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By Bert Haloviak


As the Kellogg-Jones crisis was approaching a peak of intensity, George Butler, former president of the General Conference wrote the current president A. G. Daniels, his reaction:

It is a terrible, terrible thing! and are we going into the conflict before us . . . the great and closing conflict, with two camps wrangling with each other, Arthur? I do not believe it is possible, unless we get this thing fixed up in some way, and union restored, to go on without being terribly crippled for years, and the loss of many souls.

A fundamental element of the wrangling mentioned by Butler concerned conflicting interpretations of the inspiration of the spirit of prophecy.27

The attitude that both John Harvey Kellogg and Alonzo T. Jones had toward the spirit of prophecy seemed to preclude or at least to sharply minimize the possibility of considering the context of the message given or of "interpreting" it. When urged, in 1905, to explain or have A. T. Jones explain a pre-1900 testimony relating to medical work Kellogg stated, "I don't know that it needs explanation. There is just the statement there." Jones commented, "I never explain the Testimonies. I believe them." Kellogg agreed with that position and affirmed:

What is the use of trying to explain what the Lord is doing, what the Lord says. The Lord says it as he wants to say it. A little later during this same meeting, Kellogg reiterated this attitude:

I am not going to explain what the Lord says. I am not going to try to. When I read my Bible I believe the Bible—the word the Lord has sent to me, and I will just get out of it all I can. I will ask the Lord to interpret that to me so I can understand it. I read the Testimonies in just the same way.28

Jones affirmed that his understanding of the inspiration of the testimonies was undercut when he could not explain a seeming inconsistency. Like Kellogg he refused to explain or consider the changing circumstances when he related to the spirit of prophecy. Jones told the congregation at the Battle Creek Tabernacle:

I have not a cent's worth of respect for any such plea as is made too often and especially of late years on 'Testimonies up-to-date'; as if a Testimony up-to-date is to take the place of all that ever went before it. Mahomet taught that doctrine as to his revelations—that the last revelation took the place of all that went before it. But God's revelation is not that way. God's revelation is truth, and is just as good today as it was a thousand years ago. It never gets out of date; and the last one that comes is not going to contradict, or vitiate, or set aside, or annihilate any that went before it. . . . No sir, the Bible is the Word of God. It is the same today as it was when Isaiah wrote it, when Amos wrote it, when Hosea wrote it, when Paul wrote it, and will be the same after the world is ended and gone. It is so with the Testimonies, too, as certainly as they are the truth of God.29

Jones thus reacted strongly against those who he believed "explained away," or took a "broad view" of the testimonies, and he considered that they were violating the inspiration of the spirit of prophecy. He likewise continued to believe that the testimony applying to the presidency of the General Conference in 1897 continued to have relevance in 1906 and thus Daniells was not loyal to the testimonies since the testimony stated that it was not wise to have one man as president. He rejected all explanations of that testimony, noting that "whenever it has been quoted it has been explained, instead of obeyed, and doubtless will be so to the end." He noted that everyone agreed that the testimony stated that there should not be one president, but it was always explained to mean something "different from what it says." He concluded:

Why must we be required to accept all these explanations of what the Testimonies mean, instead of being left free to believe them for just what they say? Can not we be allowed to believe what is said in plain words? Shall we not be allowed to know what we know? Must we accept the General Conference explanation of everything? If that be so, then what need have we of the Testimonies, the Bible, our own faculties and senses, or anything else than just the "General Conference" explanation?30

Jones was so firmly tied to his concept of inspiration that when word came to him that Mrs. White asked him among others to write to her their perplexities concerning her writings so that she might explain them, Jones wrote her that upon that consideration he would not write because:

Such a proposition in itself surrenders at once the whole ground of the claim in behalf of your writings as the word of God, or as given by inspiration of God. For if the writings were really the word of God--a. They need no explanation. b. If the writings to be explained were not the word of God, then I would not want any explanation of them; for I would not care any more for them than for any other writings that were not the word of God.31

Another tendency present in both Jones and Kellogg was their tendency to state their conclusions in a rather absolute manner. Because Jones believed that the 1907 Sabbath School lessons on the covenants directly contradicted the conclusions resulting from the message of justification by faith that he was so completely involved with during the decade of the 1890s, he asserted:

In these Sabbath School lessons regularly produced by "the denomination," and used by the denomination for the religious and doctrinal instruction of the denomination, it stands undisputable that the Seventh-day Adventist "denomination" stands so committed to sheer legalism that they have involved in it the very universe of God .... So far as in their power lies, [the denomination] have actually committed the created universe and even the Creator Himself to that same covenant of bondage of self-righteousness.

Jones` absolutism did not permit him to accept explanation that the judgment of the Sabbath School Department in publishing the lessons or the author in writing them, did not commit the denomination to that position. He asserted that, if the Kellogg book, Living Temple, had been published by the Sabbath School Department and studied as quarterly lessons,

then it would be as certain as any thing can be, that the denomination would have been committed to the "LIVING TEMPLE" as a denominational book, and its teachings as denominational doctrine.32

The same type of position seemed to be taken by Jones when the ninth volume of the Testimonies was published in 1909. Because of the intensity of his belief that the article "Sunday Labor" in that volume contradicted earlier Ellen White statements on the Sunday question, Jones issued a pamphlet entitled "The Ten Commandments for Sunday Observance," asserting that the "SDA Denomination and 'organized work' stands publicly committed to Sunday observance." He wrote Daniells:

I cannot imagine what "the denomination" or "organized work" could now possibly do that would cause me to write or address anything more to Seventh-day Adventists or concerning them as distinct from any other Sunday keepers or worshippers of the beast and his image. Therefore from now on you can safely count that the Seventh-day Adventist "denomination" and "organized work," as distinct from any other church factions or Sunday keepers will be perfectly free from any "attacks" or "opposition" from me.33

The Jones and Kellogg position on the inspiration of the spirit of prophecy that minimized context and interpretation seemed to place them in a situation where a choice between only two alternatives was possible. They could totally reject the messages that they had been following for years or they could find some explanation that could deal with seemingly inconsistent messages. They followed the latter route and concluded that some of Mrs. White's testimonies were influenced by others. Thus not all that she wrote was to be considered inspired. Once they placed themselves into the position of having to decide which of the writings were inspired and which were not, it seemed merely a question of time before they no longer would feel comfortable in the church. When Daniells reminded Jones of his stance on the testimonies in the 1890s when Jones "used them with great force to wheel men and policies into line," Jones agreed that that was the case, but continued:

Every soul knows that I never was partial in them, that I never used some with pile-driver force, while utterly ignoring or explaining away others just as plain and definite. The brethren, and the people, know well that whenever I was advocating a matter and some one produced a Testimony to the contrary, instead of explaining it away I stopped instantly and changed my course accordingly. And that was because of my loyalty to the Testimonies. And that loyalty to the Testimonies was because I believed—honestly and truly believed—that everything that was written and sent out as Testimony was Testimony from the Lord. To that belief and that confidence I was as true as it is possible for a man to be. But that trust and that confidence have been betrayed. And by that betrayal I have been compelled—most reluctantly compelled, I assure you—yet literally compelled to yield that position.34

Ellen White considered that the Kellogg-Jones crisis was "undermining the foundation pillars of the faith." She noticed the "misrepresentations and falsehoods" regarding the testimonies and warned that:

Very adroitly some have been working to make of no effect the Testimonies of warning and reproof that have stood the test for half a century. At the same time, they deny doing any such thing.

In considering the "undermining," Mrs. White frequently alluded to the question of the alleged human influence on the testimonies. She noted that many had gone into infidelity through the position "somebody has told Sister White." She pointed out:

Unless there is a breaking away from the influence that Satan has prepared, and a reviving of the testimonies that God has given, souls will perish in their delusion. They will accept fallacy after fallacy, and will thus keep up a disunion that will always exist until those who have been deceived take their stand on the right platform.35

The Kellogg-Jones crisis was only the beginning of the disunion over the spirit of prophecy that was to plague the denomination in the early years of the century. Other apostasies sprang from and operated in conjunction with or independently of the Battle Creek faction. The element that most had in common was their conclusion that portions of the spirit of prophecy writings could be taken as uninspired.


As the "daily" controversy erupted within the denomination, the intensity of the Battle Creek crisis and the consequences of the attacks of other apostasies, served to solidify the contending views into two camps relative to the question of the nature of the inspiration of the spirit of prophecy. Positions solidified according to interpretations of Dan. 8:11-13 and a statement made in Early Writings:

Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered. Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? (Dan. 8:11-13)

Then I saw in relation to the "daily" (Dan. 8:12), that the word "sacrifice" was supplied by man's wisdom, and does not belong to the text; and that the Lord gave the correct view of it to those who gave the judgment hour cry. When union existed, before 1844, nearly all were united on the correct view of the "daily," but in the confusion since 1844,. other views have been embraced, and darkness and confusion have followed. Time has not been a test since 1844, and it will never again be a test. 36

The "old view" or "pioneer position" of the "daily" interpreted it, as did almost all the Millerites, to refer to ancient Roman paganism, while the "new view" interpreted the term to refer to the taking away of the knowledge of Christ's priestly mediation in the heavenly sanctuary by instituting a false sanctuary system. One view depended primarily upon the literal reading of the Early Writings statement, while the other emphasized the contextual background to the statement.


In May of 1920, Stephen Haskell, at age 87, reflected upon the denominational events of the previous 15 years. By 1920 he saw within the church "two classes of critics of the sharpest kind." He observed that one side criticized everything that did not seem in complete harmony with the spirit of prophecy, while the other exhibited a disposition "to show in some way [it] cannot be relied upon." He was amazed that certain people within these groups were so familiar with and had access to the unpublished letters of Ellen White. Haskell saw the camps preparing "for a battle of the fiercest kind." One group was preparing to "defend the old position" at all costs and the other seemed to be preparing, at all costs, to "improve" the positions to conform to the "present status of society." Haskell concluded:

One might think that the Controversy will in the end, be among Seventh-day Adventists whether [the spirit of prophecy] writings as given in the past will stand the test or not.

He informed W. C. White, "Of course you know where I stand."37

Fourteen years earlier Haskell noted a crisis within the church and reacted to it by publishing an article in the Review designed to deal with the Kellogg-Jones issues. In relating himself to the question of human influence over the testimonies, he used the example of Paul's writings and questions raised during Bible times that intimated that Paul sometimes was influenced by others, and thus, whether there should be distinctions drawn within his writings. Haskell pointed out that it was the letters Paul received from the household of Chloe that informed him "that the state of things existed which he had seen in vision would exist." This brought Haskell to his conclusion:

God shows his prophets what will be, and then when circumstances arise, or the prophet has his attention called to it by private letters, he writes what he has seen. It is the same among the people of God today who have drifted away from the old landmarks, and who follow their own understanding. . . . It is thus demonstrated by the Bible alone that Testimonies, letters, symbolic actions, and verbal statements of a prophet are all of the same force.

Haskell pointed out that he was not implying that everything a prophet stated was necessarily inspired of God, but he did fear that "the severest conflict ... that the people of God will pass through . . . will be over the Testimonies of the spirit of prophecy."38

Stephen Haskell, as did many who supported the "pioneer position" of the "daily," claimed a rich heritage and intense feeling because of the guidance of the spirit of prophecy in his experience. As a young minister in the 1860s, Stephen Haskell was given instruction by James White that called for him to place his faith directly in God for guidance in his ministry and not to depend upon others to instruct him. James White told Haskell that God could instruct him by His spirit. From that time onward, Haskell understood and lived believing that God gave him his ministerial instructions by the spirit of prophecy. From that time onward, he wrote Mrs. White in 1909, "your testimonies as far as I have understood them have been my counsellors."39

In his discussions of the issues involved in the "daily" debate, Haskell frequently relegated the theological questions to an extremely minor position. Nevertheless, he pursued the subject with all the vigor at his disposal, believing that it was necessary "to save the cause of God and those who believe the old views on the teachings of the spirit of prophecy." Haskell stated that the question of the "daily" itself did not "amount to a hill of beans" and caused him shame that it consumed any of his time. He noted that he never had preached on the subject since embracing the truth in 1852-53. He alleged that if it was merely the question of the "daily" he would not have published anything on the subject. He wrote to C. C. Crisler:

If God will forgive me for having this correspondence over this daily I think I will never be caught in such a trap again. I will simply give the testimonies and let the issue go on that. And, if Sister White says that she does not mean what she said when she said what she did on the daily, then I will say no more.40

Haskell believed that the vital question was the proper position for the spirit of prophecy to occupy within the church. He believed the question was not between him and the "daily," but rather between him "and the Early Writings." He continued:

It is the Early Writings that I would defend and as long as I believe they teach the view I take, and there are many others that believe the same, and if Sister White does not give any explanation in harmony with Prescott's idea to defend the Testimony for the sake of others I shall defend them. (sic) Must I be made to believe the testimonies teach a certain thing, contrary to my own judgment and the reading of the Writings, when Sister White herself does not so explain it?41

Haskell believed that the "new view" lent support to those who claimed that the spirit of prophecy was manipulated to mean differently than what it read and also that it could be changed because of differing circumstances or varying influences upon Mrs. White. He believed that concept would destroy the credibility of the spirit of prophecy. "And right here is the worst affect of these new views on our people," wrote Haskell to Mrs. White, He believed that once the leadership of the church accepted the position that the testimonies "do not mean what they say," the church would compromise away the spirit of prophecy. 42

Haskell had the firm conviction that the years of labor he and other pioneers wrought in the work gave them a special mission as the "latter days" approached. He thus placed emphasis upon the position of the living pioneers on the subject of the "daily." He seemed to sense a certain estrangement between himself and the General Conference leadership because he did not endorse their position on the "daily," and he believed it relevant, he pointed out to Mrs. White, that "not a single old Sabbath-keeper that has had experience in getting out the foundation principles of our faith . . . believes in this 'new light.' " He again wrote her:

I see quite clearly there are breakers ahead. I also see there must be some who will give the Testimonies that you have given no uncertain sound. If not so, then the cause will be undermined by errors creeping in. They are coming in from all sides. Someone must be more familiar with your writings so, from the Bible, and from your testimonies, be prepared to defend the truth.

The next year he wrote Mrs. White concerning the "daily" debate:

Every person who had an experience in the early days of the message do (sic) not wish to discuss this question. They feel that it is an insult to the Spirit of the Lord, to go to the Lord and pray for light on a matter that He has settled .... There is no hope of these old people who lived back in the early days of the Message being converted to this new light; even if [others] bring volumes of histories to prove it. Because they give more for one expression in your testimony than for all the histories you could stack between here and Calcutta.

Haskell saw hope, he wrote Mrs. White, because such younger leaders as G. A. Irwin, I. H. Evans, Dr. Kress, F. C. Gilbert, O. A. Johnson, and Leon Smith, did not accept the "new view." He believed that the main thrust of Satan's attack during the contemporary period was his attack upon the spirit of prophecy. He wrote W. C. White, "Your mother alone cannot give the straight testimony. There must be some raised up that will stand by what your mother has written."43

In addition to his position of refusing to divide the spirit of prophecy into inspired and uninspired parts, Haskell expressed himself upon other questions relating to the inspiration of the spirit of prophecy. While he did not believe Mrs. White was infallible, Haskell considered the writings inspired on the same basis as the Biblical writings. He considered Mrs. White as much a prophet as Biblical prophets and that the writings should be interpreted as would Biblical writings. Indeed, Haskell seemed to consider the spirit of prophecy as an extension of the Biblical writings. He wrote to Daniells in 1910 that he considered the "testimonies as the spirit of prophecy, precisely the same as is the book of Daniel, Revelation, or other books of the Bible." He also considered the Bible "as being so plain that, if a person will read it, and adhere to the reading, they will find the truth." He believed that, just as the New Testament magnified the Old, so did the spirit of prophecy magnify the Bible.44

Given this position, Haskell believed that a study of the spirit of prophecy writings would "settle nearly every point that people question at the present time concerning the message." 'While he believed that the foundations were established by Bible study, he also believed that those pillars were confirmed by the spirit of prophecy. :He alleged that there was no question of interpreting the "daily" amongst the early SDAs "for they took it for granted that the Early Writings settled it." Since Haskell believed that the "old view" of the "daily" had been established by a vision given to Mrs. White, he could not endorse a position that would, according to him, revise "a sentence, or paragraph" from those writings. 45

Just as Haskell believed that only another prophet would be qualified to distinguish between inspired and uninspired writings, so he emphasized that "none but inspiration can single out a clause and say it means different (sic) from the words used." He would thus accept no other evidence on the question of the "daily" than the words of Mrs. White stating that she did not mean to use the term "daily" in her statement in Early Writings. Haskell affirmed:

If the whole United States, and Europe, Australia, and Africa should rise up and proclaim that view correct, it would make no difference to me, unless the testimony of Sister White should say so. There is no use in being like a leaf in the wind, swayed to and fro.46

Although Haskell opposed revising and even editing of the spirit of prophecy writings, he did so from the standpoint of the credibility of the writings, not on the basis of their supposed verbal inspiration. He wrote Mrs. White in 1909 and expressed his hope that her words might be available "as they were written," since he believed that much of the "power and vitality," was removed by her assistants in making them "readable and adapted to the present condition of things and the people." He reacted similarly, he said, to the revised version of the Bible. Haskell considered that James White, in his editing of the writings had a special ability in "editing them without taking you out of them." He reacted very negatively to substantive changes that seemed to be called for by those who believed the writings needed to be harmonized with history or made to accommodate new believers or varying conditions. He opposed L. R. Conradi's "modifications." He wrote W. C. White:

If you have had the experience that I have had in meeting this matter of dropping out and of changing your mother's writings, you never would allow one sentence to be dropped out, or changed, in her writings that have gone before the public. We have enemies of our faith that are watching just such points, and when they find one they make big capital of it.

Obviously referring to the Kellogg-Jones situation, Haskell continued:

It is the dropping out of some of these things from what has been published in your mother's writings, and the changing of some things, that has (sic) been taken advantage of by the enemies of truth and today is the cause of some of our best brethren losing confidence in you; because they think you change your mother's writings and call it "editing."47

Haskell affirmed that he could respond to every criticism he ever heard raised against the spirit of prophecy except the one woman who publicly asked, "Can you prove from the Bible that a prophet ever had sons that changed the prophet's testimony, and called it 'editing?' " His only response, Haskell stated, was that he could prove from the Bible "that prophets had sons that did not always do right, and their not doing right tested the people." He hoped that White would excuse his bluntness but, he said, it was a point upon which he was sensitive.48

In 1918 Stephen Haskell recalled a conversation with Mrs. White some 40 years previous. According to Haskell, Mrs. White predicted there would be a time when the testimonies would be in demand "just as they were originally given in order to meet objections before we got through." Two years later Haskell wrote that such a demand was called for "almost everywhere I go." The demand was based upon the attacks charging that the writings had been altered to suit circumstances.49

Haskell seemed to be working toward a methodology that would satisfy this need and also to deal with the concept of progressive revelation, for he realized that the health question "like every other point of truth has developed," and Mrs. White "wrote more fully as the people were prepared to receive the light." He recalled that Mrs. White said that there was a time when it was right to eat flesh, but there would also be a time in the future when it would be unsafe. Haskell believed that science indicated that that time had "about come," in 1920. He thus believed that, while the earlier writings should not be altered, later spirit of prophecy statements that indicated how that truth had been magnified and developed should be included with the original statements.50

Some three months before his death, S. N. Haskell sent to F. M. Wilcox his parting statement "in favor of the fundamental principles of present truth." The five-page statement reiterated his belief in the nature of the inspiration of the spirit of prophecy. He believed that "every inspired writer points to God as its author, but it is written by human hands in the words of men." He recognized the fallibility of a prophet, but considered his testimony to be infallible. If God speaks through a prophet, "then his testimony is on par with that of every other prophet." He recognized that change in the individual or group to whom a testimony was directed could cause a change in the application of the testimony. The messages of a prophet might not be explained by human reasoning, but still were to be followed. No one was authorized to "sit in judgment" to determine what was inspired and uninspired "or in any way dissect any prophet's testimony."51

While space limitations prevent such analysis here, a remarkable harmony of viewpoint could also be shown in two other major "pioneer" disputants on the question of the "daily," J. N. Loughborough and G. I. Butler. Both rejected the concept of verbal inspiration as well as the concept that certain of the spirit of prophecy writings were more authoritative than others, and both considered that the "new view" of the "daily" would be destructive to the spirit of prophecy.

That harmony of viewpoint likewise extended to a newer generation of Seventh-day Adventists that also claimed a rich heritage relative to the spirit of prophecy. Such participants in the debate as F. C. Gilbert, L. A. Smith, G. A. Irwin, and G. B. Starr all considered the spirit of prophecy to be under attack. A sense of strident urgency seemed to become prevalent with the presentations of some of these defenders of the "old view." The tendency to share the contents of personal testimonies, to publicly question the orthodoxy of church leaders, and to castigate opponents for past errors began to become a prominent feature of the debate on the "daily."

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