41. Is it true Ellen White taught some really crazy things, such as that Adventists should not ride bicycles?

Yes, she made statements upon riding bicycles to address a particular situation as existed at the time.
No, the statement was not crazy when understood in its proper context. 
Once must acknowledge that the major role of the spiritual gift of prophecy is for the edification of the Church (1 Cor 14:1-4). Similarly, as outlined by famous Jewish theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel in his work The Prophets (1962), the ancient prophetic model was not as some soothsayer or diviner, who attempts to discover the will of their gods.  Rather, according to Heschel, the ancient prophets are characterized by their experience of what he calls theotropism — God turning towards humanity.
To this end, Ellen White often gave counsel to address particular situations that were relevant to the Early Adventist Church.  When understood in this context, such advice was perfectly understandable; when taken out of context as many critics do, her statements admittedly sound completely absurd.  However, the words and actions of the ancient prophets are equally bizarre if not properly understood within the cultural, historical and linguistic context of their times.
Back to the issue of bicycles, in 1894 Ellen White warned both young and old to avoid the “bewitching influence of the bicycle craze” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, pp. 51, 52).  One should remember that in 1894 a bicycle was not the cheap, utilitarian device it is today but an expensive, fashionable luxury item.  If said today, Ellen White may have counseled against expensive, polluting, city-bound SUV-Four Wheel Drives, most of which have never seen a country road or dirt track.  Thus, such advice is sound and in accordance with the edifying role of the spiritual gift of prophecy. 
For an official response to a range of common allegations and criticisms of Ellen White, see:


  1. Didn't Martin Luther advocate killing Jews and peasants? Didn't Pope Urban advocate killing Muslims and Jews in the Crusades? Didn't Oliver Cromwell desecrate Irish Churches? Did Brigham Young slaughter Indians and African Americans? Didn't Henry VII and his supporting Bishops kill Thomas Moore and other Catholics? Didn't the French King kill the Protestant Hugonauts?

    Didn't pretty all the religious pioneers of all the 'orthodox' and 'mainstream' Christian Churches do really terrible things - like have people killed!

    Is that all people have to complain about the SDA pioneer Ellen White - that she told people not to ride bicycles? That counsel (especially within the context of the day) seems a lot more in the spirit of Christ that 'orthodox' and 'mainstream' Christian leaders!

  2. Didn't the Apostle Paul tell virgins not to marry because Jesus was about to return? Sounds pretty crazy to me.

  3. Every religious org. has its own bible interpretation thru their own scholars. Some were for personal and the rest for gaining church sensational and the few for die-hard Christ-like adherents. Many of these churches today are lenient, you are what you are, come what may,at least they make money out of it for their personal gains like wolves inside being clothed by smiling sheeps. Better you yourselves must personally read, research and study the bible rather than debating someone without the in-depth know-how. If you study the bible by your heart you'll reach to the final conclusion without knowing that the Holy Spirit has been with you in the long run. We are spiritual beings once were lost bound for returning home, be a man but not like an animal since the latter has no morality by itself. These words are for the concerned.

  4. Wait a second, this is sheer nonsense. Riding a bycicle was not luxury, but in fact very much a working class phenomenon:

    And to those who use other strange quotes in order to justify White's relatively bizarre claims: what does it prove to you? The Luther quotes on Jews are awful, but he never claimed to be a Prophet. And yes, Paul believed that Jesus was about to return and that didn't take place. All well.

    But the sin of bicycles is a class of its own.