"AS I SEE IT"
Volume 10, Number 6, June 2007
“I too will have my say; I too will tell what I know.
For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me;
Inside I am like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst.
I must speak and find relief; I must open my lips and reply.
I will show partiality to no one. Nor will I flatter any man.”
“That which ordinary men are fit for I am qualified in, and the best of me is diligence.”
Earl of Kent
Shakespeare’s King Lear
Act I, scene iv, ll. 32-34
[“As I See It” is a monthly electronic magazine compiled and edited by Doug Kutilek. Its purpose is to address important issues of the day and to draw attention to worthwhile Christian and other literature in order to aid believers in Jesus Christ, especially pastors, missionaries and Bible college and seminary students to more effectively study and teach the Word of God. The editor’s perspective is that of an independent Baptist of fundamentalist theological persuasion.
AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at: DKUTILEK@juno.com. You can be removed from the mailing list at the same address. Back issues sent on request. All back issues may be accessed at http://www.KJVOnly.org]
Pride--the Root of All Sin
“The source of all sin was and is pride. It is especially the sin of all oppressors, of the Chaldee, of Anti-Christs, and shall be of the Anti-Christ. It is the parent of all heresy, and all corruption and rejection of the Gospel.”
Edward B. Pusey
The Minor Prophets, vol. II, p. 192
(Baker, 1976 reprint)
Obit. February 2007
I can’t recall exactly when I first met Charlie, but it was sometime in the 1980s, likely the early 1980s. He was for years the owner and proprietor of various used bookstores in and around Wichita (with the last brief manifestation in Hutchinson, nearly an hour away). These various bookstore locations and incarnations were all called “The Green Dragon,” and a jade-colored ceramic dragon some two feet long always graced a shelf in the store.
Charlie was a native of Kansas, and of Wichita, I believe. Sometime after high school graduation in 1947 or 1948, if I figure right, he entered the Marine Corps, and served as an official photographer (as did political and social commentator Thomas Sowell, albeit a couple of years earlier than Charlie). After his time in the Corps, Charlie worked as a photographer in and around Washington, D.C., during the Johnson years, and was a great admirer of Lyndon Johnson (a fact I discovered when roundly denouncing LBJ in a book store chat early in our acquaintance; it was a subject on which neither of us was likely to change his mind, and so we judiciously left that subject alone).
Used bookstore owners are notorious for their eccentricities, though Charlie had very few. He was well-respected by others in the trade, and justifiably so. When another local used book dealer Jack, who was a bundle of eccentricities, fell on financially hard times to the point of having his water shut off, Charlie and his wife regularly took jugs of water and occasionally groceries over to the man’s residence for some weeks until he got things back in order.
Charlie, somewhat unusual for used book dealers, would not knowingly purchase pilfered books (whether stolen from public libraries or retail stores), and on at least one occasion notified a local retailer that some rather expensive art books from their store had been offered to him cheap, by a suspicious and seedy character. And he was more than happy to direct a customer to other bookstores in town, if he did not have what he were looking for.
Charlie was not overly “proud” of the books he stocked, by which I mean he didn’t try to squeeze the last possible nickel out of every book, but sought rather to keep a good turnover of books, with old stock regularly heading out the door and fresh stuff appearing on the shelves. Nothing kills customer “traffic” in a used bookstore like stale stock (another contemporary Wichita bookstore could always be counted on to have virtually nothing new, whether I stopped by at intervals of one month, one year or even one decade; I once commented to Charlie that the deceased owner of that store had turned over more during five years in the grave than had the stock in the store over a like period!).
My book interests--theology and the Bible, history, biography, nature and agriculture, languages and linguistics, and more--were soon known, and Charlie was always on the lookout for things that would interest me. In more than 20 years, I bought many hundreds of volumes and invested (my wife would say “spent” or maybe even “wasted”) surely $3,000, perhaps even $4,000 and more, on his wares. I got Hastings’ Dictionary of Religion and Ethics in 12 volumes (a set Charlie purchased from a retiring Wichita State University professor) for just $100 when the going price was $250-300 (it is double that now). The 10-volume Ante-Nicene Fathers set cost me just $75 (about a third of the retail). I once placed a standing order for a recent set of Encyclopedia Britannica which took several months to fill--I paid $600 for a set that was going new for not less than $2,200. I was actually in the store when this set came over the counter--Charlie offered a woman $350 for the set, which she readily took; I could perhaps have undercut him and saved myself a couple hundred bucks by offering her $400 on the spot, but I would have thereby ruined a friendship. Besides, no one but a fool unnecessarily offends his book dealer! I was glad to give him a $250 profit for having the books in his store just over ten minutes. Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament in ten volumes cost me just $105, a fraction of retail. For the 9-volume Collected Works of Lincoln, I gave just $45.
Our Marine son Matthew has always had a great interest in the Civil War. When he was preparing to deploy for six months on ship in 2003, among his planned reading was the 4-volume biography of Robert E. Lee by Douglas Southall Freeman. Since he lacked the set, I went to the Green Dragon where I knew one was to be had and asked Charlie what kind of deal he could make me to provide a Marine second lieutenant with some good reading material while on deployment. He gave me a very good price, the set was shipped off and was soon read through.
Time (and especially money) spent in the Green Dragon has probably resulted in more “frank discussions” with my wife than anything else in our marriage, but that is a matter we will gladly let alone for now.
And while it is true that I have over the years, and even in the Green Dragon, purchased some books that I sooner or later regretted buying as a waste of money, I far more often have regretted books I didn’t buy. Charlie once had the exceedingly rare ten-volume biography of Lincoln by his two secretaries Nicolay and Hay. Just $40 was asked (on the internet, an asking price of $900 for a pristine leather-bound set is not unusual; these were hardback). I hesitated just one day, and came back the next to acquire it, but it was gone. And I passed up a set of The Cambridge Medieval History in some ten volumes--again for just $40--because the paper was really poor, and badly yellowed. In retrospect, for the price, I could have endured the lousy paper. And I had for several months the opportunity to buy the famous 9th edition of Encyclopedia Britannica for just $100, but tight shelf space and a tighter book budget made me refrain, reluctantly.
At least once, Charlie actually gave me a book, or rather two. I had discovered among the new treasures on the shelves two volumes of a projected five on the comparative grammar of the Romance languages (French, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, etc.). I was more than ready to pay the $8.00 or so he had priced each volume at. When I set them on the counter at the register, he picked them up, looked them over and said, “Just take them. I don’t have a single other customer who would be interested in them.”
Probably the three subjects Charlie and I talked about most were anecdotes and quips from the lives of English lexicographer and conversationalist Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), his biographer James Boswell (1740-1795) and Baltimore newspaper man and social critic H. L. Mencken (1880-1956). The mere mention of the incident in which Johnson felled a man with a folio Septuagint for insulting him, and stood triumphant with his foot on the man’s neck would convulse us with laughter (see the account in Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson, Modern Library edition. p. 87).
One conversation I never had with Charlie, though not for lack of trying, was a frank discussion about Christ, the Bible and eternity. I often prayed for an opportunity and openness on his part, but it never came. He was always very reluctant to discuss the matter for whatever reason. I suspect that Charlie had grown up in some mainline Protestant denomination that had undermined and destroyed any confidence in the Bible as a Divine revelation. Once, in hope of opening the door just a crack, I gave him a copy of Frank Morison’s famous Who Moved the Stone?, a classic apologetic regarding Jesus’ resurrection. Charlie seemed considerably impressed when I told him that a surgeon friend in town had described the book as among the best he had ever read. But whether Charlie ever read the book in whole or in part, he never did say (this was a full decade and more before his death). He wouldn’t let the subject be explored, even when just he and I were in the store. I shall regret as long as I live that we never had that frank and open conversation about Christ that I had hoped--and prayed--to have. Alas, it is now forever too late!
I hadn’t seen Charlie in a couple of years when I read the notice in the paper of his death. Declining health, knee surgeries and other matters had compelled him to close the Green Dragon for the last time. In my subsequent visits to other bookstores in town I invariably missed him by a couple of hours or a couple of days, as he from time to time visited old friends in the trade. I do miss him.
Adventists at 33,000 Feet
[Editor’s note: this incident occurred in the mid-1990s, before “As I See It” was begun; the account was written up then and appeared in print. Here, it is slightly revised]
On a Delta flight from Budapest to Frankfurt, I was seated on the aisle in coach, as usual. Next to me were two men wearing suits, the older perhaps forty-five and the younger somewhere in his late twenties or early thirties. They spoke quietly in German, too quietly for me to comprehend, with my limited knowledge of German, what they were talking about. They were looking at what were obviously religious booklets, and the older had a Bible and seemed to be instructing the younger. I suspected that they were cultists, but couldn't tell just then what group they were with. I kept my eyes and ears open.
Breakfast was served--fruit, juice, yogurt, ham and cheese, plus the usual offers of coffee, tea, pop, and the rest. I sneaked a furtive peek now and then to see what the two men did and did not eat. No coffee, tea or pop; only water. The fruit was eaten, but the animal products-yogurt, cheese, and ham-were untouched. Bingo! (I speak figuratively, you understand)--vegetarians, and that means Seventh-Day Adventists.
After breakfast had ended and the trays were taken away, I spoke to the older man in German; he answered in English (my German often draws that response). I asked about what he was and the purpose of his visit to Budapest. I learned that he was an important person in the Seventh-Day Adventists' proselytizing outreach in Eastern Europe. A native of Brazil, he was in Hungary helping propagate the doctrines of Adventism.
I boldly remarked, "I've heard many things about Adventist teaching, but have never met one so well-informed as yourself on the subject. If I could, I would like to ask some questions about Adventist beliefs to see if I have been correctly informed." He agreed to address my questions and so for 45 minutes, I asked and he answered, and by his answers he confirmed that every doctrinal error that I had heard ascribed to the Adventists was in fact exactly what they officially believed and taught.
I first inquired about Adventist dietary asceticism. "I noticed that you didn't eat the cheese or ham served with breakfast. Is that a matter of personal preference, or is that because rejection of these things is required, a command?"
"It is a command," he immediately answered.
Abstaining from certain kinds of food, especially meat and other animal products, as essential to salvation is one of the features of Adventism. Vegetarianism is the order of the day (though not all Adventists are strict adherents). Mr. Kellogg of Battle Creek, Michigan, an Adventist (who later split with the cult over disagreements with ‘prophetess’ Ellen G. White), started his cereal company to provide an alternative to the customary bacon and eggs breakfast of most 19th century Americans. Adventists adopted their dietary rules, not as a result of careful study of Scripture, but from a Divine directive allegedly given to Adventist Ellen G. White during one of her thousands of ‘visions' (more about her later).
The Bible, far from requiring vegetarianism, grants to us freedom in the matter. Though God originally created mankind and all the animals vegetarian (Genesis 1:29-30), after the Flood, God granted to Noah and his descendants permission to eat the flesh of animals, excluding only the blood (Genesis 9:3-4). It is true that the Law contains strict dietary laws (see, for example, Leviticus 11; Deuteronomy 14), but these laws were given only to the nation of Israel. In the New Testament, Jesus said all foods were "clean" (Mark 7:19), as did Paul (Romans 14:14); when the Apostolic council in Acts 15 gave recommendations for conduct to the Gentile believers, no dietary restrictions were imposed on them except the prohibition given to Noah to abstain from eating blood (Acts 15:29; the matter of meat offered to idols was a question of worship, not diet). Paul expressly says that no one has the right to judge a believer in the matter of the food he eats (Colossians 2:16), and in fact says that those who prohibit certain kinds of food are teaching demon-inspired doctrines (I Timothy 4:3) (this passage applies equally to Adventist vegetarianism as well as to Catholic demands of denial of meat during "Lent").
It is true that there are certain advantages to a reduced-meat diet, and that vegetarianism seems to reduce the possibility of heart trouble, certain cancers, and other medical problems (I personally don't think vegetarians live longer; it just seems longer). The Bible has no rebuke for anyone who chooses vegetarianism voluntarily; we have that freedom in Christ. But, when someone promotes vegetarianism as an essential part of salvation, he has fallen into a demonic error of salvation by works, and has placed himself under the unbearable yoke of the Law, which could not save the Jews and will not save the Gentiles (Acts 15:10-11).
I next turned to the question of Saturday Sabbath-keeping. "Do Adventists really believe that worshiping on Sunday is the Mark of the Beast?"
He replied, "If a person has heard the truth [his word, not mine] of Sabbath-keeping and continues to worship on Sunday, yes, he has accepted the Mark of the Beast." (This, by the way, is another doctrine allegedly "revealed" to Ellen G. White in a ‘vision'. She claimed she was carried into heaven and saw the tablets of the Law with the Ten Commandments in the heavenly sanctuary, and that the fourth--the Sabbath--command had a special radiant glow about it, which was God's way of informing her that she must restore the long-neglected Sabbath command).
I turned to Colossians 2:16 and quoted Paul's words, "Let no man judge you . . . in respect . . . of a holy day . . . or of the sabbath." "Paul says here as plain as day that you have no right to pass judgment on anyone regarding his day of worship." He had no answer to that. There is no answer. Never in Scripture are Gentiles commanded to keep Saturday as a day of worship. The Apostolic council of Acts 15 could and would have made such a command if it were essential, but they were perfectly silent on the matter. In truth, Jesus Himself (not the popes, as Ellen White in ignorance of history affirmed) began Sunday worship by meeting two Sundays in a row (Sunday by the Roman/Gentile reckoning, since the evening had already come, which by Jewish calculation would actually be Monday, yet Scripture calls it "the first day of the week") with the assembled disciples after the Resurrection (John 20:19, 26). Furthermore, the great day of Pentecost in Acts 2 fell on a Sunday (see F. F. Bruce's commentary on Acts). Paul specifically chose Sunday as the day to meet with the assembled believers at Troas (Acts 20:7), and the Corinthian church also customarily met that day (I Corinthians 16:2). John was given the Revelation of Jesus Christ on the first day of the week, and John saw Christ in the midst of the churches (Revelation 1:13; 2:1), strongly implying that that was the day the churches assembled (see Matthew 18:20).
In truth, neither Saturday nor Sunday worship is a command, the New Testament granting perfect liberty in the matter, though we customarily assemble on Sunday in commemoration of the resurrection of Christ and following the example of Christ and the Apostles. By its demand of Saturday worship, once again Adventism wants to bring people under the bondage of the Law, rather than introduce them to the freedom from the Law we have in Christ.
I inquired about Ellen G. White. "Do you believe that she was truly a prophetess and that her visions were really Divine revelations?"
"Yes, we do."
"But wasn't there quite a stir several years ago when it was proven that many of the accounts of her visions were really plagiarized from books published in the 19th century?"
"Well, . . . . "
Ellen G. Harmon White (1827-1915), rendered unconscious (and comatose for three weeks) at age nine by a rock thrown by a schoolmate which hit her in the face, began having epileptic-like seizures thereafter. As a young teenager, she was one of those caught up in William Miller’s Advent enthusiasm of 1843 (and 1844). When that enthusiasm prove false--twice--Ellen began to claim (at age 16) that she was having inspired visions during these periodic seizures, and in her long life claimed to have had more than 2,000 visions in all. Accounts of these visions, reportedly dictated to her husband immediately after their occurrence, fill some 10,000 written pages, and have been published in 54 books. Without these “inspired” visions as a continuing and authoritative revelation from God, Adventism would be deprived of its whole foundation.
There was a major scandal among Adventists in the 1970s and 1980s when Adventist researchers published documented proof that at least part--a major part--of White's vision accounts were really plagiarized/stolen from other contemporary authors. Yet virtually the whole of Adventism--Sabbath-keeping, dietary asceticism, soul sleep, and much else--rests squarely on the belief that her visions and doctrines came directly from God. If her writings are fraudulent and not Divine, the whole structure collapses.
I continued, "Do Adventists believe that the souls of both saved and lost people are entirely unconscious between death and resurrection?"
"Yes, that is what we believe."
"But didn't Paul say he ‘desired to depart and be with Christ' (Philippians 1:23), and that ‘to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord'? (2 Corinthians 5:8). Christ was conscious and in heaven at the Father's right hand, and Paul expected to go there immediately at death."
"Well, yes, but didn't Stephen ‘fall asleep' (Acts 7:59)?"
"I'm glad you mention that passage, because it proves my point. In verse 59, Stephen entrusted his spirit to Jesus, and it departed. It was only his body that was described as asleep. The spirit abandons the body at death, as James taught (James 2:26)."
In truth, the Scriptures consistently teach that the spirits of both saved and lost people continue in conscious existence after the death of the body, and, in fact, that the spirit never, for all eternity, ceases conscious existence. After their physical deaths, we find the disembodied spirits of Abraham (Luke 16:23), Moses (Matthew 17:3), Samuel (I Samuel 28:12ff), Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:22, 23), Jesus (I Peter 3:19; Luke 23:43), the repentant thief (Luke 23:43), and vast multitudes in heaven (Revelation 7:9-15; etc.) fully conscious and able to communicate, hear, speak, understand, worship, sing, etc. There is no "soul sleep" in Scripture.
(I could also have inquired about the Adventist teaching regarding the eventual annihilation of the wicked. They, like the Jehovah's Witnesses, deny the teaching of Jesus regarding the eternal torments of the lost, Matthew 25:41, 46; et al.)
"One final question: is keeping the Law essential to salvation?"
"After a person has been saved, yes, he must keep the Law."
"But doesn't that go against everything that Paul says in the book of Galatians? ‘But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident, for the just shall live by faith.' "
And indeed, it does. From first to last, Adventism is the error of Galatianism, the teaching that salvation is either gained or kept by obedience to the law. Some evangelical writers have denied that Adventism is a cult (I speak particularly of the now-dead cult specialist Walter Martin), but they have been deceived into so saying. Adventism has virtually all the earmarks of a cult: a new prophet, a new revelation, and salvation by works. Being generally Trinitarians (unusual for a cult), does not rescue them from deserving the designation of "cult."
Our flight and our conversation were over. It was a most informative flight for me. Adventism is all the bad things I'd heard. It denies salvation by grace, and teaches "another Gospel," which is no Gospel at all.
(Many Baptists and other conservative Christians have unknowingly fallen under the influence of an Adventist. Anyone who has read the widely-distributed book Which Bible? (5th ed., 1975) edited by the late David Otis Fuller has unwittingly been exposed to Adventist teaching. Nearly half of that book (46%) is a reprint--edited to conceal the writer's true identity and denomination--of parts of Our Authorized Bible Vindicated (1930) by Adventist missionary, theologian, and college president, Benjamin G. Wilkinson. Fuller knew that Wilkinson was a leading Adventist, and that his book was filled with misinformation, but Fuller knowingly concealed the truth from us. Wilkinson's part of Which Bible? is filled with gross factual errors, many of which some Baptists now accept as ‘Gospel truth' on the text and translation issue. Wilkinson’s chief motive for rejecting the English Revised Version of the 1880s was because by its literal translation, it robbed Adventism of several favored “proof-texts” for their distinctive doctrines!)
[For those who would like to read further on Adventism, with documented proof of its errors, I recommend the three books reviewed below, and besides these, the section on the Adventists in J. K. van Baalen's Chaos of the Cults, published by Eerdmans. For information on Wilkinson, see my articles, "The Great Which Bible? Fraud," and "Wilkinson's Incredible Errors," posted at www.kjvonly.org ]
Notable Books on Adventism
I very highly recommend the following works on the history and doctrines of Seventh-day Adventism. The authors were in every case long-time Adventists thoroughly acquainted with SDA history, doctrines, claims and controversies, and all left the movement when they honestly faced the irreconcilable conflict between Adventism and the Bible
The Life of Mrs. E. G. White, Seventh-day Adventist Prophet: Her False Claims Refuted, by D. M. Canright. Salt Lake City, Utah: Sterling Press 1998 reprint. 185 pp., paperback.
The White Lie, by Walter T. Rea. M & R Publications, P. O. Box 2056, Turlock, California, 1982. 409 pp., paperback. 383 pp.
Cultic Doctrines of Seventh-day Adventists, by Dale Ratzlaff. Glendale, Arizona: Life Assurance Ministries, 2003.
These three books are excellent sources for information about the Seventh-day Adventist cult--and it is indeed a cult (the claims of late Christian apologist Walter Martin to the contrary, notwithstanding). The all but universal earmarks of a false cult are claims of 1. a new prophet; 2. a new and advanced revelation (beyond “that which is written” in Scripture); 3. salvation by works; 4. no salvation outside the group. These are the earmarks of Mormonism, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Moonies and the Unification Church, Islam (which began as a Christian cult), so-called “Christian Science,” and just about every other fringe group. Also commonly characteristic of such cults is unitarianism and a direct denial of the Trinity; that Adventism is on paper Trinitarian does not remove them from “cult” status; indeed, a substantial percentage of early Adventists were unitarian in belief. Further, cults regularly (though not quite universally) are obsessed with prophecy, the end of the world and the Second Coming, usually making predictions of the Second Coming of Christ which of course always fail utterly, followed by tortured “explanations” of how the prophecy did not really fail.
The first book, The Life of Mrs. E. G. White, Seventh-day Adventist Prophet: Her False Claims Refuted, by D. M. Canright, was originally published in 1919, just four years after Ellen G. White’s (1827-1915) death. Canright was a devout Adventist for nearly 30 years (later becoming a Baptist). He knew the Whites personally and closely, and was well acquainted with Adventist doctrine, practice--he was an Adventist preacher--, and most of the major figures of the first 70 years of Adventist history (1844ff). He writes from full knowledge of his subject, and liberally sows his book with quote after documented quote from Adventist literature, the supposedly inspired and infallible writings of Mrs. White, and correspondence of leading Adventist figures to demonstrate his thesis.
In his introduction, Canright shows that Ellen G. White’s --and Adventism’s--claims of being the true worshippers of God, with the real truth from God, is paralleled by a whole host of other cult groups--the Shakers, the Christian Scientists, the Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses and others now utterly forgotten (and what an array of diverse false cults were generated in 19th century America!!). Adventism is just another group of those who arrogate to themselves claims of exclusive possession of the real truth, and who alone have a proper relationship with God. At least all but one of these cults must be in error, since their mutually contradictory claims cannot all be true (and of course, they are in fact all false, since they conflict with the basic and foundational teachings of the Bible).
Ellen G. Harmon (later White), severely injured as a school girl of nine by a rock smashed against her head, was a very ignorant and uneducated teen-ager when she was caught up in the manic enthusiasm of William Miller’s predictions of the Second Coming in 1843 and 1844. Though most of Miller’s followers--and Miller himself--repudiated his predictions as misguided and erroneous when they were proven unmistakably false by the failure of Jesus to appear on the specified dates, there was a small core of enthusiasts who nevertheless clung to this embarrassingly and shamefully false prophecy, among them Ellen G. Harmon. She soon began having “visions” associated with the frequent seizures caused by her earlier head trauma. She at first doubted these visions were from God, but encouraged by her husband (whom she married at 19) and by others, she began to accept them as Divinely-sent; such continued until about age 50. These visions--some 2000 in all are alleged--became the basis for her voluminous writings, which are more than 10 times as long as the entire Bible; historically, Adventism has claimed all of White’s vision-inspired writings are a continuing and authoritative voice from God, and equally infallible with Scripture. Embarrassing to say, though Adventists officially claim White’s writings as inspired, they nevertheless have systematically suppressed some of her earliest writings, and have edited much of the rest, to remove blatant errors, contradictions, and other obvious blunders (including numerous failed “prophecies”--cf. Deut. 18:21-22).
Canright shows that there is a perfectly naturalistic explanation to White’s “visions” directly traceable to her childhood head injury and the repeated seizures she had until menopause. He cites the medical literature of his day, showing that White’s “visions” are of a piece with those of other “non-inspired” individuals, and therefore have NO Divine origin. Notably, other woman in the early Adventist movement had similar “visions” but not being encouraged by others to accept them as from God, their visions soon ceased.
White also claimed something like Pat Robertson’s bogus “word of knowledge”--the ability to see into the hearts and lives of other people, with the implied (and often exercised) threat to “expose” secret sins. What “knowledge” she had of people’s secret sins was nearly always gathered through an extensive network of “gossips” who were all too happy to pander to the prophetess. Of course, White frequently “missed” seeing gross sin in close and influential Adventists, and sometimes made false “inspired” accusations against innocent parties. Oh, well.
White was easily influenced by other Adventist leaders, and could conjure up “visions” to order, to teach whatever new doctrine she had been influenced to embrace this week--the hours for keeping the Sabbath, the early “shut door” claims of Adventism, Sunday worship as “the mark of the beast,” a new Divinely-sanctioned clothing style imposed on the faithful (abandoned after a few years), and much more. Of course, her later writings often directly conflict with her earlier writings--all being supposedly inspired by the same God!
As a woman of very limited education, White relished her status as the sect’s infallible oracle, and sought to enhance her standing by voluminous publication, far beyond what a woman of such limited education could be expected to produce. Of course, the key to her productivity was the practice of wholesale plagiarism from standard and respected Christian authors of the 19th century. So brazen was her practice that at least one of her books had to be removed from the market when the publishers of the work she plagiarized threaten a lawsuit. And not a few of her claimed writings were actually done by subordinates, under her “supervision.” Such dishonesty is not of God.
Many leaders and people in positions of authority (and salary) in Adventism during White’s lifetime knew full-well of White’s all-too-human fallibility, contradictory writings and claims, failed prophecies, gross plagiarism, pretensions to knowledge of secret sins, and even her own hypocritical eating of meat after forbidding it to others, yet, for the sake of power, position, prestige or pay, they conveniently looked the other way, or helped conceal the truth from the run-of-the-mill followers of Adventism.
In short, the ENTIRE foundation of Adventism is a colossal sham and fraud. But fanaticism dies hard, and some people seem much more than willing to be led astray, regardless of the facts or evidence or truth. All this has been public information since Canright’s book first appeared in 1919 (Canright wrote another earlier work, Seventh-day Adventism Renounced, which was first published in 1889, and went through at least 14 editions, and was in print as recently as 1948; only recently I acquired a used copy of the 1948 printing).
Walter Rea’s book, The White Lie, is the product of years of investigation by a long-time Adventist pastor and scholar, who discovered on his own what Canright had written about decades earlier--Ellen White, the supposed inspired prophetess of Adventism was a profuse literary thief, who passed off the pilfered and plagiarized writings of others as though they were Divine revelations given to her in visions from God. Worse was the discovery that this dishonesty and blatant fraud was common knowledge in Adventist inner circles back to the mid-1800s, and consistently their only response to such was to cover it up and conceal it!
When Rea sought to bring his findings to the attention of the “powers that be” within Adventism, he was by turns ignored, stonewalled, rebuked, threatened and shunned. Preserving the façade of White’s status as Divine messenger was defended at all costs, including the cost of plain honesty and integrity. The Lie was defended and the truth subverted. Rea includes many, many pages documenting the blatant plagiarism practice by White and condoned by the SDA hierarchy.
Dale Ratzlaff was a fourth generation Adventist, and was educated from kindergarten through seminary in SDA denominational schools, and pastored SDA churches for 13 years. He left Adventism when his seminary study of the doctrine of “the investigative judgment” (a distinctive and central teaching unique to Adventism) led him to conclude that it could not be supported by Scripture, but was in fact based on a gross perversion of what the Bible actually taught, and destroyed the doctrine of salvation by grace. For the sake of still-enslaved Adventists and recovering former Adventists (a full 50% leave the denomination ultimately), Ratzlaff founded “Life Assurance Ministries” in Glendale, Arizona.
Ratzlaff surveys Adventist doctrinal distinctives, gives a history of the origin and development of these denomination teachings, and analyses them in the light of Scripture. He notes how a number of doctrines embraced early on (the “shut door” teaching doctrine, especially) were subsequently changed and abandoned, though they had been founded on the “inspired visions” of Ellen White. Ratzlaff in an appendix gives the official SDA confession of faith, “Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists.”
In his book, Ratzlaff, inter alia, addresses the question “is Seventh-day Adventism a cult?” His conclusion is that historic, traditional Adventism does indeed have most of the characteristics of a cult. He does note the fact that there are factions within Adventism--the historic, traditional Adventists, who buy into the whole package: Ellen White as inspired prophetess, vegetarianism, rigid adherence to Saturday Sabbath, constant fear of rejection by Christ during the “investigative judgment,” and more. Then there are the evangelical Adventists who recognize the defects, errors, foibles and mistakes of White-ism, refuse to accept her writings as normative, do preach a true Gospel of salvation by grace and not law, but who for whatever reason remain within the Adventist fold, and are scarcely Adventists at all. There are also the liberal Adventists, liberal in a theological sense, who reject the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible and deny the doctrine of substitutionary blood atonement. These differ little from mainline denomination theological apostates. And then there are the denominational Adventists, those who above all else wish to retain power and control over the denomination and its resources, and will say and do pretty much whatever is necessary to retain that power and control.
All of these books, and much other excellent literature exposing the lie and false Gospel that historic Adventism is, can be purchased through “Life Assurance Ministries,” an organization focused on rescuing Adventists from the soul-condemning errors of that cult. They also have a regular publication “Proclamation.” Their web-site is www.LifeAssuranceMinistries.org and their e-mail address is email@example.com. They stock a very wide selection of first-rate material on the error of Adventism, all that anyone could possibly hope for or need, for his own enlightenment, or for that of others ensnared in the errors of SDA-ism.