The early and mid-nineteenth century was a time of spiritual enlightenment. It wasn’t unusual to attend a religious meeting and observe someone experiencing visionary and charismatic manifestations. Such experiences were not seen as strange or fanatical but were viewed as a sign of God’s power and acceptance. So, in and of itself, Ellen White’s gift of prophecy was not unique or extraordinary but was right in line with the milieu of her time.
So how did Sabbatarian Adventists come to accept her gift as truly prophetic compared to all the others prevalent at that time? It came about through four developmental stages in early Adventism (1844-1889). In Accepting Ellen White, Theodore Levterov examines each stage, its challenges, and the conclusions that eventually led Seventh-day Adventists to complete acceptance of Ellen White’s prophetic gift.
Several useful lessons for dealing with the gift of prophecy today can be learned from these stages of acceptance. First, the Adventist acceptance of the modern manifestation of the prophetic gift is based on the Bible and its teachings. Second, a belief in the gift of prophecy cannot be imposed—it must be experienced. A third lesson to be drawn is that acceptance of Ellen White’s gift has enabled the church to put the doctrine of spiritual gifts into a balanced perspective within its overall theology.
It is important to note that since 1889, questions over the Seventh-day Adventist understanding of Ellen White and her ministry have continued to appear. In spite of these ongoing controversies, Seventh-day Adventism has continued to defend its understanding of and confirm its belief in the prophetic gift of Ellen White that was affirmed through Bible study and prayer in those early years.
|Author||Theodore N. Levterov|