37. Is it true that Ellen White is the founder of the SDA Church and introduced most of its ‘distinctive’ beliefs?

No.  Ellen White was no-doubt an important pioneer in the early Seventh-day Adventist Church (as it was later named) but she was not its founder.  Technically, it would be more appropriate to identify persons such as Joseph Bares and T. M. Preble as the founders of the SDA Church.
Furthermore, in most cases Ellen White was not the originator of Adventism’s distinctive beliefs, although she no doubt had an important influence on the Church’s early theological development. For example:
·         Rachel Oaks Preston introduced the concept of the seventh-day Sabbath.
·         Hiram Edson and Owen Crosier introduced the concepts about the Heavenly Sanctuary.
·         Uriah Smith was the main proponent in formulating a range of beliefs about the end-times, especially concerning the books of Daniel and Revelation, together with the Adventist doctrines on the Investigative Judgment and Conditional Immortality (Soul Sleep).
·         John Litch appears to be the originator of the belief in the Investigative Judgment.
·         J. N. Andrews also introduced many of Adventism’s end-time beliefs, especially the role of the USA in Bible prophecy.
·         J. N. Longborough was instrumental in formulating the Adventist tradition against formulating official creeds:
·         Joseph Bates also greatly influenced Adventist eschatology, introducing the Great Controversy Theme.
By comparison, some of the distinctive messages introduced predominantly by Ellen White, such as the health message, have seen Adventists become amongst the longest living peoples on the planet (and the only group found in the Western World and not in decline).
Furthermore, in many other cases, her main role was actually to oppose new ideas, by guiding the SDA Church towards positions that would be considered more ‘mainstream’ by other Christians.  For example, Ellen White was instrumental in:
·         Opposing semi-Arian opinions of some pioneers and guiding the Church towards a classic Trinitarian view.
·         Opposing the Pantheism (God is nature) of John Harvey Kellogg (i.e. of Corn Flakes fame).
·         Opposing legalism, by affirming the doctrine of justification and righteousness by faith, against considerable internal opposition.
Thus, for outsiders who reject Ellen White’s spiritual gift, she must seem one of the most bizarre false prophets in all history.  Without Ellen White, who drove Adventism towards orthodoxy, the SDA Church would no doubt be more cultish - not less. Perhaps it is for this reason that non-Adventist scholars, including Walter Martin and Kenneth Samples from the Christian Research Institute, whilst rejecting Ellen White’s characterisation as a ‘prophet’, have nevertheless called her ‘a genuine Christian believer’


  1. Yes, there is a great irony. Critics claim the SDA Church is a cult for having Ellen White. However, if Ellen White did not exist, the SDA Church would in fact have been a lot more 'cultish' because one of her main roles was to drive the Church towards a more orthodox Christian position. If Ellen White had not existed, I wonder if the SDA Church would today be considered more cultish (believing Arianism, Panthiesm, Legalism etc) or less?

  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. Ellen White was a demonic witch cloacked in christianity. Her writings are borrowed. Her own input is satanic poison!

  5. Ellen White did not have the role that Adventists claim in their doctrinal shift towards the Trinity. Latest research shows her to have been a child of her time and place, thoroughly grounded in the materialist theology that early Adventists espoused. Thomas McElwain, Adventism and Ellen White: A Phenomenon of Religious Materialism. Studies on Inter-religious Relations no. 48. Swedish Science Press, 2010.