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Ellen White Did Make Mistakes

Some supporters of Ellen White have unwisely declared that it was impossible for her to make a mistake.  Then when a mistake is found they are forced to rationalize away the evidence and make themselves and Ellen White look bad.  Ellen White herself never claimed that it was impossible for her to err when it came to historical details, dates and other such information.  She made it clear that neither she, nor Bible prophets were God's "pen" but were rather His "penmen."  Some of the chronological discrepancies in the Bible (so often pointed out by Bible critics) are good examples of what she meant.

We realize that by simply setting up this site we will be considered "biased" in our examination of the evidence; but we are committed to an honest approach to all allegations.  We repeat that at times more damage than good has been done by defending Ellen White with poorly researched and rationalized answers.  We also realize that some will label any defense of Ellen White (including ours) in these terms no matter what.  If one goes into the study with his or her mind made up that Ellen White had to have been in error, then no amount of evidence will change their mind; presenting facts left out in the allegations will automatically be called rationalization.  We understand this and accept it as a part of human nature.  By the same token, if one is ready to deny mistakes are possible before examining the charge, facts will have little influence.  Ironically, some of the most vocal critics of Ellen White (including the oft-quoted D.M. Canright) testify that they once held this "mistake-free" position, which undoubtedly had an influence in their ultimate loss of confidence in the writings.  If we claim more for Ellen White than she did for herself, we will ultimately be disappointed and our faith will be unnecessarily shaken.  We must not ask more of Ellen White than we do of the Bible itself.

Those who expected this site to take the position that every single allegation can be explained would do well to look into how inspiration works, and what Ellen White said about her own writings.  The mistakes that do exist are not just now coming to light after years of being hidden by the church, as some have charged.  Ellen White herself spoke on this subject in a number of places so that none need be confused (see links below).

As visitors browse this site they will come across a number of admitted mistakes that will be available for all to see.  No attempt will be made to change their meaning or rationalize them away.  Having said this, we should make it clear that when an allegation is shown to be false, it will have been done so in an honest fashion.  Some visitors will, of course, deny this, but it is the case and our research has involved much prayer for guidance into "all truth" (John 16:13).

The "40 Rooms" Mistake: A Case In Point

Those who boldly declare that Ellen White never, ever made a mistake in her writings would have a difficult time getting around this charge and others like it.  Critics have pointed out that Ellen White once referred to the Paradise Valley Sanitarium as having 40 rooms, when in fact that building had only 38 rooms.  So what are we to do with such a mistake?  We simply accept it for what it is—a mistake; no honest, reasonable person can deny this, nor should they try.  Ellen White herself commented on this error:

     "The information given concerning the number of rooms in the Paradise Valley
     Sanatarium was given, not as a revelation from the Lord, but simply as a human
     opinion. There has never been revealed to me the exact number of rooms in any of our
     sanitariums; and the knowledge I have obtained of such things I have gained by
     inquiring of those who were supposed to know. . . ."
                                                                                                —Manuscript 107, 1909

The insistence that Ellen White (or any prophet) had a Hollywood, psychic-like gift that impressed her with every minor detail in every facet of life is an unfortunate point of view.  Ellen White never made this claim for herself, nor for any of the Bible prophets.  We receive over 2,500 hits a month and growing, and as we read the feedback, we are learning quite a bit about our visitors' perceptions.  We have discovered that it is a misunderstanding of how inspiration works that has caused more problems (in both supporters and critics of Ellen White) than anything else.

Some critics like to point to Ellen White's statement "There is one straight chain of truth without one heretical sentence in that which I have written." (Letter 329A, 1905) and misinterpret that as her claim of infallibility in even the smallest details.  We would simply ask if the "40 Rooms" mistake qualifies as "heretical" (never mind the fact that nearly all of the "mistakes" on the critics' lists aren't even mistakes, when examined).

The fact that Ellen White did not always receive revelation from the Lord on details like historical dates, number of rooms in buildings, and other such things should not lead believers to adopt a pick- and-choose method of study.  Regarding her counsels, testimonies, principles, and theology she was quite clear:

"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."         —Testimonies, Vol. 4, p. 230.

A Misguided View

Ellen White repeatedly addressed the error and danger of accepting some portions of her writings while disregarding other portions.  It is vital for us to understand the truth on this matter if we are to get a balanced view of how inspiration works.  We highly recommend reading Selected Messages 3, pp. 68-70 to understand her position on this issue.

We will be updating this section regularly, but we would now like to refer the reader to an article and an essay that we believe should be read by everyone who is serious about studying the validity of Ellen White's writings.  Both of these links go directly to pages at the Ellen White Estate site.



What It Is and How It Works

By Roger W. Coon

This article explains the way Inspiration works through the prophets.  It uncovers the most common misconceptions and myths about the gift of prophecy.  It also shows parallel discrepancies as found in both the writings of Ellen White and the Bible.  Most of the email we get would be cleared up by simply reading this article.


Realize That Prophets Are Not Verbally Inspired,

Nor Are They Infallible or Inerrant

This essay was put together by the Ellen White Estate.  It is much shorter than the first one and is really part of a longer study entitled Some Principles for Correctly Interpreting the Writings of Ellen G. White (which is worth a read as well; just scroll to the top of the page once you're there).  The differences between "thought inspiration" and "verbal inspiration" are covered in this valuable resource.  The notion that prophets are infallible is also examined here.

We believe that both supporters and critics of Ellen White would do well to read these essays and lay a foundation for their studies by first understanding how inspiration works.  Hopefully such an understanding would lead critics to be more consistent in judging all prophets by the same standards.  Likewise, supporters of Ellen White might learn not to make claims for her that she never made for herself.

While our approach may bring to light some mistakes that many Adventists had not been aware of, we believe that an honest evaluation is mandatory.  We would only ask the same of her critics.  Understanding that prophets are imperfect by no means lessens the validity of their gift.

Finally we would like to take this opportunity to thank certain critics who have contacted us and discussed these issues without anger or bitterness.  In light of other critical email you are like a breath of fresh air and are very much appreciated.  Some of you have even become new friends, in spite of our differences; you know who you are.


Go To: A Closer Look at the Charge "Ellen White Contradicts the Bible over 50 Times"

Go To: A Closer Look at the "Unfulfilled Predictions of Ellen White"

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