At Issue Index   Table of Contents 

Ellen White on Salvation

A Chronological Study by Woodrow W. Whidden II


[Adapted from the book jacket] 

While Seventh-day Adventists hold firmly to the Protestant view of salvation—that it is by Grace alone through faith alone—individual Adventists hold a broad spectrum of views on the practical and theological details of salvation doctrine.  It is sometimes puzzling to observers of Adventism to discover that no matter where individual Adventists stand on the theology of salvation, they are sure to claim that Ellen White occupies the same ground. To those advocating the need to be sinless, she is a soul mate.  To those focusing on justification, she is their champion. 

In this book, Woodrow W. Whidden II helps us reconstruct the development of Ellen White's beliefs on the complex issue of salvation.  For the first time, he gives us a historical perspective, showing how certain aspects of Mrs. White's teachings on justification and perfection flourished at different times. 

The reader also gets a clearer view of her understanding of Christ's humanity and of her understanding of the atonement.

Whidden's treatment is conscientious and precise. He clearly shares Ellen White's conviction that salvation and character perfection are not matters of passing interest, but consuming urgency.

As Whidden plots Ellen White's teaching on Salvation across time, the reader begins to see a pattern.  Her basic teaching remains the same, but like a piece of music that features variations on a theme, new emphases come  in response to events in her life and in the church.

For example, in the significant 15-year period following 1888, we find three important episodes that shaped her ministry: 

  1. the Minneapolis General Conference session, 
  2. the "Life of Christ" writing project, and 
  3. the "Receive ye the Holy Ghost" movement at the turn of the century.
It is interesting to note that after 1888, with its fresh emphasis on justification by faith, a more and more defined view of perfection unfolded in the writings of Mrs. White. 

By using a chronological study, Woodrow W. Whidden traces converging lines of thought in the teachings of the Spirit of Prophecy.  He is able to define accurately where Ellen White stood on several important topics: 

  • What was her understanding of sin and guilt? 
  • What did the atonement mean to her?  Would she have endorsed the moral influence theory, the satisfaction theory, or the penal-substitutionary theory? 
  • What was her view of Christ's humanity and how did that view develop?
  • How did her concepts of justification and perfection fit together? 

Whidden hopes that by examining the position of Ellen White—the most respected voice among Adventists—he can help resolve some hotly debated questions about salvation. "Our gospel witness cannot possibly be effective," he writes, "if we are not clear on what the gospel is but are perpetually wrangling about it among ourselves."

At Issue Index   Table of Contents