Seventh-Day Adventists/Battle Creek Fires

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Question
QUESTION: Given that there was a great deal of acrimony and dissent in the church at the time, as well as an immediate need to bolster EGW'S credence as God's one and only prophet, which was flagging in more intellectual SDA Circles, have you considered the possibility that she--without acting on her own--may have had dedicated and ardent adherents who would commit arson on her behalf, if for no other reason than to give the appearance that at least some of her later-in-life prophecies had actually come true?

This is alluded to in The Road to Wellville by Dr. Kellogg and there seems to some--or perhaps even a good deal of circumstantial for such a scenario.

But what are your thoughts on this possibility and whom might you suspect could have been the culprits in EGW's Inner Circle, if such was, in fact, the case?

ANSWER: First off, the “Road to Wellville” is fiction, not history.  It was written in 1993.  “The title comes from an actual booklet called The Road to Wellville written by C. W. Post, a former patient at the sanitarium who was inspired by his diet there to found his own cereal business. Post used to give out his booklet in boxes of Grape-Nuts cereal.”

The Road to Wellville was adapted into a movie in 1994, directed by Alan Parker and starring Anthony Hopkins, Bridget Fonda, Matthew Broderick, John Cusack, Michael Lerner, Dana Carvey (as George Kellogg), Lara Flynn Boyle, John Neville, Colm Meaney, Camryn Manheim, and Monica Parker.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Road_to_Wellville

It was an awful book and even a worse movie, in spite of having the great Anthony Hopkins play the role of Dr. Kellogg.

Second, Ellen White was not living in Battle Creek at this time.  She lived far away in California, where she would die in 1915.

Third, Ellen White was not a militant, nor were her followers.  So there is no possibility that she or anyone that supported her, would embrace the crime of arson against the church.

Fourth, there was plenty motivation to destroy the church from those that were angry about the recent debate, confusion, and schism that developed after 1888.  At this time, legions were angry with Uriah Smith and Ellen White and with Traditional 19th century Adventism.  A great schism had started, as the SDA’s self-destructed for all to see.

Those that left the church had motivation to harm the church.  In fact, there was so much public anger directed towards the SDA’s, that they had to leave town, refusing to even consider rebuilding in a place were they were not wanted.  Dr. Kellogg also left the church.  But he stayed in Battle Creek and managed to keep both the San and the flagship health magazine under his control.

The White Estate has downplayed what really happened in Battle Creek. They have been caught trying to manipulate and dishonestly revise church history in order to cover up the 1888 doctrinal issues that destroyed the Denomination.  As usual, they ignore the real issues and point to diversions.

Here are some links about this fire:

http://www.adventistreview.org/2004-1513/story1.html

http://www.battlecreektabernacle.com/article.php?id=34

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=9A06E6DF1F3DEE32A25752C3A.

First off, fire was a very common threat in the 19th century.  Moreover, Battle Creek had a problem with, not only fire, but with arson, and thus there were many fires over the years.  In fact, many SDA buildings were burned in Battle Creek, not just the Review.

The Detroit News noted that: “this [the burning of the Tabernacle] was the thirteenth big fire in Battle Creek’s West End and every building save one that was a part of the Adventist group… “

http://www.ellenwhiteexposed.com/egw71.htm

The Review fire took place in December of 1902.  This was a time when there was a great anger and schism taking place within the SDA denomination.  Many had already left the SDA church in 1902, with the vast majority siding with the popular Dr. Kellogg who.  Only a minority remained loyal to the traditional official teachings of the church at this time.

Here is Ellen White’s view of the Review fire:

Ellen White publicly warned the church leaders in no uncertain terms that those who had stood their ground ever since 1888 and had "for years" resisted the light of the Minneapolis theology were in grave danger. She had "no smooth message" for those who had confused the theological issues in an attempt to protect their previous positions, refusing to admit error [15].

She decried the fact that the Minneapolis reformers had been taunted and accused of being "fanatics, extremist, and enthusiasts." "Let me prophecy unto you," she publicly wrote, "unless you speedily humble your hearts before God, and confess your sins, which are many, you will when it is too late see that you have been fighting against God...Your turning things upside down is known of the Lord. Go on a little longer as you have gone, in rejection of the light from heaven and you are lost [16]."

In 1896, Ellen White wrote another communication to Battle Creek entitled, "The Danger of Rejecting Truth." She was very concerned about the denomination for she knew they were in great "peril." "The church needs to be converted," she wrote, again making reference to the denomination's refusal to accept the 1888 message. She reminded them about the history of the Jewish nation and compared their rejection of Christ with the denomination's recent rejection of the new light from Minneapolis [17].

In a reference to Waggoner and Jones' unauthorized promotion of their theological views throughout the denomination against the expressed wishes of the hierarchy, Ellen White drew the parallel of how the chief priests and rabbis thought they, too, were competent to instruct the apostles as to how they should teach. She then defended Waggoner and Jones by making the point that "men in authority are not always to be obeyed, even though they may profess to be teachers of the Bible [18]."

According to Ellen White, the religious leaders in Battle Creek refused to "open their eyes to discern the fact that they have misinterpreted and misapplied the scriptures, and have built up false theories, calling them fundamental doctrines of the faith [19]."

In a reference to the Galatian controversy, she scolded the church by saying, Seventh-day Adventists "are in danger" of rejecting truth "because it contradicts something which they have taken for granted" but which is not really truth at all.

At the close of the epistle, Ellen White could not refrain from speaking even more to the point. Because she knew that the Review had been the largest and most influential antagonist against the Minneapolis message, she felt it her duty to warn this great, beloved institution that it was in serious danger. "That men should keep alive the spirit which ran riot at Minneapolis," she wrote, "is an offense to God. All heaven is indignant at the spirit that for years has been revealed in our publishing institution at Battle Creek. Unrighteousness is practiced that God will not tolerate. He will visit for these things [20]."

Because the vast majority of the Battle Creek hierarchy continued to reject the original Minneapolis message, numerous evils resulted. This in turn lead to the fulfillment of Ellen White's predictions that the judgments of God would be poured out upon the denomination's revered institutions. These monuments to the third angel that had been built at such great cost and sacrifice were to be totally destroyed and the Church's headquarters in Battle Creek forever abandoned. This, according to Ellen White, was the direct result of the denomination's rejection of the Minneapolis message.

By February, 1902, the world-famous sanitarium burned to the ground and ten months later, the Review and Herald building was also completely destroyed. The Review especially had been the proudest and most visible symbol of the rise and progress of Seventh-day Adventism, and its sudden and total loss was a staggering blow to the work of the third angel. Within one hour, the flames of judgment had reduced the Review's four-story, 80,000-square foot building to a heap of smoldering ruins [21], never again to be rebuilt in Battle Creek [22].

Ellen White was not surprised by these events. "When this news [about the destruction of the Review by fire] came," she said, "I felt no surprise, and I had no words to speak. What I have had to say from time to time in warnings has had no effect except to harden those who heard, and now I can only say: I am sorry, so very sorry, that it was necessary for this stroke to come. Light has been given. If it were acted upon, further light would not be needed [23]."

Ellen White was sadly convinced that, "God's people have departed from Him; they have not followed His instruction, and He has come near them in correction [24]."

It was Ellen White's position that the denomination's 14-year history from 1888 through 1902 culminated in tragic loss as a direct result of not accepting the original 1888 message delivered by Waggoner and Jones. Her interpretation of this time period makes the events of the 1888 era assume a more solemn and ominous tone than many have previously realized.

Although more than a century has passed since the 1888 Minneapolis Conference, there can be no mistake about Ellen White's assessment. Her famous statement in 1902 summarizes her viewpoint of this episode quite succinctly: "I have been instructed," she wrote, "that the terrible experience at the Minneapolis conference is one of the saddest chapters in the history of the believers in present truth [25]."

Following the "fiery indignation," as Ellen White called it, the church leadership, under her direction, fled Battle Creek in humiliation and disgrace, to Takoma Park.

http://en.allexperts.com/q/Seventh-Day-Adventists-2318/2010/7/Review-Harold-Publ

I hope this answers your question.

Tom Norris for All Experts.Com and Adventist Reform


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for the time you've put into this Tom but I find the net effect of your response at first condescending--that is, "Wellville" is clearly a work of fiction just as were Jesus' Parables but this doesn't refute the notion that there may be an element of truth to be gleaned from either.  Further, I find your review of the film utterly superfluous and, in fact, wrong, as I enjoyed the movie almost as much as I was entertained by the book, no matter how "un-non-fictional" both works admittedly are.

And as to the response, ultimately, I find the defense of EGW less than gratifying.  Going back to my questoin, please note that I didn't ask if Sister White lit the matches.  Clearly, culpable deniability would have been of utmost concern.  Rather, my question was whether it was at least conceivable that some of those who still counted themselves as her supporters might have done the dirty work of making her prophectic gifts more believable and if so, whether or not you had seen anything in your research which might show that there were such people in her coterie.

So instead of addressing this question, a nearly full defense of her is the undertaken, based on little more than assert that The Supposed Prophetess was a pacifist and would never have condoned such behavior.

My reaction to this is to again bring Jesus' Name into the discussion as I'm convinced that he was also non-militaristic.  However, this has done little to prevent those who take his "I didn't come to bring peace into the world" Reference literally, and embark on such campaigns as The Inquisition, The Crusades and The Branch Davidians, none of which I'm convinced he would have supported, either.

In other words, what a so-called prophets followers do with his or her words, is completley beyond that seer's ability to control.

Further, I don't think a skeptic looking in from the outside at the time, could help but think that Mrs. White took a little too much vindication from the fires, in much of her subsequent writing.

So in the end, I'm not saying your opinion is less than well-reseached but I am saying that is somewhat biased and may, in fact, be if not incorrect but at the very least is unresponsive.

I do appreciate the the effort though, so

Thanks again,

Bruce Clements

PS:  I understand you're a member of Capital Memorial Church, for which church--or at least, the church building--I feel a close affinity as my dad was The Potomac Conference's Project Construction Manager back in '62 when the edifice was built.  That is, I visited the site many times when I was in 2nd grade at JNA and while the construction underway and still find it to be a very remarkable structure, no matter how weak I find the philosophical foundation upon which it was built.

PPS:  I also see the phrase "Adventist Reform" as the last words in your response, which phrase I find somewhat puzzling, as it my contention that trying to reform any religious organization is tanatmount to trying to re-bake a cake.

ANSWER: Bruce said: Thanks for the time you've put into this Tom but I find the net effect of your response at first condescending--that is, "Wellville" is clearly a work of fiction just as were Jesus' Parables but this doesn't refute the notion that there may be an element of truth to be gleaned from either.  

Tom replied:  I have been to Battle Creek researching Kellogg and the SDA Health Movement.  I can assure you that the fictional book called the “Road to Wellville” was not a serious work.  The book was a spoof, and a very bad one at that.  It was full of myths and rude stereotypes, as well as many bad, sophomoric jokes.  It was a horrible book and worse movie.  As someone who takes history very seriously, this book, and the movie, was utter nonsense.  But in all fairness, it was never meant to be taken seriously.  It was a failed spoof that fell flat.

Furthermore, while the above is my personal opinion, the fact of the matter is that this movie was a well-justified, commercial disaster.  In spite of a very good caste, the movie was unwatchable.  It was supposed to be a comedy, but it was neither funny nor historically credible.  It was crude and demeaning of the health movement, which is a rather serious matter.

To prove this point, the famous critic, Gene Siskel gave the picture an awful review.  He said: “The Road to Wellville, which has fine actors, beautiful costumes, splendid production design and an offbeat story, but is about as entertaining as an enema featured subject of the movie itself.”
Siskel correctly complains that this plotless and pointless movie makes no sense.  Listen to what he says:

"The Road to Wellville is based on the best-selling novel about a 1907 health spa run by Dr. John Kellogg, cornflakes titan and better-living-through-cleaner-bowels guru…”

“After the preview screening, I heard more than one viewer ask, ‘What was that about?’ And that was my reaction, too. I kept waiting for a theme to emerge.”

“Obviously, director Alan Parker must find some satirical reference to today's health concerns, but the problem is that we now know a better diet is clearly important to one's health. So rather than laugh at Dr. Kellogg, we can't help but view him as a visionary who just went too far.”

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1994-10-28/entertainment/9410280316_1_wellvil

So I stand by my view that this was an awful movie.  It does not do justice to what took place in Battle Creek.  Good health, and those who dedicated their lives to such a concept, should not to be mocked, much less turned into fiction for rude laughs.

Furthermore, there is no comparison with the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels and some modern fictional writer who is obsessed with enema jokes.  I don’t know why you would think so.  I find this strange.

Bruce said:  Further, I find your review of the film utterly superfluous and, in fact, wrong, as I enjoyed the movie almost as much as I was entertained by the book, no matter how "un-non-fictional" both works admittedly are.

Tom said:  Perhaps the book was better than the movie.  I think it sold very well, unlike the movie, which was a financial disaster.  Regardless this work of fiction was the worst book and movie I think I have ever seen.  Moreover, as someone who has studied the history of the health movement, it was also full of misinformation, error, and slander.   It has no redeeming value whatsoever.

Bruce said:  And as to the response, ultimately, I find the defense of EGW less than gratifying.  

Tom said:  Apparently you are one of these (former) SDA’s that remain angry and bitter at Ellen White.  They are everywhere.  I understand.  I get it.  But life goes on.  We now live in the 21st century, and we know what went wrong in the past and why.

The fact of the matter is that all SDA’s have been brainwashed and indoctrinated into believing many false things.  Most of what we were taught about Ellen White was not really true.  So you need to get caught up, and understand that there are legions of people that have been manipulated into believing the White Estate’s improper instruction.  

No SDA knew the real Ellen White, which was hidden deep in the White Estate, kept away from public view.  This is only now starting to change, but not with any help from the leaders.  They are still content to deceive everyone about Ellen White and many other things.  So you need to stop fighting the past and re-educate yourself about SDA history by reading the details of Adventist Reform.  Then you can re-direct your anger to the White Estate, where it belongs.

Furthermore, the only agenda I have about Ellen White is to tell the truth about what she really believed, said, and taught.  It is not to blindly defend her as you charge.   However, Ellen White is often unjustly charged for many things.  Those that know the facts have a duty to speak up and correct the record.

See Ellen White/ Adventist Reform:
http://www.atomorrow.net/fluxbb/viewtopic.php?id=225

Bruce said:  Going back to my question, please note that I didn't ask if Sister White lit the matches.  Clearly, culpable deniability would have been of utmost concern.  

Tom replied: Your theory that Ellen White, or her those that supported her, were somehow behind the arson in Battle Creek is ludicrous on many levels.  First, it was those who disliked Ellen White, and that were angry at the church, that would have been motivated to attack SDA property in Battle Creek.   Those that supported her, would never think of taking such criminal action against their own interests.

Bruce said:  Rather, my question was whether it was at least conceivable that some of those who still counted themselves as her supporters might have done the dirty work of making her prophetic gifts more believable and if so, whether or not you had seen anything in your research which might show that there were such people in her coterie.

Tom said:  The answer is NO!  You have a very warped and strange view of Ellen White, one that does not fit with the record of history.  Your theory of arson to support Ellen White is not credible in the slightest.

Bruce said:  So instead of addressing this question, a nearly full defense of her is the undertaken, based on little more than assert that The Supposed Prophetess was a pacifist and would never have condoned such behavior.

Tom said:  The question was answered.  Your theory is absurd.  I also game you a number of additional reasons why this could not be so.

Bruce said:  My reaction to this is to again bring Jesus' Name into the discussion as I'm convinced that he was also non-militaristic.  

Tom said:  While Jesus could be viewed as a pacifist, he teaches that he will come back with a celestial army and destroy the world.  Is that the behavior of a pacifist?  Hardly.  

Bruce said:  However, this has done little to prevent those who take his "I didn't come to bring peace into the world" Reference literally, and embark on such campaigns as The Inquisition, The Crusades and The Branch Davidians, none of which I'm convinced he would have supported, either.

Tom said:  Sin and war were both invented in heaven; then exported to Earth.  This is why we live on a death planet, where all live a short while then die.  We are stuck in a great controversy between good and evil.  Our only hope is to understand and embrace the Gospel.

Bruce said:  In other words, what a so-called prophets followers do with his or her words, is completely beyond that seer's ability to control.

Tom said:  Ellen White’s writings do not, and have not, encouraged or promoted anyone to start burning down SDA buildings in Battle Creek.  Ellen White did not promote criminal behavior, nor would anyone with a rational mind think otherwise.   You need to update your views about Ellen White.  At this time she was an old woman living in an assisted living setting in California.

Bruce said:  Further, I don't think a skeptic looking in from the outside at the time, could help but think that Mrs. White took a little too much vindication from the fires, in much of her subsequent writing.

Tom replied:  You are wrong. I have ever heard anyone suggest what you are saying.  The facts of history to do not support your theory.  Sorry.

Bruce said:  So in the end, I'm not saying your opinion is less than well-researched, but I am saying that is somewhat biased and may, in fact, be if not incorrect but at the very least is unresponsive.

Tom replied:  What I am saying to you is based on decades of research and study about Ellen White and the history of Battle Creek.  It is biased to reflect the facts, and only the facts.  It is correct.  Your theory is flat out wrong and unsupported by evidence.

Moreover, my answer to you was not “unresponsive,” but on point.  You are wrong.  Period.  Your theory is not worth two cents.  Why not spend some time doing some serious research and try to find the facts?

Bruce said: PS:  I understand you're a member of Capital Memorial Church, for which church--or at least, the church building--I feel a close affinity as my dad was The Potomac Conference's Project Construction Manager back in '62 when the edifice was built.  

Tom replied:  I too walked around the church when it was being built.  It was a cutting edge design back then.  I remember Dr. Hadley was a big supporter of that project. CMC was supposed to be a special church that targeted the best part of the city.  It was vibrant and full of big names for a number of years.  But like the rest of Adventism, it has self-destructed for all to see.  It was forced to merge with another SDA church, and struggles to exist.

Bruce said:  That is, I visited the site many times when I was in 2nd grade at JNA and while the construction underway and still find it to be a very remarkable structure, no matter how weak I find the philosophical foundation upon which it was built.

Tom said:  The Advent Movement has some very good theology and worthwhile history.  They have a Protestant pedigree.  But over the years they have had some very poor and dishonest leadership. Which is to say, most of what we were taught is flat out wrong.  

So Adventism needs to repent of their errors and myths and correct the record.  As Protestants, they can only embrace the Gospel, and what is true and correct.  The removal of errors is part of the reformation process.  Such a Reformation is the only way to save the Advent Movement, which has a worthwhile mission to prepare the last church for the end of the world.

Bruce said:  PPS:  I also see the phrase "Adventist Reform" as the last words in your response, which phrase I find somewhat puzzling, as it my contention that trying to reform any religious organization is tantamount to trying to re-bake a cake.

Tom replied:  Theology is not like baking.  In fact, religion is meant to move forward, mature, unfold, and progress.   Jesus’ reformed Judaism and invented the Church, changing the world in the process.  Proving that in theology, you can “re-bake the cake.”  Thus the OC was replaced with the NC and truth went forward.

Further along in history, the Roman Catholic Church went corrupt.  So what happened?  The Reformers “protested” and reformed the church, and the world, setting in motion the very freedoms we enjoy today.  Proving once again that religious reform is normative and necessary.

The Advent Movement also came into existence because Miller reformed the eschatological views of his day.  Once this reform had taken place, others followed, like Sabbath Reform, which is where the SDA’s entered the picture.

The 1st century church was built in reform and debate.  So too the Protestant Reformation, which set in motion even more theological reforms, which are represented by the various denominations.

Gospel Truth is progressive.  No one today should discount the theological contribution made by the 19th century Adventist Pioneers, or doubt that they have pushed eschatology forward.  Every church today now embraces the very Adventist doctrines that they all once repudiated.  Thus the Adventists have literally changed the entire eschatological platform for the modern church.  Few give them the credit they deserve for such an achievement.

The challenge today for the self-destructing SDA’s is for them to grow up and move beyond their dishonest and incompetent leadership.  They must not only remove what is false, and change their very organizational structure; they must also defend what is correct and true.   

Most Adventists are so confused about most everything, that they need to get their bearings and take stock of what they believe and why.  They need to separate the myths and error from what is fundamental and true. This is Gospel Reform.

At the end of time, there will be a final reformation of the church, meaning all denominations.  At that time, Eschatology will be credible and true, not based on legalistic myths and false views about Sunday.  

Rev 18 shows this time when the Gospel, and the NC Sabbath, will be fully understood like never before in the history of the world.  Then comes the great tribulation and the end of the civilized world, which is followed by the 2nd Coming, which is the Judgment of the world.  

Mark 13:19 “For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will.

The Adventists need to return to their noble mission to prepare the last church for what is shortly to come to pass.  This is their destiny and fate.

It is time for the Advent Community to repent and embrace Adventist Reform, going forward in Gospel Truth.

Adventist Reform
http://www.atomorrow.net/fluxbb/viewtopic.php?id=234

I hope this helps,

Tom Norris for All Experts & Adventist Reform


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks again for the response, Tom but once more I take issue with much of what you say.

First, I persist in my view that neither negative reviews nor lack of box office receipts do anything to refute the notion that one can glean truth from fiction.  Both Jesus and EGW were roundly panned by their critics and yet you persist in citing there words, ad nauseum.

Further, I find much of your "refutation" of my hypothesis to be little more than ad homonym attack on me--based on your "Guilt by association" labeling of me as angry ex-SDA and that it is your argument which is of little or no value.

Moreover, I'd suggest that your allegation that I'm angry is a projection of your own emotional state which you've displaced onto me. Did I say EGW wanted the buildings in Battle Creek burned to the ground?  But I don't think even you, who seem hellbent on vindicating her for whatever reason, would say that she was sad to see them go and that it's possible that she--or one of her misguided scyophants--may have had some part in their destruction.

Absurd?  Perhaps.  But then again how many times has this been the only explanation for any number of seemingly inexplicable behaviors or enterprises?

I also see no truth in your insinuation that being an ex-SDA necessarily implies that one must also be angry, as I assure you I am not; I may find the denomination deluded in the extreme and that they have totally misconstrued god's word and how to use it in their daily lives or what part that word should have in raising their children but at my age it doesn't anger or scare me I only find their situation absurd and amusing.

Lastly, I am unswayed in my assertion that reform is impossible with churches as the cake cannot be re- or unbaked, and as is proven by the fact that Jesus didn't Reform Judaism any more than Protestantism reformed the Catholic Church, both split from the old and started something new.  Further, based on the latest internal struggles I see in Adventism I submit that real progress will only come in the lives of those who make the decision to leave it.

Thanks again, if for nothing other than the comedic relief you've provided,

Bruce

Bruce

Answer
Bruce said:  Thanks again for the response, Tom but once more I take issue with much of what you say.

Tom said:  No surprise here. I think you are going to believe whatever you want, no matter what the evidence shows.   There are many who think they have all the answers when it comes to religion.  But yet, under closer examination, they don’t know what they are talking about.

Bruce said:  First, I persist in my view that neither negative reviews nor lack of box office receipts do anything to refute the notion that one can glean truth from fiction.  

Tom replied:  There are much better places to search for truth.  This is the point.  Why look in the gutter for truth?  I suggest that you use better sources.

Pay attention:  The “truth” about the health movement will not be found in a fictional work that mocks and slanders it.  If this point seems wrong to you, so be it.  Persist in embracing myths all you want, but you are wasting your time.

Bruce said:  Both Jesus and EGW were roundly panned by their critics and yet you persist in citing their words, ad nauseum.

Tom said:  It is obvious you are hostile towards the Christian Faith, like so many former SDA’s.  Not only do you think Ellen White is a bad person, it seems, so too, Jesus Christ himself.  

Furthermore, I have no idea why you would compare Jesus to some two-bit, 20th century, non-religious, fictional writer.  Very strange.

Bruce said:  Further, I find much of your "refutation" of my hypothesis to be little more than ad homonym attack on me--based on your "Guilt by association" labeling of me as angry ex-SDA and that it is your argument which is of little or no value.

Tom said:  Wrong.  I gave you the facts.  If you don’t like them, feel free to make up whatever myths you want.  This is what most people do.

It is apparent that you are not here to ask and learn, but to throw stones and cause trouble.  You have your own agenda, even as you think you have all the answers.  

Sorry, I am not impressed with your bad attitude and worthless sources.  

If you don’ t want real answers, don’t ask any questions.  Better yet, start your own website and instruct everyone about your own special version of SDA history, which is based on absurd assumptions and silly myths.  But don’t pretend you didn’t get a real answer.  That is not true.

Bruce said:  Moreover, I'd suggest that your allegation that I'm angry is a projection of your own emotional state, which you've displaced onto me.

Tom said:  Over the years I have spoken with many former SDA’s such as yourself.  So you are not fooling me in the slightest.  After all, we went to the same schools and lived in the same cultic world of confusion and false doctrine, where guilt was the featured motivator and myths passed for facts.  Growing up in such cultic error has profoundly negative effects on childern, giving many of them bad attitudes for life, such as yourself.

You need to understand that 1) all religion goes bad, and 2) most of what we were taught as SDA’s was not correct or true.  But guess what?  Every denomination was also full of doctrinal error.  

Rather than harbor anger or resentment against the SDA’s, (which is justified), it is better to find out what really happened and why, removing all that is false.  Better yet, the best thing to do is find the true Gospel, understanding the teachings of Jesus for Eternal Life.

Bruce said:  Did I say EGW wanted the buildings in Battle Creek burned to the ground?  

Tom said:  Your strange theory that Ellen White’s followers may have burned down the SDA’s institutions in Battle Creek is groundless and counter-intuitive to the facts.  Period.

Bruce said:  But I don't think even you, who seem hell-bent on vindicating her for whatever reason, would say that she was sad to see them go and that it's possible that she--or one of her misguided scyophants--may have had some part in their destruction.

Tom said:  Wrong.  Ellen White’s husband, James White built these institutions.  The last thing Ellen White wanted was to see is her husband’s life work go up in flames.  So you are very wrong to think that Ellen White was glad to see such destruction.  Such a view is ludicrous.

Listen to Ellen White comment on how she felt about this fire.  She is not glad whatsoever.  It was a tragedy of epic proportions, because it also signaled the end of the Battle Creek Empire for the SDA’s.   Their inability to resolve the 1888 debates, resulted in this great disaster, which still haunts the church today.

"When this news [about the destruction of the Review by fire] came," she said, "I felt no surprise, and I had no words to speak. What I have had to say from time to time in warnings has had no effect except to harden those who heard, and now I can only say: I am sorry, so very sorry, that it was necessary for this stroke to come. Light has been given. If it were acted upon, further light would not be needed.

Her famous statement in 1902 summarizes her viewpoint of this episode quite succinctly: "I have been instructed," she wrote, "that the terrible experience at the Minneapolis conference is one of the saddest chapters in the history of the believers in present truth [25]."

Note that Ellen White said: The “Saddest chapter.”  NOT, the “Gladest chapter.”

Bruce said:  Absurd?  Perhaps.  But then again how many times has this been the only explanation for any number of seemingly inexplicable behaviors or enterprises?

Tom said:  There is no “perhaps” about it.  Your theory is “absurd.”  It does not fit with the facts, only with your anger and revenge against the Adventists.  However, such misguided emotions are not the same as historical facts, just excuses to embrace tall tales of myth and babble.

Bruce said:  I also see no truth in your insinuation that being an ex-SDA necessarily implies that one must also be angry, as I assure you I am not; I may find the denomination deluded in the extreme and that they have totally misconstrued god's word and how to use it in their daily lives or what part that word should have in raising their children but at my age it doesn't anger or scare me I only find their situation absurd and amusing.

Tom said:  Like I say, I have communicated with hundreds and hundreds of former SDA’s.  Many of them have some very negative, incorrect, and unhealthy views about Ellen White and Adventism.  (Thanks of course to the White Estate.)  You seem to fit in this category.  

Bruce said:  Lastly, I am unswayed in my assertion that reform is impossible with churches as the cake cannot be re- or unbaked, and as is proven by the fact that Jesus didn't Reform Judaism any more than Protestantism reformed the Catholic Church, both split from the old and started something new.  

Tom replied:  First off, the church is not “something” new.  Rather, the New Covenant is reformed and updated Judaism.  This was always the point of the Old Covenant; it would prepare the way for the New Covenant Gospel, which is 100% Semitic.  Thus the OC was reformed into the NC church.

Secondly, the Reformation was also another great reform period, thus Luther and others made some much needed changes and improvements.  A portion of the church was updated from an Old Covenant view of theology to a New Covenant view that featured the Gospel instead of the law. Proving that reform and forward progress is valid and necessary.

So you can pretend you know what you are talking about, but you don’t.  You are wrong on many points.

Bruce said:  Further, based on the latest internal struggles I see in Adventism I submit that real progress will only come in the lives of those who make the decision to leave it.

Tom said:  I agree that forward progress in the Advent Movement can only take place after people leave it.  I do not deny that repentance of many false doctrines needs to take place within Adventism before they can even comprehend Gospel Reform.  

But then what?  Millions have left Adventism, and to what end?  None have found the pure Gospel, much less credible eschatology or the true Gospel Sabbath that Christ teaches.  There is great confusion and error in every denomination.  The SDA’s are not the only ones to need repentance and Gospel Reform.

Bruce said:  Thanks again, if for nothing other than the comedic relief you've provided,

Tom replied:  I don’t think the demise of the Advent Movement, or the physiological damage that the Adventists have caused to millions of people, like yourself, is a laughing matter.  Neither is the Gospel, or the search for Eternal life by those who realize they are heading to the grave.

I hope that you can somehow find a way to rise above your dysfunctional cultic upbringing, and discover the amazing teachings of Christ.  What he teaches about salvation, eschatology, and even the Sabbath is what matters most, for we are all judgment bound sinners, who must one day give an account of our lives and of our faith to Christ.

Rom. 14:10 For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.

I hope this helps,

Tom Norris, for All Experts.Com & Adventist Reform

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Tom Norris

Expertise

I can answer most any question about church history and theology, starting from 1818 when William Miller articulated the 1st Angels Message that became the foundation of the Adventist Movement. While this first prophetic message terminated in the spring of 1844, it was followed by what Adventists refer to as the 2nd Angels Message, which dates from the spring of 1844 until the great disappointment of October 22, 1844. By 1847, the 3rd Angels Message had been developed and this Sabbatarian theology represents the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Moreover, I can explain the historical and theological development of the SDA denomination from its beginning and on through the great Battle Creek schism that forced the SDA's to retreat to Takoma Park. Here the 20th century church recovered from their internal battles that had erupted at the 1888 General Conference in Minneapolis over the definition of the law and the Gospel. Fearing another repeat of this disaster, President Daniels, determined to hide this debate. However, this policy led to more conflict, especially over the role and authority of Ellen White, a unique and accomplished religious writer that had remarkable spiritual gifts. However, by the decade of the 1970`s, the church once again erupted into debate. The hierarchy settled the turmoil in 1980 with the trial of Dr. Desmond Ford at Glacier View. Here Dr. Ford was exiled because he supposedly disagreed with Ellen White over the Fundamentals. But this controversial action resulted in another major schism that is still in progress today.

Experience

Tom Norris was raised as a Seventh-day Adventist in Takoma Park, Md. He attended SDA grade and High schools, moving on to study Adventist theology at Columbia Union College. He also spent significant time conducting independent research in the General Conference Archives and the Ellen G. White Estate. Over the years he has also interviewed a number of prominent Adventist scholars, theologians, and Pastors ranging from the late Arthur White to the exiled Dr. Desmond Ford. In addition, he has amassed a large private library, which includes numerous rare books and manuscripts about Adventist theology and history. He is presently the online editor of Adventist Reform, and can be found at Adventist for Tomorrow answering questions online about SDA theology and history as well as promoting Adventist Reform. http://www.atomorrow.net/fluxbb/

Education/Credentials
Tom Norris attended SDA grade and High schools, moving on to study Adventist theology at Columbia Union College. He also spent significant time conducting independent research in the General Conference Archives and the Ellen G. White Estate.

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