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The role of the Ellen G. White writings in doctrinal matters

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Archives / 1980 / October



The role of the Ellen G. White writings in doctrinal matters


The Seventh-day Adventist Church from its beginning has recognized the existence of the gifts of the Spirit as promised by our Lord for building up the body of Christ. Among these is the gift of prophecy (Eph. 4:10-13). The following statement on the gift of prophecy was adopted at the General Conference session in April, 1980, as part of the Statement of Fundamental Beliefs:

"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 and 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."

The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are divinely inspired. This canon of Scripture is the standard of faith and practice. Ellen G. White was inspired in the same sense as were the Bible prophets, but her ministry and writings were given to exalt the Bible. Ellen G. White's writings, by her own testimony, were not intended to give new doctrine, but to direct minds to the truths already revealed in Scripture (Testimonies, vol. 5, pp. 663-665; Early Writings, p. 78).

While the fundamental doctrines of the church are structured on the authority of Biblical writers, expanded under standing and insight toward their full development may be found in Ellen G. White's writings. These writings also confirm Biblical truth, without in the least intending to inhibit serious research built upon sound principles of interpretation.

Recognizing that the operation of the Holy Spirit in the life and writings of Ellen G. White over a period of approximately 70 years resulted in a growth of her understanding of the Bible and God's activities in behalf of humanity, we believe that her authority transcends that of all non-inspired interpreters.

We see need for a careful exposition of the Ellen G. White writings. Not all her uses of Scripture were designed to provide a strict exposition of the Biblical text. At times she employs Scripture homiletically. At other times she looses passages from their Biblical context for special applications. Again, she may use Biblical language merely for literary style. Ellen G. White's total context and situation in life, with attention to time and place, must always be taken into consideration.

We affirm that the Ellen G. White writings are significant for our day as underscored by her statement "Whether or not my life is spared, my writings will constantly speak, and their work will go forward as long as time shall last." —Selected Messages, book 1, p. 55.

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