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A Response to the Video:
Seventh-day Adventism, the Spirit Behind the Church

by Bob Pickle

Answers to Questions Raised by:
Mark Martin, Sydney Cleveland
Dale Ratzlaff, The White Lie
. . . and

Discern Fact from Fiction

Health Counsel, Wigs, and the Reform Dress

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#114, #115, & #116: "Researchers examining the early documents containing Ellen G. White's advice on diet and health are usually in for a rude awakening. We must concede that she was, after all, a Victorian lady, with very reserved ideas on the opposite sex. Most of her health advice had to do with bringing into submission the male sexual appetites, which she considered excessive."—Dan Snyder.

#114: In the early documents, most of her health advice had to do with . . . . This is a gross exaggeration. Consider the following statistics.

The picture on the video at this point is of Health, or How to Live. The six articles by Mrs. White appearing in this pamphlet are now found in book two of Selected Messages, pages 411-479. These articles were first published in 1864, the year after her famous health reform vision. In 1865 in Spiritual Gifts volume 4a, a chapter entitled "Health" appeared on pages 120-151.

A computerized search in these two early documents was conducted for:

self-(abuse or pollut*) or (secret or solitary)-(indulgence* or vice*) or immoral* or moral* or marri* or passion* or sensu* or vice* or sex* or lust*

If you aren't sure why some of these terms were searched for, it may become clearer to you under #117.

In the Health, or How to Live articles, statements dealing with morality, some very brief, appear on 11 to 14 pages out of 69. These statements, brief or otherwise, can be categorized thusly:

  • 1 about the "moral pollution" before the Flood
  • 3 dealing with the present immoral state of society
  • 4 about the physical and mental results of [p. 81] immorality
  • 4 regarding the causes of immorality
  • 2 on the Christian duty to be morally upright
  • 1 on the necessity of thinking about the upbringing of children before bringing them into the world

Some statements fall in more than one of these categories, and three pages contain statements that are vague: Were they talking about liquor or immorality?

In Spiritual Gifts volume 4a, statements touching on morality appear on 5 pages out of 32. Of these there were:

  • 2 dealing with before the Flood and Sodom and Gomorrah
  • 3 about the present immoral state of society
  • 2 dealing with the physical and mental results of immorality
  • 1 about the causes of immorality
  • 1 on the Christian duty to be morally upright

So in these two early documents on diet and health comprising 101 pages, but 16 to 19 pages had any reference somewhere on the page to issues of moral purity. That's 16% to 19%.

In 1864, Mrs. White's 30-page pamphlet, Appeal to Mothers, was published. It dealt almost exclusively with the subject of morality, though it also deals with some practical points relating to religious instruction and child rearing. Since it should probably be called an early document on morality instead of diet and health, it probably should be left out of the discussion, but we'll throw it in anyway.

27 of its 30 pages had some mention of morality issues somewhere on the page. Throwing it into our previous statistics, we now have 43 to 46 out of 131 pages dealing with moral purity, or 33% to 35% of the total number of pages.

If we adjust the percentage to account for the fact that Appeal to Mothers had fewer words on the page than the other documents, we end up with but 28% to 30%.

So that's what we come up with even when we skew the numbers in favor of the argument by 1) counting a whole page when only part of a page deals with moral purity, and 2) throwing in a book that's really on morality rather than on health and diet. "Most of her health advice"?

#115: Most of her health advice had to deal with . . . . In the previous number we dealt with Mrs. White's early documents. But Mr. Snyder's statement could be understood to refer to all her health advice, an idea that is even more ludicrous.

Out of the 622-page Counsels on Health, a minor portion talks about morality, modesty, etc. The average born-again Christian would appreciate most, if not all, of what she wrote in this portion.

Whatever portion of her book Ministry of Healing that deals with this subject is extremely minute.

#116: . . . had to deal with excessive male urges. Technically, it is not the male sexual appetites that are excessive per se, but the indulgence of them. Would any born-again Christian disagree that there is all too much promiscuity today?

Anyone who has read what Mrs. White wrote on the subject will notice that she doesn't just talk about men. She also spends a good bit of time talking about women, even describing death-bed confessions by ladies who admitted that their own sinful, immoral practices were the cause of their dying (e.g. Appeal to Mothers, p. 12). But most of her health advice did not deal with this topic, whether regarding men or women.

Some might wonder what prompted James White to issue the pamphlet Solemn Appeal, which is quoted so much by the video. The immoral practices of a Seventh-day Adventist minister named Nathan Fuller had recently come to light, in which practices he had involved some of the members of his congregation (Arthur White, vol. 2, p. 287). If you had been a church leader back then, you just might have been concerned about moral purity too.

A Response to the Video

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