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Page 1

A Critique of the Book Prophetess of Health


Prepared By
The Staff of the Ellen G. White Estate


Pagination in [ ] refers to the third edition (2008).

Table of Contents


1. Key to Abbreviations ....................................................................................................... 3
2. Chronology of Events ...................................................................................................... 4
3. A Word to the Reader ...................................................................................................... 5
4. On Writing and Reading History ..................................................................................... 6
5. Putting Prophetess of Health in Perspective ................................................................... 9
I. The Crux of the Issue .............................................................................................. 9
She Did Not Live in a Vacuum.............................................................................. 9
What Ellen White Doubtless Knew ....................................................................... 9
A Fine But Crucial Point ..................................................................................... 12
The Story the Witnesses Tell .............................................................................. 13
The Facts Not Hidden ........................................................................................ 13
An Illustration ...................................................................................................... 15
II. A Look At Some Of The Witnesses ...................................................................... 15
Merritt G. Kellogg ............................................................................................... 15
John Harvey Kellogg .......................................................................................... 16
D. M. Canright .................................................................................................... 18
E. S. Ballenger ................................................................................................... 19
F. E. Belden........................................................................................................ 19
H. E. Carver ........................................................................................................ 19
III. The Missing Exhibits ........................................................................................... 19
1. Influence on the Longevity and Health of Seventh-day Adventists ................. 20
2. Sanitariums and Treatment Rooms ................................................................ 20
3. The College of Medical Evangelists and Loma Linda University .................... 20
4. The Memory Lives On .................................................................................... 21
5. Counsel to Dr. Kress ...................................................................................... 21
6. The So-Called Daniel’s-Kellogg Controversy ................................................. 22
7. J. H. Kellogg’s 1938 Statement ...................................................................... 22
8. In the Field of Medical Science ....................................................................... 22
IV. Importance Of A Proper Concept Of A Prophet And Their Work ........................ 23
Some Points We Should Consider ..................................................................... 23
Authority ............................................................................................................. 24
Sources of Information ....................................................................................... 24
The Nature of Inspiration .................................................................................... 25
Errors in the Books and Manuscripts .................................................................. 26
Writings Not Given Under Inspiration ................................................................. 26
Evidence of Divine Inspiration ............................................................................ 27
Some Relevant Questions .................................................................................. 27
Could Ellen White Be Depended On To Tell The Truth? .................................... 28

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V. The Matter Of Plagiarism ..................................................................................... 29
The Historical Background of Literary Borrowing ............................................... 29
Religious Writers Borrowed Without Acknowledgment ....................................... 29
All Commentators Have Borrowed—Often Without Credit ................................. 30
The Legal Aspect of Plagiarism .......................................................................... 30
VI. Involvement of Denominational Agencies in Preparation of Prophetess of Health31
VII. The Significance of the Book ............................................................................. 32
General Conference Encourages Investigation .................................................. 32
A Review of Some of the More Important Points ................................................ 33
6. Chapter 1—A Prophetess Is Born ................................................................................. 33
The Shut Door Matter ............................................................................................... 33
The Visions .............................................................................................................. 35
The 1851 Time ......................................................................................................... 36
Deleting Shut Door Teachings ................................................................................. 37
7. Chapter 2—In Sickness And Health .............................................................................. 42
Consulting Physicians .............................................................................................. 42
Dietetic Counsels ..................................................................................................... 44
Civil War Involvement and Speculations .................................................................. 45
8. Chapter 3—The Health Reformers ................................................................................ 46
Phrenology ............................................................................................................... 46
9. Chapter 4—Dansville Days .......................................................................................... 47
What Did Adventists Know in 1863? ........................................................................ 47
What Did James and Ellen White Know? ................................................................. 50
The Health Reform Vision and Its Publication .......................................................... 52
What Did Ellen White Borrow? ................................................................................. 53
Inspiration and Borrowed Phraseology ..................................................................... 55
The Visit to Dr. Jackson’s Dansville Institution ......................................................... 55
Willie’s Phrenological Examination ........................................................................... 55
The American Costume and the Reform Dress ........................................................ 57
After Dansville .......................................................................................................... 57
Health or How to Live Pamphlets ............................................................................. 57
Illness of Health Reformers ...................................................................................... 57
10. Chapter 5—The Western Health Reform Institute ......................................................... 57
Adventists Launch a Medical Institution ................................................................... 57
Plans for Enlarging the Battle Creek Institution ........................................................ 57
The New Building ..................................................................................................... 60
The Program at the Institute ..................................................................................... 62
James and Ellen White Stand in Support ................................................................. 62
J. H. Kellogg and the Battle Creek Sanitarium ......................................................... 63
11. Chapter 6—Short Skirts And Sex .................................................................................. 64
Short Skirts and Pants .............................................................................................. 64
Ellen White Initiates a Reform Dress ........................................................................ 64
The Length of the Skirt ............................................................................................. 66
Reform Dress at the Institute .................................................................................... 67
The Flight to Northern Michigan ............................................................................... 67
Length of the American Costume ............................................................................. 68
Reaction to the Reform Dress .................................................................................. 68

Page 91

conducted in strict accordance with the principles and humble spirit of the third angel’s
message.—1T 558.

She went on to note that in many private conversations and in letters she had urged the “brethren”
to move cautiously. (1T 558).

She still favored providing means for the Health Institute, but things must be kept in balance:
The Health Reform is closely connected with the work of the third message, yet it is not

the message. Our preachers should teach the health reform, yet they should not make this
the leading theme in the place of the message. . . . Our people should furnish means to meet
the wants of a growing Health Institute among us, as they are able to do without giving less
for the other wants of the cause, and let the Health Reform and the Health Institute grow up
among us as other worthy enterprises have grown.—1T 559.

James White and other church leaders had been trying to educate the local churches concerning
their responsibilities in Systematic Benevolence. The cause had many other needs, but now, with the
tremendous burdens of constructing such a large building, things were becoming unbalanced. Very
poor people, people who did not even own homes of their own, saw the promise of a good yield on
their investment and were putting from one-fifth to one-third of all their possessions into Health
Institute stock. This, Mrs. White said, was wrong (1T 560). These poor people themselves should be
charity cases at the Institute instead of investing their meager funds in it. “I do not see the providence
of God in making great calculations for the future,” Ellen White wrote, “and letting those suffer who
need help now. Move no faster, brethren, than the unmistakable providence of God opens the way
before you” (Ibid.).

The implication that James White’s actions were somehow irrational in tearing down the
incomplete building and the suggestion that he might have been mentally unbalanced, are
manifestations of the hostile biases of certain witnesses relied upon in the Prophetess of Health
account of these events. A look at the original sources allows a more generous and favorable
interpretation.

On September 24, a week after the Review announced that Testimony No. 12 was ready, E. S.
Walker, secretary of the Health Reform Institute, wrote a letter to James White proposing to buy some
property which White had offered to the Institute. In his letter, Walker stated, “We have commenced
the new building and have progressed so far that it would require a great amount of labor and be
attended with considerable expense to undo what we have already done.” Walker concluded:

We think it best to erect the new building as soon as practicable and put it under roof
where it can stand and be finished off as we get the means. We are confident that this can be
accomplished in a short time by the aid of yourself and Sister White. If we understand Sister
White’s views, our errors have been more in the management of the Institute in the treatment
of patients, than in providing suitable rooms for lodging, lectures, etc. And we are now
determined to work a change in the matters of error pointed out to us, so that Sister White
and yourself can feel to work for the Institute as you did at its commencement.—E. S. Walker
to James White, Sept. 24, 1867.

This letter indicates that the unfinished building still stood while the directors debated what should
be done with it. Walker felt it should be finished; evidently other members of the board felt otherwise.
Even after Mrs. White’s Testimony No. 12, they were not sure what to do, and some thought the best
thing would be to complete the project.

At the stockholders meeting held earlier that year (May 17, 1867) the following were elected as
directors:

Page 92

J. N. Loughborough, J. N. Andrews, U. Smith, J. P. Kellogg, J. M. Aldrich, E. S. Walker, and N. N.
Lunt (RH May 28, 1867). All the stockholders voted, and the top seven vote-getters were elected to
the board. They are listed in descending order according to the number of votes they received.

The implication that there was some “hocus pocus” involved in the decision to tear down the
building is based on the report of an interview which took place at the time Dr. Kellogg was
disfellowshipped in 1907. As Kellogg is speaking, Amadon interrupts, saying, “You know we had a
regular hocus-pocus, a foundation one time; then they had to be all taken out. Brother Loughborough
and J. M. Aldrich encouraged it.” (Mimeographed report, “An Authentic Interview . . .“ [with] Dr. John
Harvey Kellogg on October 7th, 1907, p. 88, White Estate Document File #45k.)

Amadon says that Loughborough and Aldrich—both members of the Board of Directors of the
Institute—encouraged “it”—presumably they favored the plan of tearing down the large building,
selling the materials, and rebuilding on a more modest scale. Thus the decision was not James
White’s alone.

It is inconceivable that he would have been able to tear down the building without the majority
support of the board whose legal responsibility it was. We know the names of two board members
who supported the move and for all we know the decision may have been unanimous. James White
most certainly did not act independently and arbitrarily.

And there may very well have been reasons not easily detected by all which motivated James and
Ellen White in their attitude toward premature enlargement. Note the following reference to the
experience, written by Ellen White in 1903:

Another time I was shown a large building going up on the site on which the Battle Creek
Sanitarium was afterward erected. The brethren were in great perplexity as to who should
take charge of the work. I wept sorely. One of authority stood up among us, and said, “Not
yet. You are not ready to invest

62
means in that building, or to plan for its future management.”

At this time the foundation of the sanitarium had been laid. But we needed to learn the
lesson of waiting.—Letter 135, 1903, quoted in Messenger, p. 11.

It should be noted here that it was not until June 16, 1868, a year after the construction began,
that James White announced, “The large building is given up for the present, and the material is
being sold. Still a debt of several thousands will be resting upon the Institute after this is done” (RH
31:409, June 16, 1868). Apparently months passed before the decision was made about what to do.
Such a delay does not support the contention of Prophetess of Health that James White’s actions
demonstrate “erratic” behavior.

At the meeting of the stockholders on May 15, 1868, James White and G. W. Amadon were
elected to the Board of Directors. J. P. Kellogg and N. N. Lunt were not re-elected. Thus in June,
when James White announced an alternative to the large building, he was an official member of the
board. A smaller building was to be built for $7,000. Then two cottages were to be purchased for
$6,000. Presumably this could be done as funds became available so that the project would not again
serve to unbalance the denominational resources. The total of these two proposed projects,
admittedly, would be $13,000, just $2,000 shy of the $15,000 that some felt would complete the
original plan. But the $15,000 was called for “immediately,” whereas the new plan required only
$7,000 for a smaller new building, then $6,000 when needed for additional space.

Based on these facts, Prophetess of Health should have:
1. Shown the true context and justification for the Uriah Smith letter of February 5.
2. Given a fuller account of the difficulties which were encountered in actually raising the amounts

called for.

Page 182

would place any particular significance in those words. But she might go on and say, “Brother
Haskell, in your work in Chicago,” so and so, and so and so, as she did in just such a letter. Both she
and he would understand that this part of the message was based on the light that God had given
her.

Ellen White drew the line between the sacred and the common. That is where we draw the line
today.


Ellen G. White Biographical Writings


In her preface to Spiritual Gifts, volume 2, a biographical work entitled “My Christian Experience,
Views and Labors,” Ellen White states:

In preparing the following pages, I have labored under great disadvantages, as I have had
to depend in many instances, on memory, having kept no journal till within a few years. In
several instances I have sent the manuscripts to friends who were present when the
circumstances related occurred, for their examination before they were put in print. I have
taken great care, and have spent much time, in endeavoring to state the simple facts as
correctly as possible.

I have, however, been much assisted in arriving at dates by the many letters which I
wrote.—Page iii.

The appendix appearing in the first 400 copies carried this statement:
A special request is made that if any find incorrect statements in this book they will

immediately inform me. The edition will be completed about the first of October; therefore
send before that time.

These statements at times have been drawn upon as an indication of the pains taken by Ellen G.
White in preparing her writings, and incidentally revealing the sources of her information. Such
information is used rightfully only as explaining the preparation of biographical material. To apply it to
her work in general is unwarranted and misleading.

We have but to turn to the preceding volume, Spiritual Gifts, volume 1, which appeared within six
months of the great controversy vision of March 14, 1858. It embodies the expressions, “I saw,” “I
was shown,” and so forth, more than once for each page of the book. Or we may turn to the third
volume of the series, published in 1864, and read in the preface:

Since the great facts of faith, connected with the history of holy men of old, have been
opened to me in vision…

In the biographical account she does not say, “I was shown that at the age of nine years an
accident happened to me which was to affect my whole life.” This information she got from her mother
and from her memory.

But in Spiritual Gifts, volume 3, subtitled Important Facts of Faith in Connection With the History of
Holy Men of Old she states, “I was then carried back to creation, and was shown…"

In none of the scores or more books issued during her life did she include words of the character
that appeared in the Preface of her biography of 1860, for the writing was in a different field.

A factual approach, then, to the question of inspiration helps us to see that the prophet could think
ordinary thoughts and could converse on ordinary topics. He refrained from confusing the sacred with
the common. He was careful not to set forth in his teachings his own opinions or conclusions, nor
were his messages molded by the current philosophies or concepts, even though the messages may
be couched in the phraseology of the times and deal with local conditions or situations. It was his task
to correctly present the message God entrusted to him.

Page 183

At times this was in marked contrast to current concepts. In presenting truths as revealed he was
aided by the Spirit of God. In his presentation there was the basic concept, at times embellished by
points drawn from his mind enriched and molded by the visions, and when dealing with certain
subjects, with some details drawn from sources of common knowledge—places, distances, dates,
and so forth. The prophet’s inspired message could embody an inaccuracy in a minor detail not
consequential to the basic concept or on a minor point in the field of common knowledge, the
“accuracy or inaccuracy, of which human research suffices to inform men.” This does not in any
measure diminish the weight or the authority of the statement as a whole.

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, book 1, p. 21.

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