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The Ellen White Research Project: Exposing the Subtle Attack on the Bible's Authority
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Dirk Anderson and ellenwhite.org

Dirk Anderson

Dirk was an Adventist of a conservative bent. Wanting to defend Ellen White against criticism he felt to be unjust, he registered the domain ellenwhite.org. Then, after doing some research and becoming convinced that the critics had a case, he turned his apologetic web site into one critical of Ellen G. White. Today his site is one of the more prominent ones on the internet.

Dialogue #1: Same Dress, Slightly Modified

Our first occasion to contact Dirk was on May 4, 2002. We had discovered a discrepancy in a book that can be downloaded from his web site, and wanted to alert him to the problem. In that book Dudley Canright, who turned against Ellen White in the 1880's, criticized Ellen White for advocating the "same dress" "slightly modified" in 1864 that she had condemned the year before. Yet the very sources Dudley quoted from said that the dress condemned reached "about halfway from the hip to the knee," while the dress advocated went to "about nine inches from the floor." How anyone could honestly say that two such dresses were "the same," "slightly modified" is beyond us.

Thus we wrote Dirk, pointing out that a note should be added to that web page informing his readers as to exactly what Dudley meant by "slightly modified." That way the readers could determine for themselves whether or not Dudley was prevaricating.

On May 5, Dirk responded:

Canright was there, saw what was going on, was familiar with all the issues, so I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one. Besides, Canright did say it was slightly modified.

We replied that there really wasn't anything to give Canright the benefit of the doubt about. A week later we got this reply:

You are assuming that when Canright said "about halfway to the knees" he meant halfway between the ankle and knee. He could just as well have meant halfway between the hip and knee, which is exactly what EGW said. Can you prove that Canright meant halfway between the ankles and knees?

Dirk missed half our point. Dudley said that the dress condemned came "halfway to the knees." If by those words he meant that it came halfway between the knees and ankles, then he was lying about its length. On the other hand, if he meant that it came halfway between the hips and knees, then he was lying about this dress being "the same," "slightly modified," as the dress that was later advocated. Either way, Dudley was lying, and Dirk's readership have a right to know that.

We received one more reply from Dirk:

I've already discussed with you that the evidence you presented regarding Canright being less than truthful was not convincing. I see no reason to rehash it.

Oh well.

Dialogue #2: Stolen Pictures

On another issue we had much better success. On August 24, 2003, we notified Dirk that Walter Rea's accusation that Ellen White stole pictures and changed the artist's signature was totally false. (See "Plagiarized Pictures?") We received a reply on September 7:

Thanks for the info. I'll trust your word on this one and immediately remove the web pages.

We feel it would probably be best to go one step further than just removing pages. Newspapers and magazines that print information contrary to facts will often print corrections in later issues. Should Christian web sites dedicated to destroying someone's reputation do less if the information they are disseminating proves to be false?

Dialogue #3: The Heavy Bible

On September 7, 2003, we wrote Dirk about the problems with his "Lofted a Heavy Bible" page. (See " 'Top 7 Myths: #4. Lofted a Heavy Bible.' ") We pointed out that his page's alleged four contradictions were false, and questioned who had tampered with the quotation from Loughborough that his page cited. On the 13th he responded:

I will check into that. It has been so long ago that I cannot remember where the quote came from...could have been taken from Spectrum Magazine. I believe Loughborough's book is available somewhere on the web now, perhaps the James White Memorial Library on the Words of the Pioneers CD. I'll check into it. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

(ellipsis his)

Thus it appears that at least some of the material Dirk has on his site was "plagiarized" from other sources without giving the credit considered proper in this day and age. It therefore seems strange that his site would accuse Ellen White of "plagiarizing" and not giving proper credit, especially since "proper credit" meant something quite different in her day than it means today.

We also find it peculiar that Dirk would abandon the faith he once held dear, simply because someone else said certain things were so. It is apparent from his reply that he had never previously confirmed that the quote from Loughborough was accurate.

On the 16th we received a second reply. Dirk acknowledged that the quote as given on his page had been tampered with. After also acknowledging that Mrs. Lunt could have meant that Ellen White's palm was at a 45 degree angle rather than her arm, he wrote:

I guess we all read into it what we want to believe.

And of course this is true. Both critics and apologists tend to see things that support their side, things that may not really be there. Thus, those who wish to be objective must use extra caution lest their bias distort the truth.

Dirk added:

I'll look at the web page again and see whether or not it needs revising.

It appears that the page has been revised as of late January 2004.

Dialogue #4: Hastings' Great Controversy

On October 28, 2003, we wrote Dirk asking him if he had any evidence whatsoever that Hastings' book had reached Battle Creek before James and Ellen White left for Ohio. (See " 'Top 7 Myths: #7: Received the Great Controversy in Vision.' ") He replied on November 1 that he thought it sounded "logical" to "infer" that it had, but didn't "know of any way to know for certain," and could not "prove it."

On the 2nd we sent Dirk some follow up questions:

It seems to me like it would be better to only post information that is solid, not inference. I mean, what if you're wrong on this one? Does God approve of our using misinformation when trying to expose someone we believe to be a false prophet? . . .

How do you manage to keep the authority of the Bible intact, since it is readily apparent that Luke copied a lot of his material from either Matthew or Mark? I once asked Walter Rea if the same weapons used against Ellen White could be used against the Bible, for I know that liberal theologians out there do that very thing, attack the Bible with these kind of arguments. He replied to me that he doesn't take the Bible literally, doesn't believe in a worldwide flood, doesn't believe that God told Abraham to offer up Isaac, and doesn't believe that God told the Israelites to kill the Canaanites. How do you justify criticizing Ellen White for copying wording, but not the Bible writers? . . .

It seems to me that if these kind of arguments plant seeds in people's heads that later bear the fruit of rejecting the Bible as the infallible Word of God, then in all the effort of trying to discredit Ellen White, critics are actually proving her right. She did say that those who give up faith in her writings eventually throw the Bible out too. I therefore wish that if she must be discredited, that she would only be discredited with arguments that do not undermine confidence in the authoritativeness of the Bible.

What do you think? Or are you in the same camp as Walter Rea, who no longer believes what the Bible says, or at least didn't about 4 years ago?

On the 15th he responded:

I don't believe this to be misinformation at all. I believe it to be the most likely scenario. I cannot prove everything on the web site beyond all shadow of a doubt. I can present the facts and the most probable scenarios and let people decide for themselves.

I agree "great controversy" may have been used by other authors, but Hastings had it in the title of his book, and the timing was coincidental to Mrs. White's own book.

Does this evade the issue? It matters little when Mrs. White's book was published. What matters is when she had her vision at Lovett's Grove. Did Hastings' book inspire that vision or did it not? Did the White's have it in their hands before they left Battle Creek the last week of February or did they not?

If Dirk is really interested in his readers having all the facts and intelligently deciding for themselves, we anticipate that his web page will soon be corrected. His readers have a right to know that James White had already been out of town for three weeks or more before Uriah Smith printed that review of Hastings' boook.

Much more important are Dirk's comments regarding the authoritativeness of Scripture:

As for Luke, he admits getting his material from others. His gospel is basically a second-hand account. I think the biggest problem with Ellen White is not necessarily her plagiarism, but her denial of such.

We are unacquainted with where Luke said that he copied material from others. As far as Ellen White goes, one is hard pressed to prove that "plagiarism" is the correct word to use in describing what she did. Nevertheless, why did she "deny" that she borrowed wording from others, as in the following quote???

In some cases where a historian has so grouped together events as to afford, in brief, a comprehensive view of the subject, or has summarized details in a convenient manner, his words have been quoted; but except in a few instances no specific credit has been given, since they are not quoted for the purpose of citing that writer as authority, but because his statement affords a ready and forcible presentation of the subject.

(Ellen White, Great Controversy, 1888 edition, p. h of preface)

But regardless of whether Ellen White was a true prophet or not, it is Dirk's next statements to which we take great exception. But at his request, we are substituting an excerpt from what he has called an "official statement" of his views about the Bible for the quotation we originally had below. (Those who wish to read his entire statement, may click here.)

It is a fact that many of the authors of the Bible never claimed their writings were inspired, so I will make no higher claims for their writings than the authors themselves made. It is well known that many of the stories are second-hand accounts, sometimes written hundreds or thousands of years after the event. While I have no doubt the events occurred, it is possible that some of the clarity of the story was lost over time.

What percentage of the Bible writers said that their writings were inspired? Would the Gospels be inspired, according to this rule? Does loss of "clarity" mean that the stories are inaccurate as written by the Bible writer? (For an example of loss of "clarity," see here.)

Certainly when he was an Adventist, this could not have been Dirk's belief. The Adventist denomination requires all who wish to become members of their churches to vow that:

I believe that the Bible is God's inspired Word, and that it constitutes the only rule of faith and practice for the Christian.

And the apostle Paul said:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16)

Dirk may not be overly concerned if people give up their faith in the inspiration of the entire Bible through his attacks on Ellen White, since he apparently no longer believes that himself (more).

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