This book is a popularized expansion of a couple of
lengthy chapters taken from my Ph.D. dissertation ("The Soteriology
of Ellen G. White: The Persistent Path to Perfection, 1836-1902"
[Drew University, 1989]). 1 undertook my doctoral study to see if a
historical, rather than topical or thematic, approach to Ellen White's
unfolding understanding of the doctrine of salvation might shed some
additional light on her doctrine of Christian perfection. Obviously, one
cannot adequately deal with the subject of perfection in the thought of
Ellen White without dealing with the closely related subjects of sin and
the humanity of Christ. Christ. The original
study covered only up to 1902, but the present study extends to 1915
(the year of her death).
I do believe that the reader is entitled to know a
bit about how I approached the subject. First of all, I tried to bring
together, in chronological sequence, every one of Ellen White's
statements on the humanity of
To be as thorough as possible in securing every relevant
statement or reference, I did the following:
1. I personally searched through thousands of pages
in both the unpublished and published materials, using the laser disk
technology for published material and the computerized index the White
Estate has developed for her unpublished works.
2. 1 combed through the writings of important thinkers (the most
prominent being Herbert Douglass, Ralph Larson, Robert J. Wieland, the authors of
Questions on Doctrine, Robert
W. Olson, and Norman Gulley) looking for any important statements by Ellen
3. Then I rummaged through every compilation on the subject that I could
lay my hands on.
4. Finally, I sent copies of my compilation out to leading scholars on this
subject and asked them to (a) supply any statements that I might have
overlooked or unwittingly suppressed, and (b) correct any situations in which
I did not cite enough of the context to make the appropriate statement stand
on its own without distortion. The latter included asking them to criticize
any omissions of important phrases that I might have ignored or suppressed in
my use of ellipses.
This compilation then became the basis for the chapters of this present
study and appears as Appendix B. I have included it so that the reader can
easily check the references and more intelligently (and independently)
interact with my interpretations.
The documents that form the basis of my chapter 2 (dealing with Ellen
White's understanding of sin) were not gathered in as thorough a way. I do,
however, feel that I have retrieved enough of the really important statements
to do a reasonably accurate topical portrayal of her position. The documents
are listed in no particular order, either chronologically or logically, in
The reader should be alerted to the fact that I have tried, as far as
possible, to use the terms and expressions of Ellen White rather than related,
but alternative, words. Therefore, there will appear a number of words and
phrases in quotation marks that I have lifted from larger statements. The
reader can almost always assume that when I am discussing an Ellen White
statement and the reference is not explicitly apparent, the word or
expressions in quotation marks come from her.
The present volume is a sequel to my first book, entitled Ellen
White on Salvation (Hagerstown, Md.: Review and
Herald Pub. Assn., 1995). My earlier work dealt briefly with the nature of
Christ, but its major burden was to trace the larger unfolding of her
understanding of justification and perfection in Christian experience. The
present work can be logically read as either a sequel or an expanded
foundation for the first book.
I send forth this work with the prayer that it will help
move forward the present discussions on salvation and the nature of
Christ. These discussions, in their current spirit, have been proceeding
most actively since the mid-1950s and have often been quite acrimonious
and divisive. I have no desire to contribute to the division or the
acrimony. Furthermore, though I have dearly held positions on the issues
involved, I certainly do not claim to be the final word. I would hope
that I would be able to change my mind on any of my own opinions if my
partners in this important dialogue present sufficient evidence and
The present volume goes forth with the hopeful prayer that it might
further this discussion and possibly contribute some insights to help
bring resolution to the present impasse that seems to dominate discussions on the nature of Christ. May God help us all to exercise charity,
humility, and resolution in the pursuit of the truth about Jesus-who is
the Truth embodied.