of animals filing through that portal when this miraculous event took place? Would this not, as God intended, wake you from your spiritual lethargy and mental comfort zone? When God, in His mercy, forewarns a problem and then earmarks that problem as the very "last deception of Satan," does it not seem wise to at the very least recognize the deception for what it is and the times for what they are?

"Make of None Effect": God tells us through His messenger that the deception would specifically be to "make of none effect" His testimony to the church through the visions and writings. But what is meant by this phrase? Did Walter Rea fulfill this (as some have suggested) in the early 1980's with his book and lectures attacking the gift? Not at all. Rea and his followers rejected Ellen White completely, like those described in the introduction. While Rea’s attacks do fulfill a prediction of delusion that would come in, her wording reveals quite a different scenario. Let us examine this further with another statement from the pen of inspiration:

"Many times in my experience I have been called upon to meet the attitude of a certain class, who acknowledged that the testimonies were from God, but took the position that this matter and that matter were Sister White's opinion and judgment. This suits those who do not love reproof and correction, and who, if their ideas are crossed, have occasion to explain the difference between the human and the divine. If the preconceived opinions or particular ideas of some are crossed in being reproved by testimonies, they have a burden at once to make plain their position to discriminate between the testimonies, defining what is Sister White's human judgment, and what is the word of the Lord. Everything that sustains their cherished ideas is divine, and the testimonies to correct their errors are human--Sister White's opinions. They make of none effect the counsel of God by their tradition" --Manuscript 16, 1889.

Notice the wording of those last two sentences. Here is revealed just how Satan would try to "make of none effect" the testimonies. So we see that God graciously and quite accurately revealed not only the deception, but by what means this deception would be executed. The Spirit of Prophecy is "made of none effect" not by the out-and-out critics of Ellen White who would reject her as a fraud but by those who "acknowledged that the testimonies were from God" while at the same time casting doubt upon them. Many are God’s warnings against this methodology but let’s get right to the strongest one:

"I have my work to do, to meet the misconceptions of those who suppose themselves able to say what is testimony from God and what is human production. If those who have done this work continue in this course, satanic agencies will choose for them...Those who have helped souls to feel at liberty to specify what is of God in the Testimonies and what are the uninspired words of Sister White, will find that they were helping the devil in his work of deception. --Letter 28, 1906. (3SM, p. 70)

I’m glad a prophet said that and not me. It’s an accusation I would have tried to water-down a bit in my own short-term human thinking. But prophets can’t do that – they speak boldly and tell the people the truth, no matter how cutting. Why? Because lives are at stake – the lives of those who promote such error and the lives of those who believe it. God takes His communication link to the human race very seriously. He doesn’t consider it a small thing to meddle in this area (Elisha’s greedy servant Gehazi found this out the hard way; see 2 Kings, ch. 5).

But could all of this just be a conservative agenda or does the statement plainly speak for itself? Do we, or do we not, want to know what we have been told about such methodology? Moreover, I think most of us would agree that the last thing we want happening in our decision-making process is "satanic agencies" choosing for us. When demons make decisions for you, their goal is to take you to the next tiny step, and then the next, until finally you have imperceptibly journeyed into the abyss of self-delusion, justifying yourself every step of the way. Even one step, chosen by demons is self-destructive and self-delusional. It sets into motion a chain of events within the decision-making process that cannot so easily be reversed. One of the powers of demons is to temp in the area of rationalization. If they are at work, you can be assured the decision will seem right and the actions will be justified at all cost, even short-circuiting the conscience (and usually the logic as well). There are many unfortunate consequences that we could bring upon ourselves through infidelity, but there could be none more dangerous that willfully taking actions that will cause demons to make decisions for us.

"Unsettle the confidence": Suppose U.S. Government agents were to obtain new audiotapes of Osama Bin Laden one day. Then suppose they played those tapes on television. And on those tapes you heard Bin Laden address the U.S. as "the great Satan" and denounce Christianity as a blasphemous false religion full of miserable, unhappy people. How would such statements "unsettle" your confidence in America and Christianity? Very little. In fact, zero. You would shrug it off as yet another dose of transparent propaganda from a deluded man who has an agenda against America and extreme ignorance of Christian peace and joy. Now suppose a week later you see an interview with John Walker Lindh, the so-called "American Taliban" captured during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. Lindh grew up Catholic, although he dabbled in various religions at an early age before settling into Islam. With his Catholic background he could speak from experience about the apparent "errors" of Christianity. One might take Lindh’s opinion more seriously than Bin Laden’s because of Lindh’s Christian past, but he too would have little effect on the sincere believer. Now consider the influence that Billy Graham might have if he were to start casting doubts upon certain portions of Scripture. As Graham continued to defend the Word of God from atheists and critics in other religions, what if he simultaneously stated that Christians had been going too far in their stand on total, consistent inspiration and authority of the Bible? Suppose he suggested that there had been a misunderstanding about the limitations of the Bible writers?  What if he cast subtle doubt, for example, upon the Creation story in Genesis, describing it as an inspired interpretation of the mystical work of creation set forth in anthropocentric terms? What if his conclusion was that the six-day creation timetable was merely a divine symbol of the divine creative work? And what if, in light of the "scientific evidence" espoused today, he proposed that the world was not created in six days, nor could it be thousands of years old, but rather millions? Would his words, over time, make an impression on Christians today? Of course they would. The greatest influence in one’s life will always come from like-minded people.    Lest any should accuse me of comparing Ellen White’s critics to Osama Bin Laden, it should be noted that I am here making an illustration of the power of influence from without vs within. Any further derived correlation is of course without merit.

We should stop here to emphasize that we do not believe that all who are unclear on the level of inspiration of Ellen White’s writings are purposefully trying to destroy the gift. But whatever the motive, the above passage gives fair warning that any and all who attempt this, whether sincere or not, are being influenced by satanic agencies, just as one who promotes a so-called "Christian Evolution" is thus being deceived. Both issues, of course, stem from the same mistake in thinking that some of the messages (be they from Scripture or S.O.P.) are to be taken as authority and others we are free to negate as opinion or cultural ideas or symbolic of something completely opposed, despite the clarity of the statements. This is the pick-and-choose mentality that has created so many problems within Christianity (study the history of "higher criticism" to see where this has led) and if we really look carefully we can see that it is this same problem that is partly responsible for so many factions and denominations within Christianity today. Infidelity to God’s clear word is an inevitable pathway to confusion and error. If we cannot trust the messages that God gives to us, if we don’t, in other words, believe that God can superintend and protect the very truths that we need to hear and believe, then in what are we to place our trust? Ourselves, of course -- the very thing Lucifer decided was the most reliable anchor for success and happiness. This is appealing to us, for self can set its own course and avoid any instructions from God that self deems as unreasonable, inconvenient or outdated. The Bible warns about this self delusion in many places, but here are just five:

"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." (Proverbs 14:12 & 16:25 – The wisest mortal that ever lived said it twice just so that we wouldn’t forget it!)

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding" Proverbs 3:5

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Jeremiah 17:9

"Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes." Deut 21:7

"In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes." Judges 17:6

Clearly when one understands his own wretchedness and fallibility he will cease any thoughts of picking and choosing among the counsels given to the believers.  Only delusional self-confidence can cause a student of the Bible or Spirit of Prophecy to believe he has sufficient wisdom to place judgment upon God's messages, declaring what is truth and what is human opinion.

But why would one, in light of such clear passages (and even simple logic) choose to set aside any of the counsels? Other than sincere ignorance of the prophetic function, only one reason presents itself: there is something (or things) pertaining to lifestyle or doctrine within those writings with which the soul disagrees, for it requires something to be given up. In lifestyle it may be something that has become an idol. In doctrine it may be an opinion that has become an idol. Either way, the mindset of "my way is best and must be clung to" is deadly. The two main driving forces our nature are the physical and the mental. Physically if something seems good or makes me feel good and I want it, I will, without Christ’s help, stop at nothing to get it and to rationalize why I should have it. Mentally, if I have cherished an idea or doctrine, the concept that I may be wrong is so crucifying to self that I refuse to go through the door of "I was wrong" and pride steps in to drive me on down the path of self justification. Again, as with the physical desire, my mental desire has become an idol.

"Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." Romans 8:7

Let us pray that God would remove us from the carnality that so easily grips us in its clutches.

Click Here for Part 2

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