I grew up an Adventist because my parents were Adventist. I’ve stayed an Adventist and my parents have left. I’m all “growed up” as my Grandpa would say, and I’ve decided to stay an Adventist. You want to know why? Sure you do – or you wouldn’t have even read this far. One reason is that I’ve learned to love that lady the old people in my church call “Sister White” aka Ellen White. If you’ve grown up as an Adventist this will be the time that you roll your eyes and think to yourself…great, here we go again. If so, hear me out. If that’s not you, then this might not make a lot of sense to you, but hang in there.
Here’s the thing. She’s not who I thought she was. In my mind Ellen was a stern old lady who was full of rules and “thou shalt nots” whose main purpose was to spoil my fun. Sister White said this, and Sister White said that and none of the things I was told she said were loving, kind, or fun. Then I found out something strange. That’s not who she was, that’s just how she was portrayed to me by so many people in the church. That’s who they were, so that’s who they made her to be. Excuse me for saying this, but they made a Sister White idol in their own image. I was shocked to learn that people were doing this even when she was alive, and she couldn’t stand it. It boils down to this: When other people talked at me about Sister White I couldn’t stand her. When I finally read Ellen for myself I couldn’t help but love her, even though I really didn’t want too. After reading her I can only conclude that she really knew Jesus. Honestly. Truly. Since I love Jesus, I’m going to love Ellen. It’s that simple. Let me give you an example.
I recently read a letter written by Ellen in Selected Messages Book One Chapter 22 “The Peril of Extreme Views”. In this letter she was admonishing someone who was argumentative, combative, hard-hearted; who took extreme views on trivial matters and tried to convince others that his views were the only ones that mattered. Know anybody like this? Not only does she not approve of the way this person was acting (which is exactly like so many I’ve known) she gives golden advice on what is important:
“If you would dwell on such subjects as Christ’s willingness to forgive sins, to receive the sinner, to save that which was lost, subjects that inspire hope and courage, you would be a blessing. But while you strive to be original and take such extreme views, and use such strong language in presenting them, there is danger of doing much harm.” At this point I want to pump my fist in the air and say YES! Ellen continues: “…mysteries which neither you nor your hearers can understand or explain might better be left alone.” YES! “Give the Lord Jesus Christ room Himself to teach; let Him by the influence of His Spirit open to the understanding the wonderful plan of salvation. Preach the love of Christ, and this will melt and subdue hearts.” YES! “Talk the simple truths wherein you can agree. Talk of unity; do not become narrow and conceited; let your mind broaden. But for Christ’s sake do not present before them ideas that will discourage them, that will make the way to heaven seem very difficult.” YES! “Keep all these over-strained ideas to yourself. Exalt Christ, not your own ideas. Hide in Jesus. God as revealed in Christ is not a severe judge, an avenging tyrant, but a merciful and loving Father.” YES, YES, YES! SM-1 pages 177-183 (abridged and emphasized by me).
Do you get why I love this lady? She’s awesome! She knows who Jesus is! Does this mean that I understand everything she talks about? No. Does this mean that I agree with everything I read, and that there is nothing she says that rubs me the wrong way? No. She was a prophet after all, and they tend to rub people the wrong way and push us where we don’t want to be pushed. But I do know that she knew Jesus, and because of that I need to give her a shot – and the benefit of the doubt.
I had built up a notion of who she was based upon the people that I heard talking about her. As I got older, I decided to read her for myself – and I’m glad I did. How many of us have done the same? I’ve heard story after story of people doing this not only to Ellen, but to God. If your earthly father was stern, you tend to imagine your Heavenly Father as stern. Idol worship is the natural religion of humanity, and church people are just as susceptible to it as others. We all tend to make idols and fashion gods in our own image, after our own experience and imagining. Lucky for us, there is an idol smashing God out there who seeks and saves that which was lost. He knows you, knows your natural inclinations, and knows what you need to be saved. Do you want to read someone who knew Jesus? Give Ellen a shot. Steps to Christ is a great book to start with. Do you need your false conceptions of God smashed? Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. “The one that comes to me,” He says, “I will by no means cast out.” John 6:37.