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Still Seventh-Day Adventist?

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Can I be a Seventh-day Adventist if I don’t believe that Ellen White was a prophet?


Steve Answers:


I think you can, since I know several people who are Seventh-day Adventists who don’t believe that Ellen White was a prophet. Let’s look at some of the beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists, and let’s also consider a question that’s related to your question, and may be even bigger.
If you go to adventist.org/beliefs/fundamental/ you can find the following under #18: “The Gift of Prophecy: One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and was manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White. As the Lord’s messenger, her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested. (Joel 2:28, 29; Acts 2:14-21; Heb. 1:1-3; Rev. 12:17; 19:10.)”
That’s the official statement. Figuring out what it means can be challenging. Let me make these observations based on the paragraph from the official Web site for the Seventh-day Adventist Church:
1. Prophecy is one of the Holy Spirit’s gifts.
2. Prophecy is an identifying mark of God’s last church.
3. Prophecy is a spiritual gift Ellen White had.
4. Prophecy by Ellen White continues to guide the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
5. Prophecy by Ellen White is subordinate to the Bible.
Look at the preceding paragraph and see what you can come up with. Discuss it in your youth group, with your parents, pastor, or others in your church. Ellen White as a topic sometimes sparks quite a debate.
Let me give you five observations I’ve made about Ellen White, prophecy, and youth in the Seventh-day Adventist Church today:
1. Most youth don’t read anything Ellen White wrote, except maybe for Bible class assignments.
2. Most youth don’t know what Ellen White wrote.
3. Most youth don’t get into debates about Ellen White.
4. Most youth don’t know what prophecy is.
5. Most youth don’t even care about Ellen White.
I’ve wondered why so many Seventh-day Adventist youth seem so out of touch with Ellen White. I think some of the reasons might include:
1. So many people are out of touch with Ellen White.
2. So many people have used Ellen White’s writings to reprove others.
3. So many people have debated rather than lived out what Ellen White wrote.
4. So many people have twisted her writings out of context.
5. So many people have used Ellen White’s writings to push their own agenda.
The Bible is more important than the writings of Ellen White for what Seventh-day Adventists believe. Yet we received our Bible when the Holy Spirit gave the messages to people to pass along to others. According to 2 Peter 1:20, 21, “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophets themselves or because they wanted to prophesy. It was the Holy Spirit who moved the prophets to speak from God” (NLT).*
Most of us don’t doubt that the Bible writers received messages from God. But we tend to get more skeptical when it gets closer to the time we live in (Ellen White lived from 1827-1915). Some of what she wrote strikes too close to home for our comfort, and we may not like what we read.
According to 2 Timothy 3:16, the purpose of the Bible is “to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right.”(NLT) I’d say that the purpose of the writings of Ellen White is the same. What the Bible writers recorded was God’s message for the people at that time and for us today. What Ellen White recorded was God’s message for the Seventh-day Adventist Church at that time and for us today.
Of course, some elements of the Bible might not be specifically for you today. For example, although David wrote, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” in Psalm 22:1, it might not be what you are experiencing right now. And it doesn’t mean that God has forsaken you, even though David felt like it at the time (perhaps when he was fleeing from King Saul again).
Jesus quoted the Psalm 22:1 verse when he hung on the cross and felt forsaken (see Matthew 27:46). When you’re feeling joy, this might not be the Psalm you would turn to, but that doesn’t mean it should be torn out of the Bible.
When Ellen White wrote about Israel’s sin of worshiping the golden calf at Mount Sinai, she said, “It was necessary for the good of Israel, and also as a lesson to all succeeding generations, that crime should be promptly punished” (Patriarch and Prophets, p. 325, 326). This doesn’t mean that every sin is promptly punished. That didn’t happen in Bible time, in the days of Ellen White, or today.
But there are times when there is prompt punishment, such as with Ananias and Sapphira (see Acts 5:1-11) and also what Ellen White commented on regarding the idolatry at Sinai. You might be able to identify times in your life when you received prompt punishment. But you can probably also iden-tify times when God delayed your punishment or even dismissed it.
I recommend that you check out the writings of Ellen White for yourself. Go online to www.whiteestate.org. You can click around and find some great stuff—you can get messages that God has passed along already. Some will be of great encouragement to you and can give you insights into God and your life. Some can provide correction for you. Are you open to that from God? Why ignore messages that God has already provided and then wonder why you haven’t gotten more input from God?
I think that my three favorite books written by Ellen White are:
1. Steps to Christ. It’s all about connecting with Jesus.
2. The Desire of Ages. You can now find it as a paraphrase called Messiah. It’s about the life of Jesus.
3. Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing. It offers explanations about Jesus’ most famous sermon.
I mentioned at the beginning that we’d look at an even bigger question than yours. Here it is: Do you expect God to communicate with us today? If God has communi-cated in the past, do you expect Him to do it now?
The first text listed with the description of “The Gift of Prophecy” is Joel 2:28, 29. In the New Living Translation it reads, “I will pour out my Sprit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams. Your young men will see visions. In those days, I will pour out my Spirit even on servants, men and women alike.”
Based on Joel 2:28, 29, I expect the spiritual gift of “prophecy” (which is people passing on messages God has given them) to increase as we near the end of this world. Ellen White isn’t the only prophet God will speak through. God may give you that spiritual gift, too!
According to the book of Joel, sons and daughters will prophesy. Both of those are plural and indicate young people. In case you think it’s limited to youth only, the next phrase talks about “old men” and “young men.” Even slaves can get messages from God. It depends on God’s Spirit, not on you.
Your role is to pass along the messages God has given you, or listen and put into action the messages God has sent to others that are passed on to you.
Why wouldn’t you want to get messages from God?
*Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

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