Waggoner, Jones, and the Whites stood in harmony with each other on the proper way to resolve theological issues. All held that the Bible is the only determiner of Christian belief. As a result, they were united against the attempts of the traditionalists to utilize any other form of authority to settle biblical issues.
Ellen White was particularly insis- tent on the need for Bible study in dealing with theological disputes. In April 1887, for example, she wrote to Butler and Smith that “we want Bible evidence for every point we advance. We do not want to tide over points as Elder Canright has done with assertions.”1 In July 1888, she set forth her position with the greatest clarity when she published in the Review that “the Bible is the only rule of faith and doctrine.” 2
And on August 5, 1888, she told her readers to “search the Scriptures carefully to see what is truth,” adding that “the truth can lose nothing by close investigation. Let the Word of God speak for itself, let it be its own interpreter.” “The Word of God is the great detector of error; to it we believe everything must be brought. The Bible must be our standard for every doctrine. . . . We are to receive no one’s opinion without comparing it with the Scriptures. Here is divine authority which is supreme in matters of faith. It is the word of the living God that is to decide all controversies.”3
Ellen White also drummed home that message during her last presentation at Minneapolis: “The Scriptures must be your study, then you will know that you have the truth. . . . You should not believe any doctrine simply because another says it is truth. You should not believe it because Elder Smith, or Elder Kilgore, or Elder Van Horn, or Elder Haskell says it is truth, but because God’s voice has declared it in His living Oracles.”4 She could have as easily added her own name to that list, given the position that she had taken during the meetings.
Thank you, Lord, for Your Word in the Bible. Today we want to recommit our lives to the daily study of it with more persistence and energy. —Reprint of George R. Knight, Lest We Forget (Hagerstown, MD: Review & Herald Pub. Assn., 2008).
1 Ellen G. White, Letter 13, 1887.
2 Ellen G. White, “The Value of Bible Study,” Review and Herald, July 17, 1888; emphasis added.
3 Ellen G. White, Letter 20, 1888; emphasis added.
4 Ellen G. White, Manuscript 15, 1888.