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In Reference to: Ellen Gould (Harmon) White and The Seventh Day Adventist Church
Hi Frank and Mary,
I'd appreciate you printing this reply.
Regarding the article by Merritt Clifton, Animal People:
I would like to make some comments and correct a point or two.
The reason many Seventh-day Adventists are eating meat now is simply because they have backslidden, just like many Christians of different faiths have backslidden in general. Any de-emphasing, as Merritt Clifton put it, may also be coming from or have come from the liberal element eating away at the SDA church, the same liberalness that's eaten or eating away at other denominations. I would like to know how Merritt has come up with a majority figure though.
Seventh-day Adventists are still encouraged to go vegetarian. This is part and parcel of what they call their "Health Message." However, it's the individuals choice. There's no force, just exhortation, encouragement. The SDA church is the only denomination I know of that teaches abstinance from flesh food as part of its calling. Its worth nothing that the SDA church owns and operates hundreds of hospitals/clinics worldwide, along with health food companies. They also operate one of the biggest development and relief agencies in the world -- ADRA.
I'm not aware that Ellen White was a charismatic figure. Originally Ellen White was not a vegetarian. In fact, she may have been a heavy meat eater.
She became a vegetarian overtime, eventually rejecting dairy foods as well.
"We eat no meat or butter..."
Counsels on Diet and Foods, P, 489
"...Tell them that the time will soon come when there will be no safety in using eggs, milk, cream, or butter, because diease in animals is increasing in proportion to the increase of wickedness among men..."
Counsels on Diet and Foods. P,333
"Then I resolved to change entirely, and not to eat meat under any circumstances and thus encourage this appetite. Not a morsel of meat or butter has been on my table since I returned."
PHO, P, 31
"Your Father and I have dropped milk, cream, butter, sugar, and meat entirely since we came to California. We are clearer in mind and far better in body."
"Eggs should not be placed upon your table..."
These few quotes (there are more) were grabbed rather quickly so as far as the last three go I'm not sure what the abbreviated sources stand for. Could be manuscripts, etc.
I'm not aware of her making any comments in regards to vivisection but would certainly imagine her to be against such. I'd be interested to know how Merritt has come to that conclusion that she was anti-vivisection though. Perhaps that's Merritt's assumption.
The Seventh-day Adventist church was not largely created through the teachings of Ellen White. The SDA church came about as a result of people coming together, from different denominations, to search and study God's Word, resulting in a collective understanding and acceptance of biblical beliefs. Ellen Whites's role was a confirmatory one, confirming, via visions, what was already arrived at and/or under discussion collectively.
William Millar was a Baptist preacher. He was not, and never became, a Seventh-day Adventist. This is an unfortunate myth so often perpetuated.
Here's a brief rundown:
The Millerite Movement:
The Millerite Movement was an interdenominational movement flourishing in the United States of America from 1840 to 1844. It was based on a distinctive prophetic interpretation [as explained below]. From this movement arose a group of denominations classed as Adventist bodies [those proclaiming the soon return of Christ], the largest of which is now the Seventh-day Adventist church. The Millerites actually called themselves Adventists, but were popularly known by the name of their leading exponent, William Miller, a New York farmer and licensed Baptist preacher [he was never a Seventh-day Adventist]. From 1840 onward the Miller movement was no longer primarily a one man project, but was led by a large and increasing group of men of various denominations. The Millerites regarded their movement as the continuation and culmination of an international [worldwide] awakening of interest in Christ’s second coming, and its proclamation, that had developed almost simultaneously in many countries in the early 1800’s. The Millerite movement expected, believed and preached that the second coming of Christ would occur in 1843. The key prophecy on which Miller based his belief that Christ would return in or about 1843 was the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14. However, upon realizing that they had made a mistake in their computations, they changed the time they had set of Christ’s return to 1844 only to be disappointed again. After realizing their miscalculation, they saw that Christ would still be coming but at a later time in the future of which no one could know and was not for speculation, and arrived at the conclusion that the 2300 days of Dan 8:14 was actually not referring to Christ’s second coming but to God’s impending judgment after which sometime (unknown) in the future the Second Coming would finally occur. The Millerite movement markedly decreased after the 1844 disappointment.
It was from among the Adventists engaged in the Advent movement in America that there arose a small group in 1844, in Washington, N.H., who began to observe the seventh-day [Saturday] Sabbath. Thus came about the first Seventh-day Adventists, though the name Seventh-day Adventist was not adopted as a denominational title until 1860. The people who first took the name Seventh–day Adventist in 1860 were already Adventists, not only in the broad sense of believing in the nearness of Christ’s second coming [for many in various parts of the world in the 1840’s and earlier had believed that] but also in the restricted sense of having developed from the Millerite movement, which had called itself Adventists. By adopting the name Seventh-day Adventist, the Seventh-day Sabbath [Saturday] keeping Adventists distinguished themselves from the other descendants of the Millerite movement — First-day [Sunday] Adventists. At first it was largely the strong leadership of such pioneers as James White, Ellen G. White [wife of James], and Joseph Bates that held together the scattered Seventh-day Sabbath-keeping Adventists. However, with the rapid increase in the number of adherents [members/believers] in the 1850’s, several problems arose that brought into sharp focus the need of the church for a name and a corporate existence: the legal problems of holding church property (originally owned by individuals); the growing need for selecting, directing, supporting a ministry; and the necessity of controlling personal ambition, fanaticism, and offshoot movements.
Therefore in 1863 the Seventh-day Adventist church was officially formed; the name thus made official, and the ‘General Conference’ first organized.
The popular explanation that the name Seventh-day Adventist was selected as indicating those who believe in the Christ’s second coming and who observe the seventh day is an oversimplification. The title [name] “Seventh-day Adventist” is the official name of a specific Christian denomination with a specific body of doctrines, of which the seventh day [Saturday] Sabbath and the second coming form only a part. The name Seventh-day Adventist does not apply to those who observe the seventh day and believe in the nearness of Christ’s second coming but who differ on other doctrines, and hence are not part of the denomination. Prominent among those who pioneered the work were, Joseph Bates, James White, Ellen White, Hiram Edson, Frederick Wheeler, S.W. Rhodes and later, J.H.
Waggoner, J.N. Loughborough, J.N. Andrews, Uriah Smith and S.N. Haskell.
Thomas Preble, a Free Will Baptist minister and Millerite preacher, accepted the seventh-day [Saturday] Sabbath in the middle of 1844. He was the first Adventist to advocate the seventh-day Sabbath in print with his article in the ‘Hope of Israel’ [an Adventist periodical] of Feb 28, 1845, which was reprinted in tract form in March under the title “Tract, Showing That the Seventh Day Should Be Observed As the Sabbath.” This tract led to the conversion of a number of families. Among them was the father of J.N.
Andrews, two young women who later became Mrs J.N. Andrews and Mrs Uriah Smith. It also introduced the seventh-day Sabbath to Joseph Bates, who accepted the seventh-day Sabbath in 1845 and later wrote his own tract on the seventh-day Sabbath. Through Joseph Bates’ tract on the seventh-day Sabbath, James and Ellen White accepted this truth and began observing the seventh-day Sabbath in the autumn of 1846.
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