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Bradford’s More Than A Prophet

October 27, 2006

Graeme Bradford’s latest book More Than A Prophet has caused quite a stir. The Ellen G. White Estate itself has taken the unprecedented step of issuing a notice about its “strong concerns” regarding the book.

Bradford has replied to their statement here. (I’m grateful to the Adventist History blog for the heads-up regarding Bradford’s reply.

I confess that I have not yet read Bradford’s book yet, though I appreciated his two previous books: Prophets are Human and People Are Human. (Prophets are Human was in fact, one of the assigned readings for the Ministry and Message of Ellen G. White class that I taught this year.)

In the area of Ellen White studies I’d also like to recommend:

Alden Thompson‘s book: Escape From the Flames: how Ellen White grew from fear to joy and helped me do it also. (Pacific Press, 2005)

David Hamstra has an interview with Thompson about his book on his now inactive blog apokalupto.

George Knight’s four books: Reading Ellen White; Meeting Ellen White; Walking With Ellen White, & Ellen White’s World.

There was a conference held in the US last year: the Ellen White Summit 2005 & the audio & video recordings are available for download. Particularly worth listening too is the final Q&A session.

8 comments

  1. I am a Seventh-day Adventist pastor, in the ministry of the church in South Africa for 32 years. Served on Conferecne and Union levels.
    Thank God for a book like “More than a Prophet” that Graeme Bradford has had the courage to write.
    I commend his book highly. And have recommended every SDA believer to read it. I truely had lost much of my faith about Ellen White, but regained it again “found it again” through the reading of this book.
    God bless you. Brian Sterley


    • Brian,
      The entire book is available online for people to read. It’s easier then haveing to send to the states for a copy…expensive.
      I helped with the corrected/edited edition Dr. Sam had printed berfore he passed away. as well as having a hand in the online edition you’ll see at the link below.

      http://sdanet.org/atissue/books/bradford/index.htm

      Blessings,
      Karl Wagner


  2. I got a chance to read (and proofread) the online edition of MORE THAN A PROPHET at SDAnet.org. My response to the work is that the author has grappled with issues that I have not seen dealt with since Daniells’ THE ABIDING GIFT OF PROPHECY, in particular, prophets in the church since New Testament times. Yet, I also have some concern.

    Bradford’s portrayal of the “real Ellen White” is unfortunately all too human. While it is true that our faith must be relevant to the world in which we live, the focus in this book on “cultural expectations,” “historical inaccuracies,” and Ellen White’s supposed embracing of mistaken ideas from her contemporaries casts Ellen White’s writings as a fallible product of her times–a noble but flawed reaction to social forces which no longer exist. The net effect is to undercut Adventist confidence in God’s guidance in the ministry of Ellen White. So focused, the book might be better titled THE WEAKEST OF THE WEAK, with a corresponding subtitle, “Handling Criticisms by Lowering Our Expectations.” To Bradford’s credit, he does offer one balancing statement, hidden at the end of chapter 16, to counteract the book’s overly humanized focus:

    “When dealing with the above listed subjects we must be careful not to give a wrong impression of her work. The danger is that when we talk of some erroneous concepts where she reflects her culture we may forget that this is not generally true of her work. Much time could easily be given to consideration of how she could as a relatively uneducated person in the 19th century be so right when her contemporaries were wrong. . . .” p. 136.

    It could be given, but it wasn’t. Arthur Patrick reported Jonathan Butler’s response to Erwin Gane at the 1982 Prophetic Guidance Workshop regarding Ellen White’s prophetic insight:

    “… he agrees that her writings should be seen as Biblically informed, and not be regarded as merely the product of 19th-century political and social influences.”

    Researching a number of Ellen White’s supposed errors in THE GREAT CONTROVERSY, I have discovered that the “error” generally lies in the presupposition of the critic and not in the actual statement of Ellen White. I believe we jump far too quickly to the defense of “prophets are human”–which is certainly true–when a more careful review of the facts would vindicate their divine inspiration.


  3. We should also note that Graeme’s book is a real attempt at opening up discussion on this very imporatant topic, not to be the final word on it. However low Graeme set the standards regarding inspiration, it is up to us to join with him in discussing these things, unlike a number of our top watchdogs like the GC, the BRI and the White Estate’s attempt to obscure (for another 25 years) things we already know but have failed to bring to the rank and file for fear they may not be able to handle it. In the end, has Graeme really set her too low, or have we set her so high in the past, that we just don’t know where to reset her? So lets keep talking and adjusting.


    • Fair enough, Karl. How do we get started? Do you know if he has access to this website?

      I happen to agree that we should help people to better understand the process of inspiration. However, I have not found resistance on the part of the White Estate to consider and present these issues, but rather concern that we carefully consider the implications of our explanations.

      I am currently engaged in a branch of research that Elder Daniells described at the 1919 Bible Conference:

      “What was charged as plagiarism would all have been simplified, and I believe men would have been saved to the cause if from the start we had understood this thing as it should have been” (Spectrum, vol. 10, no. 1, p. 51).

      I was led into this work by a worship talk by my conference president on SDA identity and by the providential guidance of having Dr. Fred Veltman’s research assistant, E. Marcella Anderson, as a member of my church with the start of a manuscript on Life of Christ Research Program, written for the non-technical reader. We published her research in 2009 in MORE THAN WORDS: A STUDY OF INSPIRATION AND ELLEN WHITE’S USE OF SOURCES IN THE DESIRE OF AGES.

      I am now extending Dr. Veltman’s study from the randomly selected 15 chapters to the entire book. It is making good progress, but I can work on it only as time allows.

      Kevin Morgan


  4. Kevin, I just emailed Graeme regarding your suggestion. I have a couple yahoo groups, and one would make a great place for this and we can archieve the posts. I have Anderson’s book and of course, it’s on the shelves of the ABCs right now. I also downloaded Veltman’s complete Research Project from the GC online documentsd site some time ago. What bone-crushing work you must be doing to complete the book. My hat’s off to you. I’ll let you know when Graeme responds back.
    Blessings


    • Thanks. I wait to hear what Dr. Bradford has to say. You describe the work as “bone-crushing,” and it is in the sense that Dr. Veltman had 8 years, funding, a full-time assistant and several volunteer readers to help him. I have been overly optimistic about how quickly I can get the work done, yet the previous work has helped me to develop a process that yields results more quickly. My original research has currently focused on finding the Ellen White writings that Marian Davis used to re-write the Spirit of Prophecy account of the life of Christ. It is in her letters, diaries, sermons, and manuscripts, as primary materials, and published articles and works, as secondary materials, that Ellen White occasionally reworks a spiritual thought gem of another writer as she seeks to encourage, warn, or illuminate an individual or group of believers on a spiritual issue.

      I’d be happy to share my work–and the load–if you would be interested.


      • Kevin,
        I knew Graeme and Jon Pauline have been working on their new series on Revelation and that his focus and energies are directed there for the time being. He is working on additonal material for the Revelation DVDs. If you haven’t seen them, you can get a sample of the work by going to http://revelationhope.com/session5 to a see a clip from one of the sessions.

        Graeme tells me, “I have some other important material I want to get into regarding Ellen White and her team of helpers. As soon as I can be free from working on the Revelation materials” So I will keep you posted.

        In the meantime, let me note again the White Estate’s obscurity in the matter. Had the IPGW been openly discussed from the start, Graeme would never have had to write his book. Arthur Patrick seems to have done more than others regarding this area of Ellen White studies as noted in his many papers on the subject. May I also note, “and its relationship to the larger issue of Revelation/Inspiration.” Which I feel is another area the church at large has taken a fundamental position on, and by fundamental, I guess I mean “backwards.” This goes way back to the 1970s program of Hyde/Hasel in selling the idea that the historical-gramatical method is the offical approved hermeneutic of the SDA Church. Cottrell refered to this as a glorified proof-text method in order to make it appear more scholary. Okay, maybe Cottrell overstated the issue, but he makes his point. A critical method had been used by our scholars before the ’70s, and I don’t mean “historical-critical” either.Even Alden Thompson is not a historical-critical scholar, though misunderstood as being one.

        This all gets back to what we as a church have done to Ellen White over the last 90 years, namely from 1920 to 1980. One young lady, a Bible worker for my conference, tells me that the 6,000 years is orthodox because Ellen White, as God’s inspired prophet, supports it in her writings. A clear sign that even today, our people are holding to verbal, enerrancy of Ellen White and clearly, in practice, set her over and against the Scriptures. At best,they interpret the Bible through her. This problem is not just a few, but mainline. These are the issues the White Estate cleary is not dealing with. As for the number of fine shelf documents regarding Ellen White and her gift of prophecy and its use, these documents must be gathering dust for they are not being read, especially by White Estate workers. Or at least the newer workers.

        At best, Fagal, bless his heart, makes a stab at addressing at least one issue of Grame’s book after the initial posting by Nix with a promise of a forthcoming response. That response has NEVER come. Fagal, in order to save face, does his best to supply something after so long a silence, but that wasn’t his job. But the damage is done by such a prestigious office (the White Estate) to a man and his book without any clear explaination for the people reading the disclaimer. Even the BRI should have come to their aid, but remained silent on an answer, rather offering just critism. Instead we get books like the Omega Rebellion (more Alpha/Omega specualtion) and 40 Days of Prayer (Last Geneation Perfectionism and Second Blessing) and they are promoted like they are the greatest things ever written. “An’t no wonder we got problems!”

        Graeme has not relegated Ellen White’s writing to mere culural origins any more than he has taught New Testament prophets are less inspired as Old Testament or any less authoritative. But even Ellen White herself limits her authority and so does her husband, beginning with the Word to the Little Flock, in 1847. The visions we are told are not given for a new light, and we are to base our theology on scriptures and test the gifts through them.

        The fruitful discussions will take place when we take Graeme’s book as a mere starting point and step outside of it to contine the dialog.

        Notice how people say that they get their understanding by the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. Even Ellen would wince at that. She gave Butler and Haskell “what-for” when they tried to do it. So that means we sholdn’t either. I’m interested in getting our people back to reading her books and getting the blessing I think we’ve been missing. But we must take her off the pedistal she never climbed up on, even at the intial risk of placing her too low.
        Blessings.
        PS: Your work sounds interesting, but I’ve gone back to school after 35 years and wouldn’t be able to give it the attention it needed. But I would like to see what you have been doing and to be kept abreast of it and its progress.



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