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Perspective Digest

Volume 13
Article 2
Issue 3 Summer

2008

Adventist Views on Inspiration


Alberto R. Timm

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Recommended Citation
Timm, Alberto R. (2008) "Adventist Views on Inspiration," Perspective Digest: Vol. 13 : Iss. 3 , Article 2.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.andrews.edu/pd/vol13/iss3/2

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Timm: Adventist Views on Inspiration
B Y A L B E R T O R . T I M M * cal expressions as “mechanical inspi- under the continued guidance of the
ration,” “verbal inspiration,” “ple- Spirit.
nary inspiration,” and “thought in- Some authors use these terms
spiration” have carried different without defining them, taking for

ADVENTIST VIEWS meanings. It is important to have a


basic understanding of those terms.
“Mechanical inspiration” is usu-
ally associated with the theory that
granted that their meaning is com-
mon knowledge.

The Millerite Legacy

ON INSPIRATION
all the words of Scripture, even Seventh-day Adventists inherited
down to the Hebrew vowel points, their early views of Scripture from
were actually dictated by the Holy their former denominations and the
Spirit. This virtually negates the Millerites. William Miller had ac-
human element of Scripture. cepted Deism as a young man. At
“Verbal inspiration” normally is that time he actually gave up his
understood by its advocates to mean faith in the Scriptures. He ques-
the Holy Spirit guided the writers tioned the Bible’s inspiration be-
The nature of inspiration has provided an not only in receiving a divine mes- cause of what he considered its dis-
ongoing discussion among Adventist scholars since sage but also in communicating it, crepancies.
the very beginning of the church. without completely eliminating the After 12 years in deistic circles,
personality and the style of the writ- Miller experienced conversion, after

S
eventh-day Adventists repre- inspiration as it relates to both the ers. The emphasis, however, is on the which he began a two-year period of
sent a modern eschatological Bible and the writings of Ellen White end-product of the whole inspira- intensive study of Scripture. His basic
movement born out of the is important for two reasons: (1) tion process, namely, on the words assumption was that “if the Bible was
study of the Holy Scriptures. Though their basic function differs, of Scripture. the word of God, every thing con-
Their specific mission is to Adventists have generally assumed The term “plenary inspiration” de- tained therein might be understood,
proclaim the Word of God “to every that both sets of writings were pro- notes that Scripture in its entirety is and all its parts be made to harmo-
nation and tribe and language and duced by the same modus operandi of inspired, making no distinction be- nize.”1 At the end of his intensive
people” (Rev. 14:6, NRSV). inspiration; and (2) the views on each tween alleged inspired and nonin- Bible study, Miller asserted that the
In many places around the world, overlap in the development of an un- spired words. Some authors prefer inconsistencies that he had earlier
Seventh-day Adventists have actually derstanding of the Bible’s inspiration. this term to distinguish their position seen in the Scriptures were gone.
been known as the “people of the Terminology of biblical inspira- from any mechanical understanding In his 1822 statement of faith,
Book.” As a people, Adventists have tion is often confusing. Such techni- of inspiration, which may at times be Miller expressed his conviction that
always held—and presently hold— associated with verbal inspiration. “the Bible is given by God to man” as
high respect for the authority of the *Alberto R. Timm, Ph., D., is Director Last, “thought inspiration” is pro- “a revelation of God to man.”2 In
Bible. At times in the denomination’s of the Brazilian Ellen G. White Re- posed to indicate that it is the writer 1836 he asserted that “there never
history, however, church leaders have search Center and Professor of who is inspired. The Holy Spirit was a book written that has a better
held different views on the nature of Church History and Historical Theol- transmits God’s thoughts to the connection and harmony than the
the inspiration of Scripture. ogy at Brazil Adventist College (Cen- writer, who then chooses the proper Bible,” which has “a general connec-
The Adventist understanding of tral Campus). words to express those thoughts tion through the whole.”3

Published by Digital Commons @ Andrews University,


24 2008 1 25
Perspective Digest, Vol. 13 [2008], Iss. 3, Art. 2
B Y A L B E R T O R . T I M M * cal expressions as “mechanical inspi- under the continued guidance of the
ration,” “verbal inspiration,” “ple- Spirit.
nary inspiration,” and “thought in- Some authors use these terms
spiration” have carried different without defining them, taking for

ADVENTIST VIEWS meanings. It is important to have a


basic understanding of those terms.
“Mechanical inspiration” is usu-
ally associated with the theory that
granted that their meaning is com-
mon knowledge.

The Millerite Legacy

ON INSPIRATION
all the words of Scripture, even Seventh-day Adventists inherited
down to the Hebrew vowel points, their early views of Scripture from
were actually dictated by the Holy their former denominations and the
Spirit. This virtually negates the Millerites. William Miller had ac-
human element of Scripture. cepted Deism as a young man. At
“Verbal inspiration” normally is that time he actually gave up his
understood by its advocates to mean faith in the Scriptures. He ques-
the Holy Spirit guided the writers tioned the Bible’s inspiration be-
The nature of inspiration has provided an not only in receiving a divine mes- cause of what he considered its dis-
ongoing discussion among Adventist scholars since sage but also in communicating it, crepancies.
the very beginning of the church. without completely eliminating the After 12 years in deistic circles,
personality and the style of the writ- Miller experienced conversion, after

S
eventh-day Adventists repre- inspiration as it relates to both the ers. The emphasis, however, is on the which he began a two-year period of
sent a modern eschatological Bible and the writings of Ellen White end-product of the whole inspira- intensive study of Scripture. His basic
movement born out of the is important for two reasons: (1) tion process, namely, on the words assumption was that “if the Bible was
study of the Holy Scriptures. Though their basic function differs, of Scripture. the word of God, every thing con-
Their specific mission is to Adventists have generally assumed The term “plenary inspiration” de- tained therein might be understood,
proclaim the Word of God “to every that both sets of writings were pro- notes that Scripture in its entirety is and all its parts be made to harmo-
nation and tribe and language and duced by the same modus operandi of inspired, making no distinction be- nize.”1 At the end of his intensive
people” (Rev. 14:6, NRSV). inspiration; and (2) the views on each tween alleged inspired and nonin- Bible study, Miller asserted that the
In many places around the world, overlap in the development of an un- spired words. Some authors prefer inconsistencies that he had earlier
Seventh-day Adventists have actually derstanding of the Bible’s inspiration. this term to distinguish their position seen in the Scriptures were gone.
been known as the “people of the Terminology of biblical inspira- from any mechanical understanding In his 1822 statement of faith,
Book.” As a people, Adventists have tion is often confusing. Such techni- of inspiration, which may at times be Miller expressed his conviction that
always held—and presently hold— associated with verbal inspiration. “the Bible is given by God to man” as
high respect for the authority of the *Alberto R. Timm, Ph., D., is Director Last, “thought inspiration” is pro- “a revelation of God to man.”2 In
Bible. At times in the denomination’s of the Brazilian Ellen G. White Re- posed to indicate that it is the writer 1836 he asserted that “there never
history, however, church leaders have search Center and Professor of who is inspired. The Holy Spirit was a book written that has a better
held different views on the nature of Church History and Historical Theol- transmits God’s thoughts to the connection and harmony than the
the inspiration of Scripture. ogy at Brazil Adventist College (Cen- writer, who then chooses the proper Bible,” which has “a general connec-
The Adventist understanding of tral Campus). words to express those thoughts tion through the whole.”3

24 http://digitalcommons.andrews.edu/pd/vol13/iss3/2
25 2
Timm: Adventist Views on Inspiration
While dealing with some difficul- from deist attacks. Such defenses of Up to the early 1900s, no clear discussion of the
ties in the Bible, Miller even preferred the Bible provide, however, insightful
to blame its translators rather than to evidences of early Adventist views on doctrine of inspiration is found in Seventh-day Adventist
admit obscurities and inconsistencies the infallibility of Scripture. literature. While responding to attacks against the trust-
in the original text. In other words, he In 1863, Moses Hull, a Seventh-
worthiness of the Bible, Seventh-day Adventists demonstrated
came to accept the full authority and day Adventist minister, made the
inspiration of the Bible because he first significant Seventh-day Ad- their commitment to a view of Scripture similar to Miller’s.
became convinced of the harmony ventist response to infidel attacks on Early Seventh-day Adventists were convinced that the process of
and unity of its content. For him, in- Scripture in his book, The Bible
spiration affected the actual text of From Heaven. Hull advocated the inspiration preserved the actual text of the Scriptures from
Scripture and not just the general authenticity, integrity, and credibil- factual errors and contradictions.
ideas. When he finally concluded that ity of the Bible, insisting that noth-
Scripture was clear and consistent, he ing in the Bible contradicts any of
accepted its ultimate authority for the the sciences of “physiology, anatomy, of Ellen White. Those statements, garding the nature and authority of
rest of his life. hygiene, materia medica, chemistry, however, were more concerned Ellen White’s writings, however,
astronomy, or geology.”6 about proving the inspiration of her pushed Seventh-day Adventists in
Early Adventist Views (1844-1883) In 1867, the Review and Herald writings than in discussing the ac- the 1800s into a more thoughtful
Sabbatarian Adventists retained published a series of 22 responses to tual nature of inspiration. discussion of the doctrine. During
William Miller’s high view of Scrip- what deists were asserting as “self Up to the early 1900s, no clear that period two major questions
ture. James White stated in 1847 that contradictions” of the Bible. Those discussion of the doctrine of inspi- were raised: (1) Are there degrees of
“the [B]ible is a perfect, and com- responses dealt, for example, with ration is found in Seventh-day Ad- inspiration? (2) Did the Holy Spirit
plete revelation” and “our only rule such issues as whether one woman ventist literature. While responding dictate the actual words of the in-
of faith and practice.”4 The third ar- or two went to Christ’s sepulcher to attacks against the trustworthi- spired writings?
ticle of the 1872 statement of Sev- (John 20:1; Matt. 28:1); whether ness of the Bible, Seventh-day Ad- Are there degrees of inspiration?
enth-day Adventist fundamental be- Christ ascended from Mount Olivet ventists demonstrated their commit- Administrative problems and con-
liefs composed by Uriah Smith or from Bethany (Acts 1:9, 12; Luke ment to a view of Scripture similar flicts of personality at Battle Creek
asserted similarly that “the Holy 24:50, 51); and whether 24,000 or to Miller’s. Early Seventh-day Ad- College led Ellen White to send a few
Scriptures, of the Old and New Tes- 23,000 Israelites died by the plague ventists were convinced that the testimonies to Uriah Smith, editor of
taments, were given by inspiration of in Shittim (Num. 25:9; 1 Cor. 10:8). process of inspiration preserved the the Review and Herald and president
God, contain a full revelation of his A. T. Jones, a Seventh-day Ad- actual text of the Scriptures from of the college board, reproving him
will to man, and are the only infalli- ventist minister, penned another sig- factual errors and contradictions. for some unwise decisions. Resent-
ble rule of faith and practice.”5 nificant defense of the Bible through ment against such reproofs was one
Apart from such concise state- a series, “A Review of Paine’s ‘Age of Focus on the Nature of Inspiration factor that led Smith to the assump-
ments, Seventh-day Adventists dealt Reason,’” which appeared in the Re- (1883-1915) tion that not all her writings were
little with the nature of its inspiration view and Herald in 1880. Before 1883, Seventh-day Ad- equally inspired. By the spring of
up to the early 1880s. The major Sev- Sparse statements on inspiration ventists had been mainly concerned 1883, Smith was convinced that
enth-day Adventist concern on the can be found also in the articles and with defending the divine inspira- while Mrs. White’s visions were truly
subject of the Bible during this early books penned during that period tion of the Bible from outside infidel inspired, her testimonies were not.
period was to defend its divine origin (1844-1883) about the prophetic gift challenges. Some internal crises re- It seems that to harmonize such is-

Published by Digital Commons @ Andrews University,


26 2008 3 27
Perspective Digest, Vol. 13 [2008], Iss. 3, Art. 2
While dealing with some difficul- from deist attacks. Such defenses of Up to the early 1900s, no clear discussion of the
ties in the Bible, Miller even preferred the Bible provide, however, insightful
to blame its translators rather than to evidences of early Adventist views on doctrine of inspiration is found in Seventh-day Adventist
admit obscurities and inconsistencies the infallibility of Scripture. literature. While responding to attacks against the trust-
in the original text. In other words, he In 1863, Moses Hull, a Seventh-
worthiness of the Bible, Seventh-day Adventists demonstrated
came to accept the full authority and day Adventist minister, made the
inspiration of the Bible because he first significant Seventh-day Ad- their commitment to a view of Scripture similar to Miller’s.
became convinced of the harmony ventist response to infidel attacks on Early Seventh-day Adventists were convinced that the process of
and unity of its content. For him, in- Scripture in his book, The Bible
spiration affected the actual text of From Heaven. Hull advocated the inspiration preserved the actual text of the Scriptures from
Scripture and not just the general authenticity, integrity, and credibil- factual errors and contradictions.
ideas. When he finally concluded that ity of the Bible, insisting that noth-
Scripture was clear and consistent, he ing in the Bible contradicts any of
accepted its ultimate authority for the the sciences of “physiology, anatomy, of Ellen White. Those statements, garding the nature and authority of
rest of his life. hygiene, materia medica, chemistry, however, were more concerned Ellen White’s writings, however,
astronomy, or geology.”6 about proving the inspiration of her pushed Seventh-day Adventists in
Early Adventist Views (1844-1883) In 1867, the Review and Herald writings than in discussing the ac- the 1800s into a more thoughtful
Sabbatarian Adventists retained published a series of 22 responses to tual nature of inspiration. discussion of the doctrine. During
William Miller’s high view of Scrip- what deists were asserting as “self Up to the early 1900s, no clear that period two major questions
ture. James White stated in 1847 that contradictions” of the Bible. Those discussion of the doctrine of inspi- were raised: (1) Are there degrees of
“the [B]ible is a perfect, and com- responses dealt, for example, with ration is found in Seventh-day Ad- inspiration? (2) Did the Holy Spirit
plete revelation” and “our only rule such issues as whether one woman ventist literature. While responding dictate the actual words of the in-
of faith and practice.”4 The third ar- or two went to Christ’s sepulcher to attacks against the trustworthi- spired writings?
ticle of the 1872 statement of Sev- (John 20:1; Matt. 28:1); whether ness of the Bible, Seventh-day Ad- Are there degrees of inspiration?
enth-day Adventist fundamental be- Christ ascended from Mount Olivet ventists demonstrated their commit- Administrative problems and con-
liefs composed by Uriah Smith or from Bethany (Acts 1:9, 12; Luke ment to a view of Scripture similar flicts of personality at Battle Creek
asserted similarly that “the Holy 24:50, 51); and whether 24,000 or to Miller’s. Early Seventh-day Ad- College led Ellen White to send a few
Scriptures, of the Old and New Tes- 23,000 Israelites died by the plague ventists were convinced that the testimonies to Uriah Smith, editor of
taments, were given by inspiration of in Shittim (Num. 25:9; 1 Cor. 10:8). process of inspiration preserved the the Review and Herald and president
God, contain a full revelation of his A. T. Jones, a Seventh-day Ad- actual text of the Scriptures from of the college board, reproving him
will to man, and are the only infalli- ventist minister, penned another sig- factual errors and contradictions. for some unwise decisions. Resent-
ble rule of faith and practice.”5 nificant defense of the Bible through ment against such reproofs was one
Apart from such concise state- a series, “A Review of Paine’s ‘Age of Focus on the Nature of Inspiration factor that led Smith to the assump-
ments, Seventh-day Adventists dealt Reason,’” which appeared in the Re- (1883-1915) tion that not all her writings were
little with the nature of its inspiration view and Herald in 1880. Before 1883, Seventh-day Ad- equally inspired. By the spring of
up to the early 1880s. The major Sev- Sparse statements on inspiration ventists had been mainly concerned 1883, Smith was convinced that
enth-day Adventist concern on the can be found also in the articles and with defending the divine inspira- while Mrs. White’s visions were truly
subject of the Bible during this early books penned during that period tion of the Bible from outside infidel inspired, her testimonies were not.
period was to defend its divine origin (1844-1883) about the prophetic gift challenges. Some internal crises re- It seems that to harmonize such is-

26 http://digitalcommons.andrews.edu/pd/vol13/iss3/2
27 4
Timm: Adventist Views on Inspiration
Assuming that inspiration varies according to the Although the theory of degrees of engaged Seventh-day Adventists be-
inspiration was advocated outside tween 1883 and 1915 concerned
various forms of revelation, Butler argued that the Scriptures Adventist circles, this was the first whether the Holy Spirit dictated the
“are inspired just in the degree that the person is time such a theory was advanced in actual words of inspired writings.
an official Seventh-day Adventist A partial response to this issue
inspired who writes them.” Since Scripture resulted from dif-
publication. There are indications came from the 1883 General Confer-
ferent forms of revelation, according to Butler, there that it was so influential that some ence Session, which suggested a
likewise had to be distinct degrees of inspiration, of authority, people were prompted to almost grammatical revision of Ellen
completely disregard Ellen White’s White’s Testimonies for the Church.
and of imperfection. For him, the Scriptures “are authorita- testimony at the 1888 General Con- At that time, the General Conference
tive in proportion to the degrees of inspiration.” ference session in Minneapolis. appointed a committee of five indi-
The theory of degrees of inspira- viduals—W. C. White (chair), Uriah
tion continued into the late 1880s in Smith, J. H. Waggoner, S. N. Haskell,
some Seventh-day Adventist circles. and George I. Butler—to supervise
sues over the trustworthiness of Ellen “are authoritative in proportion to In response to this, Ellen White that revision.
White’s testimonies, George I. Butler, the degrees of inspiration,”9 and are penned a letter to R. A. Underwood, While opposing the theory of
General Conference president, wrote perfect only as they are necessary for president of the Ohio Conference, mechanical inspiration, the motion
for the Review and Herald a series of achieving the purpose for which disclosing that it was shown to her did not mention any factual error in
10 articles on “Inspiration,” in which they were given—“to make us ‘wise that “the Lord did not inspire the ar- the content of the Testimonies. Only
he sought to provide a biblical ratio- unto salvation’ ” (2 Tim. 3:15, KJV).10 ticles on inspiration published in the grammatical “imperfections” should
nale for the theory of “degrees of in- Such a theory of inspiration led Review.” Since “to criticize the Word be corrected, without changing the
spiration.” According to E. K. Vande Butler to suggest a hierarchy within of God” is to “venture on sacred, holy thought “in any measure.” George
Vere, if Butler “could show that the the biblical canon, in which, gener- ground,” no human being should ever W. Morse stated that “by the inspira-
Bible contained human elements, ally, “the books of Moses and the “pronounce judgment” on God’s tion of the Scriptures is not meant
then by implication, the Testimonies words of Christ” appeared in the Word, “selecting some things as in- the inspiration of the words and
contained many more human ele- first and highest level; “the writings spired and discrediting others as un- phrases, but the general purpose and
ments” and could not be regarded as of the prophets and apostles and a inspired.” She explained also that “the use of the same.”14
absolutely perfect.7 portion, at least, of the Psalms” in testimonies have been treated in the Uriah Smith, who had been a
Assuming that inspiration varies the second level; “the historical same way; but God is not in this.”12 member of the committee for re-
according to the various forms of books” in the third level; and “the In a similar manner, the senior vising the Testimonies, proposed,
revelation, Butler argued that the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Sabbath school lesson for January 7, however, a via-media solution to the
Scriptures “are inspired just in the Songs, and the book of Job” in the 1893, also denied the possibility of tensions between the theories of me-
degree that the person is inspired last and lowest level.11 Thus, under “different degrees of inspiration,” for chanical inspiration and thought in-
who writes them.”8 Since Scripture the assumption that different forms the reason that “such a view destroys spiration. He suggested that if the
resulted from different forms of rev- of revelation implied distinct de- the authority of God’s word and words were “spoken directly by the
elation, according to Butler, there grees of inspiration, Butler ended gives to each one a Bible made by Lord,” then “the words are inspired.”
likewise had to be distinct degrees of with a hierarchy within the biblical himself.”13 If the words did not come directly
inspiration, of authority, and of im- canon, and in fact even rejected Did the Holy Spirit dictate the ac- from the Lord, then “the words may
perfection. For him, the Scriptures some texts as uninspired. tual words? Another discussion that not be inspired,” but only “the ideas,

Published by Digital Commons @ Andrews University,


28 2008 5 29
Perspective Digest, Vol. 13 [2008], Iss. 3, Art. 2
Assuming that inspiration varies according to the Although the theory of degrees of engaged Seventh-day Adventists be-
inspiration was advocated outside tween 1883 and 1915 concerned
various forms of revelation, Butler argued that the Scriptures Adventist circles, this was the first whether the Holy Spirit dictated the
“are inspired just in the degree that the person is time such a theory was advanced in actual words of inspired writings.
an official Seventh-day Adventist A partial response to this issue
inspired who writes them.” Since Scripture resulted from dif-
publication. There are indications came from the 1883 General Confer-
ferent forms of revelation, according to Butler, there that it was so influential that some ence Session, which suggested a
likewise had to be distinct degrees of inspiration, of authority, people were prompted to almost grammatical revision of Ellen
completely disregard Ellen White’s White’s Testimonies for the Church.
and of imperfection. For him, the Scriptures “are authorita- testimony at the 1888 General Con- At that time, the General Conference
tive in proportion to the degrees of inspiration.” ference session in Minneapolis. appointed a committee of five indi-
The theory of degrees of inspira- viduals—W. C. White (chair), Uriah
tion continued into the late 1880s in Smith, J. H. Waggoner, S. N. Haskell,
some Seventh-day Adventist circles. and George I. Butler—to supervise
sues over the trustworthiness of Ellen “are authoritative in proportion to In response to this, Ellen White that revision.
White’s testimonies, George I. Butler, the degrees of inspiration,”9 and are penned a letter to R. A. Underwood, While opposing the theory of
General Conference president, wrote perfect only as they are necessary for president of the Ohio Conference, mechanical inspiration, the motion
for the Review and Herald a series of achieving the purpose for which disclosing that it was shown to her did not mention any factual error in
10 articles on “Inspiration,” in which they were given—“to make us ‘wise that “the Lord did not inspire the ar- the content of the Testimonies. Only
he sought to provide a biblical ratio- unto salvation’ ” (2 Tim. 3:15, KJV).10 ticles on inspiration published in the grammatical “imperfections” should
nale for the theory of “degrees of in- Such a theory of inspiration led Review.” Since “to criticize the Word be corrected, without changing the
spiration.” According to E. K. Vande Butler to suggest a hierarchy within of God” is to “venture on sacred, holy thought “in any measure.” George
Vere, if Butler “could show that the the biblical canon, in which, gener- ground,” no human being should ever W. Morse stated that “by the inspira-
Bible contained human elements, ally, “the books of Moses and the “pronounce judgment” on God’s tion of the Scriptures is not meant
then by implication, the Testimonies words of Christ” appeared in the Word, “selecting some things as in- the inspiration of the words and
contained many more human ele- first and highest level; “the writings spired and discrediting others as un- phrases, but the general purpose and
ments” and could not be regarded as of the prophets and apostles and a inspired.” She explained also that “the use of the same.”14
absolutely perfect.7 portion, at least, of the Psalms” in testimonies have been treated in the Uriah Smith, who had been a
Assuming that inspiration varies the second level; “the historical same way; but God is not in this.”12 member of the committee for re-
according to the various forms of books” in the third level; and “the In a similar manner, the senior vising the Testimonies, proposed,
revelation, Butler argued that the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Sabbath school lesson for January 7, however, a via-media solution to the
Scriptures “are inspired just in the Songs, and the book of Job” in the 1893, also denied the possibility of tensions between the theories of me-
degree that the person is inspired last and lowest level.11 Thus, under “different degrees of inspiration,” for chanical inspiration and thought in-
who writes them.”8 Since Scripture the assumption that different forms the reason that “such a view destroys spiration. He suggested that if the
resulted from different forms of rev- of revelation implied distinct de- the authority of God’s word and words were “spoken directly by the
elation, according to Butler, there grees of inspiration, Butler ended gives to each one a Bible made by Lord,” then “the words are inspired.”
likewise had to be distinct degrees of with a hierarchy within the biblical himself.”13 If the words did not come directly
inspiration, of authority, and of im- canon, and in fact even rejected Did the Holy Spirit dictate the ac- from the Lord, then “the words may
perfection. For him, the Scriptures some texts as uninspired. tual words? Another discussion that not be inspired,” but only “the ideas,

28 http://digitalcommons.andrews.edu/pd/vol13/iss3/2
29 6
Timm: Adventist Views on Inspiration
the facts, the truth, which those the Spirit of God. 2 Peter 3:16; 1 Ellen White declared that as Christ was at the same
words convey.”15 Corinthians 2:13.”17
Leaning evidently toward a more While denying the “verbal inspi-
time divine and human (John 1:14), so “the Bible, with its
mechanical view of inspiration, D. ration of translations,” the Signs of God-given truths expressed in the language of men, presents a
M. Canright, ex-Seventh-day Ad- the Times in 1909 emphasized the union of the divine with the human.” So organically merged
ventist minister and writer, began to verbal inspiration of the words of
attack the inspiration of Ellen White’s Scripture in the original Hebrew, are the two elements throughout Scripture (cf. 2 Tim 3:16)
writings after he left the church in Chaldaic [Aramaic], and Greek lan- that “the utterances of the man are the word of God.”
early 1887. Already in the 1888 edi- guages. “These words,” it was stated,
tion of his book, Seventh-day Ad- “were the words inspired by the
ventism Renounced, Canright stated Spirit of God.”18
that Ellen White was “not inspired” A more mechanical view of in- men, presents a union of the divine were dictated by the Holy Spirit,
because, among other things, (1) she spiration was stressed by Dr. David with the human.”21 So organically having no control of the work them-
herself changed the wording of previ- Paulson, founding president of merged are the two elements selves,”26 and that she herself was
ous drafts of her own writings; (2) Hinsdale Sanitarium, in a 1906 let- throughout Scripture (cf. 2 Tim “just as dependent upon the Spirit of
she incorporated suggestions from ter to Ellen White: “I was led to con- 3:16) that “the utterances of the man the Lord in relating or writing a vi-
her husband and secretaries in the clude and most firmly believe that are the word of God,”22 and no one sion, as in having the vision.”27
process of correcting the grammar every word that you ever spoke in should ever attempt to tell “that The tension between those state-
and improving the style of her writ- public or private, that every letter which is inspired and that which is ments is harmonized in the follow-
ings; and (3) she often copied “with- you wrote under any and all cir- not inspired”23 or to point out “de- ing quotation: “Although I am as de-
out credit or sign of quotation” from cumstances, was as inspired as the grees of inspiration.”24 pendent upon the Spirit of the Lord
other non-inspired authors.16 Ten Commandments.”19 In opposition to the theory of me- in writing my views as I am in re-
Meanwhile, several Seventh-day That Ellen White did not endorse chanical inspiration, Ellen White as- ceiving them, yet the words I employ
Adventist authors stressed that the such a mechanical view of inspira- serted in 1886 that “the writers of the in describing what I have seen are
process of inspiration had actually ex- tion is evident from her response to Bible were God’s penmen, not His my own, unless they be those spoken
ercised a controlling influence on the Paulson, in which she clearly stated pen.” She explained it further: “It is to me by an angel, which I always en-
whole writing of Scripture. In 1890, that neither she nor the other Sev- not the words of the Bible that are in- close in marks of quotation.”28
for instance, the Signs of the Times enth-day Adventist pioneers “ever spired, but the men that were in- Although Ellen White recognized
stated that “the New Testament does made such claims.”20 spired. Inspiration acts not on the the existence of transmission errors
not speak of inspiration as being During this period, Ellen White man’s words or his expressions but on and difficulties in Scripture, she does
given to men, or of men being in- penned some of her more signifi- the man himself, who, under the in- not appear to mention specific fac-
spired. It was the writings which were cant statements on inspiration. For fluence of the Holy Ghost, is imbued tual errors in Scripture. As silent as
inspired, or, literally, ‘God-breathed.’ Ellen White, the inspiration of with thoughts. But the words receive the writers of the New Testament
The New Testament declares this re- Scripture is a mystery that parallels the impress of the individual mind.”25 had been in pointing out factual er-
peatedly of the Old Testament. See 2 the incarnation of Christ. She de- In opposition to the theory of rors in the Old Testament, so was
Timothy 3:15, 16; Acts 1:16; Hebrews clared that as Christ was at the same seminal thought inspiration, i.e., Ellen White in regard to the total
3:7; 1 Peter 1:11. Peter classes Paul’s time divine and human (John 1:14), that only general thoughts were in- canon of Scripture.
writings with the Scriptures, and Paul so “the Bible, with its God-given spired, Ellen White explained that The difficulties of Scripture were
declares that his words were given by truths expressed in the language of “the scribes of God wrote as they regarded by her not as an argument

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30 2008 7 31
Perspective Digest, Vol. 13 [2008], Iss. 3, Art. 2
the facts, the truth, which those the Spirit of God. 2 Peter 3:16; 1 Ellen White declared that as Christ was at the same
words convey.”15 Corinthians 2:13.”17
Leaning evidently toward a more While denying the “verbal inspi-
time divine and human (John 1:14), so “the Bible, with its
mechanical view of inspiration, D. ration of translations,” the Signs of God-given truths expressed in the language of men, presents a
M. Canright, ex-Seventh-day Ad- the Times in 1909 emphasized the union of the divine with the human.” So organically merged
ventist minister and writer, began to verbal inspiration of the words of
attack the inspiration of Ellen White’s Scripture in the original Hebrew, are the two elements throughout Scripture (cf. 2 Tim 3:16)
writings after he left the church in Chaldaic [Aramaic], and Greek lan- that “the utterances of the man are the word of God.”
early 1887. Already in the 1888 edi- guages. “These words,” it was stated,
tion of his book, Seventh-day Ad- “were the words inspired by the
ventism Renounced, Canright stated Spirit of God.”18
that Ellen White was “not inspired” A more mechanical view of in- men, presents a union of the divine were dictated by the Holy Spirit,
because, among other things, (1) she spiration was stressed by Dr. David with the human.”21 So organically having no control of the work them-
herself changed the wording of previ- Paulson, founding president of merged are the two elements selves,”26 and that she herself was
ous drafts of her own writings; (2) Hinsdale Sanitarium, in a 1906 let- throughout Scripture (cf. 2 Tim “just as dependent upon the Spirit of
she incorporated suggestions from ter to Ellen White: “I was led to con- 3:16) that “the utterances of the man the Lord in relating or writing a vi-
her husband and secretaries in the clude and most firmly believe that are the word of God,”22 and no one sion, as in having the vision.”27
process of correcting the grammar every word that you ever spoke in should ever attempt to tell “that The tension between those state-
and improving the style of her writ- public or private, that every letter which is inspired and that which is ments is harmonized in the follow-
ings; and (3) she often copied “with- you wrote under any and all cir- not inspired”23 or to point out “de- ing quotation: “Although I am as de-
out credit or sign of quotation” from cumstances, was as inspired as the grees of inspiration.”24 pendent upon the Spirit of the Lord
other non-inspired authors.16 Ten Commandments.”19 In opposition to the theory of me- in writing my views as I am in re-
Meanwhile, several Seventh-day That Ellen White did not endorse chanical inspiration, Ellen White as- ceiving them, yet the words I employ
Adventist authors stressed that the such a mechanical view of inspira- serted in 1886 that “the writers of the in describing what I have seen are
process of inspiration had actually ex- tion is evident from her response to Bible were God’s penmen, not His my own, unless they be those spoken
ercised a controlling influence on the Paulson, in which she clearly stated pen.” She explained it further: “It is to me by an angel, which I always en-
whole writing of Scripture. In 1890, that neither she nor the other Sev- not the words of the Bible that are in- close in marks of quotation.”28
for instance, the Signs of the Times enth-day Adventist pioneers “ever spired, but the men that were in- Although Ellen White recognized
stated that “the New Testament does made such claims.”20 spired. Inspiration acts not on the the existence of transmission errors
not speak of inspiration as being During this period, Ellen White man’s words or his expressions but on and difficulties in Scripture, she does
given to men, or of men being in- penned some of her more signifi- the man himself, who, under the in- not appear to mention specific fac-
spired. It was the writings which were cant statements on inspiration. For fluence of the Holy Ghost, is imbued tual errors in Scripture. As silent as
inspired, or, literally, ‘God-breathed.’ Ellen White, the inspiration of with thoughts. But the words receive the writers of the New Testament
The New Testament declares this re- Scripture is a mystery that parallels the impress of the individual mind.”25 had been in pointing out factual er-
peatedly of the Old Testament. See 2 the incarnation of Christ. She de- In opposition to the theory of rors in the Old Testament, so was
Timothy 3:15, 16; Acts 1:16; Hebrews clared that as Christ was at the same seminal thought inspiration, i.e., Ellen White in regard to the total
3:7; 1 Peter 1:11. Peter classes Paul’s time divine and human (John 1:14), that only general thoughts were in- canon of Scripture.
writings with the Scriptures, and Paul so “the Bible, with its God-given spired, Ellen White explained that The difficulties of Scripture were
declares that his words were given by truths expressed in the language of “the scribes of God wrote as they regarded by her not as an argument

30 http://digitalcommons.andrews.edu/pd/vol13/iss3/2
31 8
Timm: Adventist Views on Inspiration
Noteworthy is the fact that Ellen White made use Liberty magazine and associate edi- reached its climactic expression in
tor of the Review and Herald, stated the summer of 1919 in the context of
of different versions of the Bible in her writings. The use of in 1912 that the assumption that the Modernist-Fundamentalist con-
different versions was also supported by other “the Word of God is “inspired, but troversy that challenged a large
not infallible,” is the reiteration on number of North American denom-
contemporary Seventh-day Adventists. This is a significant
Earth of Satan’s challenge to God in inations. While Modernists, under
point because later on the issue of the reliability of heaven. When man sets himself up the influence of Darwinian evolu-
certain English translations of the Bible would be raised in as a judge of the words and works of tionism, challenged the historicity of
God, the rebellion in heaven is re- the biblical accounts of creation and
Seventh-day Adventist circles. produced in the Earth.36 of other supernatural divine inter-
As previously seen, it was during ventions, Fundamentalists were de-
the period 1883-1915 that Sev- fending the infallibility and in-
against the Bible but as “the strongest in Scripture the history of Israel was enth-day Adventists began to face an errancy of Scripture in response to
evidences of its divine inspiration.”29 traced by “the unerring pen of inspi- internal crisis on the nature of inspi- those challenges.
While “the way of salvation” is dis- ration” “with exact fidelity.”33 She re- ration. Significantly, it was during Three significant events took place
cernable even to “the humble and un- garded the Bible as the “unerring this period that Ellen White penned in mid-1919 in the development of
cultured,” there are in Scripture mys- standard” by which “men’s ideas of some of her most deliberate state- the Seventh-day Adventist doctrine of
teries that challenge “the most highly science” should be tested.34 Therefore, ments on the subject. These would inspiration. First, Francis M. Wilcox,
cultivated minds.”30 Speaking about “the Holy Scriptures are to be ac- be studied again and again by Sev- editor of the Review, published in the
such mysteries, she warned that “men cepted as an authoritative, infallible enth-day Adventists as they contin- June 19 issue of that periodical a large
of ability have devoted a lifetime of revelation of his will.”35 ued the study of the biblical teaching report on the “Christian Fundamen-
study and prayer to the searching of Noteworthy also is the fact that of inspiration after her passing on tals” Conference, which he had at-
the Scriptures, and yet there are many Ellen White made use of different July 16, 1915. tended in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,
portions of the Bible that have not versions of the Bible in her writings. in late May. Second, a Bible confer-
been fully explored. Some passages of The use of different versions was The Modernist-Fundamentalist ence for denominational editors, col-
Scripture will never be perfectly com- also supported by other contempo- Controversy (1915-1950) lege teachers of Bible and history, and
prehended until in the future life rary Seventh-day Adventists. This is Since its very inception, Seventh- members of the General Conference
Christ shall explain them. There are a significant point because later on day Adventism had developed under Committee was held in Washington,
mysteries to be unraveled, statements the issue of the reliability of certain the stabilizing influence of Ellen D.C., from July 1 to 21, 1919. Third,
that human minds cannot harmo- English translations of the Bible White. From 1915 on, however, her D. M. Canright’s Life of Mrs. E. G.
nize. And the enemy will seek to would be raised in Seventh-day Ad- influence was largely confined to the White came off the press also in July
arouse argument upon these points, ventist circles. legacy of her writings. This transi- 1919, as the author’s final criticism of
which might better remain undis- That by the late 19th and early tion contributed to the development Ellen White.
cussed.”31 20th centuries, Seventh-day Ad- of an identity crisis about the nature Of special significance were the
Though admitting that the human ventists still regarded the Scriptures and authority of those writings that sections of July 30 and August 1 of
language of Scripture is “imperfect,” as the infallible and trustworthy had been obviously nourished by the the Bible and History Teachers’
she still held that God’s Word “is in- Word of God is evident from their revision of the Testimonies in the Council that followed immediately
fallible” and should be accepted “as it responses to higher criticism. For mid-1880s and of The Great Contro- after the 1919 Bible Conference.
reads.”32 She stated, for instance, that example, Charles M. Snow, editor of versy in the early 1910s. That crisis Dealing respectively with “The Use

Published by Digital Commons @ Andrews University,


32 2008 9 33
Perspective Digest, Vol. 13 [2008], Iss. 3, Art. 2
Noteworthy is the fact that Ellen White made use Liberty magazine and associate edi- reached its climactic expression in
tor of the Review and Herald, stated the summer of 1919 in the context of
of different versions of the Bible in her writings. The use of in 1912 that the assumption that the Modernist-Fundamentalist con-
different versions was also supported by other “the Word of God is “inspired, but troversy that challenged a large
not infallible,” is the reiteration on number of North American denom-
contemporary Seventh-day Adventists. This is a significant
Earth of Satan’s challenge to God in inations. While Modernists, under
point because later on the issue of the reliability of heaven. When man sets himself up the influence of Darwinian evolu-
certain English translations of the Bible would be raised in as a judge of the words and works of tionism, challenged the historicity of
God, the rebellion in heaven is re- the biblical accounts of creation and
Seventh-day Adventist circles. produced in the Earth.36 of other supernatural divine inter-
As previously seen, it was during ventions, Fundamentalists were de-
the period 1883-1915 that Sev- fending the infallibility and in-
against the Bible but as “the strongest in Scripture the history of Israel was enth-day Adventists began to face an errancy of Scripture in response to
evidences of its divine inspiration.”29 traced by “the unerring pen of inspi- internal crisis on the nature of inspi- those challenges.
While “the way of salvation” is dis- ration” “with exact fidelity.”33 She re- ration. Significantly, it was during Three significant events took place
cernable even to “the humble and un- garded the Bible as the “unerring this period that Ellen White penned in mid-1919 in the development of
cultured,” there are in Scripture mys- standard” by which “men’s ideas of some of her most deliberate state- the Seventh-day Adventist doctrine of
teries that challenge “the most highly science” should be tested.34 Therefore, ments on the subject. These would inspiration. First, Francis M. Wilcox,
cultivated minds.”30 Speaking about “the Holy Scriptures are to be ac- be studied again and again by Sev- editor of the Review, published in the
such mysteries, she warned that “men cepted as an authoritative, infallible enth-day Adventists as they contin- June 19 issue of that periodical a large
of ability have devoted a lifetime of revelation of his will.”35 ued the study of the biblical teaching report on the “Christian Fundamen-
study and prayer to the searching of Noteworthy also is the fact that of inspiration after her passing on tals” Conference, which he had at-
the Scriptures, and yet there are many Ellen White made use of different July 16, 1915. tended in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,
portions of the Bible that have not versions of the Bible in her writings. in late May. Second, a Bible confer-
been fully explored. Some passages of The use of different versions was The Modernist-Fundamentalist ence for denominational editors, col-
Scripture will never be perfectly com- also supported by other contempo- Controversy (1915-1950) lege teachers of Bible and history, and
prehended until in the future life rary Seventh-day Adventists. This is Since its very inception, Seventh- members of the General Conference
Christ shall explain them. There are a significant point because later on day Adventism had developed under Committee was held in Washington,
mysteries to be unraveled, statements the issue of the reliability of certain the stabilizing influence of Ellen D.C., from July 1 to 21, 1919. Third,
that human minds cannot harmo- English translations of the Bible White. From 1915 on, however, her D. M. Canright’s Life of Mrs. E. G.
nize. And the enemy will seek to would be raised in Seventh-day Ad- influence was largely confined to the White came off the press also in July
arouse argument upon these points, ventist circles. legacy of her writings. This transi- 1919, as the author’s final criticism of
which might better remain undis- That by the late 19th and early tion contributed to the development Ellen White.
cussed.”31 20th centuries, Seventh-day Ad- of an identity crisis about the nature Of special significance were the
Though admitting that the human ventists still regarded the Scriptures and authority of those writings that sections of July 30 and August 1 of
language of Scripture is “imperfect,” as the infallible and trustworthy had been obviously nourished by the the Bible and History Teachers’
she still held that God’s Word “is in- Word of God is evident from their revision of the Testimonies in the Council that followed immediately
fallible” and should be accepted “as it responses to higher criticism. For mid-1880s and of The Great Contro- after the 1919 Bible Conference.
reads.”32 She stated, for instance, that example, Charles M. Snow, editor of versy in the early 1910s. That crisis Dealing respectively with “The Use

32 http://digitalcommons.andrews.edu/pd/vol13/iss3/2
33 10
Timm: Adventist Views on Inspiration
of the Spirit of Prophecy in Our eral books and pamphlets or the Sab- During the 1920s and 1930s, Seventh-day Adventists
Teaching of Bible and History” and bath school quarterly published dur-
“Inspiration of the Spirit of Proph- ing the 1920s and 1930s in defense of supported Fundamentalism in uplifting the trustworthiness
ecy as Related to the Inspiration of the Bible as the Word of God. of the Bible in the context of the Modernist-Fundamentalist
the Bible,” those sessions were gener- During the 1920s and 1930s, Sev-
controversy. That Seventh-day Adventists had
ally question-answer discussions enth-day Adventists supported Fun-
chaired by Arthur G. Daniells, presi- damentalism in uplifting the trust- historically held to a view of Scripture that had much in com-
dent of the General Conference. The worthiness of the Bible in the mon with Fundamentalism is evident from their former
focal points of these discussions context of the Modernist-Funda-
were the issues of “verbal inspira- mentalist controversy. That Seventh- responses to “infidels” and to higher criticism. Thus, F. M.
tion” and “infallibility” of prophetic day Adventists had historically held Wilcox asserted that “Seventh-day Adventists, with their
writings. to a view of Scripture that had much
Regarding the subject of verbal in- in common with Fundamentalism is
historical belief in the Divine Word, should count themselves
spiration of Ellen White’s testi- evident from their former responses the chief of Fundamentalists today.”
monies, A. G. Daniells stated that nei- to “infidels” and to higher criticism.
ther Ellen White, nor James White, Thus, F. M. Wilcox asserted that
nor W. C. White, nor anyone of “the “Seventh-day Adventists, with their
persons who helped to prepare those historical belief in the Divine Word, of the first paragraphs of that sec- Plenary Inspiration,” House rejected
Testimonies” ever claimed it.37 should count themselves the chief of tion was a quotation from the non- the theories (1) of partial inspira-
As far as infallibility is concerned, Fundamentalists today.”41 Adventist author William Evans, tion, for implying that “the Bible
A. G. Daniells stated that it is not On July 15, 1920, the Review and stating that since inspiration is “God contains much that is not inspired”;
right to regard the Spirit of Proph- Herald published a report on the speaking through men,” the Old Tes- (2) of concept or thought inspira-
ecy as “the only safe interpreter of second Conference of Christian tament is “just as much the Word of tion, for leaving the Bible writers
the Bible.”38 He argued also that Fundamentals, held in Chicago, Illi- God as though God spake every sin- “absolutely to themselves in the
Ellen White “never claimed to be an nois. Leon A. Smith, literary editor gle word of it with His own lips.”42 choice of words they should use”;
authority on history” or “a dogmatic of the Press Bureau of the General Later on in the book, House de- (3) of mechanical or dynamic inspi-
teacher on theology”39 and that she Conference, reported that “the con- fined more clearly his own concept of ration, for not accounting for “the
never regarded her “historical quo- ference affirmed its belief in the ver- inspiration. He distinguished inspira- different style of the various writers”
tations” as infallible.40 bal inspiration of the Old and New tion from revelation by postulating and for “the material secured from
That the church leadership at large Testaments as first penned by the that while revelation is the “act of historical records”; (4) of natural in-
did not follow Daniells’ views of in- Bible writers.” For Smith, “all this God by which He directly communi- spiration, for denying “the supernat-
spiration is evident not only from the was good.” cates truth to man,” inspiration ural and the mysterious in the
fact that the records of the 1919 Bible In 1926, Benjamin L. House, pro- “refers to the divine superintendence Bible”; and (5) of illumination or
Conference and Bible and History fessor of Bible and Homiletics at Pa- which has been given in speaking or universal Christian inspiration, for
Teachers’ Council were not brought cific Union College, devoted a spe- writing all of the records found in the holding that “the Christians of every
to public attention during the years cial section of his Analytical Studies Bible.” Therefore, “all ‘revelation’ is age have been inspired just the same
that followed that conference, but in Bible Doctrines for Seventh-day ‘inspired,’ but all that is ‘inspired’ did as the Bible writers.”44
also from the fact that his views were Adventist Colleges to the topic of not come by ‘revelation.’”43 According to House, the theory
not reflected in the content of the sev- “The Inspiration of the Bible.” One Holding the view of “Verbal or of “Verbal or Plenary Inspiration”

Published by Digital Commons @ Andrews University,


34 2008 11 35
Perspective Digest, Vol. 13 [2008], Iss. 3, Art. 2
of the Spirit of Prophecy in Our eral books and pamphlets or the Sab- During the 1920s and 1930s, Seventh-day Adventists
Teaching of Bible and History” and bath school quarterly published dur-
“Inspiration of the Spirit of Proph- ing the 1920s and 1930s in defense of supported Fundamentalism in uplifting the trustworthiness
ecy as Related to the Inspiration of the Bible as the Word of God. of the Bible in the context of the Modernist-Fundamentalist
the Bible,” those sessions were gener- During the 1920s and 1930s, Sev-
controversy. That Seventh-day Adventists had
ally question-answer discussions enth-day Adventists supported Fun-
chaired by Arthur G. Daniells, presi- damentalism in uplifting the trust- historically held to a view of Scripture that had much in com-
dent of the General Conference. The worthiness of the Bible in the mon with Fundamentalism is evident from their former
focal points of these discussions context of the Modernist-Funda-
were the issues of “verbal inspira- mentalist controversy. That Seventh- responses to “infidels” and to higher criticism. Thus, F. M.
tion” and “infallibility” of prophetic day Adventists had historically held Wilcox asserted that “Seventh-day Adventists, with their
writings. to a view of Scripture that had much
Regarding the subject of verbal in- in common with Fundamentalism is
historical belief in the Divine Word, should count themselves
spiration of Ellen White’s testi- evident from their former responses the chief of Fundamentalists today.”
monies, A. G. Daniells stated that nei- to “infidels” and to higher criticism.
ther Ellen White, nor James White, Thus, F. M. Wilcox asserted that
nor W. C. White, nor anyone of “the “Seventh-day Adventists, with their
persons who helped to prepare those historical belief in the Divine Word, of the first paragraphs of that sec- Plenary Inspiration,” House rejected
Testimonies” ever claimed it.37 should count themselves the chief of tion was a quotation from the non- the theories (1) of partial inspira-
As far as infallibility is concerned, Fundamentalists today.”41 Adventist author William Evans, tion, for implying that “the Bible
A. G. Daniells stated that it is not On July 15, 1920, the Review and stating that since inspiration is “God contains much that is not inspired”;
right to regard the Spirit of Proph- Herald published a report on the speaking through men,” the Old Tes- (2) of concept or thought inspira-
ecy as “the only safe interpreter of second Conference of Christian tament is “just as much the Word of tion, for leaving the Bible writers
the Bible.”38 He argued also that Fundamentals, held in Chicago, Illi- God as though God spake every sin- “absolutely to themselves in the
Ellen White “never claimed to be an nois. Leon A. Smith, literary editor gle word of it with His own lips.”42 choice of words they should use”;
authority on history” or “a dogmatic of the Press Bureau of the General Later on in the book, House de- (3) of mechanical or dynamic inspi-
teacher on theology”39 and that she Conference, reported that “the con- fined more clearly his own concept of ration, for not accounting for “the
never regarded her “historical quo- ference affirmed its belief in the ver- inspiration. He distinguished inspira- different style of the various writers”
tations” as infallible.40 bal inspiration of the Old and New tion from revelation by postulating and for “the material secured from
That the church leadership at large Testaments as first penned by the that while revelation is the “act of historical records”; (4) of natural in-
did not follow Daniells’ views of in- Bible writers.” For Smith, “all this God by which He directly communi- spiration, for denying “the supernat-
spiration is evident not only from the was good.” cates truth to man,” inspiration ural and the mysterious in the
fact that the records of the 1919 Bible In 1926, Benjamin L. House, pro- “refers to the divine superintendence Bible”; and (5) of illumination or
Conference and Bible and History fessor of Bible and Homiletics at Pa- which has been given in speaking or universal Christian inspiration, for
Teachers’ Council were not brought cific Union College, devoted a spe- writing all of the records found in the holding that “the Christians of every
to public attention during the years cial section of his Analytical Studies Bible.” Therefore, “all ‘revelation’ is age have been inspired just the same
that followed that conference, but in Bible Doctrines for Seventh-day ‘inspired,’ but all that is ‘inspired’ did as the Bible writers.”44
also from the fact that his views were Adventist Colleges to the topic of not come by ‘revelation.’”43 According to House, the theory
not reflected in the content of the sev- “The Inspiration of the Bible.” One Holding the view of “Verbal or of “Verbal or Plenary Inspiration”

34 http://digitalcommons.andrews.edu/pd/vol13/iss3/2
35 12
Timm: Adventist Views on Inspiration
In 1935, Carlyle B. Haynes, then president of the verbal inspiration, then it is sense- an uninspired account of inspired
less, nonsensical, to speak of an in- thoughts.” For him, inspiration was
Michigan Conference, came out with his 222-page God’s spiration of the Bible.”46 plenary, by which he suggested that
Book, expanding considerably his previous arguments on in- The contemporary emphasis on “God’s inspiration includes the form
the trustworthiness of the Bible was as well as the substance,” and that it
spiration. In this new book, Haynes spoke of revelation
also reflected in the wording of the “extends to the words as well as the
as “the informing process” and inspiration as “the imparting 1931 “Fundamental Beliefs of Sev- thoughts.” Haynes justified his posi-
process.” He argued that as the information recorded by enth-day Adventists.” Instead of tion saying that “we cannot know
speaking of the Holy Scriptures as God’s thoughts unless we know His
inspired writers does not always come from supernatural rev- “the only infallible rule of faith and words.”50
elation, so individuals who sometimes receive divine revela- practice,” as both the 1872 and 1889 Haynes argued also that the Bible
statements of beliefs did, the 1931 writers “required inspiration” to pro-
tions do not necessarily become inspired prophets. statement came out referring to duce a record “infallibly preserved”
Scripture as “the only unerring rule from “all error and mistake.”51 He re-
of faith and practice.”47 The Sabbath garded the Bible as infallibly accurate
school lesson for April 8, 1933, re- and precise not only in its historical
holds that “all Scripture is inspired, 2 rized Bible Vindicated, advocating ferred to Numbers 22:38 and Ezekiel accounts but also in its predictions of
Tim. 3:16, that the selection of the the reliability of the King James Ver- 1:3; 2:7 in support of the idea that the future. For him, science and the
very words of Scripture in the origi- sion and blaming other modern ver- “inspiration does not leave a man to Bible were in agreement.
nal languages was overruled by the sions for being distorted by Mod- speak his own words.”48 In 1944, a new edition of F. M.
Holy Spirit in some [way] . . . , and ernist influence. Such assertions In 1935, Carlyle B. Haynes, then Wilcox’s Testimony of Jesus, with an
that the writers did experience the were responded to by a committee president of the Michigan Confer- additional chapter on “The Inspira-
guiding and controlling influence of from the General Conference, to ence, came out with his 222-page tion of the Bible Writers,” came off
the divine Spirit in the choice of ma- which Wilkinson, in turn, replied. God’s Book, expanding considerably the press. It was in this chapter that
terial. He guided the writer even in In June 1931, Ministry reprinted his previous arguments on inspira- probably for the first time Ellen
the choice of what imperial decrees, several paragraphs from the non- tion. In this new book, Haynes spoke White’s Manuscript 16, 1888 (“The
genealogies, official letters, state pa- Adventist E. Kretzmann’s article of revelation as “the informing Inspiration of the Word of God”)
pers, or historical matters he might “Modern Views About Inspiration.” process” and inspiration as “the im- and Manuscript 24, 1886 (“Objec-
find necessary for recording the di- This reprint stated, under the title parting process.” He argued that as tions to the Bible”) appeared in
vine message of salvation.”45 “Valuable Quotations From Reliable the information recorded by in- print. The second of these manu-
Although Ellen White and other Sources,” that “all the thoughts” and spired writers does not always come scripts would be quoted frequently
Seventh-day Adventist authors had “all the words of Scriptures” were in- from supernatural revelation, so in- in later discussions of the Seventh-
endorsed the use of different English spired by the Holy Spirit. “Not only dividuals who sometimes receive di- day Adventist teaching of biblical in-
versions of the Bible, in 1930, Ben- is every word of doctrine true, but vine revelations do not necessarily spiration.
jamin G. Wilkinson, dean of the there is also no mistake in the histor- become inspired prophets (See Ex. Also during the period 1915 to
School of Theology and professor of ical data offered, nor in any other 19ff.).49 1950, some of the most significant
Biblical exegesis at Washington Mis- point of divine or human knowl- Haynes stated that in Scripture Seventh-day Adventist studies in ge-
sionary College, in Takoma Park, edge.” Since “the Holy Scripture con- “there is no mechanical dictation, but ology, biblical archeology, and biblical
Maryland, published his Our Autho- sists of words,” “if we do not accept inspiration,” which “means more than chronology appeared in support of

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36 2008 13 37
Perspective Digest, Vol. 13 [2008], Iss. 3, Art. 2
In 1935, Carlyle B. Haynes, then president of the verbal inspiration, then it is sense- an uninspired account of inspired
less, nonsensical, to speak of an in- thoughts.” For him, inspiration was
Michigan Conference, came out with his 222-page God’s spiration of the Bible.”46 plenary, by which he suggested that
Book, expanding considerably his previous arguments on in- The contemporary emphasis on “God’s inspiration includes the form
the trustworthiness of the Bible was as well as the substance,” and that it
spiration. In this new book, Haynes spoke of revelation
also reflected in the wording of the “extends to the words as well as the
as “the informing process” and inspiration as “the imparting 1931 “Fundamental Beliefs of Sev- thoughts.” Haynes justified his posi-
process.” He argued that as the information recorded by enth-day Adventists.” Instead of tion saying that “we cannot know
speaking of the Holy Scriptures as God’s thoughts unless we know His
inspired writers does not always come from supernatural rev- “the only infallible rule of faith and words.”50
elation, so individuals who sometimes receive divine revela- practice,” as both the 1872 and 1889 Haynes argued also that the Bible
statements of beliefs did, the 1931 writers “required inspiration” to pro-
tions do not necessarily become inspired prophets. statement came out referring to duce a record “infallibly preserved”
Scripture as “the only unerring rule from “all error and mistake.”51 He re-
of faith and practice.”47 The Sabbath garded the Bible as infallibly accurate
school lesson for April 8, 1933, re- and precise not only in its historical
holds that “all Scripture is inspired, 2 rized Bible Vindicated, advocating ferred to Numbers 22:38 and Ezekiel accounts but also in its predictions of
Tim. 3:16, that the selection of the the reliability of the King James Ver- 1:3; 2:7 in support of the idea that the future. For him, science and the
very words of Scripture in the origi- sion and blaming other modern ver- “inspiration does not leave a man to Bible were in agreement.
nal languages was overruled by the sions for being distorted by Mod- speak his own words.”48 In 1944, a new edition of F. M.
Holy Spirit in some [way] . . . , and ernist influence. Such assertions In 1935, Carlyle B. Haynes, then Wilcox’s Testimony of Jesus, with an
that the writers did experience the were responded to by a committee president of the Michigan Confer- additional chapter on “The Inspira-
guiding and controlling influence of from the General Conference, to ence, came out with his 222-page tion of the Bible Writers,” came off
the divine Spirit in the choice of ma- which Wilkinson, in turn, replied. God’s Book, expanding considerably the press. It was in this chapter that
terial. He guided the writer even in In June 1931, Ministry reprinted his previous arguments on inspira- probably for the first time Ellen
the choice of what imperial decrees, several paragraphs from the non- tion. In this new book, Haynes spoke White’s Manuscript 16, 1888 (“The
genealogies, official letters, state pa- Adventist E. Kretzmann’s article of revelation as “the informing Inspiration of the Word of God”)
pers, or historical matters he might “Modern Views About Inspiration.” process” and inspiration as “the im- and Manuscript 24, 1886 (“Objec-
find necessary for recording the di- This reprint stated, under the title parting process.” He argued that as tions to the Bible”) appeared in
vine message of salvation.”45 “Valuable Quotations From Reliable the information recorded by in- print. The second of these manu-
Although Ellen White and other Sources,” that “all the thoughts” and spired writers does not always come scripts would be quoted frequently
Seventh-day Adventist authors had “all the words of Scriptures” were in- from supernatural revelation, so in- in later discussions of the Seventh-
endorsed the use of different English spired by the Holy Spirit. “Not only dividuals who sometimes receive di- day Adventist teaching of biblical in-
versions of the Bible, in 1930, Ben- is every word of doctrine true, but vine revelations do not necessarily spiration.
jamin G. Wilkinson, dean of the there is also no mistake in the histor- become inspired prophets (See Ex. Also during the period 1915 to
School of Theology and professor of ical data offered, nor in any other 19ff.).49 1950, some of the most significant
Biblical exegesis at Washington Mis- point of divine or human knowl- Haynes stated that in Scripture Seventh-day Adventist studies in ge-
sionary College, in Takoma Park, edge.” Since “the Holy Scripture con- “there is no mechanical dictation, but ology, biblical archeology, and biblical
Maryland, published his Our Autho- sists of words,” “if we do not accept inspiration,” which “means more than chronology appeared in support of

36 http://digitalcommons.andrews.edu/pd/vol13/iss3/2
37 14
Timm: Adventist Views on Inspiration
the trustworthiness of the Bible. Among those trends would be an in- Words or Ideas?” RH (March 13, 1888), pp. 34
__________, Selected Messages, Book 3,
George M. Price, for instance, penned creasing tendency to define inspira- 168, 169. p. 307.
16
D. M. Canright, Seventh-day Adventism 35
__________, The Great Controversy
several books in which he used geo- tion from factual studies on the per- Renounced: After an Experience of 28 Years by (1888), p. d; ibid. (1911), p. vii.
logical data to support the biblical son and writings of Ellen White. a Prominent Minister and Writer of That Faith 36
C. M. Snow, “An Attack Upon God,” RH
accounts of Creation and the Flood. (Kalamazoo, Mich.: Kalamazoo Publ. Co., (Oct. 24, 1912), p. 11.
This article is the first of three parts. 1888), pp. 44, 45. 37
A. G. Daniells, in “Inspiration of the
W. W. Prescott, Lynn H. Wood, and 17
Editorial, “Questions on Inspiration,” Spirit of Prophecy as Related to the Inspiration
several others used archeology in Signs of the Times (Oct. 27, 1890), p. 531. of the Bible,” 17, in 1919 Bible Conference tran-
REFERENCES
confirming the historicity of Bible 1
William Miller, Apology and Defence
18
Editorial, “2976.—Versions and Verbal scripts, Aug. 1, 1919, fld. 5, EGWRC-AU.
accounts. Edwin R. Thiele demon- (Boston: Joshua V. Himes, 1845), pp. 5, 6. Inspiration,” Question Corner, Signs of the 38
__________, in “Use of the Spirit of
strated in his Ph.D. dissertation, 2
__________, [“Statement of Faith”], Times (Nov. 17, 1909), p. 2 (italics in the orig- Prophecy in Our Teaching of Bible and His-
Sept. 5, 1822, ASC; Sylvester Bliss, Memoirs of inal). tory,” 9, in 1919 Bible Conference transcripts,
“The Chronology of the Kings of 19
Quoted in Ellen G. White in Selected July 30, 1919, fld. 5, EGWRC-AU.
William Miller (Boston: Joshua V. Himes,
Judah and Israel” (1943), that many 1853), p. 77. Messages, Book 1, p. 24. (The words every, 39
Ibid., p. 16.
of the so-called historical discrepan- 3
William Miller, Evidence From Scripture any, and all are underlined in the original.) 40
Ibid., p. 26.
cies of the Bible could actually be and History of the Second Coming of Christ,
20
Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, Book 41
F. M. W[ilcox], “Forsaking the Founda-
About the Year 1843 (Troy, N.Y.: Kemble & 1, p. 24. tions of Faith,” RH (Nov. 28, 1929), p. 14.
synchronized.
Hooper, 1836), p. 5.
21
__________, Great Controversy (1888), Leon A. Smith, “The Chicago Conference
Despite the seeds of disbelief in 4
James White, A Word to the “Little Flock” p. vi. of Christian Fundamentals,” RH (July 15,
Ellen White’s prophetic ministry (Brunswick, Me.: James White, 1847), p. 13.
22
__________, in Selected Messages, Book 1920), p. 20.
that Ludwig R. Conradi sowed in 5
Uriah Smith, A Declaration of the Fun- 1, p. 21. 42
William Evans, The Great Doctrines of
damental Principles Taught and Practiced by
23
Ibid., p. 17. the Bible (Chicago: The Moody Press, 1912),
Europe during the 1930s, several
the Seventh-day Adventists (Battle Creek,
24
Ellen G. White to R. A. Underwood, Jan. pp. 194, 195, in Benjamin L. House, Analytical
new books came of the press in both Mich.: Steam Press of the Seventh-day Ad- 18, 1889, Ellen G. White Research Center— Studies in Bible Doctrines for Seventh-day Ad-
the United States and Europe (be- ventist [SDA] Publ. Assn., 1872), p. 5. Andrews University (EGWRC—AU). ventist Colleges: A Course in Biblical Theology,
tween 1915 and 1950) advocating 6
Moses Hull, The Bible From Heaven: Or
25
Ellen G. White, in Selected Messages, tentative ed. ([Washington, D.C.]: General
the genuineness of her prophetic A Dissertation on the Evidences of Christianity Book 1, p. 21. Conference Department of Education, 1926),
(Battle Creek: Steam Press, 1863), pp. 168,
26
__________, Testimony for the Church, pp. 60-69.
gift. Those books, however, were No. 26 (Oakland, Calif.: Pacific Press Publ. 43
Ibid., p. 62.
169,
more concerned with proving the 7
Emmett K. Vande Vere, Rugged Heart: Assn., 1876), in Testimonies for the Church, 44
Ibid., pp. 66-68.
prophetic gift of Ellen White than in The Story of George I. Butler (Nashville, vol. 4, p. 10. 45
Ibid., p. 66.
discussing the actual nature of her Tenn.: Southern Publ. Assn., 1979), p. 66.
27
__________, Spiritual Gifts, My Chris- 46
P. E. Kretzmann, “Modern Views About
8
G. I. Butler, “Inspiration [—No. 1],” Re- tian Experience, Views and Labors (Battle Inspiration—and the Truth of Scriptures,”
inspiration. Creek, Mich.: James White, 1860), vol., 2, p. Princeton Theological Review 27 (April 1929),
view and Herald (hereafter referred to as RH)
Up to the 1950s, Seventh-day Ad- (Jan. 8, 1884), p. 24. 293. in “Valuable Quotations From Reliable
ventists were much concerned about 9
Ibid.
28
__________, Selected Messages, Book 1, Sources,” Ministry (June 1931), pp. 20, 21.
defending the trustworthiness of 10
G. I. Butler, “Inspiration [—No. 9],” RH p. 37. 47
1931 Yearbook of the Seventh-day Ad-
(May 27, 1884), p. 344.
29
Signs of the Times, April 15, 1906. ventist Denomination (Washington, D.C.: Re-
Scripture from Modernist attacks. 30
__________, Steps to Christ (New York: view and Herald Publ. Assn. [1931]), 377, art.
11
G. I. Butler, “Inspiration [—No. 7],” RH
The inspiration of the Scriptures was (April 22, 1884), pp. 265, 266. Fleming H. Revell, 1892), p. 107. 1 (italics supplied).
largely defined during that period in 12
Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, Book
31
__________, Gospel Workers (Washing- 48
Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly, No.
terms of infallibility and verbal inspi- 1, p. 22. ton, D.C.: Review and Herald Publ. Assn., 152 (2nd quarter 1933), p. 7.
13
Sabbath School Lessons for Senior 1915), p. 312. 49
Haynes, God’s Book, p. 136 (italics in the
ration. From the 1950s on, however,
Classes, No. 98 (1st quarter 1893), p. 9.
32
__________, “The Tasmanian Camp- original).
Seventh-day Adventists would see the 14
G. W. Morse, “Scripture Questions,” RH meeting,” RH (Feb. 11, 1896), p. 81. 50
Ibid., p. 138 (italics in the original).
rise of new trends that would multi- (March 6, 1888), p. 155.
33
__________, Testimonies for the Church, 51
Ibid., pp. 136, 137 (italics in the origi-
ply during the 1970s and early 1980s. 15
Uriah Smith, “Which Are Revealed, vol. 4, p. 369. nal).

Published by Digital Commons @ Andrews University,


38 2008 15 39
Perspective Digest, Vol. 13 [2008], Iss. 3, Art. 2
the trustworthiness of the Bible. Among those trends would be an in- Words or Ideas?” RH (March 13, 1888), pp. 34
__________, Selected Messages, Book 3,
George M. Price, for instance, penned creasing tendency to define inspira- 168, 169. p. 307.
16
D. M. Canright, Seventh-day Adventism 35
__________, The Great Controversy
several books in which he used geo- tion from factual studies on the per- Renounced: After an Experience of 28 Years by (1888), p. d; ibid. (1911), p. vii.
logical data to support the biblical son and writings of Ellen White. a Prominent Minister and Writer of That Faith 36
C. M. Snow, “An Attack Upon God,” RH
accounts of Creation and the Flood. (Kalamazoo, Mich.: Kalamazoo Publ. Co., (Oct. 24, 1912), p. 11.
This article is the first of three parts. 1888), pp. 44, 45. 37
A. G. Daniells, in “Inspiration of the
W. W. Prescott, Lynn H. Wood, and 17
Editorial, “Questions on Inspiration,” Spirit of Prophecy as Related to the Inspiration
several others used archeology in Signs of the Times (Oct. 27, 1890), p. 531. of the Bible,” 17, in 1919 Bible Conference tran-
REFERENCES
confirming the historicity of Bible 1
William Miller, Apology and Defence
18
Editorial, “2976.—Versions and Verbal scripts, Aug. 1, 1919, fld. 5, EGWRC-AU.
accounts. Edwin R. Thiele demon- (Boston: Joshua V. Himes, 1845), pp. 5, 6. Inspiration,” Question Corner, Signs of the 38
__________, in “Use of the Spirit of
strated in his Ph.D. dissertation, 2
__________, [“Statement of Faith”], Times (Nov. 17, 1909), p. 2 (italics in the orig- Prophecy in Our Teaching of Bible and His-
Sept. 5, 1822, ASC; Sylvester Bliss, Memoirs of inal). tory,” 9, in 1919 Bible Conference transcripts,
“The Chronology of the Kings of 19
Quoted in Ellen G. White in Selected July 30, 1919, fld. 5, EGWRC-AU.
William Miller (Boston: Joshua V. Himes,
Judah and Israel” (1943), that many 1853), p. 77. Messages, Book 1, p. 24. (The words every, 39
Ibid., p. 16.
of the so-called historical discrepan- 3
William Miller, Evidence From Scripture any, and all are underlined in the original.) 40
Ibid., p. 26.
cies of the Bible could actually be and History of the Second Coming of Christ,
20
Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, Book 41
F. M. W[ilcox], “Forsaking the Founda-
About the Year 1843 (Troy, N.Y.: Kemble & 1, p. 24. tions of Faith,” RH (Nov. 28, 1929), p. 14.
synchronized.
Hooper, 1836), p. 5.
21
__________, Great Controversy (1888), Leon A. Smith, “The Chicago Conference
Despite the seeds of disbelief in 4
James White, A Word to the “Little Flock” p. vi. of Christian Fundamentals,” RH (July 15,
Ellen White’s prophetic ministry (Brunswick, Me.: James White, 1847), p. 13.
22
__________, in Selected Messages, Book 1920), p. 20.
that Ludwig R. Conradi sowed in 5
Uriah Smith, A Declaration of the Fun- 1, p. 21. 42
William Evans, The Great Doctrines of
damental Principles Taught and Practiced by
23
Ibid., p. 17. the Bible (Chicago: The Moody Press, 1912),
Europe during the 1930s, several
the Seventh-day Adventists (Battle Creek,
24
Ellen G. White to R. A. Underwood, Jan. pp. 194, 195, in Benjamin L. House, Analytical
new books came of the press in both Mich.: Steam Press of the Seventh-day Ad- 18, 1889, Ellen G. White Research Center— Studies in Bible Doctrines for Seventh-day Ad-
the United States and Europe (be- ventist [SDA] Publ. Assn., 1872), p. 5. Andrews University (EGWRC—AU). ventist Colleges: A Course in Biblical Theology,
tween 1915 and 1950) advocating 6
Moses Hull, The Bible From Heaven: Or
25
Ellen G. White, in Selected Messages, tentative ed. ([Washington, D.C.]: General
the genuineness of her prophetic A Dissertation on the Evidences of Christianity Book 1, p. 21. Conference Department of Education, 1926),
(Battle Creek: Steam Press, 1863), pp. 168,
26
__________, Testimony for the Church, pp. 60-69.
gift. Those books, however, were No. 26 (Oakland, Calif.: Pacific Press Publ. 43
Ibid., p. 62.
169,
more concerned with proving the 7
Emmett K. Vande Vere, Rugged Heart: Assn., 1876), in Testimonies for the Church, 44
Ibid., pp. 66-68.
prophetic gift of Ellen White than in The Story of George I. Butler (Nashville, vol. 4, p. 10. 45
Ibid., p. 66.
discussing the actual nature of her Tenn.: Southern Publ. Assn., 1979), p. 66.
27
__________, Spiritual Gifts, My Chris- 46
P. E. Kretzmann, “Modern Views About
8
G. I. Butler, “Inspiration [—No. 1],” Re- tian Experience, Views and Labors (Battle Inspiration—and the Truth of Scriptures,”
inspiration. Creek, Mich.: James White, 1860), vol., 2, p. Princeton Theological Review 27 (April 1929),
view and Herald (hereafter referred to as RH)
Up to the 1950s, Seventh-day Ad- (Jan. 8, 1884), p. 24. 293. in “Valuable Quotations From Reliable
ventists were much concerned about 9
Ibid.
28
__________, Selected Messages, Book 1, Sources,” Ministry (June 1931), pp. 20, 21.
defending the trustworthiness of 10
G. I. Butler, “Inspiration [—No. 9],” RH p. 37. 47
1931 Yearbook of the Seventh-day Ad-
(May 27, 1884), p. 344.
29
Signs of the Times, April 15, 1906. ventist Denomination (Washington, D.C.: Re-
Scripture from Modernist attacks. 30
__________, Steps to Christ (New York: view and Herald Publ. Assn. [1931]), 377, art.
11
G. I. Butler, “Inspiration [—No. 7],” RH
The inspiration of the Scriptures was (April 22, 1884), pp. 265, 266. Fleming H. Revell, 1892), p. 107. 1 (italics supplied).
largely defined during that period in 12
Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, Book
31
__________, Gospel Workers (Washing- 48
Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly, No.
terms of infallibility and verbal inspi- 1, p. 22. ton, D.C.: Review and Herald Publ. Assn., 152 (2nd quarter 1933), p. 7.
13
Sabbath School Lessons for Senior 1915), p. 312. 49
Haynes, God’s Book, p. 136 (italics in the
ration. From the 1950s on, however,
Classes, No. 98 (1st quarter 1893), p. 9.
32
__________, “The Tasmanian Camp- original).
Seventh-day Adventists would see the 14
G. W. Morse, “Scripture Questions,” RH meeting,” RH (Feb. 11, 1896), p. 81. 50
Ibid., p. 138 (italics in the original).
rise of new trends that would multi- (March 6, 1888), p. 155.
33
__________, Testimonies for the Church, 51
Ibid., pp. 136, 137 (italics in the origi-
ply during the 1970s and early 1980s. 15
Uriah Smith, “Which Are Revealed, vol. 4, p. 369. nal).

38 http://digitalcommons.andrews.edu/pd/vol13/iss3/2
39 16