Testing any Prophet
by Fillmer Hevener, Ed.D.

Being Christians, we know that many false prophets attempt to lure us to them and satanic error. But there is a simple test that will tell us if a self-styled "prophet" is indeed under Divine inspiration.

What is that test? Isaiah 8:20. "To the Law and the Testimony, if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is NO light in them." Of course, the Law and the Testimony refer to God's commands and the witness (testimony) of the writers of the Bible, who were inspired. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God.." 2 Timothy 3:16.

I have been asked many times if I agree with the writings of Ellen White and other self-proclaimed prophets. My consistent response is simply, "I agree with writers who agree with the inspired writers of the Bible, and I disagree with writers who disagree with the Bible." I find this practice to be a safe and true way to separate truth from error.

Now, let's look at several points to see if Ellen White agrees with scripture.

First, are her teachings on tithing based on scripture?

Deuteronomy 14, clearly states the purpose of tithing and how tithes were to be used.

V. 22- The Israelites were to tithe the increase of their crops every year.

V. 23- The farmer and his family were to use the tithe in celebration of and in honor of God, who lessed their labors. They were to tithe corn, wine, oil, and animals.

Vs. 24-26- If the designated place of celebration were too far, the farmer was to sell the tithe, turn it into money, and go with his family to the designated place of celebration. Once they were there, they were to use the money for themselves, "for whatsoever thy soul desireth.."  Have you ever heard your pastor tell you to take tithe and use it for celebration for yourself and your family?

Vs. 27- The Levites, who cared for the Tabernacle and who served as priests, were to receive some of the tithe (no specific amount is designated.) However, as we study the writings of Paul in the New Testament, we find that the priestly system of Moses' day was done away with when Christ, died, arose, and went to sit at the right hand of the Father as our advocate and High Priest. Christ's death took the place of the animal sacrifices of the ceremonial system of Moses' time. No human
priest is needed to go between the Father, God, and the individual human. See Matthew 25, if you wish to understand how we give to our High Priest, today. We do so by caring for His needy children.

Vs. 28-29- At the end of each third year of the sabbatical cycle, the Israelites were to bring a tithe of their increase and store it within their storage facilities.

Again, the Levites were to receive a portion of the tithe, but some of the tithe was to go to strangers (refugees), orphans, and widows, who lived in the villages of the tithers.

Compare this Biblical instruction with that of Ellen White, who wrote, "One reasons that the tithe may be applied to school purposes. Still others reason that canvassers and colporteurs should be supported from the tithe. But a great mistake is made when the tithe is drawn from the object
for which it is to be used-the support of ministers." (Underlining mine,) Testimonies, Vol. 9, 248-249. What might she have said if one were to take some of the tithe for celebrating with his family? Rebuke, rebuke, rebuke!

Ellen White also taught that tithes should not be used to help the poor. (Counsels on Stewardship, 103.) Why does not Mrs. White support the Biblical instruction to use tithe for supporting widows, orphans, and refugees?

(For a more complete discussion of the tithing question and to see why tithing, a required practice under the ceremonial law, was replaced by free-will giving after Christ's death, see my article BEWARE THE TITHE TRAP, found at several places on the www; go to Google and type in the
title with my name, Fillmer Hevener.)

Second, did Ellen White become wealthy from her religious writings?

Reportedly, she died a quite wealthy woman! The vast majority of her wealth came from royalties on her books. It is reported that she made well over $100,000 in book royalties in her lifetime. In 2005 dollars, this would be over 2.2 million. In the 1890s and 1900s, it is again reported that she was making $8,000 to $12,000 per year from her book royalties; this did not include her salary from the church; some reports state that at times she had up to fourteen household servants and staff.
In 2005 dollars, this income would amount to $175,000 to $265,000 per year, which would put her in the top 1% of wage-earners in the world.

Remember, our Master lived and died, giving of Himself and teaching/preaching/healing without charge. No, He did not become wealthy from sharing the gospel of salvation. It cost Him His Life!

Third, how did some non-prophets use their royalties from publications?

In the 16th Century, Martin Luther translated the Bible into common German, the language of the people. The translation was an instant success. Luther could have become wealthy from the royalties on this book, but he REFUSED TO TAKE ANY ROYALTIES, stating that he wanted the
cost of the Bible to remain as low as possible so that even the peasants could have access to it. He did not wish to make money on God's word!

In the late 1870's, Dwight L. Moody, the great evangelist, and Ira Sankey, his marvelous hymn writer and pianist, were evangelizing in England. While there, Sankey made a hymnbook of many of his songs. When the Moody/Sankey team returned to America, their publisher told them that
their royalties amounted to over $35,000; in 2005 dollars this would be equal to 1,750,000. However, Moody and Sankey refused to accept a penny of it and left it for the committee that directed their campaign to use as they saw fit.

One can only believe that God was pleased with their generosity and lack of greed as well as their refusal to make money from spreading the gospel.

Therefore, what conclusion can you draw about Ellen White as a "prophet"? Were her teaching and her practices in the areas examined in this article, teachings and practices faithful to the doctrines of Christ and Scripture? Did she follow the "law and the testimony"?

For most objective Christians, the answer is clear!

 © 2005 Guthrie Memorial Chapel