Who is Ellen White?
Ellen White was a Christian who, along with Joseph Bates and her husband James White, formed what is now known as the Seventh-day Adventist Church. She was born in 1827 and died in 1915. White reported to her fellow believers her visionary experiences. James White, and others of the Adventist pioneers, viewed these experiences as the Biblical gift of prophecy as outlined in Revelation 12:17 and 19:10 which describe the testimony of Jesus Christ as the "spirit of prophecy".
Her Conflict of the Ages series of writings endeavor to showcase the hand of God in Biblical and Christian church history. This cosmic conflict, referred to as the "Great Controversy theme", is foundational to the development of Seventh-day Adventist theology. White was considered a somewhat controversial figure. Her reports of visionary experiences and use of other sources in her writings comprise much of the controversy. She received her first vision soon after the Millerite Great Disappointment.
Historian Randall Balmer has described her as "one of the more important and colorful figures in the history of American religion". Walter Martin described her as "one of the most fascinating and controversial personages ever to appear upon the horizon of religious history."
Arthur L. White, her grandson and biographer, writes that Ellen G. White is the most translated female non-fiction author in the history of literature, as well as the most translated American non-fiction author of either gender.
Her writings covered creationism, agriculture, theology, evangelism, Christian lifestyle, education and health. She advocated vegetarianism. She promoted the establishment of schools and medical centers. During her lifetime she wrote more than 5,000 periodical articles and 40 books.
Today, including compilations from her 100,000 pages of manuscript, more than 100 titles are available in English. Some of her most famous books include The Desire of Ages, The Great Controversy and Steps to Christ. Her work on successful Christian living, Steps to Christ, has been published in more than 140 languages.
At the age of nine, Ellen was struck with a rock thrown by a jealous student. The injury severely disfigured her nose, and left her in a coma for several weeks. Ellen would later write of her conversion experience that happened a few years after the incident:
"This misfortune, which for a time seemed so bitter and was so hard to bear, has proved to be a blessing in disguise. The cruel blow which blighted the joys of earth, was the means of turning my eyes to heaven. I might never had known Jesus Christ, had not the sorrow that clouded my early years led me to seek comfort in him." A few years after her injury, Ellen, with her parents, attended a Methodist camp meeting at Buxton, Maine, and there, at the age of 12, she was converted.
In 1840, at age 12, her family became involved with the Millerite movement. As she attended William Miller's lectures, Ellen felt guilty for her sins, and she was filled with terror about being eternally lost. She describes herself as spending nights in tears and prayer, and being in this condition for several months. On June 26, 1842, She was baptized by John Hobart in Casco Bay in Portland, Maine, and eagerly awaited Jesus to come again. In her later years, she referred to this as the happiest time of her life. Her family's involvement with Millerism caused their disfellowship by the local Methodist church.
Marriage and family
Sometime in 1845 Ellen came into contact with her future husband James Springer White, a Millerite who became convinced that her visions were genuine. A year later James proposed and they were married by a justice of the peace in Portland, Maine, on August 30, 1846. James later wrote:
We were married August 30, 1846, and from that hour to the present she has been my crown of rejoicing....It has been in the good providence of God that both of us had enjoyed a deep experience in the Advent movement....This experience was now needed as we should join our forces and, united, labor extensively from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific....
James and Ellen had four sons: Henry Nichols, James Edson (known as Edson), William Clarence (known as Willie or W. C.), and John Herbert. Only Edson and William lived to adulthood. John Herbert died of erysipelas at the age of three months, and Henry died of pneumonia at the age of 16 in 1863.Final years and death
Ellen White spent the final years of her life in Elmshaven, her home in Saint Helena, California after the death of her husband James White in 1881. During her final years she would travel less frequently as she concentrated upon writing her last works for the church. Ellen G. White died July 16, 1915, at her home in Elmshaven, which is now an Adventist Historical Site. After three funerals, she is buried with her husband James White in Oak Hill Cemetery, Battle Creek, Michigan.
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