By Denis Fortin
Adventist World magazine has published a selection from the writings of Ellen G. White in each edition since its launch in September 2005. Through the next two years special articles about the biblical gift of prophecy will also appear in this space every other month to help Seventh-day Adventists around the world appreciate and learn more about God’s special gift to His remnant people. These features will include explorations of Bible teaching about spiritual gifts, practical articles about applying insights to everyday life, and helpful methods to share the richness of this gift with friends and neighbors.
For well over a century now, Ellen White’s prophetic gift has been a blessing to the Seventh-day Adventist Church and to those who have read her writings. The benefits of following her counsels have been numerous and continue to positively shape the Adventist church today. In fact, many Adventists will readily affirm that had it not been for Ellen White’s prophetic voice and counsels, the Adventist church would not be what it is today.
1. Ellen White’s introduction to her books The Great Controversy (pp. v-xii) and Selected Messages, vol. 1, pp. 15-39 are rich with insights regarding how she viewed the work of biblical prophets and her own work.
2. The document “Ten Affirmations and Ten Denials” is also helpful to understand the inspiration of the writings of Ellen White and their relationship to the Bible. Visit:www.whiteestate.org/issues/scripsda.html.Although Ellen White claimed to be inspired, she never claimed that her writings have the same function as the Scripture. In fact, throughout her long years of ministry she never deviated from upholding the Bible as the only source of belief and guidance for Christian living; she viewed her writings as a guide or a “lesser light” to help people understand the value of Bible truth.5 In her first book, published in 1851, she wrote this important comment, “I recommend to you, dear reader, the Word of God as the rule of your faith and practice. By that Word we are to be judged. God has, in that Word, promised to give visions in the ‘last days’ [i.e., a reference to her prophetic ministry]; not for a new rule of faith, but for the comfort of His people, and to correct those who err from Bible truth.”6 In 1911 she also further clarified the relationship of her writings to the Bible. “The Spirit [i.e., a reference to spiritual gifts given to the church and in particular her gift of prophecy] was not given—nor can it ever be bestowed—to supersede the Bible; for the Scriptures explicitly state that the Word of God is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested.”7
Denis Fortin is dean and professor of theology at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, United States.