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Ellen White on the Humanity of Christ

A Chronological Study by Woodrow W. Whidden II




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.

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
Christ. The original study covered only up to 1902, but the present study extends to 1915 (the year of her death).

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 I personally searched through thousands of pages in both the unpublished and published materials, using the laser disk technology for published material and the computerized index the White Estate has developed for her unpublished works.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 White.


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 Appendix A.

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 sanctified reason.

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.

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