The Infallible Word of God
Ellen White had a high view of the authority and inspiration of Scripture. Though she apparently never
used the words "inerrant" or "inerrancy," she repeatedly referred to the Bible as being infallible:
The Bible, and the Bible alone, is to be our creed,
the sole bond of union; all who bow to this Holy Word will
be in harmony. Our own views and ideas must not control our efforts.
Man is fallible, but God's Word is infallible.—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 416.
The word of God is infallible; accept it as it reads; look with confidence to God; trust him
to qualify you for his service.—Advent Review, Feb. 11, 1896.
Man's word fails; and he who takes the assertions of man as his
dependence may well tremble; for he will one day be a shipwrecked vessel. But
God's word is infallible, and endures forever. Christ declares, "Verily I say
unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise
pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." God's word will endure through the
ceaseless ages of eternity. God lives and reigns.—Advent Review, Feb. 6, 1900.
Praise God, we have a divine road to heaven. We need not depend upon the
conjectures and opinions of men, but upon the infallible decision of the word
of God. The word of the infinite God is true, and cannot be distorted to suit
men's pleasure, or be turned aside to suit the inclinations of the
unsanctified soul. No man can safely judge the word of the Supreme Ruler of
the universe.—Signs of the Times, Aug. 21, 1893.
God's Word is full of precious promises and helpful counsel. It is
infallible; for God can not err. It has help for every circumstance and
condition of life, and God looks on with sadness when His children turn from
it to human aid.—Signs of the Times, June 26, 1901.
Then let every man read, study, and search the Scriptures for
himself and take nothing as infallible but the Word that you can see for
yourself, after much prayer and searching in an humble, teachable
spirit.—The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 835.
"But . . ."
The vast majority of scholars today would disagree with such a position. "Higher criticism"
is the norm, which, according to Wikipedia, "is a branch of literary
analysis that attempts to investigate the origins of a text,
especially the text of the Bible. Higher criticism in particular
focuses on the sources of a document and tries to determine the
authorship, date, and place of composition of the text." Other definitions out there say that the higher
critic is also trying to determine the meaning of the text.
That all may sound benign, but it should be understood that higher criticism is based on the assumption that
the Bible is inaccurate. Thus, when a higher critic is trying to determine the
authorship and date of Genesis and Exodus, he may conclude that these books, contrary to Jesus' claim in the
New Testament, were not written by Moses at the time of the Exodus. Moreover, he may also conclude
that the Creation account of Genesis 1 is myth, and that there really wasn't an exodus from Egypt after all.
Ellen White on Higher Criticism
Ellen White took an uncompromising stand against the inroads of higher criticism into Christendom.
Consider the following selections from her pen, the last one being the strongest of the three:
As in the days of the apostles men tried by tradition and philosophy
to destroy faith in the Scriptures, so today, by the pleasing
sentiments of higher criticism, evolution, spiritualism,
theosophy, and pantheism, the enemy of righteousness is
seeking to lead souls into forbidden paths. To many the
Bible is as a lamp without oil, because they have turned their
minds into channels of speculative belief that bring
misunderstanding and confusion. The work of higher criticism, in
dissecting, conjecturing, reconstructing, is destroying faith in
the Bible as a divine revelation. It is robbing God's word of
power to control, uplift, and inspire human lives.—Acts of Apostles, p. 474.
Even Bible study, as too often conducted in the
schools, is robbing the world of the priceless treasure of
the word of God. The work of "higher criticism," in
dissecting, conjecturing, reconstructing, is destroying faith
in the Bible as a divine revelation; it is robbing God's
word of power to control, uplift, and inspire human lives.—Education, p. 227.
The people have received man-made theories. So
the gospel is perverted, and the Scripture misapplied. As in the days of
Christ, the light of truth is pushed into the back-ground. Men's theories and
suppositions are honoured before the word of the Lord God of hosts. The truth
is counteracted by error. The word of God is wrested, divided, and distorted
by higher criticism. Jesus is acknowledged, only to be betrayed by a kiss. . . .
Satan had the highest education that could be obtained. This
education he received under the greatest of all teachers. When men talk of
higher criticism; when they pass their judgment upon the word of God, call
their attention to the fact that they have forgotten who was the first and
wisest critic. He has had thousands of years of practical experience. He it
is who teaches the so-called higher critics of the world to-day. God will
punish all those who, as higher critics, exalt themselves, and criticise
God's Holy word.—Bible Echo, Feb. 1, 1897.
Yet her views on inspiration weren't quite like those of some fundamentalists today. Notice
how she explains how inspiration works:
The Bible is written by inspired men, but it is not God's
mode of thought and expression. It is that of humanity.
God, as a writer, is not represented. Men will often say
such an expression is not like God. But God has not put
Himself in words, in logic, in rhetoric, on trial in the
Bible. The writers of the Bible were God's penmen, not
His pen. Look at the different writers.
It is not the words of the Bible that are inspired, but
the men that were inspired. Inspiration acts not on the
man's words or his expressions but on the man himself,
who, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, is imbued with
thoughts. But the words receive the impress of the
individual mind. The divine mind is diffused. The divine
mind and will is combined with the human mind and
will; thus the utterances of the man are the word of God.—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 21.
Thus Ellen White felt that the thoughts behind the words of Scripture were inspired,
not the words themselves.
Many higher critics may feel that Ellen White's sentiments describe their own position,
but there is a difference. To Ellen White the words of Scripture accurately reveal the thoughts God
inspired the prophets with. Thus, while the higher critic may reject the thought as expressed in the Bible that
Moses wrote the Pentateuch about the time of the Exodus, or that Jonah spent three days and nights in the
belly of a fish, or that Daniel served in the court of Babylon in the sixth century BC,
Ellen White most certainly did not. To her these thoughts were both inspired and infallible.
We'll conclude by giving an excerpt of Arthur Daniells' remarks at her funeral on July 24, 1915,
remarks which should resonate with all Bible-believing Christians today:
"No Christian teacher in this generation, no
religious reformer in any preceding age, has placed a
higher value upon the Bible. In all her writings it is
represented as the book of all books, the supreme and
all-sufficient guide for the whole human family. Not
a trace of 'higher criticism,' 'new thought,' nor skeptical,
destructive philosophy can be found in any of her
writings. Those who still believe that the Bible is the
inspired, infallible word of the living God will value
most highly the positive, uncompromising support
given this view in the writings of Mrs. White."—Life Sketches, 1915 ed., p. 471, 472.
Give Us Your Opinion
|What do you think of Ellen White's views on the infallibility of the Bible?