Global Views on Ellen G. White and Her Writings

Blog November 23, 2020

We commit ourselves to study the writings of Ellen G. White prayerfully and with hearts willing to follow the counsels and instructions we find there. Whether individually, in the family, in small groups, in the classroom, or in the church, a combined study of the Bible and her writings provide a transforming and faith-uplifting experience. We encourage the continued development of both worldwide and local strategies to foster the circulation of her writings inside and outside the church. The study of these writings is a powerful means to strengthen and prepare His people for the glorious appearing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Seventh-day Adventist Church, Statement of Confidence in the Writings of Ellen G. White, 2015

Ellen G. White was not only one of the “founding mothers” of the Adventist Church but was also a prophetess whose inspired writings continue to guide and impact the Adventist Church today. In 2015, on the centennial of her death, the Adventist Church affirmed that Ellen G. White’s writings were divinely inspired, are Christ-centered, and are Bible-based. 

As part of both the 2013 and 2017-18 Global Church Member Surveys, members were asked about their views regarding Ellen G. White, her role as a prophet, and the inspired nature of her writings.  

In 2013, nearly three-fourths (73%) of members shared that they wholeheartedly embraced Ellen G. White as an inspired messenger from God. Another 13% shared that they accepted this because the Adventist Church teaches it. Only a small number of members admitted that they had questions (4%) or major doubts (2%), or completely rejected Ellen G. White as an inspired messenger from God (4%).

When the 2017-2018 GCMS asked members a similar question (this time using the term “prophet” as opposed to “inspired messenger”), nearly the same number of respondents (72%) shared that they wholeheartedly embraced Ellen G. White as a prophet. The percentage of those who accepted this view because the church teaches it was higher this time. There was also a slight increase in the number of those who had some questions about Ellen G. White’s role, while the percentage of members who had major doubts about her ministry was similar. Fewer members said that they did not accept Ellen White as a prophet. The data from both surveys show that a strong majority of Adventists affirmed Ellen White’s role as a prophet or an inspired messenger. However, pastors can think about possible ways to clarify the subject for those who have questions or major doubts.  

Another aspect of Ellen G. White was the authority of her writings, that is that they came as a result of divine inspiration from God. In the 2013 GCMS, three in five (59%) respondents shared that they believed Ellen G. White was inspired by God and presented His message in terms of her own time and place. Interestingly, 28% of respondents believed that Ellen G. White copied what God told her word-for-word and was not influenced by time or place. Less than one in ten respondents believed that Ellen G. White created stories to explain life, about 4% did not know who she was, while 2% believed that her writings contain no more wisdom than writings of other religious leaders.

The 2017-18 GCMS asked members a similar question regarding Ellen G. White’s writings. The same number said that they felt her writings were inspired by God. Slightly more participants (32%) believed that Ellen G. White copied what God told her word-for-word, which points to the need for a more thorough explanation of the nature of the inspiration of her writings to the members and members-to-be. Nevertheless, the comparison between the two surveys shows that members worldwide continue to have strong confidence in the inspired writings of Ellen G. White. The 2017-18 GCMS also showed that a smaller group did not know who Ellen G. White was or felt that her writings include wisdom about the human experience or contain no more truth than works of other Christian leaders. However, the numbers for these three categories were slightly lower than in the 2013 survey.

The 2017-18 GCMS took the questioning one step further, asking members if they believed that Ellen G. White’s writings were the result of the spiritual gift of prophecy. A vast majority (92%) of respondents agreed to one extent or another with this idea. Only a very small percentage disagreed that Ellen G. White’s writings were inspired.

Ellen G. White’s writings uplift the narrative of Scripture and help to “correct inaccurate interpretations of it derived from tradition, human reason, personal experience, and modern culture.”((Statement of Confidence in the Writings of Ellen G. White, 2015)) Therefore, it is important that these writings be shared and valued worldwide. This should not only be taught from the pulpit, but also emphasized in Adventist schools, in Bible studies, etc. These writings are an important, inspiring resource that should be utilized by Adventists as a means of growing closer to Jesus. A strong majority of Adventists around the globe affirm her prophetic role and consider her writings as a result of the spiritual gift of prophecy. What are your personal experiences and practices in reading Ellen G. White’s works?

Creado en colaboración con el Instituto del Ministerio de la Iglesia (Institute of Church Ministry).

Published by ASTR