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
(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 Seventh-day Adventist Church . 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
in Bible prophecy. USA
· 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
towards positions that would be considered more ‘mainstream’ by other Christians. For example, Ellen White was instrumental in: SDA Church
· 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’.
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