35. Does the SDA Church teach that Ellen G White was a prophet, and that her words are more important, override or take precedence to the Bible?

Yes, most Adventists typically view Ellen White as a prophet (although she never used that term to describe herself, and to what extent her writings were inspired are often debated).
No, her words are not more important, override or take precedence to the Bible.  No doubt some individual Adventists may take that approach, but this is not the historic or official SDA position.  This is another oft-cited 'proof' that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is supposedly a cult - and with respect just plain wrong.
As set out in fundamental belief #18, the SDA Church does teach that Ellen White had the gift of prophecy, which is a properly recognised spiritual gift for the Church (Eph 4:11; 1 Cor 12:28), but obviously operated within the clear confines of the 'edification' and 'instruction' role prescribed by scripture (1 Cor 14). However, for the avoidance of any doubt, the SDA Church confirms that the Bible alone is the standard by which all doctrinal teaching and experience must be tested:  
“18. 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.)” (emphasis added)
The SDA Church does not officially teach that Ellen White’s writings were more important, override, or take precedence to the cannon of scripture.  As noted by the South Pacific Division of the SDA Church:
“Adventists do not believe Ellen G. White and her writings are as important as God and the Bible.
Seventh-day Adventists treasure the Bible as their only creed. They believe it is God’s message to humankind and it contains all that people need to know about God, salvation and the basic principles for human relationships.”
As the Roman Catholic Church even admits:
“…Adventists also subscribe to the two Protestant shibboleths, sola scriptura (the Bible is the sole rule of faith) and sola fide (justification is by faith alone).”   (emphasis added)
Thus, no doubt some individual Adventists still view Ellen White and her writings in infallible and inerrant terms.  No doubt, many ex-Adventist critics have been exposed to individual Adventists who have treated Ellen White as perfect or elevated her writings to something on par with scripture.  However, it is very important to stress that this is not the stance taken by the original Adventist pioneers, or by the SDA Church today, or by the majority of Adventists.  Most importantly, this is not the stance taken by Ellen White herself, who was very aware of her own human limitations and subordination to scripture within the confines of a New Testament spiritual gift of prophesy.


  1. Admittedly having a modern-day prophet does sound very cultish. However, it can't be denied that it is clearly a spiritual gift mentioned in the New Testament, along with others like tongues. The spiritual gift in the NT was very widespread and did not imply perfection or total dominance over others. For example, Peter and Paul were both technically prophets in that they both had visions (Peter re meeting Cornelius and Paul in his road to Damascus) but they certaintly were not infallible people or even theologically correct all the time. Paul told Peter to his face that he was wrong!

    If Ellen White is viewed within this NT context, there is nothing wrong with a Church saying it has ALL the spiritual gifts of the Church, including prophesy. However, if the SDA Church starts treating Ellen White like some infallible godling, then they are no different from all the other cults, including Mormons, Christian Scientists or dare I say Roman Catholic Church.

  2. Consider the position of the Uniting Church of Australia (a union of Presbyterean, Methodist and Congregationalist Churches, and the 2nd biggest denomination in Australia). In their statement of beliefs, under belief #10, they actually ascribe doctrinal status to the 44 sermons of John Wesley:


    The Uniting Church continues to learn of the teaching of the Holy Scriptures in the obedience and freedom of faith, and in the power of the promised gift of the Holy Spirit, from the witness of the Reformers as expressed in various ways in the Scots Confession of Faith (1560), the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), the Westminster Confession of Faith (1647), and the Savoy Declaration (1658). In like manner the Uniting Church will listen to the preaching of John Wesley in his Forty-Four Sermons (1793). It will commit its ministers and instructors to study these statements, so that the congregation of Christ's people may again and again be reminded of the grace which justifies them through faith, of the centrality of the person and work of Christ the justifier, and of the need for a constant appeal to Holy Scripture."


    That position is not so different from the SDA Church towards the writings of Ellen White. Nor is it that different from how Roman Catholics view and use the writings of St Augustine and Thomas Aquinas and the other early Church Fathers, Lutherans view and use Luther, Reformed groups view John Calvin and John Knox, and Evangelical-Pentecostals use John Darby and Billy Graham.

  3. I note Martin Luther compared himself to OT prophets, claimed he was a messenger from God, and that others might consider himself a prophet, although he was too humble to admit it:

    "Do we not read in the Old Testament that God commonly raised up only one prophet at a time? Moses was alone in the Exodus, Elijah was alone in King Ahab’s day, Elisha, after him, was alone, Isaiah was alone in Jerusalem, Hosea alone in Israel, Jeremiah alone in Judaea, Ezekiel alone in Babylon, and so forth. Even though they had many disciples, called “children of the prophets,” God never allowed more than one man alone to preach and rebuke the people.........

I say not that I am a prophet, but I do say that the more they despise me and esteem themselves, the more reason they have to fear that I may be a prophet . . .

If I am not a prophet, yet for my own self I am certain that the Word of God is with me and not with them, for I have the Scriptures on my side, and they have only their own doctrine. This gives me courage, so that the more they despise and persecute me, the less I fear them."

    -(An Argument in Defense of All the Articles of Dr. Martin Luther Wrongly Condemned in the Roman Bull, 1521; from: Works of Martin Luther [PE], Vol. III, 12-14; translated by C. M. Jacobs)

    And I note some Reformed people do consider people such as Augustine and John Calvin prophets:


    This seems very similar to the SDA view of Ellen White. She never called herself a prophet either, although others used that term to describe her. She did claim to have a message from God though, expounded in the scriptures.

  4. I left the church because of this issue. In the Sabbath School quarterly she is quoted almost every day and on Friday's there is a reading list that has her writings and some Bible passages. Too much emphasis on het, not enough on God.

    1. I suggest not reading the SS quarterly. Many SS groups don't - we don't.

    2. Amen. I too have huge issues with Ellen White's writings taking precedence over Scripture. I have even heard one pastor referring to her writings as Scripture. May God forgive him.