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www.EllenWhite.info - The Ellen White information website.

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.

   
Davis Collection.
"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.

Thought Inspiration

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.

"Uncompromising"

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?
I'm a higher critic, and I'm highly offended that she would criticize me for criticizing the Bible. Who does she think she is?
She said above, "the Bible and the Bible alone." She must not have thought that her claim to being inspired negated the idea that the Bible alone is our authority. Maybe it doesn't.
I can't say I agree with everything Ellen White said, but I do very much appreciate her strong support of the authority of Scripture.
I've long been a believer in Ellen White's ministry, and I think her position on the Bible should be more widely known than it is.
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