Questions and answers | AUA EGW Branch Office

Questions and answers

WHAT IS THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY?

In Numbers 12:6, the Lord told Moses, Aaron, and Miriam that "When a prophet of the Lord is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams."  In Revelation 19:10, also, we are told: "At this I fell at his feet to worship him.  But he said to me, "Do not do it!  I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus.  Worship God!  For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." Therefore, the Spirit of prophecy is simply the testimony or witness of Jesus, or the self-revelation of Jesus. (Seventh-day Adventist Believe, 221).
 

WHAT IS THE GOAL OF THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY DEPARTMENT IN A CHURCH?

The Spirit of Prophecy department in a local church is to act as a guide to a clearer understanding of the Bible for that is how Ellen White considered her writings (Seventh-day Adventist Believe, 228#3).

WHAT ELLEN G. WHITE SAYS ON THE ISSUE OF JOINING WITH OTHER CHURCHES UNDER THE UMBRELLA OF INTER-RELIGIOUS COUNCIL?

If you are talking about ecumenism, you can go to the following website http://drc.whiteestate.org and search it for yourself because there is no need to give you more light than it has been already given. It is not necessary to repeat what has been stated. On the Search area type any question you have; for example, the word ECUMENISM. Be sure to also click one of the three or all three windows below. You can fine a lot of helpful material on many of your raised questions, including an inter-religious council.

WHAT DOES THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY SAY ON THE QUESTION OF 144,000 SAINTS OF REVELATION BECAUSE MANY BELIEVE AND TEACH THAT THE SAINTS ARE NOT LITERAL BUT SYMBOLIC?

 In regard to 144,000 Ellen G. White says,

Christ says that there will be those in the church who will present fables and suppositions, when God has given grand, elevating, ennobling truths which should ever be kept in the treasure house of the mind. When men pick up this theory and that theory, when they are curious to know something it is not necessary for them to know, God is not leading them. It is not His plan that His people shall present something which they have to suppose, which is not taught in the Word. It is not His will that they shall get into controversy over questions which will not help them spiritually, such as, Who is to compose the hundred and forty-four thousand? This those who are the elect of God will in a short time know without question.
My brethren and sisters, appreciate and study the truths God has given for you and your children. Spend not your time in seeking to know that which will be no spiritual help. What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" (Luke 10:25). This is the all-important question, and it has been clearly answered. "What is written in the law? how readest thou?”" (1SM 174).More on this topics read from http://drc.whiteestate.org/read.php?id=59388

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CHURCH MILITANT AND CHURCH TRIUMPHANT?

 Regarding these two characteristics of the church please read the following quotations of Ellen G. White. I hope they will shed a lot of light on the raised issue:     

The church militant is not the church triumphant, and earth is not heaven. The church is composed of erring, imperfect men and women, who are but learners in the school of Christ, to be trained, disciplined, educated, for this life and for the future, immortal life.
Some people seem to think that upon entering the church they will have their expectations fulfilled, and meet only with those who are pure and perfect. They are zealous in their faith, and when they see faults in church members, they say, "We left the world in order to have no association with evil characters, but the evil is here also;" and they ask, as did the servants in the parable, "From whence then hath it tares?" But we need not be thus disappointed, for the Lord has not warranted us in coming to the conclusion that the church is perfect; and all our zeal will not be successful in making the church militant as pure as the church triumphant.
The work is soon to close. The members of the church militant who have proved faithful will become the church triumphant.
The life of Christ was a life charged with a divine message of the love of God, and He longed intensely to impart this love to others in rich measure. Compassion beamed from His countenance, and His conduct was characterized by grace, humility, truth, and love. Every member of His church militant must manifest the same qualities, if he would join the church triumphant (FE 179; LDE 62).  

WHO ARE THE DAVIDIANS?

 The Shepherd’s Rod or Davidians is a movement which emerged in 1929 within the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church under the leadership of Víctor Tasho Houteff (1885-1955). Houteff thought he was the continuation of the gift of prophecy in the SDA Church, which had ceased in 1915 with the death of Ellen G. White.
Davidians are convinced that God has called them to “evangelize” the SDA Church. They believe that Houteff’s teachings contain “new light” for the church, and define themselves as the remnant of the remnant church. According to them, Houteff’s doctrine is free of error because God guided it and the Bible and the writings of Ellen G. White supported it fully.In opposite to Houteff, Mrs. White had absolute different attitude. She never claimed to be infallible. She said, “In regard to infallibility, I never claimed it; God alone is infallible. His word is true, and in Him is no variableness, or shadow of turning” (1 SM 37). Thus, if the writings of Houteff are free of error, then, the Bible and the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy are wrong. But, the evidence indicates that the pretense of Houteff is false; and therefore, he is described as a false prophet of a Davidian movement that rages a war with God’s Church.
For a comprehensive answer see the work of Dr. V. Figueroa, “The Bible, Ellen G. White and the Shepherd’s Rod Compared.”

HOW DO YOU DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN ELLEN WHITE’S PERSONAL OPINION AND LIGHT FROM GOD?

 E. G. White had something to say about her writings on this matter. 

   
The Position of Part Human, Part Divine.-- Many times in my experience I have been called upon to meet the attitude of a certain class, who acknowledged that the testimonies were from God, but took the position that this matter and that matter were Sister White's opinion and judgment. This suits those who do not love reproof and correction, and who, if their ideas are crossed, have occasion to explain the difference between the human and the divine.  
If the preconceived opinions or particular ideas of some are crossed in being reproved by testimonies, they have a burden at once to make plain their position to discriminate between the testimonies, defining what is Sister White's human judgment, and what is the word of the Lord. Everything that sustains their cherished ideas is divine, and the testimonies to correct their errors are human--Sister White's opinions. They make of none effect the counsel of God by their tradition.--  Manuscript 16, 1889. (3SM 68)
Sister White is not the originator of these books. They contain the instruction that during her lifework God has been giving her. They contain the precious, comforting light that God has graciously given His servant to be given to the world. From their pages this light is to shine into the hearts of men and women, leading them to the Saviour. (CM 125)
In these letters which I write, in the testimonies I bear, I am presenting to you that which the Lord has presented to me. I do not write one article in the paper expressing merely my own ideas. They are what God has opened before me in vision--the precious rays of light shining from the throne. (5T 67)Just like the biblical prophets, EGW had to deal with issues and questions that had nothing to do with her prophetic gift. What she wrote or said in regard to these matters was not inspired.See a letter to Dr. Paulson in 1906, founder and director of the Hinsdale Sanatorium:

In your letter you speak of your early training to have implicit faith in the testimonies and say, 'I was led to conclude and most firmly believe that every word that you ever spoke in public or private, that every letter you wrote under any and all circumstances, was as inspired as the Ten Commandments. My brother, you have studied my writings diligently, and you have never found that I have made any such claims, neither will you find that the pioneers in our cause ever made such claims (ISM 24).On the other hand, belief in EGW’s inspiration means by implication belief that what she declared to be from God must be accepted as such. "We must believe that what she gave, by either voice or pen, in printed page or through the medium of correspondence, as the messages of God, was true to this representation. We must accept her statement as true relative to this, or else reject altogether her call to the prophetic office” (F. M. Wilcox, The Testimony of Jesus, 64 in T. H. Jemison, A Prophet Among You, 396).

WILL THOSE WHO ARE NOT VEGETARIANS FIT FOR HEAVEN?

 EGW wrote the following statement in Review and Herald, on 27 May 1902. It is also printed in Counsels on Health, p. 575.

Greater reforms should be seen among the people who claim to be looking for the soon appearing of Christ. Health reform is to do among our people a work which it has not yet done. There are those who ought to be awake to the danger of meat eating, who are still eating the flesh of animals, thus endangering the physical, mental, and spiritual health. Many who are now only half converted on the question of meat eating will go from God's people, to walk no more with them.
In all our work we must obey the laws which God has given, that the physical and spiritual energies may work in harmony. Men may have a form of godliness, they may even preach the gospel, and yet be unpurified and unsanctified. Ministers should be strictly temperate in their eating and drinking, lest they make crooked paths for their feet, turning the lame--those weak in the faith --out of the way. If, while proclaiming the most solemn and important message God has ever given, men war against the truth by indulging wrong habits of eating and drinking, they take all the force from the message they bear.Many people become confused when they read the above-mentioned quotation; but it is not wise to take just one statement without considering the context and other quotations on the same topic.Though she gave such warnings about the effects of meat eating, EGW recognized that a vegetarian diet would not be the most healthful (or even possible) in every part of the world. In some places there is simply not the variety of wholesome foods available to sustain the vegetarian. She urged that one do the best he/she can in the prevailing circumstances. One of the best summaries of her position is found in Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, pp. 153-165. It was a message she delivered to the General Conference of 1909, the last one she ever attended. Here are several key paragraphs on the points:

Flesh Foods
If we could be benefited by indulging the desire for flesh foods, I would not make this appeal to you; but I know we cannot. Flesh foods are injurious to the physical well-being, and we should learn to do without them. Those who are in a position where it is possible to secure a vegetarian diet, but who choose to follow their own preferences in this matter, eating and drinking as they please, will gradually grow careless of the instruction the Lord has given regarding other phases of the present truth and will lose their perception of what is truth; they will surely reap as they have sown. (pp. 156-157)

"To the Glory of God"
We do not mark out any precise line to be followed in diet; but we do say that in countries where there are fruits, grains, and nuts in abundance, flesh food is not the right food for God's people. I have been instructed that flesh food has a tendency to animalize the nature, to rob men and women of that love and sympathy which they should feel for everyone, and to give the lower passions control over the higher powers of the being. If meat eating was ever healthful, it is not safe now. Cancers, tumors, and pulmonary diseases are largely caused by meat eating. We are not to make the use of flesh food a test of fellowship, but we should consider the influence that professed believers who use flesh foods have over others. As God's messengers, shall we not say to the people: "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God"? 1 Corinthians 10:31. Shall we not bear a decided testimony against the indulgence of perverted appetite? Will any who are ministers of the gospel, proclaiming the most solemn truth ever given to mortals, set an example in returning to the fleshpots of Egypt? Will those who are supported by the tithe from God's storehouse permit themselves by self-indulgence to poison the life-giving current flowing through their veins? Will they disregard the light and warnings that God has given them? The health of the body is to be regarded as essential for growth in grace and the acquirement of an even temper. If the stomach is not properly cared for, the formation of an upright, moral character will be hindered. The brain and nerves are in sympathy with the stomach. Erroneous eating and drinking result in erroneous thinking and acting. (pp. 159-160)In short, it should be said that Mrs. White recognized and warned about the physical, moral, and spiritual dangers involved in a meat diet, without insisting that everyone in every part of the world must stop eating meat. If meat eating jeopardizes one's salvation, it is because of the natural effects of the meat on the body and the sensibilities, even the moral ones, rather than its being a matter of disloyalty or disobedience to God in and of itself, such as Sabbath breaking or the failure to return the tithe might be. (The answer is partially taken from the website http://drc.whiteestate.org)

WHERE IS IT FOUND IN E. G. WHITE’S WRITING THAT MINISTERS WHO EAT MEAT CANNOT BE TRUSTED?

There are no such clear-cut statements in EGW writings. However, one can find a pretty good sampling of EGW’s counsel regarding ministers and meat eating collected together in Counsels on Diet and Foods, pp. 399-405. (The answer is partially taken from the website http://drc.whiteestate.org)

WHAT DOES E. WHITE WRITE ABOUT GROWING AND SELLING OF TEA AND COFFEE BY CHURCH MEMBERS?

While there is no counsel from EGW concerning the SDA merchant selling tea and coffee, in the Review and herald of 1868, EGW and her husband James White, joined in a joint statement regarding growing of hops, tobacco, and keeping of swine.

In answer to many inquiries, we would say that we believe there is business for Seventh-day Adventists to enter upon for a livelihood, more consistent with their faith than the raising of hops, tobacco, or swine.  
And we would recommend that they plant no more hops, or tobacco fields, and that they reduce the number of their swine. They may yet see it duty, as most consistent believers do, to keep no more. We would not urge this opinion upon any. Much less would we take the responsibility of saying, "Plow up your hop and tobacco fields, and sacrifice your swine to the dogs."
While we would say to those who are disposed to crowd hop, tobacco, and swine growers among our people, that they have no right to make these things, in any sense, a test of Christian fellowship, we would also say to those who have these miserable things on hand, "If you can get them off your hands without great loss, consistency with the faith of this people whose publications and oral teachings have so much to say on the subject of reform, more than suggests that you should get them off your hands as soon as possible." (2SM 338)Although the above statement doesn’t really talk about tea and coffee, there is a relationship between them. The statement points out a clear course for the Christian to follow. It didn’t counsel a radical or rash curse but pointed out that it is consistent for the Christian, as he/she is able, to turn from the production of the food products which are detrimental and use his/her energies and gain his/her livelihood in another way. Also, it is well when a SDA can witness to his/her convictions and beliefs about the harmful nature of tea and coffee in all of his/her activities.In the book Ministry of Healing, p. 335 EGW writes:

In relation to tea, coffee, tobacco, and alcoholic drinks, the only safe course is to touch not, taste not, handle not. The tendency of tea, coffee, and similar drinks is in the same direction as that of alcoholic liquor and tobacco, and in some cases the habit is as difficult to break as it is for the drunkard to give up intoxicants.This quotation is taken from the context of EGW writing about milder intoxicants (narcotics and unnatural stimulants) and the topic of temperance. It is impossible for one to sell tea and coffee without touching them and handling them. In the above statement, tea and coffee are also placed with tobacco and alcoholic drinks. In the book Ministry of Healing, p. 325-335 one can find the writings on the effects of stimulants (tea and coffee) and narcotics (tobacco and alcoholic drinks). It would not be proper for a Christian to sell things that damage other people if not themselves. In addition, the consistent course is to try to better the circumstances so as to be free from the handling of such crops.

SHOULD ADVENTIST CAFETERIAS AND RESTAURANTS BE OPENED ON SABBATH?

Is the cafeteria/restaurant a business that promotes cooking and serving health foods to the public or is it an institutional place (school, hospital, sanitarium, etc.) where food is served to its students, patients, etc.?Read the following quotations from EGW writing and try to see her clear statements regarding business on the Sabbath. Also, note what she says about feeding our sanitarium patients on Sabbaths.

On Friday let the preparation for the Sabbath be completed. See that all the clothing is in readiness and that all the cooking is done. . . . The Sabbath is not to be given to the repairing of garments, to the cooking of food, to pleasure seeking, or to any other worldly employment. Before the setting of the sun let all secular work be laid aside and all secular papers be put out of sight. {FLB 34.5}

The question has been asked, "Should our restaurants be opened on the Sabbath?" My answer is, No, no! The observance of the Sabbath is our witness to God--the mark, or sign, between Him and us that we are His people. Never is this mark to be obliterated.  {CH 489.1}

Were the workers in our restaurants to provide meals on the Sabbath the same as they do through the week, for the mass of people who would come, where would be their day of rest? What opportunity would they have to recruit their physical and spiritual strength?  {CH 489.2}  

Not long since, special light was given me on this subject. I was shown that efforts would be made to break down our standard of Sabbath observance, that men would plead for the opening of our restaurants on the Sabbath; but that this must never be done.  {CH 489.3}  

A scene passed before me. I was in our restaurant in San Francisco. It was Friday. Several of the workers were busily engaged in putting up packages of such foods as could be easily carried by the people to their homes, and a number were waiting to receive these packages. I asked the meaning of this, and the workers told me that some among their patrons were troubled because, on account of the closing of the restaurant, they could not on the Sabbath obtain food of the same kind as that which they used during the week. Realizing the value of the wholesome foods obtained at the restaurant, they protested against being denied them on the seventh day and pleaded with those in charge of the restaurant to keep it open every day in the week, pointing out what they would suffer if this were not done. "What you see today," said the workers, "is our answer to this demand for the health foods upon the Sabbath. These people take on Friday food that lasts over the Sabbath, and in this way we avoid condemnation for refusing to open the restaurant on the Sabbath."  {CH 489.4}   

In our sanitariums, the family of patients, with the physicians, nurses, and helpers, must be fed upon the Sabbath, as any other family, with as little labor as possible. But our restaurants should not be opened on the Sabbath. Let the workers be assured that they will have this day for the worship of God. The closed doors on the Sabbath stamp the restaurant as a memorial for God, a memorial which declares that the seventh day is the Sabbath and that on it no unnecessary work is to be done. (CH 490, 491)

While cooking upon the Sabbath should be avoided, it is not necessary to eat cold food. In cold weather let the food prepared the day before be heated. And let the meals, though simple, be palatable and attractive. Provide something that will be regarded as a treat, something the family do not have every day.  {CG 532.2}This information is close enough to the work of cafeterias in Adventist institutions. It may be advisable to serve packed food for the Sabbath breakfast on Friday before the sunset and relieve the cafeteria workers to go and worship the Lord on a Sabbath morning. Also, it may be advisable to rotate the cafeteria staff so they can both worship the Lord and serve people.An example of Sabbath observance can be brought from medical services. When Jesus was here on earth, He healed the sick, even on Sabbath, though He was criticized for it. EGWwrote that it is necessary to care for the sick, even on Sabbath, though she urged that no more than necessary work be done on that day.
Our hospitals do not close on the Sabbath. The patients who are already there will need care, and not every emergency or accident waits until after the Sabbath to happen. But there is a danger for our doctors and nurses here: they may begin to treat the Sabbath as no different from any other day, and they may miss the spiritual blessings and the physical rest that the Sabbath should bring to them.
For more information read a book Medical Ministry, in which EGW’s statements about how to serve God through medical work have been gathered together.

WHAT DID EGW SAY ABOUT CLAPPING HANDS IN CHURCH?

This is one of the areas in which EGW was silent. She did not write about clapping of hands in the church. It could be that clapping was not done during her days whether in Adventist churches or churches of other faiths.Different people have different views on the subject. Some consider it a way of appreciating someone, while others consider it as giving praise to the person.She has a number of statements against those seeking applause, but the word in such cases may mean "the praise of men" rather than the literal clapping of hands. Her references to "applause" seemed to be metaphorical, used as a substitute word for "praise" given to people and feeding their egos.

I have been shown that great caution should be used, even when it is necessary to lift a burden of oppression from men and women, lest they lean to their own wisdom, and fail to make God their only dependence. It is not safe to speak in praise of persons, or to exalt the ability of a minister of Christ. In the day of God, very many will be weighed in the balance and found wanting because of exaltation. I would warn my brethren and sisters never to flatter persons because of their ability; for they cannot bear it. Self is easily exalted, and in consequence, persons lose their balance. I say again to my brethren and sisters, If you would have your souls clean from the blood of all men, never flatter, never praise the efforts of poor mortals; for it may prove their ruin. It is unsafe, by our words and actions, to exalt a brother or sister, however apparently humble may be their deportment. If they really possess the meek and lowly spirit which God so highly esteems, help them to retain it. This will not be done by censuring them, nor by neglecting to properly appreciate their true worth. But there are few who can bear praise without being injured.  
Some ministers of ability who are now preaching present truth, love approbation. Applause stimulates them, as the glass of wine does the inebriate. Place these ministers where they have a small congregation, which promises no special excitement, and which provokes no decided opposition, and they will lose their interest and zeal, and appear as languid in the work as the inebriate when he is deprived of his dram. These men will fail to make real, practical laborers until they learn to labor without the excitement of applause. (GW92 275, 276)