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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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The following material does not appear in all copies of the video. To their credit, someone must have realized how preposterous this material was, since it was omitted from the second edition.

Who actually decided to omit it is a puzzle. The script writer defended its inclusion in a 1999 conversation with this writer, and the documentation package she sent "substantiated" its "accuracy." She emphatically stated that this writer was the first to complain about the video. Also, a lady at Jeremiah Films was surprised to hear that Mrs. White didn't write the statements quoted below, and that their context clearly indicated such. And both these conversations took place when the second edition was already out!

Another puzzle is why, when they were editing the second edition, they didn't omit the rest of the erroneous material. Yet that would essentially require starting from scratch at great expense. So the existing product was re-edited and shortened by about five minutes. Yet no one seems to have bothered to change the advertising, for it is still advertised as being fifty minutes long.

#117 & #118: "She singled out the practice of masturbation which she called secret vice or solitary vice as the basis for almost every disease."—Dan Snyder.

"Mrs. White felt she had been given special light on the subject of masturbation. Along with her ideas her husband James also quoted others with similar views and published them in A Solemn Appeal. 'There is hardly an end to the diseases caused by solitary vice; dyspepsia, spinal [p. 82] complaint, headache, epilepsy, impaired eyesight, palpitations of the heart, pain in the side, bleeding at the lungs, spasms of the heart and lungs, diabetes, incontinence of the urine... rheumatism, affected perspiration, consumption, asthma...' A Solemn Appeal p. 12."—Narrator.

#117: She felt she had been given special light. The documentation package supports this one under "Point 58" with a statement by her grandson, Arthur White: ". . . a subject on which she had been given special light . . . ." Thus the documentation package proves that her grandson felt she had been given special light, but it provides no evidence that Mrs. White herself felt this way.

Which part of what she really did teach on the subject was "special light"? Much of what she wrote on the topic was already common knowledge in the medical circles of that time. This is readily apparent when one identifies the originators of the quotes that follow.

#118: This is the list of diseases she gave. The average viewer will think that she wrote the selection just quoted, though she did not.

Notice how the narrator said that James White also quoted others in the book Solemn Appeal, but then there is no clear identification of which things Mrs. White wrote and which things she didn't write. The average viewer can't distinguish which were her specific teachings and which were someone else's. This writer listened intently when viewing the video for the first time, and came away with the idea that the video said Mrs. White wrote these things.

From #119 and #122-#125 we can conclude that the video intended to connect these statements to Mrs. White rather than to her husband James.

The quotation as it appears on the video is not accurate. It combines a quotation from a Mrs. Gove, a "celebrated physiological lecturess," with a reference to the views of Dr. Deslandes, neither of whom were Seventh-day Adventists. The video adds words to the quotation that do not appear in Solemn Appeal, and deletes words and quotation marks without using an ellipsis. That this is true is apparent from "Point 59" of the documentation package.

So James White's Solemn Appeal included material from his wife, Mrs. Gove, and Dr. Deslandes, but that wasn't all. Also cited were Sylvester Graham (from which graham flour and graham crackers are named); Rev. E. M. P. Wells, teacher in the school of moral discipline in Boston; William C. Woodbridge, a well-known educator; Dr. Woodward, celebrated superintendent of the Massachusetts State Lunatic Hospital; Todd; Dr. Goupil; Dr. Dwight; Prof. O. S. Fowler; Margaret Prior; Dr. Combe; Dr. E. P. Miller; Dr. Alcott; Dr. Snow of Boston; Dr. J. A. Brown of Providence; Adam Clarke, the Wesleyan Commentator; and Dr. Trall.

How prevalent were such ideas back then? Prevalent enough that they even appeared in Clarke's Commentary, a Bible commentary extremely popular among Methodists. Here's what Adam Clarke identified as the health problems caused by "secret vice":

  1. "speedily exhaust the vital principle and energy"
  2. "the muscles become flaccid and feeble"
  3. "the tone and natural action of the nerves relaxed and impeded"
  4. "the understanding confused"
  5. "the memory oblivious"
  6. "the judgment perverted"
  7. "the will indeterminate and wholly without energy to resist"
  8. "the eyes appear languishing and without expression"
  9. "the countenance vacant"
  10. "the appetite ceases for the stomach is incapable of performing its proper office"
  11. "nutrition fails"
  12. "tremors, fears, and terrors are generated"
  13. "a mind often debilitated even to a state of idiotism" (vol. 1, p. 417)

Now Dr. Clarke, are you sure about all this?

Reader, this is no caricature, nor are the colourings overcharged in this shocking picture. Worse woes than my pen can relate I have witnessed in those addicted to this fascinating, unnatural, and most destructive of crimes. If thou hast entered into this snare, flee from the destruction both of body and soul that awaits thee! God alone can save thee.—Ibid.

Undoubtedly, Mrs. White agreed with a bit of what these physicians, professors, lecturers, preachers, and scholars taught, but we cannot assume that she and her husband agreed with everything. James White sometimes printed an article without agreeing with absolutely everything the article said. And what else would you expect him to do? The Whites were broad-minded people, able to recognize and appreciate the good in material even though it wasn't 100% correct.

One thing Mrs. White did agree on was the effect that this practice has on mental health. The doctors above who worked with mental patients found that a high percentage of such patients, both men and women, were addicted to this vile habit.

A scientific basis for this is documented in [p. 83] "Appendix A" of Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery, and Divorce. Two medical authorities pointed out, in 1978 and 1981, that those engaging in such a practice could easily become deficient in zinc. This in turn could lead to insanity since zinc is necessary for proper brain function (pp. 269, 270).

(Speaking of insanity, does it not seem insane in this day and age of safe sex and AIDS that a "Christian" video would criticize someone's stance on the need of moral purity?)

Back in 1870, Mrs. White wrote a pamphlet called Appeal to the Battle Creek Church, which was later adapted a little and then published in volume two of Testimonies for the Church. Besides referring a number of times to the reprehensible conduct of Nathan Fuller (see #116), she made these statements:

Sexual excess will effectually destroy a love for devotional exercises, will take from the brain the substance needed to nourish the system, and will most effectively exhaust the vitality.—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 477.

The body is enervated, the brain weakened. The material deposited there to nourish the system is squandered. The drain upon the system is great.—Ibid., p. 470.

This sounds like zinc, for there are large amounts of zinc in neurons, glial cells, and various structures of the hippocampus. Given the following facts from Encyclopædia Britannica, Mrs. White's statements are truly remarkable:

Human zinc deficiency was not described until 1963, and it took an additional 10 years before it was confirmed and accepted that zinc is an important nutrient for humans.—"Nutrition: Recommended Intakes of Nutrients: Inorganic Elements."

Features of zinc deficiency in humans have been protean: various combinations of loss of taste, retarded growth, delayed wound healing, baldness, pustular skin lesions, impotence in males, infertility in females, and reduced immunity to infections.—"Nutrition: Deficiency Diseases: Inorganic Elements."

Who told Mrs. White that there was a "substance" or "material" connected with the brain and with "the nourishment of the system"? Who told her this a century before it was confirmed and accepted that zinc was an important nutrient for humans? Where did she plagiarize this from, pray tell?

Mrs. White connected "secret vice" with poor memory, stunted growth, lethargy, irritability, and depression (Appeal to Mothers, pp. 6, 7; Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 391). Since the practice does lower zinc levels, at least in men, and since zinc deficiency does result in poor memory, stunted growth, lethargy, irritability, and depression, her connection is valid. And given the need of zinc for the proper function of so many processes in the body, including the immune system, it isn't hard to see how zinc deficiency could result in greater susceptibility to many diseases.

Want evidence that zinc deficiency can cause these problems and more? Check out the "Current Bibliographies in Medicine 98-3" entitled "Zinc and Health" (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/cbm/zinc.html). Prepared by the U.S. government's National Institutes of Health, it lists 3619 citations of documents published from 1990 to 1998. These citations are broken down into seven categories, including:

  • Zinc and the Gastrointestinal Tract
  • Zinc and the Immune System . . .
  • Zinc and Cellular Mechanisms
  • Zinc and the Central Nervous System
  • Zinc in Growth and Specific Disease Entities

The simple fact is that Mrs. White is still current, even if her statements are nearly 140 years old. Today's scientists are still playing catch up to what she wrote back then.

In 1864 she said that under certain conditions, "Cancerous humor, which would lay dormant in the system their life-time, is inflamed, and commences its eating, destructive work."—Appeal to Mothers, p. 27. Dormant cancer that can be activated? Why, J. Michael Bishop and Harold Varmus didn't publish their findings on "dormant viral oncogenes" until 1976, 112 years later! Their discoveries were deemed important enough that they won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1989. It now appears that dormant genes utilized by viruses or activated by carcinogens play a roll in "all forms of cancer" ("Bishop, J(ohn) Michael," Britannica® CD). And Mrs. White hinted at this in 1864!

A Response to the Video

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