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EGW and inspiration


Stan

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(I may move this thread)

I am under the impression, from talking with post college kids, that the 'Church' taught, that God 'downloaded' all the knowledge and wisdom that EGW possessed.

How weird is that?

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Your point is well taken, Stan, that people can come away with all kinds of mistaken impressions of what the church teaches about Ellen White. Much of it is due to poor communication by the teachers, and some no doubt is due to wrong understanding on the part of Bible instructors and even pastors.

Some in the church have taught that God "dictated" the books that Ellen White wrote, but of course, that's a false view of how her books were written.

It's unfortunate that young people-- or anyone-- is still somehow getting the impression that God "downloaded" knowledge and wisdom to Ellen White.

God did give Ellen White dreams and visions but she wrote those messages in her own words. And as should be well known by now, she sometimes used the writings of others to express what God had shown her.

As a church we're really blessed to have Ellen White because of what we can learn through her about how God inspired the prophets and how they produced their writings.

When you've talked to these young people, have you drawn any conclusions about how they got those wrong impressions?

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Yes, that's true.

There were also some exceptions to that rule-- such as when she was given testimonies about particular people or situations in the church. There were even times when God gave her visions which helped establish doctrine, as in the Sabbath conferences of the early 1850s.

We could also mention the doctrines of the Investigative Judgment and the health message, which are supported by the Bible but which Ellen White's visions helped to clarify.

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We who live in an era saturated with video technology also assume the nature of visions to always be like a movie reply of events with vivid HD full surround sound and the ability to stop action, use slow motion, replay rewind to get missed bits, etc. It is all perfectly recorded from all angles, with complete surround sensory input even beyond sight and sound, so that the fire is felt and smelled.

The early precursors of current technology were barely in their infancy when EGW had her visions. Life was recorded and recalled quite differently. In that era one would most likely envision and recall experiences within that contextual framework.

Alternatively, we may also assume that visions are dreams, perhaps of some higher order - super-dreams, if you will. That would allow for a similar result of the video notion of visions.

But with rare exception the visions described in Scripture aren't really consistent with that view. Usually they were closer to our normal dream world as we regularly experience it. Some were sketchy. Others were confusing, chaotic, random, even a bit silly (cows eating cows, wheels within wheels, bundles of grain bowing...). Dreams were often forgotten and remembered only with some help or some time later. Often the dreams intersected in odd ways with current or past events and memories or knowledge in the mind of the one having the dream/vision.

The way the human brain functions and God's interface with it have not changed so dramatically since the beginning to support that EGW's visions were really much different from the dreamers of ancient times or how we might experience a dream now. (If it has changed, maybe there is something to evolution...)

That said, dramatic dreams can be vivid, rich with detail, almost HD realism to the point that the experience is astoundingly realistic. And for those of us with the somewhat unique ability of lucid dreaming, dreaming can be an interactive experience. We become an active player in the dream, able to engage our conscious imagination, experiences, knowledge, intelligence to develop and effectively manipulate the dream as it unfolds.

But recalling dreams, even those in which we have played an interactive role, functions quite the same as recalling most any other real and live experience. The recall tends to lose details, muddles others and yes adds other details. Perception is a tricky thing, and no less so in a dream world. It all becomes rather subjective and skewed by prior experience, knowledge, emotion, etc. If the dream is of something unfamiliar, never before seen or experienced, the recall will depend on what has been experienced - Ezekiel's mysterious visions of God and heavenly things described to the best of his ability.

Now what about EGW? She described her own visions as being on the order of snapshots - static scenes flashing before her eyes. Some were more experienced as if being in the scene. In some she was given some explanation by her guide, others not. She then later had to recall and reconstruct, and make sense of what she saw and heard. It is known that she, along with her staff, read and researched history and other religious commentators to complete, confirm and elaborate on what she saw in vision. Certainly, God gave strength and mental clarity to carry out that process, but it still depended on and was restricted to her human limitations. Therefore it was not perfect and the results far from infallible.

Tom

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Great post, Tom.

Dreams in itself is an interesting subject. With some dreams being extremely real and usually base their concepts from the reality of the person dreaming... how are we to differentiate from Dreams from God, or mere creation of subconscious mind, especially if these dreams would not contradict the Word of God?

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Wouldn't you think that if EGW had these visions from God, and I believe that she did, that as she went to write them down on paper that the HS would help with the recalling of said vision. This is just a thought. Just the same in a sense as the Bible was put together. You could also say that everything written down also needed the HS to help, at least the Prophets that had visions as Daniel and John. They would of had plenty to remember and would have written this down after the visions. I'm not trying to put her on par with the Bible writers, but given that she has been said to also be a prophet I would tend to believe that God would have made sure that she recalled as much as possible. Until we get to heaven we will never really know for sure her statis per God, but I would deffinitly give her the benefit of the doubt. I'm not saying that you have to agree with all she says, that's up to each person. But to dismiss anyone for accepting her as a prophet is not right. I have no less respect for anyone that does not see her in that roll. Because that's what it seems like to me. Just my 5 cents worth.

pk

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The ancients tended to believe all dreams were important and somehow of divine origin. Even to us, they sometimes have an "other worldly" quality that seems mysteriously beyond our present reality. Because dreams seem to come to mind apart from conscious effort or intent, the ancient belief seems understandable. And dreams having a divine source is well supported by the fact that dreams can and do come true in some sense or are a source of problem solving, wisdom, insight or preparation for future events.

I have no doubt that the HS does play a role in recalling visions, just as the HS gives wisdom, insight and inspiration for many good things. But I think it an important distinction to understand that process is not a "channeling" experience like the New Agers "experience". The erroneous thinking of those who subscribe to a verbal inspiration understanding of how men of old wrote Scripture, and even EGW's writings, is dangerously close to that occultish phenomenon.

I think that inspiration is more on the order of motivation, a prompting or sense of urgency, to do something. That may take the form of a very specific thought or word, or just a feeling or sense about something that one is reading, witnessing or doing as being of such an extraordinary nature that it must be important. An inspired dream would be accompanied by a sense of its importance or urgency, especially if it was mysterious hard to understand.

I think we give far too much credit for the final detail produced by inspiration as being sacred and perfect. The source of inspiration may be holy, but the product of inspiration is still filtered through human limitations and produced by human hands and minds.

Tom

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Tom,

Interesting posts even though they seem rather shallow in understanding the power of a Creator God that is willing to have His will shown to a willing recipient. Most believe that even the most intelligent of individuals use a fraction of the mind in contemplation of any subject. Not so with a "prophet". Their mental power is not of an earthly origin, it is given from an Heavenly. Their capabilities are vastly different than from the "lay member" in that they are a willing tool to be used by the Most High, for we all understand that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." 2 Tim 3:16,17. Notwithstanding the truth that the most privileged (prophets) to walk this black hole of a planet (fallen), have seemed to be brutalized by those that care not for the message. However the message is the message.

I would ask that if you are going to give us your theory of the workings of the HS that you would remember to include the words "in my opinion" with them.

"I think we give far too much credit for the final detail produced by inspiration as being sacred and perfect. The source of inspiration may be holy, but the product of inspiration is still filtered through human limitations and produced by human hands and minds."

That is a joke right? It verges on an individual that has faith only in his opinion...in my opinion.

"Sinless perfection is such a shallow goal."?! Paaalease...

Peace

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Not so with a "prophet". Their mental power is not of an earthly origin, it is given from an Heavenly. Their capabilities are vastly different than from the "lay member" in that they are a willing tool to be used by the Most High...

Lest you be put to your own directive about opining - give us some Scriptural evidence that prophets have super mental powers different from and unavailable to the rest of us mere mortals

Quote:
I would ask that if you are going to give us your theory of the workings of the HS that you would remember to include the words "in my opinion" with them.

When I use my own words that would be sort of a process of expressing "my opinion", so that kind of goes without say. A maxim of writing is that if you have to preface a remark with "It goes without say" or "Needless to say", the remark simply should be omitted as unnecessary. Nonetheless, look at the last bolded statement of my signature line... I offer, as we all do here, nothing but my opinions except as I specifically reference or quote another.

Originally Posted By: BSW
Quote:
"I think we give far too much credit for the final detail produced by inspiration as being sacred and perfect. The source of inspiration may be holy, but the product of inspiration is still filtered through human limitations and produced by human hands and minds."

That is a joke right? It verges on an individual that has faith only in his opinion...in my opinion.

One must read carefully to avoid a shallow comprehension... Again, you might take note of what EGW herself says about the process of inspiration. In short, not verbal inspiration... And at the risk of pounding too hard on a dead horse... A statement that begins with "I think" is an opinion. Faith basically being belief and confidence, I am confident of my opinions and believe what I say, else I wouldn't express them. But it hardly follows that because I express my own opinions that I have faith only in my own opinions. My opinions are built on a firmer foundation than my own limitations.

Quote:
"Sinless perfection is such a shallow goal."?! Paaalease...

We have already covered this elsewhere. Sorry you missed it. But let me try a brief synopsis. Sinless perfect, as commonly pressed upon sincere Christians, is reaching a state of not committing sins anymore. On that basis, death is a perfect cure for sinning, because dead men commit no sins. If being perfect is simply about not sinning, it is indeed a very shallow goal. But Jesus advocated going beyond that - living a righteous life, one not simply avoiding sin, but one of actually doing good. And He said it starts within you. That goes much deeper.

Tom

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I tend to agree with Tom on that matter. Simply because God steps down to our level of understanding when he explains things... not the other way around.

So, the inspiration is not independent of the prior experiences and education, and that's why I believe God prepared certain prophets for the job. Take Moses for example. His life was speared in such a way that gave his a superior education and understanding that many Jews would not have. The same with Paul, who was a different kind of a prophet. In Paul's case, the foundations were already there... only his perspective on these was incorrect. So, when the final piece of puzzle came, all the prior education and knowledge snapped into place.

A simple definition of a prophet is:

A man called of God to teach the people on earth his commandments.

I tend to think of the prophets as direct reciters of the news. Any other function can be carried out by anyone else... such as teaching and correcting... but direct recitation can not be.

Therefore, E.G.White's messages could be called prophetic only in areas where she directly recites the Word of God as she heard it. Anything extra would be categorized as teaching and understanding.

We can all agree that most of her writings is not a direct recitation or description of dreams, therefore not all of her writings should be considered prophetic.

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Quote:
give us some Scriptural evidence that prophets have super mental powers different from and unavailable to the rest of us mere mortals

Just off the top of my head:

Gideon, 300 verses 1000's, had not Christ given him the mental strength (faith), it would have seemed suicidal.

Samuel, had he not been given the mental power to anoint the proper son of Jesse?

Elijah had the mental strength to know that through himself Christ could raise that youngster.

John the baptist knew when none else that Jesus was indeed the Son of God which taketh away the sin of the world.

Peter was a bigot, had not the mercy of a Creator's love for his spiritual perspective been present, he would no doubt have not seen the need of Gentiles helping out.

Josiah was named by a prophet hundreds of years prior to his birth.

EGW mental perception (given from Christ) on the hazards of smoking, when smoking was considered a health discipline. Not to mention the national Sunday law that seems to be growing in popularity.

On and on and on.

However, one must understand that the prophet in and of themselves had no more mental or spiritual power for that matter than the educational background they recieved. It seems to me that it was all given from above.

Quote:
When I use my own words that would be sort of a process of expressing "my opinion", so that kind of goes without say. A maxim of writing is that if you have to preface a remark with "It goes without say" or "Needless to say", the remark simply should be omitted as unnecessary.

I am not that well versed in English to understand the logic behind your reasoning. Thank you for the clarification. I in the future will try not to sound so crass.

In regards to "sinless perfection..." It came across to me that you do not understand the context as I read it to mean, meaning, sinless perfection IS righteousness; not in my eyes, but in the eyes of the unfallen. Therefore to have sinless perfection is to be righteous, which is the highest of our high calling in Christ Jesus. To die in Christ is to live in Him. To die in the flesh is death. My understanding of avoiding sin is far from sinlessness or righteous, why? because it is self centered, it is just a branch, totally contrary to the teaching of our Master.

Ephesians 5:9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)

Peace

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I have to agree that God comes down to our level. I would tend to believe that most of the Prophets were not in the top of there class. Exceptions like you say Moses for one, I would add Daniel. These 3 we know were well educated but there are some like Samuel, Elijah and Elisha who the Bible doesn't say what kind of education they had but I would say they had pretty good education also. Probably a few more. But many that were probably less educated, like EGW. I'm not sure I would classify Paul as a prophet, but you could be right. I would say he would be listed as an apostle or disciple. That's not saying that he couldn't be. I always thought that a prophet was one that spoke to the people what God needed to tell them at that moment in time. Plus let them know what was going to happen to them in the near or sometimes distant future. I think that the description that you give is more like a teacher, disciple or one of the apostle's like Peter, Luke and the rest who did teach and preach to the people. Just my 5 cents worth.

pk

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Getting back to the thread, EGW and inspiration, I would also note that to my knowledge no other 3rd grade formal educated person wrote a commentary that even comes close to the conflict of ages series. Some say she took liberties, however, I am one (and I am not alone) that believes it was inspired and she has inspired more individuals to give their lives to Jesus than any other commentary writer to my knowledge. Her inspired writings have almost single handedly made the Seventh day Adventist faith one that has born the test of time and will bear the test of events that have not even taken place yet. How? because of her willingness to be used to reach souls for Christ to help those willing to prepare their minds and bodies for that time, regardless if you are SDA or not. The lesser light pointing to the greater. Every word inspired? IMO yes!! - and I long for the day that I can thank her personally for all the help that her works have done for and to me and my family, notwithstanding every word overflowed from the living fountain, Christ Jesus.

Romans 14:22-23

Peace

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I agree 100% BSW, that's why I mentioned that we really don't know what kind of education or even training that some of these prophets in the OT had. EGW probably had less education than anyone in the Bible. Yet she was able to put together like you said an unbelievable amount of writings. And I agree had to be inspired by God.

pk

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Getting back to the thread, EGW and inspiration, I would also note that to my knowledge no other 3rd grade formal educated person wrote a commentary that even comes close to the conflict of ages series.

Peace

I think that one of the most misleading things to say is that E.G. White had an education of a third grader. She did not, much of the education in the past was left to the person, to read and to study out. They did not have a well organized education system, so much of it was done at home.

Take our nations first president as an example. He had a couple months worth of formal education, yet I don't think that by today's standards you would consider him to be uneducated.

So, I don't like when people state that as an example of some sort of miracle. She had a very extensive library, and I think it's fair to say the she read a lot, and could write fairly well.

Likewise, Muslims for example, claim that a proof of the authenticity of their prophet is that he was illiterate... yet he penned Quran.

I think that it is fairly obvious that both of the above described were fairly educated on the subject matter (but one of them was a false prophet... I'll let you guess which one).

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I am one (and I am not alone) that believes it was inspired and she has inspired more individuals to give their lives to Jesus than any other commentary writer to my knowledge. Her inspired writings have almost single handedly made the Seventh day Adventist faith one that has born the test of time and will bear the test of events that have not even taken place yet.

Peace

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Originally Posted By: BSW
I am one (and I am not alone) that believes it was inspired and she has inspired more individuals to give their lives to Jesus than any other commentary writer to my knowledge. Her inspired writings have almost single handedly made the Seventh day Adventist faith one that has born the test of time and will bear the test of events that have not even taken place yet.

Peace

BSW, I don't think anyone here is saying that EGW wasn't inspired or considered a messenger from God.

It's being said by some that Ellen White was inspired in the same way that the reformers were "inspired," and in the same way that some preachers and ministers were "inspired." In other words, there is a down-grading of what it means to be "inspired," and a confusion of the various gifts of the spirit. Some apparently see no difference between the gift of prophecy and the gift of pastoring or teaching.

There are still others who are saying it doesn't matter whether Ellen White is a true prophet or not.

We're all familiar with John Harvey Kellogg. He reached the point finally where he said he believed in Ellen White at the same time that he was teaching people to disbelieve in her. Ellen White wrote that this would happen more and more as we draw closer to the Second Coming.

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In other words, there is a down-grading of what it means to be "inspired," and a confusion of the various gifts of the spirit. Some apparently see no difference between the gift of prophecy and the gift of pastoring or teaching.
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