Ellen White writing


The Ellen White Research Project: Exposing the Subtle Attack on the Bible's Authority
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Some of Her Critics Would Eventually Doubt the Bible

Update: August 21, 2005

Dirk Anderson has informed us that he considers it unfair for us to characterize him as someone who does not believe the Bible at all. We hope we have not left that impression.

The basic issue is that Ellen White predicted that some of those who would turn against her would come to "doubt . . . the Holy Scriptures" too. The question naturally arises, what would she consider to be doubt? In order to accurately determine whether her prediction has been fulfilled, we need to know what she meant by doubt.

We provided a description of Ellen White's views on the inspiration of Scripture elsewhere. To that description we add the following comments from our critic:

It is true that I do not subscribe to your fundamentalist "Jerry Fallwell" Bible inerrancy nonsense, but just because I do not interpret the Bible the same way you and EGW and Pat Robertson do does not mean I do not believe it.—"Re: ellenwhite.info needs revising," June 5, 2005.

By his own admission, then, as of June 5, 2005, he held views regarding the authority of Scripture that would likely be considered doubt by Ellen White herself. And this is the issue under consideration, not whether our critic doesn't believe the Bible at all.

But there is another more charitable possibility. It is possible that our critic hasn't thought through carefully how some of the objections he raises against Ellen White can also be used against Scripture. For example, one individual wrote us in July looking for more dirt on Ellen White. When we told him that we hesitate to attack Ellen White with any argument, such as plagiarism, that also undermines Scripture, he had this to say:

Not a problem.

The Bible can be a target. Let's face it. Moses was an Egyptian name. An Israelite leader would surely take an Israelite name!!!

Also, the story of [Moses] in a basket was a plagiarized story from the Babylonians.

And much much more...—"Re: Ellen White," July 28, 2005.

Most of the Old Testament has plagiaristic background.

The Exodus is extremely weak. The flood is clearly the Black Sea flood.

Moses or whoever just tied a bunch of oral legends together and wrote them done, an admirable feat. But very very inaccurate.—"Re: Ellen White," July 28, 2005.

Like we've said many times before, we don't buy such arguments in the least, but it does illustrate our legitimate concern that the arguments of plagiarism used against Ellen White can entirely destroy one's confidence in Scripture, since skeptics have been using the very same arguments for a long, long time.

It's possible that Dirk didn't think through some of these things when he launched his campaign against Ellen White, and thus isn't yet sure what he believes about the authority and inspiration of Scripture. Consider the following comment we received from him:

Let me tell you right now, the Bible could very well be inerrant, but the problem is we do not have the original writings.—"Re: Question: How would Ellen White view your comments?" July 30, 2005.

Thus while he said on June 5 that Ellen White's views on inerrancy are nonsense, on July 30 he wrote that the Bible might be inerrant. This suggests that he hadn't thought through some of these issues before launching his campaign. Or maybe he thinks the Bible may be inerrant in the autographs while Ellen White believed it to be inerrant still today.

We continue:

As Tony Bushby points out, the 'original' Greek text was not written until around the mid fourth century and was a revised edition of writings compiled decades earlier in Aramaic and Hebrew.—Ibid.

For those who haven't heard of Tony Bushby, he's the Australian that wrote the book, The Bible Fraud. According to promotional material about Bushby's book, you'll "discover":

  • "The staged crucifixion in Rome"
  • "The initiation of Jesus in Egypt"
  • "The names of Jesus' three Royal wives"
  • "Secret ciphers and forgery in the New Testament"
  • "The real lives of Jesus, his twin brother and their families"

Click on "Sample" in the menu on Tony Bushby's site, and down the page you'll get to read:

. . . consider the New Testament stories from a different perspective. By stripping away their supernatural elements, the earliest church writings relay a confused skeletal outline of the lives of two separate men. This work unravels those stories and shows how the New Testament came into being and what it really is.

And "what it really is" is hinted at by one of the book reviews posted on the site:

I have studied the history of the Bible most of my life and there seems to be no doubt that the entire New Testament is a fabrication created by edict of Constantine, a ruthless dictator not unlike Saddam Hussein. . . .

The fact is that facts in the Bible are not facts!!

And one of the letters from a reader says:

About 5 years ago, I came to the conclusion that the Bible was a fraud and that the entire belief in Jesus and "you shall be saved" was the biggest hoax against man, but I had no proof... .

... this amazing book has erased the guilt . . . .

If our critic wanted to reassure us that he has no doubts about the Bible, it would probably have been better to refer to someone else other than Tony Bushby.

Bushby is wrong when he says that the original Greek was not written until around the mid fourth century, since older Greek manuscripts than that have managed to survive. The textual apparatus of the United Bible Society's Greek New Testament (the part of the book that details all the many manuscripts that were used in producing that Greek edition) lists twelve Greek papyri from the third century, two more from the early third century, and four from about 200 AD. If we throw in one of the four from the late third century which contains Revelation, then the entire New Testament is represented by these 18 papyri. Thus, even if Bushby's theory were correct, his date for the composition of the Greek New Testament is off by a century or more. It therefore follows that Constantine the Great had nothing to do with producing the original Greek New Testament.

We'll quote a little more from Dirk, comparing his wording which is not in quotation marks with that from the online promotional material for Tony Bushby's book. We'll highlight the wording that's the same:

Dirk's Comments "Sample" from The Bible Fraud

As Tony Bushby points out, the 'original' Greek text was not written until around the mid fourth century and was a revised edition of writings compiled decades earlier in Aramaic and Hebrew. Those earlier documents no longer exist and the Bibles we have today are five linguistic removes from the first Bibles written. What was written in the 'original originals' is quite unknown. And I could go on and on about how the KJV was formulated, how King James controlled the whole process, how Francis Bacon (33rd degree mason) threw in stuff that wasn't in the originals, and how the King threw dissenting scholars into the dungeon to rot and die.—"Re: Question: How would Ellen White view your comments?" July 30, 2005.

. . . King James . . . '. . . passed the manuscripts on to the greatest genius of all time ...Sir Francis Bacon.' . . .

. . . Francis Bacon was initiated into the mysterious Order of the Knights Templar . . . .

He also encoded secret information into both the Old and New Testament. . . .

However, the 'original' Greek text was not written until around the mid-Fourth Century and was a revised edition of writings compiled decades earlier in Aramaic and Hebrew. Those earlier documents no longer exist and the Bibles we have today are five linguistic removes from the first Bibles written. What was written in the 'original originals' is quite unknown. It is important to remember that the words 'authorised' and 'original', as applied to the Bible,do not mean 'genuine', 'authentic' or 'true'.

Essentially we have 58 words in a row copied verbatim by our critic, even to the point of copying the British style single quote marks around the word "original," when in the U.S.A. double quote marks should have been used.

We do not recall offhand seeing anywhere in the writings of Ellen White where she copied 58 words in a row from another author and did not enclose those words in quotation marks.

That is why I say that we cannot hang upon every word in the KJV and say this came from God. It may have come from God, or it may have come from Francis Bacon, or a mistranslation between aramaic and greek [sic.], or a pious fraud by a monk copying the text. Therefore, instead of making unsupportable claims for Bible inerrancy, I believe it is best to focus on the important themes of the Bible.—"Re: Question: How would Ellen White view your comments?" July 30, 2005.

Our critic and Ellen White have this much in common: Neither believe that God dictated the words of the King James Version, and both allow for the possibility of a copyist error, though Ellen White never called such "a pious fraud." To the contrary, she had this to say:

Some look to us gravely and say, "Don't you think there might have been some mistake in the copyist or in the translators?" This is all probable, and the mind that is so narrow that it will hesitate and stumble over this possibility or probability would be just as ready to stumble over the mysteries of the Inspired Word, because their feeble minds cannot see through the purposes of God. Yes, they would just as easily stumble over plain facts that the common mind will accept . . . . All the mistakes will not cause trouble to one soul, or cause any feet to stumble, that would not manufacture difficulties from the plainest revealed truth.—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 16.

Regarding the themes of the Bible our critic refers to, he has repeatedly told us that he believes that the "themes of the Bible" are inspired, but thus far he has not told us that he believes that the thoughts expressed by the words of Scripture are inspired. In our mind, based on a conversation we had with a Catholic priest, there is a difference.

We asked this particular priest if the Church could really change something God wrote with His own finger on tables of stone, since Rome claims to have changed the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday. He replied that he didn't think that God wrote the 10 Commandments on tables of stone with His own finger. We were a bit surprised. We then enquired if he believed that God created the world in six days and that there was a worldwide flood in Noah's day. He replied that he did not, but he believed the themes behind those stories, that God created the world and that He will punish sin.

Thus, because of our previous conversation with this priest, we do not consider a belief in only the themes of the Bible to constitute a lack of doubt in the Bible as Ellen White defined doubt. While she did not believe that the Bible was dictated word for word as we define the word dictate today, she did believe that the thoughts expressed by the words of the Bible were inspired by God. God gave the writers the thoughts, and they selected from their own vocabulary words to express those thoughts, using their own characteristic writing styles. And to believe that the thoughts of the Bible are inspired, including that of a six-day creation and a worldwide flood, goes beyond believing that just the general themes of the Bible are inspired.

We have therefore enquired of our critic whether he believes that the thoughts of the Bible are inspired as well as the themes, despite all the claims skeptics make of the Bible's alleged plagiarism and errors of fact. As soon as we get an affirmative answer, we'll report it on our website. Especially since our critic is quite concerned that people know that he really does believe the Bible after all.

But then, if he does believe the Bible despite all the allegations of tampering by Francis Bacon and plagiarism, how will he continue to maintain that allegations of plagiarism in Ellen White's writings really are to be taken seriously? Especially when, as our analysis of chapter 5 of Desire of Ages shows, these charges of plagiarism against Ellen White are overwrought to the point of absurdity.

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