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A Closer Look at:

"Unfulfilled Predictions of Ellen G. White"
by the volunteers at



The following Ellen White quote has been cited to prove she made a false prediction.

"Then I was pointed to some who are in the great error of believing that it is their duty to go to Old Jerusalem, and think they have a work to do there before the Lord comes .... I saw that Satan had greatly deceived some in this thing, .... I ALSO SAW THAT OLD JERUSALEM NEVER WOULD BE BUILT UP; and that Satan was doing his utmost to lead the minds of the children of the Lord into these things now, in the gathering time" (emphasis added). — Early Writings, p. 75

The confusion here lies in the misunderstanding of the words "Old Jerusalem."  With just this edited passage it is difficult to understand what she means by these words.  The "building up" does not refer to the literal construction of physical buildings on that spot, but rather the popular notion of the 1840's and 1850's that a Zionist state in Palestine should be established.  Ellen White's counsel was that "Satan was doing his utmost to lead the minds of the children of the Lord into these things now" and that Adventists should concentrate on the promotion of the three angels' messages of Rev. 14 rather than get caught up in this erroneous belief.  Even today proponents of the secret rapture theory and other Christians have become confused about God's promises to "old Jerusalem" and mistakenly await that ancient city to be "built up" in a prophetic role during the earth's final events.

From the Ellen White Estate's web site:

"With several variations, age-to-come exponents, led by Joseph Marsh, O. R. L. Crosier, and George Storrs, believed that the Second Advent would usher in the millennial kingdom on earth during which time the world would be converted under the reign of Christ, with the Jews playing a leading role. This group closely related to the Literalists (British Adventists) who had believed that in the 1840s the literal Jews would welcome their Messiah (Christ) in Palestine, thus fulfilling Old Testament prophecies with Jerusalem becoming Christ's capital during the millennium. The majority of the Millerites had rejected this aspect of their Adventist theology, calling it Judaism. (See Josiah Litch, "The Rise and Progress of Adventism," The Advent Shield and Review, May 1844, p. 92, cited in Seventh-day Adventist Bible Students' Source Book, p. 513. The first defectors from early Seventh-day Adventists were H. S. Case and C. P. Russell who had, among other concepts, embraced the "age-to-come" theory. See The Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, s.v. "Messenger Party." "

For more information on this subject we recommend Julia Neuffer's essay

The Gathering of Israel
A Historical Study of Early Writings, pp. 74-76

Hard copies can be ordered from:

The Biblical Research Institute
General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
12501 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring, MD 20904


The following Ellen White quote was cited as false by an individual on the Internet who decided that after such statements Ellen White must be a false prophet and Adventism must be erroneous:

                        "Soon our eyes were drawn to the east, for a small black cloud had appeared, about half as
                         large as a man's hand, which we all knew was the sign of Son of man.... Then there was a
                         mighty earthquake. The graves opened, and the dead came up clothed with immortality. The
                         144,000 shouted, "Alleluia!" as they recognized their friends who had been torn from them by
                         death, and in the same moment WE WERE CHANGED AND CAUGHT UP TOGETHER
                         WITH THEM to meet the Lord in the air".
                                                                                                           -Early Writings, pp 15-16 (emphasis added).

The following Bible quote was cited as false by an individual on the Internet who decided that after such statements Paul must be a false prophet and Christianity must be erroneous:

"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be CAUGHT UP TOGETHER WITH THEM in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
                        1 Thess. 4:15-17 (emphasis supplied)

Note that the portion of Ellen White's statement that was emphasized by the first critic is practically word for word what Paul had said nearly 2,000 years earlier as quoted by the second critic.  Even the words "WE [shall be] changed" were used by Paul in 1 Cor. 15:52.

The criticism is of course that if a prophet describes him/herself among those that are translated and then that prophet dies, the prediction (and prophet) must have been false.  Those who have been blessed by the writings of Paul and Ellen White can rest assured though, that these statements in no way prove either of them to be false prophets.  Both often spoke of the soon coming of the Lord, as did other New Testament prophets and Christ Himself.  While such language provides Bible critics with even more material to supposedly prove the Bible inaccurate, we must always keep the apostle Peter's words in mind:

"Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation...But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."  2 Peter 3:3,4,8,9

As we examine these predictions we must remain consistent.  If Ellen White's words condemn her, then those same words coming from Paul would condemn him.  But if we conclude that such words do not condemn Paul (who was not translated) then we must conclude that the same words do not condemn Ellen White (who was not translated).

For more on the conditional aspect of this and other Ellen White statements, see the response to Prediction #6.



In 1862 she predicted that "when England does declare war [against the North, during the civil war]. all nations will have an interest of their own to serve, and there will be general war, general confusion." The result will be that "this nation [the United States] humbled into the dust".
                      -Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 259.

American history clearly shows that England did not "declare war" against the United States during the Civil War, and the United States was not "humbled into the dust".

Now here is the entire passage in its context (quoted portions in italics):

Said the angel: "Hear, O heavens, the cry of the oppressed, and reward the oppressors double according to their deeds." This nation will yet be humbled into the dust. England is studying whether it is best to take advantage of the present weak condition of our nation, and venture to make war upon her. She is weighing the matter, and trying to sound other nations. She fears, if she should commence war abroad, that she would be weak at home, and that other nations would take advantage of her weakness. Other nations are making quiet yet active preparations for war, and are hoping that England will make war with our nation, for then they would improve the opportunity to be revenged on her for the advantage she has taken of them in the past and the injustice done them.
A portion of the queen's subjects are waiting a favorable opportunity to break their yoke; but if England thinks it will pay, she will not hesitate a moment to improve her opportunities to exercise her power and humble our nation. When England does declare war, all nations will have an interest of their own to serve, and there will be general war, general confusion.

This final sentence, starting with the word "When," is preceded by similar sentences (dealing with attacking the United States in war) starting with the word "if."  Notice:

  1. "She fears, if she should commence war abroad..."

  2. "...but if England thinks it will pay, she will not hesitate a moment to improve her opportunities [by declaring war]."

This is the equivalent of a man telling his friend "Now if you speed on this street you will get pulled over.  And if you do get pulled over, be nice to the officer.  And when he hands you a ticket, don't try to argue with him."

In light of the previous "if"s in Ellen White's paragraph, it seems clear that she was not prophesying that England would definitely declare war against the United States.  Some may say "show me a similar example from the Bible."  Francis D. Nichol both answered this allegation and showed a parallel example from the Bible way back in 1951 in his book Ellen G. White and Her Critics, and yet this same "prediction" keeps resurfacing.  On page 123 he wrote:

An inspired parallel to this "if" and "when" construction is found in Jeremiah 42:10-19. The prophet speaks to Israel about abiding in Palestine rather than going down into Egypt:

     "If ye will still abide in this land. . . ." Verse 10.
     "But if ye say, We will not dwell in this land. . . ." Verse 13.
     "If ye wholly set your faces to enter into Egypt. . . ." Verse 15.
     "When ye shall enter into Egypt . . . ." Verse 18.

It is evident that the phrase "when ye shall enter into Egypt" is synonymous with "if ye shall enter into Egypt."

But what about that prediction that the U.S. would be "humbled into the dust"?  Was the U.S. humbled into the dust during the Civil War?  Some assume that such a phrase was predicting the total overthrow or downfall of the nation, but is that what it means?

"And Moses and Aaron came in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? let my people go, that they may serve me." Exodus 10:3

We know the rest of this story.  The Pharaoh did not humble himself, so the Lord humbled him and all of Egypt into the dust with 10 plagues followed by the incident at the Red Sea.  And yet did Egypt cease to be a nation?  Were they overthrown completely?  No, the Old Testament records that even after the 10 plagues they remained a powerful military presence in the region for centuries.  But how humbling it must have been to have the God of their slaves fight so mightily for them and ultimately free them from the most powerful nation on earth.  Likewise, the internal strife of the U.S. during this war delivered a much-needed and humiliating blow to the pride of the nation at that time.

Following is the paragraph that appears just before the "humbled into the dust" statement:

"Our Government has been very proud and independent. The people of this nation have exalted themselves to heaven, and have looked down upon monarchical governments, and triumphed in their boasted liberty, while the institution of slavery, that was a thousand times worse than the tyranny exercised by monarchial governments, was suffered to exist and was cherished."
                                                                                          —Testimonies, Vol. 1 p. 258,259

In his book Francis Nichol asks the question "Was this country of America humbled in the eyes of the countries overseas?"  He then proceeds to quote from the London Times (Jan. 20, 1863) which had printed the words of an American Reverend who had blessed the name of God for having so "humbled the nation [United States]."  He continues on pages 120-121:

    "On July 4, 1863, the London Times referred to the date of the American Independence Day, describing it as 'this day of festivity, now converted into a day of humiliation.'
    "Thus spoke the London Times in the darkest days of the Civil War.  The fact that this leading English paper was most evidently writing in vengeful glee, does not therefore make unwarranted the use of its words as testimony.  Something very humiliating must have been happening to the United States to make England's most conservative, most representative paper speak as it did.  That the United States was greatly humbled, so far as England was concerned, is not opened to question.  We think historians would agree that the London Times was not inventing a story, but was presenting a substantially true picture.... no one can read these quotations from the London Times in the setting of Mrs. White's statement about the pride of America, without concluding that her prediction that this country would be humbled in the dust, found more than ample fulfillment in the conditions that actually did develop."



"I saw greater distress in the land than we have yet witnessed. I heard groans and cries of distress, and saw large companies in active battle. I heard the booming of the cannon, the clash of arms, the hand-to-hand fight, and the groans and prayers of the dying....God's people must take warning and discern the signs of the times. The signs of Christ's coming are too plain to be doubted, and in view of these things everyone who professes the truth should be a living preacher....All heaven is astir. THE SCENES OF EARTH'S HISTORY ARE FAST CLOSING. We are amid the perils of the last days."
                                                                                           -Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 260 (emphasis added)

In light of two thousand years of waiting for Christ's return and the new, global involvement of the world's armies (which was at that time of course building to the devastating situation we had in both World Wars) it seems quite accurate to declare that such "wars and rumors of wars" (Matt. 24:6) were yet another sign that the planet was heading into its final days.  Christ called them the "beginning of sorrows." (Matt. 24:8)  God's New Testament prophets were quite faithful in declaring this same message to His people 2,000 years ago:

1 Corinthians 7:29 "But this I say, brethren, THE TIME IS SHORT: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none"  (read the entire chapter to get a feel of Paul's perspective on the nearness of the Second Coming).

Romans 13:11  "And that, knowing the time, that NOW IT IS HIGH TIME to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation NEARER than when we believed."

James 5:8  "Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord DRAWETH NIGH."

Rev. 22:20  "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I COME QUICKLY. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus."

It does not seem reckless on the part of a prophet to continue a message of urgency which has been handed down from previous prophets since the Lord ascended back to heaven.  And in light of world conditions today and the destructive technology we now possess, Ellen White's warning seems quite valid.  The scenes of earth's history ARE "fast closing."  We ARE "amid the perils of the last days."  And yet the Lord could have come, even in her day.  Had Ellen White (or anyone else claiming to have the gift of prophecy) publicly declared that time was NOT short, and that there would be plenty of time remaining—thus easing the consciences of many—then she would have most assuredly contradicted the Word of God and shown herself to be a false prophet.  But to be faulted for agreeing with what the Bible prophets had always said seems a bit unfair.  For more on conditional prophecies, again we refer the reader to Prediction #6.



"Some are looking too far off for the coming of the Lord. Time has continued a few years longer than they expected; therefore they think it may continue a few years more, and in this way their minds are being led from present truth, out after the world.... I saw that the time for Jesus to be in the most holy place was nearly finished and that TIME CAN LAST BUT A VERY LITTLE LONGER".
            Early Writings, p. 58 (emphasis added).

"In a view given June 27, 1850, my accompanying angel said, "TIME IS ALMOST FINISHED....Said the angel, "Get ready, get ready, get ready...." I saw that there was a great work to do for them and but LITTLE TIME in which to do it....Then I saw that THE SEVEN LAST
PLAGUES WERE SOON TO BE POURED OUT upon those who have no shelter...."
            Early Writings, p 64 (emphasis added).

Mrs. White continues to relate her vision and makes a startling prediction that only a few months are left before the Lord will return. "But NOW TIME IS ALMOST FINISHED and what we have been years learning, they will have to learn in a FEW MONTHS. They will also have much to unlearn and much to learn again." Early Writings, p 67 (emphasis added).

The first two quotes simply say that time is short (exactly what the Bible prophets said in the texts given for Prediction #4).  The third quote does use the phrase "a few months" which is of course not setting the day or the hour, but is another way of saying that time is very short.  But some may ask "Could it have been just 'months'?"  If we believe in conditional prophecies, then we must conclude that Jesus could have returned in Ellen White's day, "a few months" after this statement was made.  Ellen White continually expressed the need for the people of God to give themselves to Him fully if indeed they were to be the generation to see the Lord coming in the clouds.  Prediction #6 will cover the subject of conditional prophecies.



Over 135 years ago, Mrs. White made another fascinating prophecy during a meeting in Battle Creek, Michigan in May of 1856. She declared that some of those who were at the meeting would die, and become "food for worms," and that some of them would live on and become "subjects of the seven last plagues," while still others would "remain upon the earth to be translated at the coming of Jesus".
                                                                                                                    -Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, pp. 131-132.

Concerning conditional prophecies we must keep in mind Jeremiah 18:7-10:

"At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them."

The perfect example of this is the story of Jonah and Nineveh.  Jonah preached that Nineveh would be destroyed in 40 days.

"So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD.  Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey.  And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown."  Jonah 3:3,4

Some have stated that conditional prophecies are always known to be thus at the time, for the prophet will use the word "if."  But in this case we see that Jonah's words are quite specific, with no second option offered.  The Ninevites heard what the prophet said was going to happen and they repented.  We get even more insight into the nature of this prophecy when we read verse 10 of the same chapter:

"And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not."

This is compatible with Jeremiah 18:7-10 (above) which tells us clearly that some prophecies are conditional, even if the word "if" is not used; sometimes it is implied, just by the fact that the Lord had the prophet reveal such a thing to His people.

Ellen White was very much aware of the conditional element to her prophecies about the Second Coming and she made no attempt to conceal this.  Here are a few of her statements:

"The angels of God in their messages to men represent time as very short. Thus it has always been presented to me. It is true that time has continued longer than we expected in the early days of this message. Our Saviour did not appear as soon as we hoped. But has the Word of the Lord failed?
Never! It should be remembered that the promises and the threatenings of God are alike conditional.

"It was not the will of God that the coming of Christ should be thus delayed. God did not design that His people, Israel, should wander forty years in the wilderness. He promised to lead them directly to the land of Canaan, and establish them there a holy, healthy, people. But those to whom it was first preached, went not in 'because of unbelief.' Their hearts were filled with murmuring, rebellion, and hatred, and He could not fulfill His covenant with them.

"For forty years did unbelief, murmuring, and rebellion shut out ancient Israel from the land of Canaan. The same sins have delayed the entrance of modern Israel into the heavenly Canaan. In neither case were the promises of God at fault. It is the unbelief, the worldliness, unconsecration, and strife among the Lord's professed people that have kept us in this world of sin and sorrow so many years" (Ms 4, 1883, quoted in Evangelism, pp. 695, 696).

(for a longer list of statements, click here)

In conclusion, this Prediction has less to do with Ellen White and more to do with whether or not one believes what the Bible says about conditional prophecies.  Those who understand this concept have never had any problem with such statements from the Bible or Ellen White.  The vision about some being translated and some being "food for worms" was never hidden in a secret vault to cover up a failed prophecy, nor was it altered by her editors.  Millions of Seventh-day Adventists and non-Adventists alike can freely read this and other similar statements in the Testimonies for the Church set of books, available at any Adventist Book Center.

For further study, read the chapter entitled “The Predictions of the 1856 Vision,” in Ellen G. White and Her Critics (pp. 102-111), by Francis D. Nichol.



"I saw the pious slave rise in triumph and victory and shake off the chains that bound him, while his wicked master was in confusion and knew not what to do; for the wicked could not understand the words of the voice of God. Soon appeared the great white cloud ....On it sat the Son of man."
                                                                                               -Early Writings, pp 35

"I saw that the slave master will have to answer for the soul of his slave whom he has kept in ignorance; and the sins of the slave will be visited on the master. God cannot take to heaven the slave who has been kept in ignorance and degradation, knowing nothing of God and the Bible, fearing nothing but his master's lash, and holding a lower position than the brutes. But he does the best thing for him that a compassionate God can do. He permits him to be as if he had not been, while the master must endure the seven last plagues and then come up in the second resurrection and suffer the second, most awful death. Then the justice of God will be satisfied."
                                                                                              -Early Writings, pp 276

Slavery was not abolished for another 6 years after these statements, and the Lord hadn't yet returned.

If a person understands what the Bible teaches about conditional prophecies, then he/she will have no difficulties with passages like these.  John the Revelator also spoke of slaves being present at the coming of the Lord:

"Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?"  (Rev. 6:15-17)

Obviously both this and Ellen White's vision were based on the condition that slavery was still a part of the world scene at the Second Coming of Christ.  Can we fault Ellen White for speaking in harmony with the apostle John?

We reaffirm our belief that Jesus could have come in Ellen White's day.  The apostle Peter tells us that we can hasten (and by definition, delay) the day of the coming of the Lord (2 Peter 3:12).  Again, if a person understands and accepts the nature of conditional prophecies, then such Bible texts make perfect sense.  If, on the other hand, a person does not accept conditional prophecies, then the list for "failed" Ellen White and Bible predictions could be even longer than this.  Whatever choice we make, let us be sure that we are consistent in our tests of both the Bible and Ellen White.  We cannot judge Ellen White by one method and the Bible by another.



As is our policy, we do not doubt the sincerity of those who have brought forth what they believed to be unfulfilled predictions of Ellen White.  We hope and pray that this response was not argumentative, but rather educational for the honest seeker of truth (critics included).

May God help us to continue studying His Word and may we all come to know, after "proving all things" indeed "what is truth."

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