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What does SDA belief number 18 mean? By saying that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested does in mean that we should test Ellen White line by line with the Bible and only accept the parts that can be tested as an authoritative source of truth; or is Ellen White supposed to be tested overall by the Bible and if she passes then everything she wrote is an authoritative source of truth?

The downside of the the first approach is that good counsel could be missed if the criteria is too tight; the downside of the second approach is that by giving Ellen White what is in effect Ex Cathedra authority it would be hard to maintain that the church is sola scriptura.

Is there room for both interpretations in Adventism, or is only one interpretation valid?

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.)

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If it doesn't conform to scripture, I want none of it.  When she is speaking in an inspired manner they match.  When she had an opinion based on the culture of her day, it was simply that.  When she wrote a letter to a person it was meant for that person and not intended for corporate use.

Everything must be tested with scripture, otherwise we may as well be Catholics or Mormons.

Daniel, I certainly agree with you on that, but do you think that is what Statement 18 actually calls for, or are we trying to force it to say what we want it to?

Test Number One: Deuteronomy 18:21-22: 

Test Number Two: Numbers 12:6 

Test Number Three: Numbers 24:4 and 16 

Test Number Four: Daniel 10:17 

Test Number Five: Daniel 10:18 

Test Number Six: Jeremiah 28:9 


Test Number Seven: 2 Peter 1:20 

Test Number Eight: 2 Peter 1:21 

Test Number Nine: 1 Corinthians 14:3 

Test Number Ten: Isaiah 8:19-20 


Test Number Eleven: 1 John 4:1-3 

Test Number Twelve: Matthew 7:15-16 

Nowhere does it say that we should accept Mrs. White as equal the Bible, and she herself speaks against such things.

So, that is it in a nutshell.


You skip test number 1 and begin your numbering with test number 2.  Test number 1 is found in Deuteronomy 13, the law of the false prophet.  This law tells us that God will send false prophets to test us and they will be accompanied by signs and wonders.  Deuteronomy 18 tells us that if the prophet is accompanied by those signs and wonders God sent him/her, but Deuteronomy 13 tells us that everything that prophet says must be tested with previous revelation (at the time it was written only Moses qualified) and if found to be teaching other than what has previously been revealed the prophet is to be stoned to death.  By new covenant understanding of these symbols, the prophet is to be thoroughly tested against the law of God (stones) and brought to repentance (the second death -- which Paul died daily.)

You also ignored Ezekiel 14:1-10, a further explanation of the law of the false prophet, which requires both the prophet and me to check our idols of the heart (preconceived ideas) at the door before we consult God through the prophet.  Few of us do this, and even though God himself gives the prophet the words to say we allow our idols of the heart to interpret God's word to conform to those idols, thus making false the prophet who spoke those words to us.  Some of us make every word of scripture false in this way.  The Pharisees did so in Jesus day and it is seen daily here on this forum.

You do not have an adequate nutshell if you have not included these passages in your explanation.  SDAs pointedly ignore these passages in all their teachings on prophets, even the "fully detailed" teachings.  That is a sad state of affairs.

Finally we cannot ignore Luke's words in Acts 17:11.  The Thessalonians gladly accepted Paul as an authority on scripture, as he was.  None of the Apostles had a better theological training.  However, Luke compares the Thessalonians with the Bereans and says the latter were more noble because they accepted the gospel Paul presented with great joy, BUT they went home and compared every word of his teaching with scripture to see if it was really true. 

Concerning Jill's question concerning "every word", Moses was given an outline of the plan of salvation.  Other prophets are later given revelation of the parts God is carrying out at their time and in their part of the world.  These are further details.  Because Moses only has an outline and these prophets have further details there will not be word-for-word agreement with them, but they will still agree in every way if that later prophet is true.  It is when the later prophet is in direct disagreement with the previous revelations to Moses and other prophets that we really have something to worry about.

God tells us he does nothing without first revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.  The revelation to Moses is enough -- sort of -- but God found it necessary to give counsel to his people through prophets in their time and place before he acted.  Since God still acts in our world today the same remains true today.  God still reveals through his servants the prophets.  The question is, will we listen or do we prefer the words of those who say John, or Mohammad or Ellen White is the last prophet through whom God spoke and there will be no others?

Ellen White herself said: All her written books about explanation to the bible is meant that the LITTLE  light which has enlightened to the BIG (meaning the bible) light.

Had her writings not be there today, there would not any sda church and so no progress in our faith. Her contribution was, is and will remain a blessing to our church and all those who study them with a sincere heart and pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit become studying. Hope this help.

If there were no EGW writings there would be no SDA church? are you sure about that sister? I thought the SOP were first giving to 2 men who refused the call, before egw took up the call.  

if those two men had accepted the call, they would have been prophets in the SDA church. One of the identifying marks of the true church is the prophetic gift

Okay, that is not neither though, that is exactly the second position I laid out in my original question.

Oh I see, I was thinking of the future in position 2, you did have a 3rd option.  Position 1 does NOT allow a person to cherry pick, if an Ellen White statement passes the test of the Bible, then it is authoritative, we can not "do what we wanted to do anyway".   Aquila I get that you don't agree with position 1, but do you think that Statement 18 should be redone to keep people from interpreting like position 1 does?

"The Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested" is a pretty clear and definitive statement. Any teaching and experience not tested by the Bible can not therefore be authoritative source of truth.  The standards for teaching and experience should be kept pretty high, the danger as Daniel pointed out would be to have standards and teachings not based on the Bible like the Catholics and LDS do.

I think statement 18 can be interpreted as either position 1 or the position 3 that you brought up Aquila.  You are correct about my position 2, that one is probably not a valid reading of belief 18.


Thought about this a little more, belief 18 is internally inconsistent.  The 2nd part says that all teaching and experience must be tested by the Bible; while the 1st part says Ellen White is a "continuing and authoritative source of truth" admittedly that would seem to cover the parts of her writings that can not be tested by the Bible.  Part 1 and Part 2 conflict with each other.

Doesn't "sola scriptura" always conflict with a God who continues to speak to His people? "Sola scriptura" is not a biblical principle when you investigate it. There is no biblical discernment or ranking between the spoken and written word of God nor of the codified or non-codified message.

A non-Adventist friend at my high-school put it this way: Do you believe that God still speaks to us today? And let me add another question: If He does - why would that be worth less than what He revealed 2000 years ago?


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