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The Seventh-day Adventist has been greatly influenced by Ellen White more than any other person. Eelier, the Seventh-day Adventists had opposing views concerning the role of Ellen White in the church. This dilemma has more or less been simplified by improved communication and transfer of information which has increase the present day’s knowledge of past historical events and facts I regard to her life and the extent of her works. This has greatly solved the question that perturbed our predecessors and yet still presents us another dilemma that threats to cut right in the milled of the Adventist Christians. In this bibliographical research paper I present Whites bibliography, her positive and negative influence to American Christianity, her writing and evaluation of her life.
Born on November 26, 1827, Gaharn, Main, with her twin sister
Father: Robert Harmon
Mother: Eunice Harmon
Married 30 August 1846 James Springer White, at Portland Mine
Children: James Edison, Henry Nicholas, John Herbert and William Clarence. Edson and William lived to adulthood while Herbert died of erysipelas at the age of three months while Henry died of pneumonia while he was 16 in 1863.
Death: Ellen White died on July 16, 1915, at 87 years and was laid to rest beside her husband in Oak Hill Cemetery, Battle Creek, Michigan.
Qualifications and awards:
- graduated to evangelism at the age of 15 with a rich Christian background
- Got assurance at the same age
- became an evangelist at the age of 15, taught and converted youth to Christianity
- at 17 in 1844 started having visions as she received her call to prophet hood
- her evangelical work served to prepare her for prophet hood
- most notable vision received was the vision on the great controversy on a Sunday after noon on March of 1958
- travelling and preaching to convert people into Christianity
- writing Christian literature to faithfully
- Her efforts lead to the establishment of Saturday as the Sabbath day through a publication indicating that this was the rightful Sabbath day. She later received a vision of the Ten Commandments with the Sabbath commandment circled which she interpreted as being an indication that the Saturday was the correct Sabbath day.
- Was core in the establishment of the Adventist movement and doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventist
- Through her evangelical work she left behind a rich legacy and teaching that are still influential to the Christian living today
Significant influence on American Christianity
Through her activities Ellen white had a great influence on Christians in America. This influence was both positive and negative to the Christian community. However, whether negative or positive this influence is had a strong bearing on the life Christianity that is still being felt up to now.
Ellen white strongly opposed gambling as it was against Christian faith. In line with this, she advocated against dancing, playing of cards, checkers and chess. According to her perspective social amusements normally influenced the way Christians leave. Her perspective, on dancing, playing cards, checkers, and cycling is one of the many issues that many people hold opposing opinions on. Some feel that she was against these activities while other feels that she was simply concerned with the effect of Christian over indulging in this activities but did not directly refute their the engagement. Some of those who derive great influence from her writings and states strongly state that that Christina should shun these activities as they can mislead faithful. The writing in question her is Ellen White state:
“It is essential to our salvation, nor for the glory of God, to keep the mind laboring constantly and excessively, even upon religious themes. The amusement such as dancing, playing cards, chess, checkers and others, which we can not approve because heaven condemns them. These amusements open the door fro great evil. They are not beneficial in their tendency, but have an exciting influence, producing some minds passions for those plays which lead to gambling and dissipation. All such plays should be condemned by Christians, and something perfectly harmless should be substituted in their place
This statement and more others have influence the way man Christians live in America. Christian tends to avoid in the activities due to the temptation they present. Dancing is seen to be very provocative especially due the embracing that takes place between the dancing parties normally a man and a woman, for instance ball room dancing, which in most case instigates sexual desires encouraging fornication and adultery.
Playing cards chess and checkers on the other hand is seen as the simple ways of implementing gambling, especially in the mid 19th century. Gambling consumes precious times and entices people to adopt evil practices perceived by Christians to be vices such as falsehood, drunkenness, profanity, debauchery, cheating, quarrels as well as murder. These habits are natural habit associated with the desire to win and the players of these games my take up the habit to ensure that they are always winning. Evidently, the evil mannerism consumes the gamblers life denying him or her peace of mind need for Christian living. By influencing Christians to shun the activities Ellen White certainly made a positive impact on the lives of the American Christians encouraging them to leave peacefully with one another and avoid sin. However, in the present day many Christian do not think of playing of these games as being evil be find the grumbling part of it to be entirely evil.
Another positive influence the Ellen White bestowed to the American Christians is the influence on what is the correct Christian music. Music is dynamic and vary influential to human live a fact that could not escape the prophetess hade a keen eye on how Christians lived in their societies. Shouting, beating of drums vigorous dancing and music rouses people and as a result may have a confused rationale that make them feel that they have received the wholly spirit which is not the case. According to Ellen White visitation by the wholly spirit is not supposed to be accompanied by uncouth activities and irrational behavior. Such noisy methods are not the ways of the Holly Spirit but rather ingenious method of Satan to have his own flock of followers. Christian music as such should be accompanies with confusion and overexcitement. Other the modern day pervasion of music, the bible provides useful accounts of how music is intended for higher purpose and glorification of God. The children of God use it to glorify god on many occasion. Sons can be relaxing and can help teach Christianity to people as well as conserve Christian lessons.
Ellen white also positively advocated that Christians dress appropriately since dressing represented what one serves. She notes that it is through appropriate dressing that one can really reveal to other wha he or she stands for. In this regard dressing in a manner that can be deemed Godly is can help Christians influence one another positively. Revealing dressing or seductive dressing is certainly not appropriate for Christian spiritual development as it leads to fornication. Certainly, the influence she had on the Christian way of dressing was very impressive. It ensured that Christians influence other people in ways that are in line with Christian life. She wrote that, in no superior manner can you allow your glow shin to other people than in your plainness of clothing and demeanor. You possibly will demonstrate to every one that, in no contrast with eternal things, you put a proper approximation over things of the present life.”
She further wrote about true Christian leadership, a writing that had a bearing on Christian leadership practices influencing the way Christians perceived leadership and the role of leaders. Christian leaders in the present day faced with a great dilemma when it comes to leading their subjects and making decision. The leaders find numerous challenging situations restriction to their decisions yet they are still expected to give exemplary leadership by the same people creating this challenges and restrictions. The present day world may see very different from the setting that Ellen White lived in due to the improved eases of information exchange, increased war fare, diseases such as AIDS, terrorism, family disintegration, globalization, financial crises and others. However, the principles of leadership or Ellen’s ideas remain vibrantly applicable and her advice to embrace God is still very relevant since God remains unchanged and possess the ability to relieve humans their stress.
Long after her death, hear teachings, and writings continue to inspire Christians and the positive outcome have be realized in the way Christians relate with one another and aspects of life such as religion and science, sex, immorality, medicine and Adventist faith, education to Christian children as well as adults, the organization of the church, true worship and music, leadership, gambling, the interpretation of the bible among others.
Despite being considered as one of the most outstanding ladies on the modern Christian history criticism has been laid on her regarding the principles she stood for. Her doctrines have been seen to have a negative influence on the American Church today because of various issues. First, her followers have taken a very strong stand on her claim to have spoken directly to God making them not to open up to contrary opinions. They further tend to take her writings as the basis of arguments rather that the Holy Bible. Her believe on the fact that labor union are a work of the devil as well as the issue on idolatry on anything held with passion has provided a platform of for negative debate. Her books have been produced and read widely by many and are worth noting. Her rejection of infallibility, the negative view on the trade unions and the claim of her special relationship with God may be negative will be the basis of our study now.
In as much as Ellen G white frequently denied the fact that her doctrines could be contested, the implications thereafter have showed otherwise. Her followers have taken her doctrines and writings to argue and justify their actions because they believe that she was a God-sent prophet. This may or may not be proved otherwise, but as time comes and go all human beings frequently re-examine their stands on various religions. The ‘progressive’ Adventists who were formerly in her camp tend to disagree with her arguments regarding day to day activities such as dressing mannerisms that she emphasized on to be in a particular way. They have a stand that times have changed and people should adapt to any other occurrences in a manner that is considerate to all sides. Yet her followers remain adamant on this issue of dress saying that they do so in order to show a partition of people of faith and those of the world. One reader argued that in as much as Christians are holy and their faith should not be compromised an exodus from the everyday life on the argument of religious justification brings out extremism. He said “Christians shouldn’t take pains to force themselves in order to prove a point” meaning that it beats logic to commit themselves that they don’t like to justify their faith.
Ellen G white also took a political stand regarding the formation of unions, associations as well on the so called secret societies. She argued that trade unions are associations that drew much attention from the mainstream religion and should be founded on the basis of faith. This was a negative notion to be held by Christians owing to the fact that the benefits that are drawn from such organizations are many. One of her letters and writings that were published at the time when the trade unions were being formed said that the trade unions would be a form of violence against the governments. She viewed this as a possible powerful rebellion to the authorities as they had huge populations of workers. Using the basis of the mark of the beast in the book of Revelation, she termed the unions as the prophetic movements said in the bible whereby those not in them will be executed. She quoted that no confederacies or associations with Christians should be formed in a manner same as those of the world terming them as satanic.
During one of her visits to Italy, she saw and wrote on the negativity and the cruelty that the children suffered under the forced underage labor. This vice was eventually corrected by the same trade unions that she spoke against. Between 1800 and 1893 various trade unions such as Merchant unions of Trade Association and Cigar makers Associations made significant contributions including higher wages for workers and conditions of work improved. This can be seen that her argument on this issue was unfounded but only served to increase the Christian’s negative opinion.
Other associations that she detested included associations such as freemasonry and those other ‘secretive’ societies. It can be seen that nearly all founding fathers of the American country had these faiths. Elaine Bower man in her opinions said great names such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and many more all had various social and economic beliefs but also had Christian convictions. Bowerman has given out a strong view that’s he does not promote freemasonry but rather tries to correct the fallacies that G White made.
Another negative influence on the American Christianity is her view that levels or degrees of inspiration by the Holy Ghost come due to the work an individual’s deeds. Some bible scholars argue that the scriptures don’t give people spiritual degrees rather it equally gives blessings to all people who believe. She claimed to have powers directly from the creator and hence had a supreme like activities. All these were the negative contribution that Ellen G White failed to substantiate that shaped the American church up to this every day.
During her lifetime Ellen G white wrote about 6000 books, periodicals and other journals which ranged from short letters to massive publications in which she claims to have spoken to angels and other supernatural beings. All her books were written between 1880’s to early 1900’s that were based on various religious and social subjects. It’s of utmost important to highlight some of the most controversial books. The first one is the ‘Step to Christ’ which was basically highlighting what men are to do to get salvation it highlighted the repentaance, confession and how to maintain the faith. It gave a manual like structure that people could follow in order to achieve the favor of God. The book further shows the benefits and the privileges that one gets when in the Holy Faith. This book is widely used by the seventh day Adventist up to today in their references.
‘Christ’s object lessons’ is a book that White wrote concerning what Christ used in parables to teach the church on various issues concerning the social economical and the general faith that Christians take. It has a massive 29 chapters of parables and that have a detailed analysis of the objectives that are the foundation of the faith. The first parable she highlighted is the parable of the Sower and the last is the meeting of the bridegroom. The writer smoothly transcends in explanation and analysis from the time the sower or God goes to work in the beginning to the end where the bridegroom who is Jesus is finally meets the church. The sermon on the mountain is the foundation of these books whose simple concept is relevant and deeply reflective, with an easy reference format.
Apart from all the religious and the doctrinal perspective, Ellen G White also had a publication on issues of healthy living and other social aspects of living. She published a book ‘Ministry of healing’ which showed a significant work of man and the work of God. It prescribes what man has to do in order to be humanly holy to God. It portrays what dressing, diet and hygienic standards and other practices can do to enhance a Christian’s journey. She depicts how great men in the bible who followed in the will of God became successful. This work has forty three chapter s that goes into the details of issues including the proper diet of all the good Christians. It can be summarized as one which White took a keen interest on the daily life of discipleship that Christians have to adopt and a lifestyle free from liquor and indulgences to make a difference between the believers and non believers.
‘Education’ was a publication that was aimed at equipping the Christians on various knowledgeable facts that help them to defend their faith. This book gives Science a credit but also stressed the fact that God is supreme. The nature of God’s knowledge is put first in this work and compared to human activities that have taken time from the history of the church. Biographies of various personalities of the bible are stressed here to bring out God as he works through man. She further talks on a prophesy that she claims to have been shown from the “Divine Being”. This piece of work further talks about the Sabbath as a whole chapter and also stresses the fact that discipline has to be exercised to keep this day whole. These few books that we have looked at, have an interesting connection which is they cut across all the human beings’ dimensions namely social, economical and religious aspects. A keen reader can point out that all these books portray a consistent idea that she had of making Christians adopt a comprehensive religious lifestyle.
Perhaps the most controversial works of Ellen G White made her the most revered religious leaders of her time. Her statements that touched the social aspects of people like dressing drinking were the most criticized, however her books and journals are to this day subject to debate on their relevance
Evaluation of her life and biography
Ellen G White can be said to have accomplished her desires or achieved self actualization in realizing her goals of wining people to Christianity for God. Her desire to win people to Christianity certainly rose from her childhood exposure to Christianity and the appreciation of what God could do for people. Her parents were staunch Christians who ensured that Ellen and her siblings were brought up properly. Perhaps her childhood near death experience made her realize how great God was. She was injured by her school mate who hit her with a stone on her nose totally breaking it and disfiguring her nose and making her unconscious for many days. Her state seemed to worsen as days went by and just when everybody had given up the hope of her recovery, the little girl healed and started playing with others like nothing had ever happened to her. However she had to fight the fact that the injury she had suffered would be permanently remain on her face. During this time she heard people talking of Christianity perspective of death which enticed her to pray. She went a head to grow up to adulthood lived a simple life travelling with her husband to preach Adventism and also had a good family. Bellow is her full bibliography.
Ellen G White was born to Robert Harmon and his wife Eunice Harmon in Gorham, Maine on 26th November 1827. The family had 8 children including her and her twin sister a lived as farmers. However, a few years after her birth the family retired from farming and relocated to the city of Portland. She was hurt by her class mate at the age of nine making her unconscious for three weeks. She also sustained an injury on her nose. Later he formal education ended abruptly and what seemed to be a promising future for the little girl seemed to have come to a conclusion.
In 1840, together with her parents, the little girl hand an opportunity to attend a camp meeting convened by the Methodists at Buxton, Maine. She was very pleased with the word of God and while at the same place she gave her heart to God at the age of 12 on 26th June 1862. She was the baptized on her request in Casco Bay, Portland by immersion and became a member of the Methodist Church. During this time she was greatly was impressed by the adventist message but was later disappointed when Jesus who was expected to return on 22, October 1842 failed to show up. She worked as a missionary converting the youth to Christianity. The disappointment did not at all deter her from her course to higher service with the Adventist massage.
In December the same year while praying four other women received a vision portraying heaven to be near to the Adventists. The girl, now 17 travelled widely with friends and family preaching the Adventist faith. She even went to Europe and Australia for Adventist responsibilities in the later years.
She met James White a Young Adventist preacher, 23 years old while on trip to Orrington, Maine. Their frequent meetings due to their frequent meetings lead to development of affection that saw them marry in August 1946. Together they had four children James Edison, Henry Nicholas, John Herbert and William Clarence. Edson and William lived to adulthood while Herbert died of erysipelas at the age of three months while Henry died of pneumonia while he was 16 in 1863. She went a head to conduct many works among them writing about the original Sabbath day that saw the Adventists change their day of worship and prayer from Sunday to Saturday. She also received the vision of the Great controversy in 1858 depicting a controversy between Jesus and his angels and Satan and his. This was published in a 219 paged book that became a great treasure to the Christian community. It was republished in 1911. Ellen also writings numerous other spiritual writing in regard to Christian life as well as relating to the people visions that she received.
At her death on 16thJuly 1915, she had achieved so much for the Adventist church. She was laid to rest at Oak Hill Cemetery, Battle Creek, Michigan, beside her husband. She had lived for 87 years. At her death the Adventist movement had attained a worldwide membership of 136,879