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Crosscurrents in Adventist Christology

by Claude Webster


V. Evaluation and Critique

In this concluding section we wish to give an evaluation and critique of Ellen White's Christology and will proceed in the following manner. Firstly, we will offer certain general observations as a background; secondly, we will discuss the total impact of Ellen White's Christology; thirdly, we will offer a specific critique; and, finally, we will present a summary and conclusion.

A. General Observations

We will make our general observations under three headings, namely, concerning Ellen White's theological development, her style and intention and finally, her use of sources.

1. Ellen White's Theological Development Relative to Christology

Ellen White commenced writing in 1846 at the age of 19 and continued until 1915 when she was 88 years of age. It should be observed that this covers a period of 69 years spanning two generations. I would place her Christological presentations into three approximate chronological periods, as follows: 1) 1850-1870; 2) 1870-1890 and 3) 1890-1915. The first period is illustrated by such works as Christian Experience and Views of Mrs. E G White (1851); A Supplement to Experience and Views (1854); and Spiritual Gifts (1858-1864). During this period there was an emphasis on visionary experiences and her descriptions of the pre-existent Christ could be termed graphic, literalistic and anthropomorphic. Her writings always featured Jesus, but were mostly set within the framework of her eschatological visions. It was only with the unfolding of her 'great controversy' theme in 1858 that her Christology broadened and began to be more prominently presented. The second period is illustrated by writings such as the Spirit of Prophecy series (1870-1884) and her Christology now showed clear signs of growth and maturity. The third period could be considered as inaugurated with Patriarchs and Prophets (1890) and is the period of Christological dominance in the writings of Ellen White. This is the period of elaborate, far-reaching and increasingly insightful pronouncements in her Christology. It is difficult to differentiate between the actual Christology of the second and third periods; the content is very similar but the volume is greater in the third. As far as the pre-existent Christ is concerned, during the first period Ellen White appears to present Jesus Christ as subordinate to the Father; in the second period she presents Christ as equal with the Father and eternal; during the last period Christ is presented as of the same substance and essence as the Father and one in whom is life original, unborrowed, underived.265

To what extent was Ellen White influenced by her contemporaries within Adventism with regard to her Christology? Froom showed that Arianism and semi-Arianism had manifested themselves in an unofficial way through the writings of John M. Stephenson (1854), Uriah Smith (1865)266 and Joseph Waggoner (1884).267 Froom also shows that James White, the husband of Ellen White, commenced his ministry with an anti-Trinitarian stance, but by 1877 came out clearly in the Review and Herald on the equality between the Father and the Son.268 Gane believes that early Adventism at least up to 1898 was even more strongly anti-Trinitarian and Arian than what Froom maintains. He remarks:

"As has been shown, there was prior to 1898 considerable diversity of belief on the subject of the nature of God. Bordeau in 1890 regretted this. But the present writer has been unable to discover any evidence that 'many were Trinitarians'269 before 1898, nor has there been found any Trinitarian declaration written, prior to that date, by an Adventist writer, other than Ellen G White."270

Two observations should be made in connection with Ellen White. Firstly, in spite of the fact that Ellen White exercised the gift of prophecy, one can believe that God speaks to people in the setting of their times and within the scope of their theological thought patterns. With a strong anti-Trinitarian atmosphere in her early environment even including her husband, it can be understood that Ellen White could present her views of Christ within her theological world and understanding. The second observation is that it is quite remarkable to observe the rich and profound anti-Arian Christology issuing forth from her pen starting as a gentle flow in the 1870's, becoming stronger in the 1880's and swelling to a torrent in the 1890's when all around her were influential men with differing views. Ellen White showed remarkable independence of thought in her Christological development.

2. Ellen White's Style and Intention

Bearing in mind Ellen White's lack of formal education271 it can be appreciated that her style of writing was at first simple, resulting in a feeling of inadequacy to present the grand themes of salvation.272 She commenced writing out of a sense of mission and calling. Ellen White was convinced that God had spoken to her and had placed a burden upon her to make known to others what He had revealed to her. Her earlier writings consisted of messages making clear what had been shown to her. In addition, she soon began to write 'testimonies' to individual members and small companies and churches. These messages were in the form of counsel, guidance, admonition and reproof and were generally of a hortatory nature. The emphasis in the beginning was not upon exegetical or expository writing but rather in the field of spiritual admonition.

Ellen White was not a trained theologian and, therefore, we cannot look for systematic treatment of spiritual truth. But as time went by her intention to admonish, exhort and guide the church flowered into a coherent presentation of Biblical themes. She excelled herself in the development of the Conflict of the Apes series as these grew from the earlier Spiritual Gifts into the Spirit of Prophecy and then, finally, into the five volumes of the Conflict of the Ages series. Ellen White carefully traced the history of the drama of the ages, weaving practical spiritual lessons into this recital. The end product has been spiritual and edifying for the church. It is in this setting that her Christological themes have been presented. They lie scattered throughout her writings and instead of forming a systematized network of truth are rather like scattered jewels waiting to be gathered and collected by observant wayfarers.

3. Ellen White's Christology in the Light of her Sources

It is helpful when making an evaluation of Ellen White's theology and particularly her Christology to bear in mind her use of sources.273 Through the years it has generally been thought that Ellen White only made use of sources when writing historical works such as The Great Controversy.274 Research in more recent years and bibliographic work on the inventory lists of her library books reveals that Ellen White had more than eleven hundred books by non-Seventh-day Adventist authors275 and read more widely than has generally been known. It is now known that she used sources in her writings covering all subjects.276

Of particular interest for this dissertation is the question of Ellen White's use of sources in the field of Christology. Here we think particularly of a book such as The Desire of Ages, dealing with the life of Christ. In the development of this book, whether drawing from her existing works or writing fresh material, Ellen White made use of at least twelve other sources.277 Reference has already been made to a comparison of the Christology of Ellen White and Henry Melvill, the Anglican preacher (1798-1871) from whom she drew heavily. This latter source has thrown considerable light on the apparent conflict in Ellen White's statements on the humanity of Christ.278

How does the question of Ellen White's use of sources affect our evaluation of her Christological contribution? The tension and antithesis apparent in Ellen White's Christology could arise, either from her use of sources with contradictory ideas, or from the very nature of the subject. After personal research and consideration I would favour the latter alternative. In fact, the general consistency in Ellen White's views over a considerable span of time is a testimony to her clarity of thought. The fact that different sources are used makes it all the more imperative for an author to use discretion and wisdom in presenting a uniform picture. It would be easy to offer a confused and contradictory Christological pattern, unless one was blessed with discernment. The knowledge of Ellen White's use of different sources has heightened our appreciation of her general Christological impact.

B. The Total Impact of Ellen White's Christology

In this section we will endeavor to evaluate Ellen White's Christological impact upon the church in three sub-sections, namely, the dominance of her Christology, the heart of her Christology and the tension of her Christology.

1. The Dominance of her Christoloqy

Many different subjects and themes are treated by Ellen White and various students might have conflicting ideas as to her chief concern. There are those who feel that her treatment of health and the body has priority. Others would see her burden for parents, children and the home as dominant. Others again might even feel that her counsel on last-day events has pre-eminence. We would like to suggest, however, that Ellen White's favorite theme and topic woven into everything else is Jesus Christ.279Not only is this theme found in a book like The Desire of Ages but it is intertwined with all types of subjects throughout her writings. In going through all of her articles in the Review and Herald from 1850 to 1915 we found Christological nuggets lying all around and often in the most unexpected places. Whether writing on temperance, the home, faith, Christian work or simply recording travel notes, the theme of Jesus surfaced. For Ellen White Jesus Christ was the manifestation of the Father, He was the Substitute and Surety, He was our sanctification and our righteousness and our Example. For her Jesus Christ was the centre and the heart of all Christian doctrine and ethics. No wonder she wrote:

"Christ, his character and work, is the center and circumference of all truth, he is the chain upon which the jewels of doctrine are linked. In him is found the complete system of truth. "280

2. The Heart of her Christology

Having described Ellen White's Christology and attempted to analyze it we now ask whether it is possible for us to place our finger on the very heart of it all. What is it that makes Ellen White's Christology live and move? What is the significance of Jesus Christ in her total thought and scheme? How does Jesus Christ fit into the cosmic sweep of time and eternity? I would suggest that lying in the very centre of Ellen White's thought, whether conscious or unconscious, is the reality of Jesus Christ as the Mediator, the Link, the Middleman and the Bridge between God and the universe. While this is true of the whole universe, for us it has special meaning for this world. In this connection there comes clearly to mind Ellen White's vivid picture of Christ who with His divine arm grasps the throne of God and with His human arm the hand of man.281 Here Christ draws God and man together in fellowship. In His very nature as both human and divine He illustrates this tremendous truth of unity between the finite and the Infinite.

Let us test this heart of Ellen White's Christology. She herself speaks of Christ as the eternal Mediator.282 Long before sin, Christ was the Mediator or Link between God and the universe. In the plan to create man for fellowship Christ was to the medium of creation. Once sin appeared in heaven and on earth Christ would in a special way be the Bridge to restore fellowship. Underlying her whole concept of the great controversy between Christ and Satan is the central fact of Christ's role as Mediator and Medium between God and creation. In opposition to this role Lucifer commenced his nefarious schemes of rebellion against God and His character. Now the issue of God's government and His law of love came into focus as the 'great controversy between Christ and Satan,283 began to unfold. When man fell into sin this called for an additional dimension of Christ's mediatorial function; thus "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" (John 3:16). This dimension of Incarnation and atonement lay dormant in the heart of God from the days of eternity but was made manifest when sin appeared. Now during "the great controversy" Christ would engage in this special mediatorial work of restoring fellowship between a loving God and sinful man. In the process Christ will vindicate God's character, His law and His government. Christ as Mediator, Link, Middleman and Bridge between God and creation is marvelously illustrated in the eradication of the temporary aberration of sin. The heart of Ellen White's Christology is Christ the Mediator.284

3. The Tension of her Christology

Another important aspect of Ellen White's total impact is the force of the tension in her Christology. Not that she worked as a trained theologian with an intentional philosophy of antithesis and paradox. Nevertheless, it is interesting to discover that the whole world of theological tension comes into play in her presentation of Christ.285 She presents the helpless babe of Bethlehem and yet the mighty God of the universe; the combination of the divinity and the humanity of Christ; the paradox of Christ possessing the attributes of God and the fullness of the Godhead bodily and yet manifesting the weakness of humanity; taking upon Himself our sinful natures but still possessing inherently a sinless human nature; coming in the likeness of sinful flesh and yet Himself being without corruption, pollution or the taint of sin. Ellen White presents the marked contrast between Adam in Eden and Christ in the wilderness of temptation, and yet the tremendous similarity between Christ and Adam in relation to the absence of inherent sinfulness. She sees Christ relying on faith in His Father and the written word to overcome temptation in the wilderness and yet the necessity of divinity combining with His humanity in order to face the test. She pictures His miracles as an evidence of His Messiahship and yet His reliance on prayer to perform His miracles. She shows that Jesus Christ came down to the level of the sinner bearing the circumstances and results of sin and yet knowing no sin Himself. She indicates that Christ did not use His divine powers to alleviate His human position and yet He could read human hearts, forgive sin and manifest forth His divinity. Christ had to be more than a man or an angel in order to make atonement for sin and so Deity suffered and sank at Calvary and yet Deity did not die because God cannot die. The complexity of Ellen White's Christology is an indication of its depth and richness.286

C. A Specific Critique of Ellen White's Christology

We would suggest that in the very strength of Ellen White's Christology as one of tension and paradox, lurks also her greatest weakness. Because of the volume of her writing it is difficult for many to obtain a balanced overview of her Christological offerings. It is thus easy to see one side of the picture and to come away with a partial concept of Ellen White's Christology. Some have recognized that this makes it possible to select and use quotations of Ellen White to support differing concepts.287 Ellen White wrote under differing circumstances and on different occasions when a particular need arose. These very conditions have laid Ellen White open to the charge of contradiction.

As Ellen White was not a systematic theologian she did not attempt to systematize her Christology and place it in a neat bundle. This has resulted in loose ends lying around and each researcher can enter the field and decide for himself how he would like to stack the bundles. There is plenty of evidence as to the variegated results of such enterprises.288 Gil Gutierrez Fernandes has found that "a certain degree of ambiguity, however, seems to characterize her statements on the condition of Christ's human nature."289

Because Ellen White never attempted to gather her Christological material into a systematic whole we are left with some conflicting views.290 Those who have a high view of inspiration in connection with Ellen White would hold that any apparent contradiction is only apparent and not real, or that Christology is so complex that what appears to be contradiction is only divine. Others would say that because Ellen White used paradox different sources and was human she could end up with differing concepts. Still others would say that some of the contradictory ideas are due to her own theological growth and development, or to varying contextual circumstances. Much will depend in the end upon one's own philosophical and spiritual presuppositions in approaching the work of Ellen White.

D. Summary and Conclusion

We have presented Ellen White's views on the preexistence and eternity of Christ and of His unity with the Father in nature and character. We have pictured her doctrine of the Incarnation and its relation to the person and work of Christ. We discovered that for Ellen White, Christ did not lay aside His divinity when He took on humanity; He was fully God and fully man. While His deity was veiled, it functioned sufficiently for Christ to be God, in a similar way as His humanity functioned sufficiently for Him to be man. In relation to sin we found that Ellen White has Christ coming to earth in the post-fall nature of man with all the "innocent infirmities and weaknesses of man," together with the imputed sin and guilt of the whole world, thus bearing vicariously the guilt and punishment for all sin; and yet, in a nature that was sinless and without corruption, pollution, defilement, sinful propensities and tendencies or taint of sin. Furthermore, Ellen White sees all the manifold work of Christ bound and tied together as the great Mediator, Middleman, Link and Bridge between God and man.

Ellen White's impact on the Seventh-day Adventist Church and particularly on its theology has been significant. It is a pity that her Christology has not been more readily available to the general theological world. The scattered nature of her Christological writings over many years and covering many sources has made it difficult for non-Adventist scholars to get their hands on the comprehensive material. For one and all the challenge to dig deeper and to study more remains. After all, Christology is like a well that never runs dry.

265 E. R. Gane denies that there is any evidence of thought evolution in the Christology of Ellen White. In a thesis presented to Andrews University in June, 1963, entitled, "The Arian or Anti-Trinitarian Views Presented in Seventh-day Adventist Literature and the Ellen G. White Answer," (already referred to in footnote 25), he says: "It has been demonstrated that there was an evolution of thought among Adventists generally on the nature of God. This took the form of gradual repudiation of Arianism and acceptance of Trinitarianism. But Ellen G. White writings do not reveal this type of thought evolution. The profound statements of her later period do not contradict anything she wrote in the earlier period. Instead they reveal a growing awareness of the deeper mysteries of the Godhead" (p.67). It is interesting to note that practically all of the quotations cited from Ellen White on Christology in Gane's paper come from the years 1890 and beyond. Alden Thompson, professor of religion at Walla Walla College, College Place, Washington, U S A, takes a different line from Gane. In a series of five articles in the Review and Herald, (December 3,10,17,24,21, 1981), entitled "From Sinai to Golgotha," Thompson discusses what he calls the Sinai-Golgotha principle. Simply stated, this principle, according to Thompson, illustrates how God takes His people from the commands of Sinai to the invitation of Golgotha, enabling them to respond out of love instead of from fear. Applying this principle to Ellen White's theological growth he sees a shift of emphasis in the way she told the great controversy story itself. In comparing Patriarchs and Prophets (1890) with Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 1, (1858), and The Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. 1, (1870), Thompson found that, in general, Spiritual Gifts gives a simple narrative; The Spirit of Prophecy expands it; Patriarchs and Prophets transforms it. In connection with the eternal nature of Christ, Thompson writes: "Both Spiritual Gifts and The Spirit of Prophecy reflect the tendency of some early Adventists to see Christ as a created being who was exalted to equality with the Father. But in Patriarchs and Prophets the statement of Christ's eternal relationship with the Father is clear and unmistakable" ("The Theology of Ellen White: The Great Controversy Story," Review and Herald, December 31, 1981). [back]

266 Froom quotes from Uriah Smith's Thoughts on the Revelation (1865) pages 14 and 59 to illustrate the Arian views of Smith. He then uses the second edition of 1875 and the third edition of 1881 to show how Smith moved from an Arian to a semi-Arian position on Christ. Froom maintains that even in Smith's book Looking Unto Jesus which appeared in 1898 he still propounds semi-Arian views on Christ and taught a derived Christ. See Froom, Movement of Destiny, pp.152-166. [back]

267 Froom discusses Waggoner's (the father of E. J. Waggoner) book, The Atonement, which first appeared in 1868, with a second edition in 1872 and an enlarged edition in 1884. Froom shows that Waggoner held and taught Arian concepts regarding Christ. See Froom, Movement of Destiny, pp.168-174. [back]

268  Ibid. , pp.175-177. [back]

269 Gane is referring to documents circulated by the Seventh-day Adventist leadership in the early 1960's in which it was stated that "many were Trinitarians" in our early history and that the Arian view was a minority one. See paper in next footnote, p.64. [back]

270 Cane, op. cit., p.65. [back]

271 The reader is referred to footnote 1. [back]

272 See Selected Messages, Book 3, p.90. See also Letter 40, 1892, and Letter 67, 1894 (both cited in Ford, Daniel 8:14, p. sA-257). [back]

273 The question of Ellen White and her use of sources has come up for discussion at regular intervals. It has generally been known that she did make use of certain historical works as source material in The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan, Battle Creek, Michigan: Review and Herald, 1888. She also drew from Conybeare and Howson, The Life and Epistles of Saint Paul, London: Scribner, 1851, in her Sketches from the Life of Paul, Battle Creek, Michigan: Review and Herald, 1883. For the Adventist defense of this usage see: F. D. Nichol, Ellen G. White and Her Critics, pp.403-467; A. L. White, The Ellen G. White Writings, pp.121-136. In recent years the subject has been researched more intensely. Ronald Numbers gave evidence in 1976 of Ellen White's use of sources in the field of health (see Ronald L. Numbers, Prophetess of Health: A Study of Ellen G. White, New York: Harper & Row, 1976). In a series of articles in the Review and Herald, Arthur L. White, former secretary of the White Estate, presented evidence as to how Ellen White prepared the Conflict of the Ages books (see Arthur L. White, "The E G. White Historical Writings," Review and Herald, July 12,19,26, August 2,9,16,23, 1979). See Molleurus Couperus, "The Bible Conference of 1919," Spectrum, Vol. 10, No. 1, 1979, pp. 23-57; Donald R. McAdams, "Shifting Views of Inspiration: Ellen G White Studies in the 1970's," Spectrum, Vol. 10, No. 4, 1980, pp.27-41; Douglas Hackleman, "GC Committee Studies Ellen White's Sources," Ibid., pp.9-15. For a recent critical approach see Robert D. Brinsmead, Judged by the Gospel, Fallbrook, California: Verdict Publications, 1980, pp.145-156; 361-383. Neal C. Wilson, president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, has admitted that her use of sources is more extensive than was generally known. He writes: "Walter Rea, a former pastor in the Southern California Conference, has shown that E. G. White borrowed more extensively from contemporary sources than we had thought previously" ("The Ellen G White Writings and the Church," Review and Herald, July 9, 1981). See also Wilson, "This I Believe about Ellen White," Review and Herald, March 20, 1980. Recently a Roman Catholic attorney, Vincent L. Ramik, who specializes in copyright law, rendered a 27-page opinion on Ellen White's use of sources. He concluded that Ellen White was not guilty of copyright infringement/ piracy (see Review and Herald, September 17, 1981, pp. 3-7). For the most recent critical work see: Walter T. Rea, The White Lie, Turlock, California: M & R Publications, 1982. For recent critical evaluations of The White Lie see Jonathan Butler and Alden Thompson, "The White Lie: Two Perspectives," Spectrum, Vol. 12, No. 4, 1982, pp.44-55. For a recent sympathetic review see: Desmond Ford, Daniel 8:14, The Day of Atonement, and the Investigative Judgment, Casselberry, Florida: Evangelion Press, 1980, pp.A-256-261. For a recent discussion of the topic by a representative of the White Estate we refer to Ron Graybill, "E G White's Literary Work: An Update," Aspire Tape, March 1982. See also a thorough discussion of the latest findings on the subject, Warren H. Johns, "Ellen White: Prophet or Plagiarist?" Ministry, June, 1982, pp.5-19. [back]

274 At the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Conference held in August 1919, at Washington, D.C., leaders of the church discussed Ellen White and her writings amongst other subjects. At that time it was thought that Ellen White's sources were confined to approximately twelve other books besides the Bible. See Warren H Johns, "Ellen White: Prophet or Plagiarist?" Ministry, June, 1982, p.16. [back]

275 See footnote 11 with regard to her library. Ellen White actually had three libraries—an office library to which her literary assistants had access, a personal library, and a library of 572 titles sold to her by C. C. Crisler in 1913. When she died in 1915 an inventory was made of all her possessions including her books. It is unlikely that she would have used many of the books bought from Crisler two years before her death. More than 800 of the books listed in the inventory are no longer to be found in the White Estate collection. See Warren H. Johns, "Ellen White: Prophet or Plagiarist?" Ministry, June, 1982, p.9). [back]

276 Johns writes: "Today we know that Ellen White used literary sources in her periodical articles, her unpublished manuscripts, her diaries, and her letters, in addition to the published books...I cannot think of any major subject where I have not located examples of 'literary adaptation!" See Ibid., p.16. [back]

277 Desmond Ford writes: "Desire of Ages drew upon at least the greater part of a dozen well-known commentators on the life of Christ" (Desmond Ford, Daniel 8:14, p.A-256). Amongst authors used were Geikie, Lightfoot, Fleetwood, Farrar, Hanna, Edersheim, Samuel Andrews and John Harris. See Johns, Ministry, June, 1982, pp.6,7; See also Arthur L White, "Completing the Work on The Desire of Ages," Review and Herald, August 16,23, 1979. [back]

278 See discussion involving footnotes 229-231 in this chapter. [back]

279 The Index to the Writings of E. G. White give an index of the various topics in the writings of Ellen White. It is very interesting to note the large number of entries under the title, 'Christ.' Notice the number of pages, of entries of some selected subjects: Sabbath-14; Ten Commandments-7; Health-3; Home-10; Advent-4; Christ-76. [back]

280 E G White, "Contemplate Christ's Perfection, not Man's Imperfection," Review and Herald, August 15, 1893. [back]

218 For selected reference see footnote 59 of this chapter. [back]

282 Ellen White says: "From everlasting he was the Mediator of the covenant," ("The Word Made Flesh," Review and Herald, April 5, 1906). [back]

283 There are some who believe that the heart of Ellen White's theology lies in "the great controversy between Christ and Satan" (see Joseph Ballistone, The Great Controversy Theme in E G White Writings, Berrien Springs, Michigan: Andrews University Press, 1978). While the history of this world and of sin could very well be described in terms of 'the great controversy' we would suggest that the Person of Christ is much richer, deeper and greater than the aberration of sin. Christ's participation in "the great controversy" represents only one phase of Christ's activity in the sweep of eternity. [back]

284 We suggest that this presentation would harmonize with our discussion of the first chapter of The Desire of Ages regarding Ellen White's overriding motif in the work of Christ. That theme of the covenant as fulfilled in the Incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ would harmonize with Christ as the Mediator between God and the universe. [back]

285 It should be remembered that if Jesus Christ is very God and very man, then we are bound to face mystery, complexity and antithesis in Christology. It was Forsyth who said: "Beware of clearness, consistency, and simplicity, especially about Christ. The higher we go the more polygonal the truth is. Thesis and antithesis are both true" (P. T. Forsyth, The Person and Place of Jesus Christ, Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, [n.d.], p.71). [back]

286 At face value the above could be taken as simply evidence of contradiction in Ellen White. However, there are a number of factors which make this unlikely. Firstly, there is the consistency with which Ellen White presents her style of paradox, tension and antithesis throughout her writings. It is not isolated to one aspect of her Christology but permeates the whole field. Secondly, this paradox is seen within the shorter confines of single articles, letters or chapters. Thirdly, in this chapter on Ellen White we have already explored shorter paragraphs and even sentences which are rich in purposeful tension and dialectic. Fourthly, it should be remembered that even theologians of note such as Barth and Pannenberg have been accused of similar paradox and tension.  [back]

287 0ne non-Adventist friendly critic has written: "I mentioned that Mrs. White wrote voluminously. Those writings took place over a considerable period of time. They took place in specific contexts, and they stood in a definite relationship to each other. To use those writings correctly (so as not to misrepresent them) requires a great deal more skill than is generally being exhibited" (Geoffrey J. Paxton, The Shaking of Adventism, p.156). The author goes on to say that Ellen White has a wax nose and can be turned this way or that way by those desiring to score a point. [back]

288 Let us review some of these results. We have already mentioned that Gane found no theological growth in Ellen White's Christology while Thompson found the opposite (see footnote 265 in this chapter); William H. Grotheer has given a history of the conflicting opinions regarding Ellen White's Christology in "An Interpretative History of the Doctrine of the Incarnation as taught by the Seventh-day Adventist Church," (1972, see page 457); Desmond Ford interprets Ellen White one way on the nature of Christ and on righteousness by faith (see Documents from the Palmdale Conference, pp.36-59) while A John Clifford and Russell R. Standish interpret her another way (see Biblical Research Institute Paper, Conflicting Concepts of Righteousness by Faith, 1976); W. E. Read prepared a 17-page mimeographed pamphlet of Ellen White extracts on "The Sinlessness of Jesus," 1956; see a differing view by Albert H. Olesen, Think Straight about the Incarnation, An Examination and Application of Original Beliefs in Doctrine, [n.p., 1960?]; see also A. Leroy Moore, The Theology Crisis, Texas: Life Seminars, 1980; see Thomas A. Davis, Was Jesus Really Like Us? 1979. Many more examples could be given. [back]

289 See G. G. Fernandez, Ellen G White: The Doctrine of the Person of Christ, Ph.D. Dissertation, Drew University, 1978, p.73. [back]

290 Aside from the paradoxical elements as already presented in various parts of this chapter we mention one example. Commenting on Hebrews 5:7, Ellen White says: "He made his supplications to his Father with strong crying and tears. He prayed, not for himself, but for those whom he came to redeem" (Testimonies, Vol. 4, p.373); further, "He spent whole nights in prayer upon the lonely mountains, not because of his weakness and his necessities, but because he saw, he felt, the weaknesses of your natures..." (Testimonies, Vol. 3, p.379); similarly see Testimonies, Vol. 4, p.528. On the other hand, note: "He was unsullied with corruption, a stranger to sin; yet he prayed, and that often with strong crying and tears. He prayed for his disciples and for himself (emphasis supplied), thus identifying himself with our needs, our weaknesses, and our failings, which are so common with humanity" (Testimonies, Vol. 2, p.508); for similar thoughts see Ministry of Healing, p.500; The Desire of Ages, pp.419,420. Do the two views complement each other or contradict? This is simply an example of material which will have to be handled with skill. Of course, the Scriptures also provide an ideal fruitful field for potential conflict of views. [back]

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