S P R I N G • 2 0 1 6
VOLUME 17, ISSUE 1
D E P A R T M E N T S
As far back as I can remember, Ellen G. White (EGW) was the core of Adventist identity whom we loved to hate. As a child I learned that she was God’s prophetess for His remnant church, but my Bible teachers in school taught that we didn’t call her a prophet in public.
“She called herself a ‘Messenger’,” I was taught. “Sister White said that her work involved ‘much more than the word “prophet” signifies’” (Review and Herald, Jul. 26, 1906).
Mormons claimed a prophet; Adventists did not. We were careful to protect Sister White by not publicly referring to her as a “prophetess”; those who were not our people might classify her with other prophets who, in Sister White’s own words, were “a reproach to the cause of Christ” (Ibid.).
I learned early that we needed Sister White, that she was the true prophet whom God sent to prepare the way for Jesus’ second coming, and that she gave us insider insights into the Bible which would protect us from spiritualism, from the mark of the beast, and from cancer and animal passions.
Concurrently, I learned to hide her from outsiders. They needed to hear the logic of our doctrines before they were told that a prophet had shaped our beliefs and interpreted the Bible for us. As a colleague at an Adventist academy said to me one day in a discussion about non-Adventist friends, “I wonder what they’d say if I told them, ‘Did you know that we have a prophet?!’”
When I saw that the gospel of the Lord Jesus contradicted the Adventist “plan of salvation” and the terrifying uncertainty of the investigative judgment, I had to grapple with Ellen White. Maybe she wasn’t a prophet after all. Maybe God used her as a willing tool at a time of disappointment when the church needed direction. An ethics professor at an Adventist university articulated this understanding when he said to Richard and me, “I don’t believe God literally whispered those things into her ear!”
I bargained that I could think of her as a sincere (but not necessarily inspired) commentator whose colorful descriptions of heaven, for example, might be right. I could honor her for being part of my heritage.
Then I read EGW’s words from the Review and Herald, 1850-11-01, where she said William Miller’s first prediction that Jesus would come in 1843 was the message God intended the world to hear. In fact, He put His hand “over and hid a mistake in some of the figures, so that none could see it, until his hand was a removed.” In other words, God purposely misled the Millerites so they would get ready for the next date: 1844.
That was when I knew I could not hold onto Ellen White as not-a-prophet. I had to call her a false prophet. No one who accuses God of tricking, lying, or otherwise deceiving people is His messenger in any sense. Moreover, people who internalize the teachings of a false prophet are predisposed to embrace further false teachings because they are not grounded in truth.
In this issue, Rick Barker examines the changes made last July to fundamental belief #18, “The Gift of Prophecy”, which yet again attempts to soften publicly Adventism’s dependence upon EGW for their doctrines. Dale Ratzlaff examines the central claims of the Hebrew Roots movement which a large number of former Adventists are embracing, and then he shows from Philippians how Paul warned against proselytizers who try to introduce the law.
In this issue Roy Tinker shares his faith story, and you will read a summary of the 2016 FAF Conference and learn of the launch of Redeemer Fellowship, an evangelical church in Loma Linda. As always, you will also hear from columnists Chris Lee and Carolyn Macomber.
We pray that the truth of the gospel of Jesus’ finished work on the cross will break through the curtain of confusion and the fear of prophets and teachers who do not speak for God. Long ago God spoke “to the fathers in the prophets,” but “in these last days [He] has spoken to us in His Son” (Heb. 1:1-2). †
Copyright 2016 Life Assurance Ministries, Inc., Camp Verde, Arizona, USA. All rights reserved. Revised June 7, 2016. Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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