Ellen White and the Trumpets II (EWB 15)

For those who may feel that my position on the statement in GC 334-335 undermines the authority of Ellen White, I strongly encourage you to read the Appendices to Selected Messages, volume 3, pages 433-450. See also the Introduction to The Great Controversy, which touches more generally on these themes in Ellen White’s own words. These pages include statements to the General Conference session in 1911 by W. C. White and letters that he wrote concerning the process by which The Great Controversy 1911 Edition was put together. These remarks and letters occurred well within Ellen White’s lifetime by her own son, and could have been easily corrected by her were they in error. It is clear from these that she did not consider her work to provide an inspired guide to historical events and details such as those provided in relation to Revelation 9. I offer a quick sampling of key statements here.

“Mother has never claimed to be authority on history.” 3SM 437. The rest of the paragraph, and some of the pages that follow, describes how and why the history in Great Controversy came to be included in the book, particularly the standard edition of 1911. “When Controversy was written, Mother never thought that the readers would take it as authority on historical dates, or to settle controversy regarding details of history, and she does not now feel that it should be used in that way.” In 3SM 433-450, there is significant description of just how the process of including history in the book took place. History is not the main point of the book, it is used to illustrate the main points the writer was seeking to make for her readers (after considerable research at least two directors of the White Estate have concluded that the same applies to biblical exegesis, something that mainly appears in her books with a lot of quotes and borrowing from other authors).

The above is underlined in a 1912 letter from W. C. White to S. N. Haskell, which included a written note from Ellen White: “I approve of the remarks in this letter.” The crucial statement for our purpose in that letter follows: “I believe, Brother Haskell, that there is danger in injuring Mother’s work by claiming for it more that she claims for it, more than Father ever claimed for it, more than Elder Andrews, Waggoner, or Smith ever claimed for it. I cannot see consistency in our putting forth a claim of verbal inspiration when Mother does not make any such claim, and I certainly think we will make a great mistake if we lay aside historical research and endeavor to settle historical questions by the use of Mother’s books as an authority when she herself does not wish them to be used in any such way.” See the entire letter at https://whiteestate.org/legacy/vault-haskell-html/#:~:text=C.%20White%20Statement%20of%20October%2031,%201912%20.

Assuming Litch was in error, as he himself later concluded, what do we make of God allowing such a mistake in the midst of an important movement that had His approval? When one reads the Bible with care, it becomes clear that God works with mistake-prone people to gradually bring about clearer and clearer understandings of His character and government. He does not give out truth that people are not yet ready to handle (see John 16:12). In Great Controversy it is clear that Miller himself made a major error of biblical interpretation, but that did not invalidate his work as a whole. In the case of Litch’s prediction, I think it is not unlike God to preserve a threatened movement by providing the “fulfillment” it so desperately needed and was looking for.

4 thoughts on “Ellen White and the Trumpets II (EWB 15)

  1. Jeff Gates

    I find the most compelling EG White statement in support of a future application of the Trumpets to be found in a diary entry (Australia) in 1895 (Manuscript 59). I’ve abbreviated the following quote, but a reading of the full and lengthy comments in their context are remarkable. Notably, EG White provides a key future-looking understanding of Rev 8:1,2: Revelation 6 [seven seals] and 7 [6th seal – “sealing”] are full of meaning. Terrible are the judgments of God revealed. The seven angels stood before God to receive their commission. To them were given seven trumpets [see Rev 8:1,2] The Lord was going forth to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth was to disclose her blood and no more cover her slain [Is 26:1]. 15MR 222.2 1895

      1. Marcco Feldick

        We should make a difference between throwing down the censer (to the ground), and casting it to our planet (Ap. 8:5). For me they are different things. When general probation finishes, the censer is thrown down. But in greek, the type and order of the words of 8:5 and the first and second trumpets (something is cast to land and sea) is the same, and identical in the case of the first trumpet.

        1. Jon Paulien Post author

          Thanks for the suggestion. There is ambiguity here. Is the censer cast down or the fire? The latter would fit well with trumpets one and two. I have leaned toward censer, in harmony with the overall parallels to the daily service in the temple through Rev 5-8. The great censer of the temple was thrown down to the ground at the end of the daily service twice a day, see Mishnah, Tamid.


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