Grappling with Ellen G. White: A story of surrender 

Ellen G. White, circa 1878. White is a character of extreme importance within the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
(Photo courtesy of the Ellen G. White Estate, Inc.)
Ellen G. White, circa 1878. White is a character of extreme importance within the Seventh-day Adventist Church. (Photo courtesy of the Ellen G. White Estate, Inc.)

Ellen G. White: a name of immense importance to the Seventh-day Adventist church but also a source of controversy. For some individuals, the teachings of Ellen White have been used as a strict rod of condemnation and shame rather than the guiding rod of a gentle and loving shepherd. Everyone has a different experience with Ellen White. I would like to share mine. 

From birth, I was raised Adventist, and I learned basic church history early. I also learned of the important involvement of Ellen White in this history. Often, I heard her fascinating story and learned interesting biblical facts from her writings. 

Later on, as I neared my college years, I took an online class, Life and Teachings of Jesus, where I read much of The Desire of Ages. This book, with its flood of powerful insights, page after page, confirmed to me that Ellen White was inspired by the Holy Spirit. However, I would still have occasional doubts about the way Ellen White should be used, and I never truly confronted them. 

After I began attending Southern Adventist University, I encountered Ellen White more frequently, especially as a religion student. Soon I started to experience confusion and even anger about her. When I would hear about Ellen White in a sermon, I would get angry but eventually move on, stubbornly refusing to consider more about the values of her teaching. I never doubted the divine inspiration of Ellen White, but my conflict concerned the ways her writings are often used. 

This struggle continued into my junior year. 

Then, in the Fall 2021 semester, I enrolled in Biblical Preaching. In the class, we each had to blindly pick a Bible verse for our sermon topic. After reading mine, I thought to myself, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” I knew God was working. My verse was 1 Thessalonians 19:22, which says, “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.” 

God saw my internal conflict and reached down to grab my attention. With some reluctance and awe, I proceeded and preached biblical truth to my classmates and even myself. Yet I still refused to confront my conflict. 

Later, in the fall of 2022, I began serving as a student missionary at Seminar Schloss Bogenhofen in Austria. There I continued to encounter Ellen White and talk about her with family and friends. Over time, resisting the conflict and the pleadings of the Holy Spirit grew exhausting. In another conversation with family, my mother recommended a sermon regarding the 18th fundamental belief about the Spirit of Prophecy. After some initial hesitation, I finally watched it —and praise the Lord — shortly after that powerful yet simple sermon, I surrendered. I told God that I was done fighting Him and I was going to give Ellen White a chance. My journey isn’t over yet, but surrendering this conflict to God was the best decision. 

I don’t know what your experience with Ellen White is. Perhaps, you’ve had a solid, God-led experience, or perhaps you’ve seen Ellen White misrepresented or misused. Either way, I encourage you to talk to others and most importantly to God about it. And do not stubbornly resist the directions of the Holy Spirit. He wants to guide you to the truth. 

I hope and pray that this testimony might encourage someone who is struggling to understand the validity of Ellen White or the Adventist church’s applications of her teachings and show how following the guidance of God is one of the greatest decisions you can make.

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