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Avondale College Church, September 2002

Ellen White, Yesterday and Today:
Understanding and Affirming the Ministry of the Most Creative Seventh-day Adventist
1 by Arthur Patrick

Abstract:   Creativity is an attribute of God. In humanity it is a reflection of the Divine image. A consideration of ten facets of Ellen White’s life and ministry suggests that she is the most creative person2 within the Adventist community of faith since 1844. This fact indicates it is crucial for church members to understand her spiritual giftedness and invest their spiritual gifts in ways that are congruent with the entire body of evidence available from Scripture and Adventist heritage.

Seventh-day Adventism began as a movement rather than as a church: the Second Advent Movement. During the 1830s, in the United States, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Restorationists and others came to see a fresh importance in Christ’s Second Coming. These earnest believers were fascinated by the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation in particular, but they were mistaken in believing and proclaiming that Christ would return "about the Jewish year 1843."

Even when Christ did not appear within the predicted time frame, the dark cloud of the Millerite "Great Disappointment" had a silver lining. Indeed, the pain drove some small "a" adventists to more intense Bible study. A few of them discovered that the Scriptures declare the seventh day of the week is the Sabbath, and that God says "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy," Exodus 20:8.3 Others found new meaning in the promise that "the dead in Christ" will rise when Jesus returns in power and glory; they also began to point out that this resurrection meant the righteous dead were not yet in heaven, according to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and related passages. Others asked what the Bible really means when it calls Jesus our "high priest" ministering "in the sanctuary …the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched," Hebrews 8:1, 2. Another group focused on the New Testament’s teaching about spiritual gifts. For instance, from Ephesians 4:7-14 they became convinced that apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers were needed in "the body of Christ" until "we all come in the unity of the faith … unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ."

The historical records of those early years indicate that Joseph Bates (1792-1872), James White (1821-1881) and Ellen Harmon (1827-1915) are the most significant cofounders of what is now a church of a dozen million people represented in 204 nations. We have come to know Ellen Harmon as Ellen White, because she married James White on 30 August 1846. This short presentation offers an interpretive overview of Ellen White as the most creative individual within Sabbatarian Adventism. After seeking to understand the way God led and taught the Advent Movement yesterday, the paper suggests that this understanding has ongoing significance for today.

Creativity is in essence an attribute of God that is demonstrated in His activity as creator. Creativity is, therefore, one of the desirable characteristics of persons made in God’s image. God gave humans the capacity to be creative, original, generative, innovative, productive, formative. For us to create means to author, conceive, originate, bring into being, compose, design, formulate, incubate, found, institute, generate, develop, think out, frame, constitute, regenerate, re-form. Creativity has a place in every phase of human experience, but we must limit ourselves in this presentation to noting its significance in the life and thought of Ellen White in relation to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. A host of Scriptures could be cited to indicate facets of creativity. One that is obvious in this context is Proverbs 29:18: "Where there is no vision the people perish."

Between 1893 and 1900, my three living grandparents came to know Ellen White variously as insightful author, moving speaker, caring neighbour and trusted friend. The last of the three lived until 1951; their unmistakable testimony about her was reinforced by that of three of their children, one of my aunts and two of my uncles, as they shared their childhood experiences. I prized these family impressions. During my student years at Avondale College, giants of faith like Dr William Murdoch and Pastor Arch Hefren helped to hone them. Then, in December 1957 and January 1958, at the first-ever Seminary Extension School held in Australasia, I soaked up the perspectives of Pastor Arthur White (1907-1991), Ellen White’s grandson, author of her six-volume biography. Pastor White’s papers, articles and books continue to influence me. At Andrews University from 1970-1972 at last I had access to significant primary sources relating to the history and thought of the Adventist church as well as the life and writings of Ellen White. Since February 1976 many of these primary sources have been accumulating in the Ellen G. White/Seventh-day Adventist Research Centre here on the Avondale College campus, one of a chain of such centres that serve the major geographical regions of the world. Every statement in this paper may be checked in detail, factually, contextually and historically, in the Research Centre. Two of my theses, the ones completed in 1984 and 1991, present the perspectives of a believer and researcher, whereas this paper conveys the reflections of a teacher and pastor. It cites only a small number of the abundant sources that are worthy of mention, but the careful reader will find the few sources that are listed lead to others so rich in quantity and quality that they invite a lifetime of research and reflection.4


The evidences for Ellen White’s creativity are many. We could claim that seven of them might give us an adequate picture, for seven is a biblical number indicating completeness. Or we could select twelve, reminding ourselves that twelve tribes in Israel and twelve apostles in the New Testament aptly represent God’s people. However, I have arbitrarily decided to identify ten windows, remembering ten commandments encompass our duty to God and man. Each of these windows is framed by an important aspect of Ellen White’s experience and sheds light on the nature of her creativity.

I. Movement from the Shut Door Concept to Embrace a World Mission

Ellen White’s spiritual gift began to be recognised late in 1844 as she reported her first vision. To read of her experience in her earliest accounts enables us to appreciate not only her enthusiastic Hallelujahs but also her clear emphasis on following Jesus along the path to the Kingdom. We also sense from this reading the struggle of the time to affirm God’s leadership in the Millerite phase of the Advent Movement and to understand the advancing light that would soon disclose a daunting mission "to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people," Revelation 14:6. For seven years many of the "little flock" believed that their work as Christian witnesses was done. For James White to surrender distinctive ideas like the "Shut Door" was to go into "outer darkness," and even marriage was deemed to be "a wile of the devil." Such views are understandable under the circumstances. Indeed, the Shut Door doctrine gave our pioneers time to coalesce and study their Bibles with reference to both truth and duty. Essentially, the Shut Door concept was a frail but necessary lifeboat carrying the Sabbatarians across the stormy sea of disillusionment that drowned many of their Millerite colleagues. Ellen White for a time confirmed the Shut Door doctrine in unmistakable words, as when she spoke of the impossibility of lapsed Millerites being restored to viable faith, referred to "the wicked world which God had rejected," or reported in 1849: "My accompanying angel bade me look for the travail of souls for sinners as used to be. I looked but could not see it for the time for their salvation is past." But even within this period of restricted understanding she started to lead the Sabbath-keeping Adventists beyond the anti-mission stance of the Shut Door toward a commission for "all the world" (see Matthew 24:14). For instance, reporting her 1848 vision she pictures "streams of light that went clear round the world." Here is a telling instance of Ellen White’s creativity in terms of the definition offered above.

II. The Holy Spirit and Worship

Seldom do contemporary Adventists acknowledge the powerful evidences of the Holy Spirit within early Adventist faith and worship. We soften the enthusiastic Hallelujahs of our ancestors to more sedate Allelujahs. We tend to overlook accounts of the expressive manifestations of the Holy Spirit as described in the experience of Israel Dammon,5 or evident when Ellen White’s father came upon a room full of people slain by the Spirit, or seen in James White falling upon his face crying and groaning under the power of God. We seldom recognise that for decades James and Ellen White looked back on such experiences as evidence of the presence and blessing of God in the early days of the Advent Movement. Ellen White’s creativity is manifested in the way she affirmed these early charismatic experiences and yet warned a later generation of the false perfectionism that was innate in the Holy Flesh aberration of the 1890s. More than that, she helped the church develop a mature, biblically-grounded understanding of the Godhead or Trinity, including the deity and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.6

III. Health Reform and Human Sexuality

Sabbath-keeping Adventism developed in an effervescent age characterised by a plethora of reforms. One of these innovations focused on health reform, a topic Ellen White started to address in the 1850s but wrote about much more fully after her vision of 1863. This strand of her writings was expanded and honed progressively until it flowered anew in the twentieth century with the publication of such books as The Ministry of Healing (1905). Currently, a surgeon in Melbourne is pioneering an analysis of Ellen White’s writings in comparison with the writings of other health reformers of her time. Spiritual Gifts and The Ministry of Healing offer 228 "health and medical" or what statements, 70 per cent of which are seen by selected doctors as viable in the present. By contrast, when 919 similar statements from four of Ellen White’s significant contemporaries (Graham, Alcott, Jackson, Kellogg) are analysed, only 32 per cent appear credible in the present. In The Ministry of Healing, 44 per cent of Ellen White’s why statements stand the test of time, compared with 21 per cent of similar statements by her contemporaries.7 From our perspective it is important to remember that, although medicos today broadly agree on a particular health principle, further research may modify their opinions. Numerous observations may be made with reference to Ellen White’s health counsels, a few of which can be listed here. First, when followed they often enable people to live for a significant number of years longer than the general population. Second, Ellen White abandoned a number of concepts that were expressed in her early writings on health. For instance, vitalism may be basic to her injunction for Christian wives and to her understanding of the diseases caused by "secret vice" or masturbation, subjects that she moves beyond in her later writings. Third, her recommendations move forward over time in their quest for core principles and effective balance.8 Fourth, health and religion share an intimate relationship in Ellen White’s writings.9 These indicators offer additional evidence of Ellen White’s creativity.

IV. Science and Faith

Scripture was written in a pre-scientific age, an era very different from our own. We are so aware that the moon does not smite us by night that we interpret Psalm 121:6 poetically. We have long since stopped using Joshua 10:13 and Isaiah 38 to demolish the ideas of Copernicus and other scientists. Enormous change has occurred in scientific understanding even since Ellen White’s time. For many centuries in the Western world, Christians have found great difficulty in coming to terms with the seemingly contrasting claims of Scripture and science. The resulting conflicts have often resulted in great loss. Many Adventists currently see significance in the time-hallowed concept that the Bible is given to tell us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go. While some of us may still be struggling with the significance of this observation, it was even harder for Christians in Ellen White’s day to accept such a dictum. Like the authors of the Bible, Ellen White expresses her faith in language that may include reference to ideas then current within her culture. For instance, she only had to open her Bible to read in its margins the accepted age of the earth, so it was natural for her to speak of earth history in terms of that time frame. Even so, she hints at a larger concept when she uses qualifiers like "about", "over" and "more than." Many people in her day thought that the interbreeding of humans and animals accounted for some of the races of people still living on the earth. So when she described the degeneration of the human race as a result of sin, it was natural for her to use the concept of amalgamation as an example. From our perspective, it is important to note that she did not persist with this concept. In the science of Ellen White’s day, the limitation of parents in passing on acquired characteristics was not well understood. When she was advocating the need for the blood to circulate freely she emphasised that tight lacing of the body (as was common amongst nineteenth-century women) might bring destructive results. Tied in with this counsel was the unscientific concept of the transmission to human offspring of acquired characteristics. We could give a very long list of similar examples that have some bearing on natural laws or scientific discoveries. It would include the cause of volcanic action as well as the application of scientific principles relating to health practices. It is part of Ellen White’s creativity that to such a significant degree she was able to move beyond problematic concepts and to increasingly express the Christian faith and Adventist applications of it in terms that retain such credibility in our day.

V. Culture, Medicine and Adventist Christianity

A further window into the creativity of Ellen White, similar to point three above, is provided by consideration of the way she related to a spectrum of issues within her culture. Note, as examples, her counsels relating to medical doctors, phrenology, psychology, drugs and the accreditation of Adventist institutions. We need to be aware of the anguish we can cause if we fail to interpret her writings wisely. This fact is underlined by the recent experience of sincere believers in New Zealand who may have lost a child because they failed to take all the evidence into account. It is interesting that Adventist institutions like Loma Linda University and Sydney Adventist Hospital are deeply conscious of their debt to Ellen White as founding mother and continuing guide. Yet these institutions have been able to embrace scientific medicine, foster the implementation of the principles of Christian psychology and use the outcomes of the pharmaceutical research that has been undertaken progressively. A recent Adventist Review article and the vigorous response it elicited from readers shows that this matter is still a very live one in the church.10 The remarkable fact is that Ellen White was able over time to move so coherently in directions that enhanced the viability of her writings in relation to the positive developments of scientific medicine within Western culture.

VI. The Bible and Its Interpretation

Ellen White used the Apocrypha early in her Adventist experience but she moved beyond that practice as her ministry developed.11 To use the Apocrypha as she did in the 1840s was acceptable practice amongst Christians in the United States; it is no longer acceptable for most Protestant Christians in Australia. Ellen White was confronted vigorously by people who wished to use her writings to settle once and for all some of the difficult questions that troubled the Church during the seventy years of her ministry. One such issue was the identity of the law in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Some of her statements seemed to point to this law as the ceremonial one so well described in Leviticus, but later she indicated it embraced both the ceremonial and the moral law but especially the moral law. Some Adventists have since concluded that the Apostle Paul is writing against the use of law as a means of attaining righteousness; in other words, he is against legalism. Therefore, they are able to read Ellen White’s comments on the law in Galatians as a sure guide on the way to salvation rather than as a dogmatic statement on which particular law is in view within any given text in Galatians. In similar vein, Ellen White helped the church in 1888 and thereafter to see a greater harmony between its landmark doctrines and the "most precious message" of Righteousness by Faith in Jesus Christ. Again, she studiously avoided pressures to define "the daily" of Daniel chapter 8. She also helps us all to avoid the pitfalls of both Fundamentalism and of doubt about the Bible, challenging us to a viable view of inspiration with reference to the Scriptures as well as her own writings. At the International Prophetic Guidance Workshop of 1982, Roger Coon emphasised well the continuing significance this reality has within our church. In these and many other ways, Ellen White demonstrates creativity with reference to the study and application of God’s word. At a time when founders of other religious movements were tending to limit the role of the Scriptures amongst their followers, Ellen White was encouraging Adventists to seek the illumination of the entire Bible.12 She also welcomed a translation of the Scriptures that updated the much-loved King James Version.

VII. Christian History and the Great Controversy Theme

It has proved to be a very challenging thing for Christians to develop a sustainable theology of history. Ellen White was given a second and more comprehensive vision on this theme in 1858. From that date until her death, the war between Christ and His angels and Satan and his angels was one of the main organising principles within her writings.13 As we trace the development of this body of literature, numerous conclusions emerge. First, the tiny volume, Spiritual Gifts, was inspiring and helpful for the struggling "little flock" that was "scattered abroad" at the time it was first published. Second, during the next half-century Ellen White expressed the same essential theme in far greater detail, continually adding to it as she experienced more revelations, thought about the concept, read her Bible and other writings, listened to sermons and conversations, observed events in her world, wrote much and preached often. We now have reliable information about her use of Adventist and Protestant authors in writing on Christian history,14 her use of some thirty known authors in her writings on the life of Christ, her readiness to listen to Marian Davis report what she heard in Bible classes at the Melbourne Bible School, her acceptance of many of W.W. Prescott’s 105 suggestions for the revision of the 1911 edition of The Great Controversy. These are useful indicators of the kind of person Ellen White was and the way in which she functioned. She was the leader of a prophetic school, utilising judiciously the spiritual gifts of others; she did not see herself as the exclusive or sole channel of all the truth that is vital for the last days. Her inspiration was derived from visionary experiences reinforced by earnest Bible study, diligent reading and careful listening. It was important in her mind that her written counsel be tested by the community of faith that she valued so highly. It requires a secure and mature person to function in such a way. Again, the available evidence underlines the nature of Ellen White’s creativity.

VIII. "Proper" Education

From 1872 onward, Ellen White wrote much on the theme of "proper education," with one of her best-loved volumes appearing in 1903 under the title Education. A lecture for the academic staff of Avondale College during 1995 and the Murdoch Lecture of 199715 explored some of the core principles and outcomes of her writings relating to Christian education. Only a superbly creative person could encapsulate so much of lasting significance as she was able to do. That her writings are still valued by the diverse educational institutions that Adventists have developed around the world illustrates this creativity powerfully.

IX. Church Organisation

Given the mind-set of the largely Millerite believers who were becoming Sabbath-keepers in the 1850s, it was a real struggle for our pioneers to foster agreement on their name (Seventh-day Adventists) and to develop local and General Conference structures during the years 1860-1863. James and Ellen White were at the forefront of that pioneering endeavour. Only a truly creative person could take a lead during1901-1903 in the extensive reorganisation that was effected. Ellen White’s role in both these major events, separated as they were by forty years, is a significant witness to her creativity.16

X. Inclusiveness and Belonging to the Adventist Family

It would seem easy for a person of the vision and strength of character manifested by Ellen White to become obsessed with their own ideas and methods. Her life and writings underline the fact that she was able to grow in understanding and change her stance on important issues in response to multiple stimuli. She was not only worked cooperatively with creative people, she counselled her associates to be tolerant of each other and to value diversity.17 It is useful for us to notice there are multiple applications of this creativity. For instance, she prized the light expressed on the sanctuary theme in the writings of Owen Crosier, Hiram Edson, James White, Uriah Smith and others, yet she was able to offer a deeper grasp of essential principles than they did, as illustrated in the chapter entitled "Joshua and the Angel" in Testimonies, volume 5, pages 467-476. She described well the historical significance of the doctrine of the sanctuary, but also affirmed the exegetical meaning of Hebrews in terms of Calvary and the Day of Atonement. See, for instance, The Desire of Ages, page 756-7 and many other references. This inclusiveness has given Adventists a way to deal constructively with a host of crucial passages, even ones as important as Revelation 13 or as sensitive as the Bible’s teaching on Christ’s human nature.18 The creativity of James and Ellen White as a team of two is strikingly manifested in the paradigm shift from the "Way of Life" pictures produced in the 1870s to their revision in the 1880s, a movement in emphasis congruent with that traced and enunciated so winsomely by Alden Thompson in his "Sinai to Golgotha" series of five articles in Adventist Review, December 1981.


It is important to emphasise that to mention these ten facets of creativity so briefly does not do justice to the subject in hand. Each facet should be explored in ten or a dozen pages, as should many others not even mentioned in this presentation. However, even from this limited marshalling of evidence we can begin to ask important questions. How might all these pieces of information and thousands of others that we have about Ellen White fit into a composite picture? Is she really the most creative of the millions of people who, since 1844, have chosen to identify themselves as Sabbatarian Adventists? Her creativity was demonstrated for almost seven decades, as long as a normal biblical lifespan, longer than the productive life of most of the rest of us. This creativity was exercised in more fields of significance than that of any other person amongst us. It bears unmistakable evidence of being gifted by the Holy Spirit and nurtured by a responsive, diligent woman. We have developed scintillating speakers, innovative educators, compelling writers, but none of them is as influential and effective in spiritual leadership as Ellen White.

During the 1990s, Rolf Poehler wrote a significant dissertation at Andrews University that has since been published in two books that are in the Avondale College Library.19 Poehler’s work helps us to understand continuity and change in Seventh-day Adventism. We do not need to be afraid of the fresh information that deluged the church as primary historical sources started to become available for study some thirty years ago. The reversionist stance that became so evident within Adventism during the 1970s may be as ill-considered as its polar-opposite stance, the rejectionist one. We need to foster a transformationist response to all the data that is on the Adventist corporate desk. To do this is to implement the "agenda" described by the General Conference president in Adventist Review, 9 July 1981. We need to engage in this process with the attitude so well expressed by Ellen White in many of her writings, not least in Counsels to Writers and Editors, pages 33-51.

When Ellen White came to Cooranbong in the mid-1890s she found that Australians had "a barbarous practice" of confining the head of a cow in a bail and tying back its hind leg before milking it. She decided to model a better way, so she secured some cattle that had been running on the Watagan mountains and showed how they could be tamed beyond the need to use "barbarous" bails and leg ropes. We are not threatened by such practical creativity. But we tend to be afraid to follow her lead in matters of faith. Here in Cooranbong, Ellen White modelled the principles of Christian service, writing letters and manuscripts that demonstrate how to implement the essential concerns that many years previously motivated some early Adventists to respond as they did to slavery. We tend to applaud that exemplary witness even though we find it uncomfortable to do likewise. We are not threatened by her creativity in the way she grew peaches, pansies and potatoes or in the way she tamed the house cow that she loaned to my grandfather. But we tend to draw back when indicators like those listed above suggest something of her amazing creativity in the realm of spiritual leadership, especially if we are asked how this might apply to our experience, today.

How shall we understand this situation? In Ellen White’s case, creativity was not the result of exceptional intellect or superior education, though she enables us to value people with such strengths. Rather, here was a spiritually gifted, Bible-believing, Bible-studying person who grew in faith and understanding as part of a vibrant community of faith that was learning and unlearning. Her life and writings give unmistakable evidence of spiritual giftedness, but also of human creativity and hard toil. These facts pose the question: Will we as Seventh-day Adventists follow the lead of our pioneer "mother" effectively? Will we invest intelligently our spiritual gifts, in the light of all the evidence that our Bibles and our heritage offer?

Our challenge is not merely to recognise the dimensions of Ellen White’s creativity but to ask what implications these may have for our thinking, living, relating and witnessing. According to Proverbs 4:18, the path of the just is like the light of dawn that is slowly transformed into the brilliance of noonday. To walk in the advancing light is the essence of the Adventist journey of faith. Of the millions of Sabbatarian Adventists, Ellen White in both her life and her writings best exemplifies the meaning of this experience within the context of "the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history," Life Sketches, page 196.


During 1862, about three thousand of our spiritual forebears had at last found a name for themselves (Seventh-day Adventists) and were struggling through the process of developing local conferences and moving toward the formation of a General Conference structure. Ellen White was acutely aware of the towering problem of slavery. She "saw large companies in battle," that is, she witnessed the conflict we know as the Civil War. Part of her message for those she called "the people of God" may be read in Testimonies, vol. 1, page 261.

Greater light shines upon us than shone upon our fathers. We cannot be accepted or honoured of God in rendering the same service, or doing the same works, that our fathers did. In order to be accepted and blessed of God as they were, we must imitate their faithfulness and zeal,—improve our light as they improved theirs,—and do as they would have done had they lived in our day. We must walk in the light which shines upon us, otherwise that light will become darkness. God requires us to exhibit to the world, in our character and works, that measure of the spirit of union and oneness which is in accordance with the sacred truths we profess and with the spirit of those prophecies that are fulfilling in these last days. The truth which has reached our understanding, and the light which has shone on the soul, will judge and condemn us, if we turn away and refuse to be led by them.

These indicative words are from the pen of the most creative Sabbatarian Adventist, a person who was apt to declare bluntly, "Truth is progressive," or to emphasise, "We have every reason to believe that the Lord will send us increased truth." More than that, she warns: "Much has been lost because our ministers and people have concluded that we have had all the truth essential for us as a people; but such a conclusion is erroneous and in harmony with the deceptions of Satan; for truth will be constantly unfolding."20

Such counsel is large with meaning for today and for our ongoing pilgrimage as individuals and as the Advent Movement of Century 21.21


Robert Olson collected and made available, to the International Prophetic Guidance Workshop of 1982, eighty-four statements by Ellen White and other Adventist pioneers relating to the "Shut Door," the door of mercy and the salvation of souls. Some of these statements are well known and readily available, like those in Selected Messages, I, 62-64, 74. These statements and others may be read in their literary and historical context in the Research Centre:

1. "We have done our work in warning sinners, and in trying to awake a formal church. God, in his providence has shut the door; we can only stir one another up to be patient; and be diligent to make our calling and election sure." William Miller, 1844.

2. "Others [of the Advent people] rashly denied the light behind them, and said it was not God that had led them out so far. The light behind them went out leaving their feet in perfect darkness, and they stumbled and got their eyes off the mark and lost sight of Jesus, and fell off the path down in the dark and wicked world below. It was just as impossible for them to get on the path again and go to the City, as all the wicked world which God had rejected. They fell all the way along the path one after another, until we heard the voice of God like many waters, give us the day and hour of Jesus coming." Ellen White, 1847.

3. "My accompanying angel bade me look for the travail of soul for sinners as used to be. I looked, but could not see it; for the time for their salvation is past." Ellen White, 1849.

4. The italicised words from 1847 (point 2, above) were deleted in the Ellen White’s 1851 account, suggesting that by that year a transition had occurred in her understanding.

5. "With my brethren and sisters, after the time passed in forty-four I did believe no more sinners would be converted." Ellen White, 1874.

6. "For a time after the disappointment in 1844, I did hold, in common with the advent body, that the door of mercy was then forever closed to the world." Ellen White, 1883.

7. "The closing message of the gospel is to be carried to ‘every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people’." Ellen White, 1902.

End Notes

1 Visual and electronic communications are pervasive in our culture and profoundly affect Ellen White studies. This presentation offers an interpretation that contrasts with the negative message of many current videos and websites. It should be preceded by a careful study of Ephesians 4:1-16.

2 Creativity is not intended in a perjorative sense. Creativity embraces openness to data, insightfulness, the ability to synthesise ideas and grow in understanding. It implies a capacity to learn and unlearn, to solve problems and build community. However, it includes far more than such concepts imply. Thus the term is hardly adequate for the descriptive task that it is assigned to it in this paper, but no other word seems to be more apt. Also, it must be recognised that creativity can have negative outcomes, such as those described by William Glasser, M.d., Choice Theory: A New Psychology of Personal Freedom (New York: Harper Perennial, 1998), 134-159.

3 Biblical quotations are from the King James Version, the Bible used by early Adventists.

4 I offer a dated but still useful introduction in "Seventh-day Adventist History in the South Pacific: A Review of Sources," The Journal of Religious History 14 (June 1987), 307-326, DF 28L. Note that Document File (DF) numbers or call numbers are cited to aid for those who are unfamiliar with the resources of the Ellen G. White/Seventh-day Adventist Research Centre. See also Gilbert Abella and Vera May Schwarz, "Dissertations, Theses and Major Research Papers Related to the Seventh-day Adventist Church" (Loma Linda: Loma Linda Research Libraries, 1988), 207-218, call number 286.7016 D63; Gary W. Shearer, Compiler, "Ellen G. White: Her Life and Teachings and the Gift of Prophecy in the Seventh-day Adventist Church" (Angwin, Calif.: Pacific Union College Library, 1998), DF 910. Readers are encouraged to consult significant dissertations, such as that by Roy Graham. Collections of articles by Robert Olson and Roger Coon are helpful. Herbert Douglass in his book entitled Messenger of the Lord: The Prophetic Ministry of Ellen G. White (Nampa: Pacific Press, 1998) offers a wealth of data. For a more recent summary of research and some of its possibilities, see my unpublished paper, "Reflections on Unfinished Business: Ellen White Studies in Historical Perspective," dated September 1999, DF 739.

5 Note the complementary accounts in Spiritual Gifts, 2, 40-42 and Spectrum 17, no. 5 (August 1987).

6 I have documented some of the evidence that illumines this paragraph in two Record articles, 4 December 1999, 5-9. Much more detail is offered in the papers from which these articles are drawn, located in DF 186 and 311a. See also the paper "Ellen White and Early Adventist Worship," 14 January 1993, DF 2017a.

7 Don S. McMahon, "Adventist Health: Inspired or Acquired ?" This recent, undated paper is in DF 127; it offers many clarifying analyses in addition to those cited, however the CD that Dr McMahon has prepared should be consulted in order to better understand his research. The percentages cited are rounded.

8 For one response to such ideas, see my paper "Re-Visioning the Role of Ellen White for Seventh-day Adventists Beyond 2000," 1997, DF 739, along with the other papers that are both in the Research Centre and on this site.

9 Note Graeme Sharrock's e-mailed analysis, dated 13 September 2002, page 2, DF 739. Ellen White was open to the positive links between a healthful lifestyle and a vibrant religious experience. She was open also to the way in which Christian principles and values impact pastoral practice. For one example, note the way she treated the sensitive subject of divorce and its aftermath. Cf. the issues as expressed in a recent Adventist Review article by Bruce Manners (22 August 2002, pages 24-28) with the evidence assembled in "Ellen White and the Pastoral Care of Divorced Persons," a paper prepared for the General Conference Family Ministries Department, 20 January 1998, DF 739.

10 See John B. Hoehn, "The Adventist Drug Problem," Adventist Review, 25 April 2002, 8-13. Note the ensuing correspondence as in the issues dated 18 July 2002, 29-30; 8 August 2002, 3. Note, too, constructive assessments of Ellen White's health counsels such as that by B. Lyn Behrens, "The Ellen White Advantage," The 2000 William G.C. Murdoch Lecture, reproduced in The Avondale Reader, vol. 2, no. 2 ( December 2000), DF 170k.

11 Denis Fortin, "Sixty-six Books or Eighty-one? Did Ellen White Recommend the Apocrypha?" Adventist Review, 28 March 2002, 8-12.

12 Currently I am preparing a paper on Ellen White's use of Scripture for presentation at the South Pacific Division theological conference that will convene during February 2003. Under the title "Learning from Ellen White's Perception and Use of Scripture: Toward an Adventist Hermeneutic for the Twenty-first Century," the paper will explore some of the implications of this paragraph in a more coherent way. One of its points of reference will be "The Inspiration and Authority of the Ellen G. White Writings: A Statement of Present Understanding," Australasian Record, 22 January 1983, 6. Recently Graeme Bradford has drafted a book that offers biblical insights relevant for anyone who seeks to interpret Ellen White's writings.

13 An expression of the importance of this theme is conveyed in the paper by Herbert Douglass, "What Do Adventists Mean by the Great Controversy Theme," May 2002, DF 83. For its significance in the context of American Christianity, see Sharrock, pages 2-3, which cites his paper, "Milton's Granddaughters: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Ellen G. White, Harriet Beecher Stowe," 1992.

14 Dr Walter Rea explored this matter further in a San Diego lecture, 14 September 2002. Cassettes of Rea's address were arriving in Australia within two weeks of its oral delivery.

15 "Does Ellen White Have a Crucial Testimony for Avondale in 1995?" dated 9 February 1995; "Visioning and Re-Visioning Seventh-day Adventist Tertiary Education in Australia: A Centennial Assessment of Avondale College," The Avondale Reader, vol. 1 (9 July 1999), DF 739.

16 The best dissertation on this theme is that by Barry Oliver (1989). George Knight offers a more accessible account in his book entitled Organising to Beat the Devil: The Development of Adventist Church Structure (Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 2001). A related matter, the importance of the doctrine of the church, was aptly expressed in a special issue of Record, 18 May 2002.

17 Compare the following: The Great Controversy, pages 598, 593; Counsels to Teachers, pages 432-3; Gospel Workers, page 473; Testimonies, 5, pages 303, 706-7 and 291-3.

18 In an era when some earnest believers feel compelled to make what Ellen White identifies as "sharp thrusts" at Catholics (note Evangelism, pages 574-7) we would do well to read the seminal book by Douglas Morgan, Adventism and the American Republic (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2001) and compare with it Reinder Bruinsma's doctoral dissertation (reported in a Murdoch lecture but not yet in the Research Centre). When we are tempted to engage in controversy over the nature of Christ, we might reflect on Eric Webster, Crosscurrents in Adventist Theology (Berrien Springs, Mi.: Andrews University Press, 1984, 1992). On his illuminating website, Alden Thompson offers mature perspectives on how Adventists might understand their mission and engage in it more unitedly.

1919 Continuity and Change In Christian Doctrine: A Study of the Problem of Doctrinal Development and Continuity and Change in Adventist Teaching: A Case Study in Doctrinal Development (Europaischer Verlag Der Wissenchaften: Peter Lang, 1999 and 2000).

20 Signs of the Times, 26 May 1881 and 26 May 1890. Computer technology enables these ideas to be interpreted within the context of a host of parallel statements. Thirty-eight times Ellen White indicates truth is "progressive." On 101 occasions her writings employ the word "unfolding" with reference to truth.

21 Those who wish a "lite" account of Ellen White's significance might start with my article "Ellen White's Legacy," Record, 26 August 2000, then move to Adventist Heritage, Spring 1993, before going to an article for pastors in Ministry, April 1991. Alternatively, George Knight's four volumes are longer and far superior: Meeting Ellen White, 1996; Reading Ellen White, 1997; Ellen White's World, 1998; Walking With Ellen White, 1999. All are published by Pacific Press. Colleagues in various parts of the world have offered helpful suggestions on various drafts of this paper, some of which are reflected in the text. Others' suggestions have influenced the selection of the materials (for a sample, see Overhead 1, above) used to illustrate the oral version, whereas a few call for more detailed treatment in the future. All are valued as part of the responsible "dialogue and dialectic" that is essential within the Adventist community.

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