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Who Was Ellen White?


Who was Ellen White? It seems as if the most important person in the Catholic Church is Mary. Is Ellen White like Mary for the Seventh-day Adventist Church?

Steve Answers:

Ellen White was a human being who lived more than 100 years ago (1827-1915)

Ellen White was a human being who lived more than 100 years ago (1827-1915). She played an important role in the group of people who started the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

I suppose that if the only thing you’re considering is prominent females within a denomination, then Ellen White for SDAs and Mary (the mother of Jesus) for Catholics would be somewhat similar. But the details are quite different. Note these comparisons:


1. Lived in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

2. Lived in the United States, Europe, and Australia.

3. Helped start the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

4. Received the gift of prophecy, including dreams and visions, which provided messages from God to the early Adventist Church.

5. Gave birth to several boys, none of whom made any claims to be the Messiah. They tended to follow their mother’s ministry rather than exceed it.

6. Wrote bunches of books and thousands of articles and is still read today.

7. Traveled extensively and spoke publicly.


1. Lived in the first century B.C. and the first century A.D.

2. Lived in Palestine.

3. Died long before the Catholic Church organized.

4. Showed no indication of the gift of prophecy and left no record of dreams or visions (although her husband received some–see Matthew 2:13, 19).

5. Gave birth to the Messiah.

6. Did not leave known written records.

7. Seemed to be a stay-at-home mom.

There’s another major difference between the role of Ellen White and how people view Mary. Although Ellen White certainly led people to Jesus (Steps to Christ has been translated into 140 languages), most of the ministry of a prophet is to deliver messages from God. In contrast, people turn to Mary not to get a message from God, but to get a message to God.

This requires a belief that Mary is alive and in heaven, still functioning in a motherly fashion. It also includes a belief that Jesus is too busy to listen to our prayers or answer them in our favor, so perhaps Mary will convince Him to think positively toward us.

But this perspective doesn’t fit the Bible. Mary isn’t alive or living in heaven. And Jesus certainly has time for us and is very involved in our lives. In Luke 18:16 you can read about Jesus calling for children to come to Him when others thought He didn’t have time for them. Jesus also spoke about being so involved in our lives that even the hairs on our head are numbered (Matthew 10:30). There’s no need for an earthly mother to try to get the attention of Jesus for us. He’s already focused on you.

If you’d like more information about Ellen White, check out the Web site: 

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