Ellen G. White

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This article is about Ellen White's biography. For the discussion of her prophetic gift,see Inspiration of Ellen White.

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Ellen Gould White
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James and Ellen White

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Born November 26, 1827
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Ellen Gould White (née Harmon) (November 26, 1827July 16,1915) born to Robert and Eunice Harmon, was an American Christian leader whose prophetic ministry was instrumental in founding the Sabbatarian Adventist movement that led to the rise of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Supporters of Ellen G. White regard her as a modern-day prophet, usually expressed in the language that she exhibited the spiritual gift of prophecy as outlined in the New Testament. Adventists do not consider this to conflict with the Reformation principle Sola Scriptura ("by scripture alone"), because the Bible is believed to be superior to her writings. Her restorationist writings showcase the hand of God in Seventh-day Adventist history. This cosmic conflict, referred to as the "great controversy theme", is foundational to the development of Seventh-day Adventist theology. Her involvement with other Sabbatarian Adventist leaders such as Joseph Bates and her husband James White would create a nucleus of believers around which a core group of shared beliefs would emerge. Ellen White believed that at the close of earth's history Jesus Christ would return to this earth to gather His people and take them to heaven.

White was a controversial figure even within her own lifetime. She claimed to have received a vision soon after the Millerite Great Disappointment. In the context of many other visionaries, she was known for her conviction and fervent faith. White is the most translated female non-fiction author in the history of literature as well as the most translated American non-fiction author of either gender.<ref name="estatebio">{{

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}}</ref> Her writings covered topics of theology, evangelism, Christian lifestyle, education and health (she also advocated vegetarianism). She was a leader who emphasized education and health and promoted establishment of schools and medical centers. During her lifetime she wrote more than 5,000 periodical articles and 40 books; but today, including compilations from her 50,000 pages of manuscript, more than 100 titles are available in English. Some of her more popular books include, Steps to Christ, The Desire of Ages, and The Great Controversy. Adventists believe she experienced over 2,000 visions.

Adherents to the Seventh-day Adventist Church originating from the "Millerite" movement, including Ellen White's teachings, currently number nearly 15 million in membership<ref name="CouncilStats">Template:Cite conference</ref> with an estimated twenty five million in attendance worldwide.<ref>Template:Cite press release</ref>

Contents

Early life, family, and religious experiences

Part of a Series on
Seventh-day Adventism
James and Ellen White

History
Christianity · Protestantism
Anabaptists · Restorationism
Pietism · Millerites
Great Disappointment

People
Ellen G. White
Joseph Bates · Uriah Smith
John Nevins Andrews· James Springer White

Distinctive teachings
Sabbath · Conditional Immortality
Historicism · Premillennialism
Investigative judgment · Remnant
Three Angels' Messages
Eschatology

Other Adventists
Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement
Shepherd's Rod
Advent Christian Church
Church of God General Conference

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At age 9 on her way home from school, Ellen Harmon was seriously injured when she was struck in the nose by a rock thrown by a schoolmate. Severely traumatized, she remained unconscious for three weeks. She later recovered but the injury prevented her from being able to continue her education. The two or three years of education she had received was quite typical for an American girl during the 1830s.<ref>{{

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It was during this ordeal that Ellen Harmon had her first "conversion experience" She would later write, "This misfortune, which for a time seemed so bitter and was so hard to bear, has proved to be a blessing in disguise. The cruel blow which blighted the joys of earth, was the means of turning my eyes to heaven. I might never had known Jesus, had not the sorrow that clouded my early years led me to seek comfort in him." (Review and Herald, Nov. 25, 1884, par.2)

In 1840, at age 12, her family became involved with the Millerite movement. Attending William Miller lectures Ellen began to feel that she was guilty of sin, and she was filled with terror about being eternally lost. She describes herself as spending nights in tears and prayer, and being in this condition for several months. Historian Merlin Burt points to a three-step conversion process. She was baptized by John Hobart in Casco Bay in Portland, Maine, and eagerly awaited for Jesus to come again. After her conversion, in her later years, she referred to this as the happiest time of her life. Her family's involvement with Millerism caused the Methodist church they attended to disfellowship all of them.<ref>{{

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Some individuals have expressed curiosity regarding her racial ancestry, suggesting that her darker complexion could point to some African-American heritage (in particular, Adventist author Roger L. Dudley) . The Ellen G. White Estate commissioned a professional genealogist to research her ancestry, who concluded that she was of Anglo-Saxon origin.<ref>http://www.whiteestate.org/issues/genealogy.html</ref> See her ancestral chart (JPG).

Early ministry

Adventists believe Ellen White received her first vision in December 1844, shortly after the Great Disappointment in October that year. She stated that she was with five other women in the home of Mrs. Haines in Portland, Maine. Her first vision was a depiction of the Adventist people following Jesus, marching to the city (Heaven). Upon receiving the vision, White prayed all day that God would not make her share it.<ref>{{#if:

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}} </ref> This vision was taken by those around her as an encouraging sign after the devastation of the Great Disappointment. She was encouraged both in subsequent visions and by fellow church members to more broadly share her message, which she did through public speaking, articles in religious periodicals, and eventually early broadsides and pamphlets.<ref>{{

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Ellen White described the vision experience as involving a bright light which would surround her. In these visions she would be in the presence of Jesus or angels, who would show her events (historical and future) and places (on earth, in heaven, or other planets), or give her information. She described the end of her visions as involving a return to the darkness of the earth.

The transcriptions of White's visions generally contain theology, prophecy, or personal counsels to individuals or to Adventist leaders. One of the best examples of her personal counsels is found in a 9-volume series of books entitled Testimonies for the Church, that contains edited testimonies published for the general edification of the church. The spoken and written versions of her visions played a significant part in establishing and shaping the organizational structure of the emerging Sabbatarian Adventist Church. Her visions and writings continue to be used by church leaders in developing the church's policies and for devotional reading.

On March 14, 1858, in Lovett's Grove, Ohio, White received a vision while attending a funeral service. On that day James White wrote that "God manifested His power in a wonderful manner" adding that "several had decided to keep the Lord's Sabbath and go with the people of God." In writing about the vision, she stated that she received practical instruction for church members, and more significantly, a cosmic sweep of the conflict "between Christ and His angels, and Satan and his angels." Ellen White would expand upon this great controversy theme which would eventually culminate in the Conflict of the Ages series.<ref>{{

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Middle life

From 1861 to 1881 Ellen White's prophetic ministry became increasingly recognized among Sabbatarian Adventists. Her frequent articles in the Review and Herald (now the Adventist Review) and other church publications were a unifying influence to the beginning church. She supported her husband in the church's need for formal organization. The result was the organization of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1863. During the 1860s and 1870s the Whites participated in the founding of the denomination's first medical institution (1866) and school (1874). Her husband James White died in 1881.

Later ministry

After 1882 Ellen White was assisted by a close circle of friends and associates. She employed a number of literary assistants who would help her in preparing her writings for publications. She also carried on an extensive correspondence with church leaders. She then traveled to Europe on her first international trip. Upon her return she promoted E. J. Waggoner and A. T. Jones, young ministers, in preparation for a more Christ-centered theology for the church. When church leaders resisted her counsel on various matters, she was sent to Australia as a missionary.

Final years of ministry and death

EGW In Memoriam.jpg

Ellen White returned to the United States in 1900, settling in Elmshaven, California. At first she thought her stay would be temporary and she called for church re-organization at the pivotal 1901 General Conference Session. During her later years she wrote extensively for church publications and wrote her final books, including a new edition with historical revisions expounding the title, The Great Controversy (1911). During her final years she would travel less frequently as she concentrated upon writing her last works for the church. Ellen White died July 16, 1915, at her home in Elmshaven, which is now an Adventist Historical Site.

Major teachings

Health reform

Ellen White expounded greatly on the subject of health and nutrition, as well as healthy eating and a balanced diet. At the behest of Ellen White, the Seventh-day Adventist Church first established the innovative Western Health Reform Institute in Battle Creek, Michigan in 1866, to care for the sick as well as to disseminate health instruction.<ref>"Adventist Health," Company Histories, FundingUniverse.[1]</ref> Over the years, other Adventist sanitariums were established around the country. These sanitariums evolved into hospitals, forming the backbone of the Adventists' medical network and, in 1972, forming the Adventist Health System.

White's idea of health reform included vegetarianism. This was in a day and age where "meat and two vegetables" was the standard meal for a typical North American. Her health message inspired a health food revolution starting with Dr. John Harvey Kellogg in his creation of Corn Flakes. The Sanitarium Health Food Company as it is now known was also started by this health principle. It is also based on her health principles that Dr. Kellogg differed from his brother's views on the sugar content of their Corn Flake breakfast cereal. The latter started Kellogg Company.

Her views are expressed in the writings Healthful Living (1897, 1898) and The Health Food Ministry (1970) and The Ministry of Healing (1905).

Education

White's idea of creating a Christian educational system and its importance in society is detailed in her writings Christian Education (1893, 1894) and Education (1903).

Theology

Arthur Patrick believes that White was evangelical, in that she had high regard for the Bible, saw the cross as central, supported righteousness by faith, believed in Christian activism, and sought to restore New Testament Christianity.<ref>Arthur Patrick, "An Adventist and an Evangelical in Australia? The Case of Ellen White In The 1890s." in Lucas: An Evangelical History Review No. 12, December 1991</ref>

Major writings

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Some of her most well known known books are:<ref>List consists of titles in Selection of Ellen G. White's® Best-Known Books</ref>

Conflict of the Ages series

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During her lifetime she wrote more than 5,000 periodical articles, 40 books, and experienced over 2000 visions, Adventists believe. Today over 100 titles are available in English, including compilations from her 50,000 manuscript pages.

Book links are to the official Ellen White website, and also available as E-books.

Historic legacy

Ellen G. White Estate, Inc.

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