The writings of Ellen G. White are an integral part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. While the Adventist Church holds the Bible as its only creed and strongly adheres to the teaching of the Scriptures, Ellen G. White’s writings are viewed as a secondary companion to the Bible – more so than ordinary Christian literature.
As in the case of every prophet, there have been naysayers – those who refuse to accept the writings of Ellen G. White or those who question why the Adventist Church holds her in such high esteem. In 1982, the General Conference released a statement (published in the Adventist Review) about Ellen G. White. According to the Biblical Research Institute, suggestions from readers and several other groups have led to a refinement of the statement to its present form.Although this is not a voted statement, they believe that the worldwide participation in its development makes it a true reflection of the views the Church has on this topic. This statement reads:
One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and was manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White. As the Lord’s messenger, her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested. Support is found in these Bible passages: Joel 2:28,29; Acts 2:14-21; Hebrews 1:1-3; Revelation 12:17; Revelation 19:10. (To read more, click here.)
In 2013, a survey of church members around the world was conducted under the direction of the General Conference Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research. The study was designed to assess the experiences and attitudes of church members regarding different aspects of their personal spiritual lives and their participation in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Among the questions that members of the global Church were asked, was how frequently they read the writings of Ellen G. White.
- A little more than a third (37%) responded that they read her writings more than once a week including almost half of them (16%) reading her works daily or more than once a day.
- A quarter (25%), however, responded that they read her writings less than once a month.
- Another fifth of respondents (20%) indicated that they never read Ellen G. White.
While this might seem a little discouraging, especially considering the emphasis the Church puts on the messages Ellen G. White shared, other survey responses indicate that beliefs and spiritual practices don’t go always hand by hand. Responses to the next question “Ellen G. White was an inspired messenger to the Adventist church” proved this even more:
- Nearly three-fourths (74%) of church members responded that they wholeheartedly embrace the statement.
- Only a fraction (4%) of church members stated that they do not accept Ellen White’s status as an inspired messenger.
If the Church views Ellen G. White as a messenger from God, and if a majority of members view her as such, then one might question why her writings are not read more frequently. One reason might be linked to the absence of translations. This is supported by the finding that the divisions who reported the highest percentages of “never” reading Ellen G. White’s writings (South Pacific Division – 28%; Trans-European Division – 25.1%; Inter-American Division – 23%) may not have her writings translated into the regional dialects and languages.
The writings of Ellen G. White have many important insights and convey profound truths for our Church today. If you haven’t spent time reading them recently, then perhaps it is time to open one of her book or check them online (E.G.W. Writings or Ellen G. White Estate) in the language you prefer, and see what truths you can find hidden there. There are nuggets of divine wisdom waiting for you!
Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry.