Pickle Publishing "Shaky Visions" Research Papers

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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

Jehovah's Witnesses, Cont.; Plagiarism

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#112: "Equally as shaky were the visions she claimed to have from God."—Narrator.

#112: Her visions were shaky. One thing the video does not touch with a ten-foot pole, and understandably so, is what would happen during her visions. There was unquestionably something supernatural about them. The 1868 book Life Incidents described it this way:

1. She is utterly unconscious of everything transpiring around her, as has been proved by the most rigid tests, but views herself as removed from this world, and in the presence of heavenly beings.

2. She does not breathe. During the entire period of her continuance in vision, which has at different times ranged from fifteen minutes to three hours, there is no breath, as has been repeatedly proved by pressing upon the chest, and by closing the mouth and nostrils.

3. Immediately on entering vision, her muscles become rigid, and joints fixed, so far as any external force can influence them. At the same time her movements and gestures, which are frequent, are free and graceful, and cannot be hindered nor controlled by the strongest person.

4. On coming out of vision, whether in the day-time or a well-lighted room at night, all is total darkness. Her power to distinguish even the most brilliant objects, held within a few inches of the eyes, returns but gradually, sometimes not being fully established for three hours. This has continued for the past twenty years; yet her eyesight is not in the least impaired, few persons having better than she now possesses.—p. 272.

Regarding "closing the mouth and nostrils," it might be added that Daniel T. Bourdeau himself performed this test for ten minutes on June 28, 1857. He had up to that point been "an unbeliever in the visions," but not any longer. More than thirty years later he declared, " 'Since witnessing this wonderful phenomenon, I have not once been inclined to doubt the divine origin of her visions.' "—General Conference Daily Bulletin, Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, 1893, p. 60.

John Loughborough, an early Seventh-day Adventist who was a bit of a historian, stated:

At my house on Champion street, in this city, in the autumn of 1863 she had a vision. A brother was present, a stone mason. While she was in vision, kneeling, as her arms moved about seemingly in an easy manner, Elder White said to the man, "Brother, that looks like an easy motion, and as though you could readily bend her arm. You can try it if you wish. This brother placed his knee in the bend of her arm, took hold of her extended hand with both his hands, and settled back with all his might. It made no impression. He said to Elder White, "I would as soon think of bending an iron bar as that arm." He had hardly spoken these words before her arm moved around the other way. As he tried to resist the pressure, he was slid along upon the floor. . . .

In the third vision of Miss Harmon, which was given in her father's house in Portland, she arose in vision, her eyes looking upward, took from the bureau one of the great family Bibles published in 1822 by Teale, Boston. (This Bible measured 18 x 11 x 4 inches, and weighs a little over eighteen pounds.) Opening this great book upon her left arm, extended at right angles from her body, she held it in that position for half an hour. With her right hand she turned from text to text, repeating the same to which her finger was pointing, yet her eyes meantime looking upward and away from the book. One or another of those present looked at every text quoted, and found that she was correctly repeating the scripture to which she pointed.—Ibid., Mar. 18, 1891, p. 145.

What was really remarkable about the Bible-holding [p. 79] incident, which occurred more than once, is that a strong man cannot hold that kind of weight in that manner for that length of time. Try it and see.

What would be the purpose of such manifestations? Loughborough provides an answer:

That God who wrought his wonders in Egypt did it that the people to whom he was going to speak his law might know that he who spoke to them, was none other than the God that made heaven and earth. So we should expect if he should reveal himself by vision to his people, there should be with the introduction of such manifestations such demonstrations as would arrest the attention of the people. That a feeble girl, seventeen years of age, should simply say, "I have had a vision," would not be sufficient. Should we not expect the Lord to work in such a manner as would cause the people to say, "I will turn aside and see what this is." . . .

Some in these days, who have never seen Mrs. White in vision, undertake to explain it as disease, hysterics, or something of that kind. The fact is, the vision itself is a miracle. The voice proceeding from the burning bush was miraculous. What shall we call a voice quoting scripture, proceeding from a breathless body, but a miracle?—Ibid.

At the General Conference session two years later, Loughborough was back, this time with the testimonies of others. We already referred to his citation of Dr. M. G. Kellogg under #44 and that of Daniel Bourdeau here. Besides these, he cited that of the A. F. Fowlers, C. S. Glover, and W. R. and Eliza Carpenter regarding a vision in Waldron's Hall at Hillsdale, Michigan, in February, 1857. On that occasion, Mrs. White was examined by a Dr. Lord, who then said, "Her heart beats, but there is no breath. There is life, but no action of the lungs; I cannot account for this condition."—Ibid., Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, 1893, p. 60.

And then there was the testimony of F. C. Castle regarding another examination by a physician in the summer of 1853 in Stowe, Vermont:

"A lighted candle was held close to her eyes, which were wide open; not a muscle of the eye moved. He then examined her in regard to her pulse and also in regard to her breathing, and there was no respiration. The result was that he was satisfied that it could not be accounted for on natural or scientific principles."—Ibid.

The January 1861 vision predicting the Civil War (see #38) was the occasion of yet another examination that was a bit unusual:

There was present a Doctor Brown, a hale, strong man physically, a spirit medium. He had said that her visions were the same as spirit mediumship, and that if she had one where he was, he could bring her out of it in one minute. . . . before he had half completed his examination, he turned deathly pale, and shook like an aspen leaf. Elder White said, "Will the Doctor report her condition?" He replied, "She does not breathe," and rapidly made his way to the door. Those at the door who knew of his boasting said, "Go back, and do as you said you would; bring that woman out of the vision." In great agitation he grasped the knob of the door, but was not permitted to open it until inquiry was made by those near the door, "Doctor, what is it?" He replied, "God only knows; let me out of this house!"

It was evident that the spirit that influenced him as a medium was no more at rest in the presence of the power that controlled Sister White in vision, than were the demoniacs in the days of the Saviour, who inquired, "Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?"—Ibid.; cf. Great Second Advent Movement, pp. 204-211.

The video would like us to believe that Mrs. White's visions were only human. That, however, is not plausible.

A Response to the Video

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