Seventh-Day Adventists/Is Ellen White A False Prophet?


We live in a religious world of self proclaimed prophets. It isnt even good enough just to be a prophet anymore. We have some who opt even higher for the lofty title of Apostle. In light of the age old problem of self proclamation, can it be said that Ellen G White was a false prophet? Did she proclaim herself as such? Did she use this title for her own ends and 'profit' from this perception? (Profit in the sense of taking advantage.) Was she even a prophet in any sense of the word? What is correct title we should assign to this esteemed leader of Adventism?

There has been much published about Ellen White, most of it mythical and embellished, taken out of historical context and manipulated by the White Estate.  However, I have researched inside the White Estate and I know the facts.

Most everyone is confused about Ellen White, including the SDA's, they are the most confused and understand her the least.  But this begs the question; why is everyone so confused and angry with Ellen White? And why are there so many different views of her life and teachings?

Here is the problem; the White Estate has done a horrible job representing Ellen White.  They have misrepresented her views, writings, and counsel, even as they have rejected the Fundamentals of Adventism, which Ellen White endorsed. This is why the SDA church is self-destructing in chaos and doctrinal confusion.  

Let everyone understand: millions of people have lost faith in Adventism because of how the White Estate has portrayed Ellen White and her alleged views on doctrine and theology.   Moreover, she was never a “prophet” as the White Estate claimed, nor did she have any doctrinal authority when she was alive.

The public has been greatly deceived by the White Estate about Ellen White's role, mission, and views, and it is time for the facts to emerge and for the record to be corrected.


Is Ellen White A True Prophet?

How do we correctly define Ellen White today?  Where does she fit within the history and theology of the church? How did her contemporaries in the church view her?  And how did she view herself? The answers to these questions will show that the White Estates has most everything wrong.  

Ellen White's role within the Church

Ellen White did not view herself like a "prophet," as understood and promoted by the White Estate.  Nor did she claim any doctrinal authority, or infallibility, much less that her writings were like scripture.   She emphatically taught that all doctrine must be based only on the Bible, even as she claimed that all doctrine must be honestly examined and tested by the scriptures.   

This popular view that Ellen White is like an OT prophet is not supported by the Pioneers or Ellen White.   Nor did she claim to be like the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith or the Prophetess Ann Lee of the Shakers.  

So what kind of prophet was Ellen White?  Where does Ellen she fit within the Gospel Story?  Where in the Bible can we substantiate her role?  Was she an Old Testament Prophet, like the SDA's teach?  Or is she more like a NT Apostle that writes scripture as many Traditional minded SDA's also teach?  

The answer is neither.  

Ellen White did not live in the OT era, so she can never be an OT prophet. Nor was she a 1st century, Jewish apostle like Peter, James, or even Paul.   She can only be categorized as a 19th century New Covenant believer that had Spiritual Gifts as articulated by Paul in Corinthians.  

1Cor. 12:28 And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.

1Cor. 12:29 All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they?

1Cor. 12:30 All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they?

1Cor. 12:31 But earnestly desire the greater gifts.  
And I show you a still more excellent way.

1Cor. 13:1  If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

1Cor. 13:2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

The fact of the matter is that Ellen White had some legitimate spiritual gifts for the edification of the church, but she did not have any doctrinal authority.  Why?  Because she was not an OT Prophet or a NT Apostle.   She was a New Covenant, Protestant Christian that had some spiritual gifts.  This is where she fits within the Christian church, and this is how the Pioneers correctly viewed her.   

In fact, the Pioneers would not allow Ellen White's "gift" to be used for doctrinal purposes, nor did they view her writings like scripture.  But this has obviously changed for the modern SDA.

Listen to the Pioneers speak to this point:

"Every Christian is therefore duty bound to take the Bible as a perfect rule of faith and duty. He should pray fervently to be aided by the Holy Spirit in searching the Scriptures for the whole truth, and for his whole duty. He is not at liberty to turn from them to learn his duty through any of the gifts. We say the very moment he does, he places the gifts in a wrong place, and takes an extremely dangerous position."   James White, Review & Herald, October 3, 1854

They (SDA's) believe in the perpetuity of spiritual gifts. They believe that the spirit of prophecy has rested upon Mrs. White, and that she is called to do a special work at this time, among this people. They do not, however, make belief in this work a test of fellowship.  James White, Review and Herald, June 13, 1871

Uriah Smith, the longtime Editor of the Review was also in agreement with the Protestant position of the Battle Creek SDA's.  Listen to him make the same point as James White:

The Protestant principle of the Bible and the Bible alone, is of itself good and true; and we stand upon it as firmly as anyone can; but when reiterated in connection with outspoken denunciations of the visions, it has specious appearance for evil. So used, it contains a covert insinuation, most effectually calculated to warp the judgment of the unguarded, that to believe the visions is to leave the Bible, and to cling to the Bible, is to discard the visions. . . . When we claim to stand on the Bible and the Bible alone, we bind ourselves to receive, unequivocally and fully, all that the Bible teaches.   Uriah Smith, Editor, Review and Herald, Jan. 13, 1863

Ellen White was also in full agreement with her husband and Uriah Smith. She never claimed to have doctrinal authority as the SDA church teaches today, or that she was a "prophet" like the White Estate also claims.  She was a Protestant, and therefore she understood and upheld the Bible as the only rule of faith and doctrine.

Listen to Ellen White on this point:

When God's Word is studied, comprehended, and obeyed, a bright light will be reflected to the world; new truths, received and acted upon, will bind us in strong bonds to Jesus. The Bible, and the Bible alone, is to be our creed, the sole bond of union; all who bow to this Holy Word will be in harmony.

Our own views and ideas must not control our efforts. Man is fallible, but God's Word is infallible. Instead of wrangling with one another, let men exalt the Lord. Let us meet all opposition, as did our Master, saying, It is written. Let us lift up the banner on which is inscribed; The Bible our rule of faith and discipline.  Ellen White, Review and Herald, Dec. 15, 1885.

However, after Ellen White died in the early 20th century, things changed.  She was not only given posthumous doctrinal authority by the SDA church, but her writings competed with the Bible in Sermons, Sabbath School Lessons, Books, and Review articles.   

In the hands of the incompetent and dishonest White Estate, Ellen White became a legend, having apostolic authority combined with an Old Testament prophetic role.  She was promoted in a manner that she would never approve as the White Estate flooded the church with her manipulated writings that were promoted like scripture.   

Here was the original version of the "Clear Word" Bible for SDA's. Here was great error that turned Ellen White into a prophet like Joseph Smith, even as it pushed the 20th century SDA's into schism that is ongoing to this very day.   Thus for generations, from every pulpit in the SDA community, the words of Ellen White rained down in the place of scripture, as if they were scripture.    

For many modern SDA’s, Ellen White’s writings had the same inspiration and authority as all the other "Prophets" in the Bible.  This is what the White Estate had indoctrinated all to believe when it was not true.  Ellen White never claimed to be a “prophet” as the White Estate teaches.

The White Estate packaged and promoted Ellen White as if she were a modern day Bible Prophet.    Thus her writings became like the Bible, if not greater for SDA's, because they were read far more often than the Word.   As a result the White Estate became more powerful, controlling every facet of the church and recklessly attacking those that would not agree to view her writings as the White Estate demanded.   

This was all wrong.  Ellen White would refute the White Estate's view of her role and her theology.   To underscore this point, just consider one surprising fact about Ellen White's writings:

In Battle Creek, when Ellen White was alive, the SDA's were not allowed to read her writings from the pulpit.  The Sabbath sermon would be full of scripture, and so too their works on theology, including the Sabbath school lessons.  But no Ellen White.  Why?  Because neither Ellen White nor the Pioneers wanted to give the impression that she had any doctrinal authority, or that her writings were in any way equal to the scriptures.  

In the 19th century, within the SDA Community, Ellen White was not viewed like the infamous Joseph Smith or any of the many others that pranced around claiming to be Prophets of God.  Ellen White was a Protestant, and so too was the Advent Movement.  Thus she knew her place and her role, and so too did James White and the others.

Listen to Ellen White speak about the basis of doctrine.  She does not support the White Estates view that she has doctrinal authority.

But God will have a people upon the earth to maintain the Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines and the basis of all reforms.  (The Great Controversy, p. 595)

The words of the Bible, and the Bible alone, should be heard from the pulpit.  (Prophets and Kings, p. 626).

In fact, there were "many" in her day that wanted to use Ellen White's writings in their sermons, even as there was some that viewed her as if she had doctrinal authority like a Bible Prophet.  But she would not allow it.

Many from among our own people are writing to me, asking with earnest determination the privilege of using my writings to give force to certain subjects that they wish to present to the people in such a way as to leave a deep impression upon them. It is true that there is a reason why some of their matters should be presented; but I would not venture to give my approval in using the Testimonies in this way, or to sanction the placing of matter, which is good in itself in the way which they propose.  

Ellen White to Brother Littlejohn, Aug. 3, 1894

Don't you quote Sister White. I don't want you ever to quote Sister White until you get your vantage ground where you know where you are. Quote the Bible. Talk the Bible. It is full of meat, full of fatness. Carry it right out in your life, and you will know more Bible than you know now.  

Spaulding-Magan Collection, p. 174

The testimonies of Sister White should not be carried to the front. God's Word is the unerring standard. The Testimonies are not to take the place of the Word.... Let all prove the positions from the Scriptures and substantiate every point they claim as truth from the revealed Word of God.  Evangelism, p. 256

See also:

During the 20th century, the White Estate made many false and heretical claims for Ellen White, which they still do to this very day.  They deceived the church into thinking that Ellen White did have doctrinal authority and that her writings were essentially the same as scripture.  Not only was this very wrong and dishonest, they were also hiding her real views about the Gospel and eschatology, as well as hermeneutics and church history.   In short, the White Estate has created a fictional character that does not represent the historic Ellen White.

This outrageous behavior should not be tolerated by the Adventist Community or the public. This fraud within the White Estate must be addressed and corrected.  The Advent Movement should not be held hostage to the myths and manipulations of the White Estate.  This is an absurd proposition. Ellen White has much to say to the modern SDA church, but the White Estate will not allow it.  They refuse to tell the truth about Ellen White and her views, nor will they repent for hiding thousands of her documents and misrepresenting her views.

Just think about what has taken place?  While the White Estate elevated some carefully selected writings of Ellen Whites to the level of scripture, they were hiding thousands of her most mature and theologically rich documents that they did not like or appreciate.  The White Estate is the problem.  They made Ellen White into something much more than she ever claimed, even as they hid and manipulated her true positions in order to do so.  

The fact that the White Estate has created an army of zealots to promote their propaganda is beside the point.  Traditional Adventism is based on a massive fraud in the White Estate about Ellen White and church history.  Ellen White was not the kind of "prophet" that had doctrinal authority or that wrote scripture. Nor did she ever make such claims.

The White Estate needs to confess what they have done and correct the record.  They need to clear up the myths and errors and stop manipulating Ellen White to say what she does not believe. It is time for the real Ellen White of history to speak freely to the Advent people.  They will be shocked at her real views, which do not support Traditional Adventism; much less what took place at Glacier View.

I look forward to the day when the record will be officially corrected and the genuine Ellen White of history will be better understood and appreciated by all.

For more information see:

Ellen White Discussion

I hope this helps.

Tom Norris for All & Adventist Reform

Seventh-Day Adventists

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Tom Norris


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.


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.

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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