Editorial

Profiting From His Prophet

THE particular title of this editorial is one that is used in our health section. The January subtitle read, "Ellen G. White's Comments on the Value of Exercise With Scientific Confirmation." An interesting and provocative response from one of our readers indicated concern over our use of the term prophet. To him our title seemed to indicate that what a prophet says is not only divinely inspired but also should be new and original. Thus, any scientific confirmation of what Ellen White said places her writings in the realm of foreknowledge. . .

-Editor of Ministry at the time this article was written

THE particular title of this editorial is one that is used in our health section. The January subtitle read, "Ellen G. White's Comments on the Value of Exercise With Scientific Confirmation." An interesting and provocative response from one of our readers indicated concern over our use of the term prophet. To him our title seemed to indicate that what a prophet says is not only divinely inspired but also should be new and original. Thus, any scientific confirmation of what Ellen White said places her writings in the realm of foreknowledge.

Our correspondent pointed out that many individuals prior to her time made similar statements. For instance, on the subject of exercise Cicero, who lived nearly a century before the birth of Christ, emphasized the necessity of exercise for maintaining good health. Others living in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries thought and wrote the same. Our brother suggested that before we published anything in our periodicals to prove Mrs. White's "foreknowledge," a thorough study should be made of the works of writers who predate her. He felt that any "scientific confirmation" only proves the correctness of her predecessors who wrote without claiming divine revelation as their authority. The question is: If men during past centuries hit on certain facts not based on special revelation from God but rather were the result of observation, reason, and more often common sense, much of which was common knowledge be fore Mrs. White's time, why should God repeat these truths through special revelation? This is a good question, and it deserves an answer.

D. E. Robinson in his book The Story of Our Health Message throws light on the subject. Robinson makes it clear that there were those, such as Joseph Bates, who had correct insights on disease, its causes and cures, before the epochal day of June 6, 1863, when Ellen White had a vision at Otsego, Michigan. She wrote concerning this experience " 'that the great subject of health reform was opened before me in vision' " (page 76).

Information conveyed to Ellen White in that important vision and in subsequent ones, laid down certain principles that were scientifically correct and generally were far in advance of medical knowledge of that day. But this is not the most significant contribution made by the Spirit of Prophecy. What is the most significant contribution?

Simply this. There is an indissoluble union among physical, mental, and spiritual health. A man's spirituality is affected by his physical habits. Intemperance in any form affects a man's life not only at the moment but eternally. Any defects in our manner of living threaten our entire existence. In view of this, our health message is as important a doctrine as any other. It is a definite part of the three angels' mes sages, and to omit the health message, either in practice or in teaching, violates the will of God as much as if we ignored other basic truths.

Elder J. H. Waggoner in the August 7, 1866, Review and Herald, beautifully clarified this point: "We do not profess to be pioneers in the general principles of the health reform. The facts on which this movement is based have been elaborated, in a great measure, by reformers, physicians, and writers on physiology and hygiene, and so may be found scattered through the land. But we do claim that by the method of God's choice it has been more clearly and powerfully unfolded, and is thereby producing an effect which we could not have looked for from any other means.

"As mere physiological and hygienic truths, they might be studied by some at their leisure, and by others laid aside as of little consequence; but when placed on a level with the great truths of the third angel's message by the sanction and authority of God's Spirit, and so declared to be the means whereby a weak people may be made strong to overcome, and our diseased bodies cleansed and fitted for translation, then it comes to us as an essential part of present truth, to be received with the blessing of God, or rejected at our peril."

The Advent Movement is a continuation of the Reformation. God in these final days is bringing to the world, through His appointed agency His church the whole truth for the whole world to make man whole. The preaching of the whole truth is the business of the Advent Movement.

As to whether Ellen White's writings were original or new in the area of healthful living is unimportant. There is nothing new under the sun! Much of the teachings of the Old and New Testament prophets probably were enunciated by pagans who predated them. I seriously doubt that Christ said much in some areas that had not been said in principle by some of the philosophers who lived prior to His incarnation. But divine sanction was given to the words Christ spoke. All truth, whether spoken by pagans or worshipers of God, has for its original source the mind of God. The glorious truth about the Scriptures and the Spirit of Prophecy is that God has preserved His plan for man. That plan as found in these writings has not been mixed with error. What we can get from the Scriptures and the Spirit of Prophecy is pure truth. The wheat and the tares have been verbally separated. Do we really appreciate this point?

If Adele Davis, author of several volumes on nutrition, had lived and written one hundred years prior to Ellen White's time and you read one of her books, how could you competently separate fact from fancy? Much of what Adele Davis has written is true, but some of it evidently is fanciful (see Nov., 1972, Life and Health). To continue our illustration, say that Ellen White came along and made similar statements as those found in Adele Davis' books. Should I be disturbed and perhaps question her prophetic gift? Never! As a believer of the Spirit of Prophecy 1 would be convinced that the concepts that were similar to those in Adele Davis' books were absolute truth, because God guided Ellen White in a special way. There are no tares in this modern wheat field of truth. But 1 can never assume the same attitude toward, the writings of Adele Davis, Cicero, Paul Dudley White, or any other eminent uninspired author.

As to the suggestion that we study all the writings in the health area that predate Mrs. White, I can thank God that this is unnecessary. Inasmuch as her writings were inspired, I am saved the impossible task of searching out what everybody has said on the subject. Furthermore, I can be assured that what I find in the Spirit of Prophecy is unquestionably true, and I never need fear being led into the paths of falsehood and error. Life's highways are strewn with the wreckage of those who have followed partial truth mixed with much error.

If one has to follow the suggestion to study everything on health prior to Ellen White's day, then by the same token one should study everything in religion prior to the days of Christ, Isaiah, Daniel, or John. The words of Lindsay A. Semmens, my college Bible teacher, are pertinent at this point: "Why wade through fifty feet of sewage in order to find one scintilla of truth when God has given it to us in such a beautiful and complete form?"

This does not mean that 1 will never read anyone else's writings, but when it comes to finding and understanding truth, let us go to the unpolluted source. Praise Cod for His love and let us as ministers share with the world the wealth of saving truth we have.


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-Editor of Ministry at the time this article was written

May 1973

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