Ellen White: Infallible or Fallible?
Does Seventh-day Adventist believes that Ellen G. White is an infallible interpreter of the Scriptures? This question is part of my research.
by Jaymark Molo
This question brings back the memories of debate in “John Ankerberg’s Show” between William Johnson and Walter Martin, and one of the questions that have been raised is: “Do you regard the interpretations of the Bible by Ellen G. White to be infallible?”
Let me give you the answer of our respected former editor of Review and Herald, William Johnson, for he answered boldly, “She is not an infallible interpreter of Scripture.” Here are the reasons why,
1. Fundamental Statement of Beliefs. I agree to WJ, “I think we ought to go to the official Statement of Beliefs.”
Holy Scriptures: The Holy Scriptures, Old and New Testaments, are the written Word of God, given by divine inspiration through holy men of God who spoke and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. In this Word, God has committed to man the knowledge necessary for salvation. The Holy Scriptures are THE INFALLIBLE REVELATION OF HIS WILL. They are THE standard of character, THE test of experience, THE authoritative revealer of doctrines, and the trustworthy record of God’s acts in history. (2 Peter 1:20, 21; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17; Ps. 119:105; Prov. 30:5, 6; Isa. 8:20; John 17:17; 1 Thess. 2:13; Heb. 4:12.
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.)
Mrs. Ellen White was a (indefinite article) source of authority, not the (definite article) source of authority. It implies that she and her writings were subjected to the Scripture. An infallible interpreter didn’t know that word — subjected. Thus, disqualifying her to be the infallible interpreter of Scripture, for she and her writings are “subjected” to the Scripture.
2. Humans are Fallible. The Bible makes it clear that we are fallible (Rom. 3:23, etc.). Mrs. White supports it by saying, “Everything that is human is imperfect”; (Selected Messages, book 1, p. 20) and “no man is infallible.” (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 376.)
3. Only God is Infallible. The Bible makes it also clear that God alone is infallible (Heb. 6:18, etc.). Mrs. White supports it again by saying, “God and heaven alone are infallible . . . . In regard to infallibility, I never claimed it; God alone is infallible.” (Selected Messages, book 1, p. 37.)
To conclude this matter, again I would like to restate the question: “Do Seventh-day Adventists regard Sister White as infallible interpreter?”
Here is an another concise statement from W. H. Little John:
“No. Neither do they believe that Peter or Paul was infallible. They believe that the Holy Spirit which inspired Peter and Paul was infallible. They believe also that Mrs. White has from time to time received revelations from the Spirit of God, and that revelations made to her by the Spirit of God are just as reliable as revelations made by the same Spirit to other persons.” (Review and Herald, December 11, 1883, p. 778.)
Hope it contributed to your beneficiary research!