Doing Theology: Appeals To Ellen White's Authority-1


September 4 - Doing Theology: Appeals To Ellen White's Authority-1




The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. 1 Peter 1:24, 25.

The General Conference leadership had failed in attempting to solve the theological issues facing the church through the use of human authority. But they felt that a "testimony" from Ellen Whtie on the disputed points would be even better. After all, were not her writings from God?

Butler was particulaly excited about the possibilities inherent in that type of decision. Between June 1886 and October 1888 he wrote a series of letters that indicate an increasing degree of pressure as he sought to force Ellen White to provide the authoritative interpretation he needed to settle the Galatians issue. Had he been more successful, he could have written a book entitled How to Push a Prophet.

Employing good psychology, he began in a mind manner to elicit a response from her. On June 20, 1886, he wrote to her complaining of Jones and Waggoner's teachings about the law in Galatians being the moral law-a point, he emphasized, that was out of harmony with traditional Adventist teaching.

Butler then slid into his appeal by gently nudging her toward the proper answer: "I heard it intimated years ago that you had light concerning the added law, to the effect that it related to the remedial system rather than the moral law. I think this question ought in some way to be set at rest. It would be a most bitter pill to many of our leading brethren to be compelled to see the idea taught generally, that the law which was added. . .was the moral law itself."

On August 23 the General Conference president came a little more out in the open on the topic. After noting that the subject was creating controversy, he became quite specific about the situation in the 1850s when the Adventist leadership a tract on teh topic. And, finally, he hinted that he knew very little of her opinion, thereby providing Mrs. White with an opportunity to rubber-stamp the "true" view that he had just finished outlining to her.

Now here was a problem for Butler. Jus how do you force, maneuver, convince, or urge a prophet to do anything?

Good question. We will see a bit more of the answer tomorrow.

Meanwhile we need to begin to think deeply about the relation of the modern gift of prophecy to the Bible.

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The truths of the word of God meet man's great practical necessity--the conversion of the soul through faith. These grand principles are not to be thought too pure and holy to be brought into the daily life. They are truths which reach to heaven and compass eternity, yet their vital influence is to be woven into human experience(COL 100).