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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
Others

Discern Fact from Fiction


Initial Points

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#2 & #3: "Based around the teachings and philosophies of its nineteenth-century founder, prophetess Ellen G. White, Seventh-day Adventism exhibits tremendous influence world-wide."—Narrator.

#2: It's based around her teachings. To the contrary, the doctrines found in her writings did not originate with her, and generally were held and taught by Seventh-day Adventists before she wrote them out. Where then did Adventists get them from? From Bible study.

In materials prepared for the general public, Adventists quote Scripture to substantiate their beliefs, for they are based on Scripture. In material prepared for use by their own members, since her books are held in high esteem by most, they as well as the Bible are often quoted from, giving an appearance that the charge is true when it is not.

Much of what Seventh-day Adventists believe was hammered out in the Bible studies of the 1848 Sabbath Conferences. Mrs. White, to her chagrin, could not understand the topics under discussion. The only exception was when she was in vision, [p. 14] which occurred when the brethren could not come to agreement on their own about what the Bible said on a particular point. She wrote:

During this whole time I could not understand the reasoning of the brethren. My mind was locked, as it were, and I could not comprehend the meaning of the scriptures we were studying. This was one of the greatest sorrows of my life. I was in this condition of mind until all the principal points of our faith were made clear to our minds, in harmony with the Word of God.—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 207.

Since much of what Adventists believe was arrived at in meetings where Mrs. White couldn't understand what was being discussed, how can it be said that Seventh-day Adventism is based around her teachings and philosophies?

#3: She's the founder. She was not the sole founder.

This distinction has more to do with psychology than with being picky. Narrowing down responsibility for an incident or teaching to a single individual makes that incident or teaching seem less credible to the average mind. Likewise, having many people say the same thing makes an incident, teaching, or allegation seem more credible. Whether intentional or not, this video utilizes this psychological principle by blaming so much on Mrs. White, and by having so many different people do the blaming.

Though a number of others played important roles in the forming of Seventh-day Adventism, there are three who are usually considered the founders: Joseph Bates, James White, and Ellen White. Without Bates's itinerant evangelism and James's publishing efforts and leadership, Seventh-day Adventism would not have gotten off the ground.

Interestingly, of these three, James White's name gets the most prominence. The Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia calls him "founder," while his wife is called "cofounder," and Bates is called "one of the founders" (pp. 1598, 1584, 132). This tendency to identify James as the founder is nothing new, for Uriah Smith called him "the founder" back in 1881 (In Memoriam, p. 11).

A Response to the Video

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