Ellen G. White (1827-1915) was an American prophet who helped to establish the Seventh Day Adventist church, a Protestant church which now has 14 million believers worldwide. She was not its founder, but its first leading light. Adventists interpret the Bible according to her writings.
God sent White more than 2,000 visions so that she could tell Christians that Jesus will soon come back. That is what the Advent of “Adventist” means: when Jesus Christ will come back to judge the living and the dead on Judgement Day.
She was born in Maine at the north-eastern end of America, one of two twin sisters. When she was eight a stone struck her in the nose and she lay unconscious for three weeks. When she recovered she did not go back to school – she no longer seemed to have enough intelligence.
Three years later she went with her parents to hear William Miller. He said that Christ would return in a few years on Tuesday October 22nd 1844. They became his followers.
The day came and went. Nothing happened. This was called the Great Disappointment. Miller lost most of his followers, but Ellen remained. She tried to make sense of what had happened. She prayed and read the Bible. Then one morning in December she received her first vision. She saw the Adventists on a journey to the City of God. Other visions followed. It helped to hold some of the Adventists together, the ones who later became the Seventh Day Adventists.
Other Adventists interpreted the Great Disappointment differently. Some of these became the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
So how did the Adventists become the Seventh Day Adventists? Ellen married an Adventist preacher, James White. They both read “The Seventh Day Sabbath” by Joseph Bates and were persuaded that Christians, not just Jews, should observe the seventh day of the week, Saturday, as a day of rest and worship. Six months later God told her she was right in a vision.
Most Christians go to church on Sunday and see that as the day of rest. Sunday was when Jesus rose from the dead. But Bates pointed out that this change from Saturday to Sunday is no where mentioned in the Bible. Therefore it was instituted by man, not by Christ.
Her husband led the new church while she helped to guide it through her visions and writings. She saw the church grow from a few thousand to over 136,000. It now has over 14 million, most of them now outside of North America.
Of her many books the one to read, or read first, is “The Great Controversy” (1858). It is both history and prophecy: it details the history of the world from the year 70 to Judgement Day. It is her reading of Christian history and the book of Revelation in the Bible, painting history as a war between Satan and God. Like it or not, she says, we are fighting on one side or the other.
– Abagond, 2007.