Sunday, September 7, 2014

Ellen G White: on the Pope, Sabbath, her bad history

Remembering the official SDA writings state Ellen G White and her comments on scripture are inspired by God, I thought to look at what she says about the Pope since Seventh-Day Adventists are known for their pope obsessions--blaming him for everything and anything that's wrong in the world, the worst crime of all being "changing the Sabbath day to Sunday!"
I saw that the Sabbath was not nailed to the cross. If it was, the other nine commandments were; and we are at liberty to go forth and break them all, as well as to break the fourth. I saw that God had not changed the Sabbath, for he never changes. But the Pope had changed it from the seventh to the first day of the week; for he was to change times and laws.--The Review and Herald, Experience and Views. July 21, 1851
This is the typical SDA interpretation of Daniel that says pope is the one spoken of:
And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.--Daniel 7:25 KJV
She also makes the absurd statement that if God's law changed, then God changes! But the fact is we KNOW God did change the Law since He no longer requires a person to baptize themselves after touching a dead person, or declares a woman unclean after giving birth, or requiring physical circumcision on the 8th day of a male. Also, the problem there is no evidence the Pope ever changed the Sabbath day, all that Adventists can point to is a bunch of writings from magazines in the 19th century some of which are inaccurate, misleading, or fraudulent. Sometimes, they will point to a statement by early Christian writings talking about not keeping the Sabbath day, however, in either case, the SDA are never able to produce any actual evidence the Pope ever instructing the Church to cease observing a seventh day Sabbath and do a Sunday Sabbath. In fact, you will not find any reference in Catholic magisterium where Sunday is called the Sabbath day itself. Several early Catholic writings state they went to Mass on both the Sabbath and Sunday--showing Sunday was not considered by them to be the Sabbath day! The best Adventists can come up with is councils where Judaizers are addressed for keeping customs like the Sabbath, or a quote of 19th century bishop saying the Solemnity of the Sabbath was transferred, though not saying the Sabbath itself was! Its interesting the "prophet" Ellen cannot provide any evidence that it was the Pope that adopted the "Sunday Sabbath" as she would see it. Here is another statement I felt was riddled with errors in the same section:
For a number of years Milan was the capital of the kingdom of Italy, and since the fourth century it has surpassed Rome in extent, and in many respects in importance also. Here was the head of the church founded by St. Ambrose, whose diocese maintained its independence of the popes until the middle of the eleventh century. His diocese included not only the flourishing plains of Lombardy, but also the plains and mountain valleys of Piedmont, and the southern provinces of France. Although it is not to be supposed that the light of this people was entirely undimmed by the surrounding darkness of their age, still their faith was essentially Protestant, and in strong opposition to the Roman creed. --Ellen White, The Review and Herald, June 1, 1886, Visit to the Vaudois Valleys
It seems "God" has mislead the "Prophetess Ellen" once again! First, her description of St Ambrose's diocese of Milan included "also the plains and mountain valleys of Piedmont, and the southern provinces of France" is a massive exaggeration. We know this is inaccurate because St Ambrose wrote a letter to the church in Vercellæ (now spelled Vercelli), which is a city and province of Piedmont about how they need to select a new bishop to replace their now deceased bishop Limenius:

Ambrose, a servant of Christ, called to be a Bishop, to the Church of Vercellæ;, and to those who call on the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Grace be fulfilled unto you in the Holy Spirit from God the Father and His only-begotten Son. I am spent with grief that the Church of God which is among you is still without a bishop--St Ambrose, Letter 63, Letter to the Church of Vercellæ

Now, if Vercelli was part of St Ambrose's diocese why would he address it to "the Church of Vercellae" and then say they were still "without a bishop" if according to Ellen White, he, Ambrose, was their bishop?!

She states St Ambrose founded the Church of Milan, yet St Ambrose was the 11th bishop of Milan, not counting the Arian bishop he displaced named Auxentius (a man whom St Ambrose writes about in nothing but negative language). St Ambrose was elected bishop 374 and served until his death in 397. The Church of Milan is written before St Ambrose became bishop by St Athanasius of Alexandria who visited Milan and died in 373--before St Ambrose was even bishop of Milan!
But while they thought that they were carrying on their designs against many by his means, they knew not that they were making many to be confessors, of whom are those who have lately made so glorious a confession, religious men, and excellent Bishops, Paulinus Bishop of Treveri, the metropolis of the Gauls, Lucifer, Bishop of the metropolis of Sardinia, Eusebius of Vercelli in Italy, and Dionysius of Milan, which is the metropolis of Italy. --St Athanasius, History of the Arians, Part IV,  28. Second Arian Persecution under Constantius

St Athanasius plainly states before St Ambrose was bishop of Milan that Dionysius was! Since St Ambrose would not be elected bishop til after St Athanasius death! So the "Prophet" Ellen White is wrong, St Ambrose did not found the Church of Milan at all! We see Dionysius being mentioned as bishop by St Ambrose himself in his letter to the nearby bishopless church of Vercellæ.

White also makes the claim that the diocese of Milan "maintained its independence of the popes."  The only time the Milan church was independent in some sense was when it was ruled by a heretical bishop that were Arian like Auxentius, because of this heresy they rejected the bishop of Rome. Before Ambrose was made bishop, bishops from around the world accepted the Council of Sardica in AD 344 which gave the Bishop of Rome authority to judge bishops, settle disputes, or appoint judges, there is no reason why Milan would be any different.  In St Ambrose's funeral homily of his brother Satyrus, he writes about how important Satyrus thought communion with the Church of Rome was (note Satyrus was involved with the administration of the Diocese of Milan):
 But he was not so eager as to lay aside caution. He called the bishop to him, and esteeming that there can be no true thankfulness except it spring from true faith, he enquired whether he agreed with the Catholic bishops, that is, with the Roman Church? And possibly at that place the Church of the district was in schism. For at that time Lucifer had withdrawn from our communion, and although he had been an exile for the faith, and had left inheritors of his own faith, yet my brother did not think that there could be true faith in schism. For though schismatics kept the faith towards God, yet they kept it not towards the Church of God, certain of whose limbs they suffered as it were to be divided, and her members to be torn. For since Christ suffered for the Church, and the Church is the body of Christ, it does not seem that faith in Christ is shown by those by whom His Passion is made of none effect, and His body divided.--St Ambrose, On the Death of Satyrus: Book I, 47
In St Ambrose's letter to Emperor Gratian he writes:
"Your grace must be besought not to permit any disturbance of the Roman Church, the head of the whole Roman World and of the most holy faith of the Apostles, for from thence flow out to all the bonds of sacred communion."—St Ambrose, To Emperor Gratian, Epistle 11:4(A.D. 381),in SPP,160
I have to wonder about White obsession with St Ambrose since he wrote that he was a priest and practiced things she would consider "Roman." She goes on to say the people of Piedmont were essentially Protestants, a claim she cannot prove, and a claim that the Waldensians even deny, who themselves claims to have been a 12th century breakaway group from the Catholic Church.

Let's continue on to another instance where the prophetess White writes of the Pope.
The Bible is presented to us as a sufficient guide; but the pope and his workers remove it from the people as if it were a curse, because it exposes their pretensions and rebukes their idolatry.--Ellen White, The Review and Herald, Visit to the Vaudois Valleys, June 1, 1886
 This state is pretty ironic since the Seventh-Day Adventists have since then accepted White's Bible commentary as divinely inspired making them some sort of scripture (though they would object to it being called that):
Seventh-day Adventists believe that God inspired Ellen G. White. Therefore, her expositions on any given Bible passage offer an inspired guide to the meaning of texts without exhausting their meaning or preempting the task of exegesis (for example, see Evangelism, 256; The Great Controversy, 193, 595;Testimonies, vol. 5, pp. 665, 682, 707-708; Counsels to Writers and Editors, 33-35). --Methods of Bible Study: Bible Study: Presuppositions, Principles, and Methods, 4.l (Methods of Bible Study) [Official statement]

Somehow, this is not a contradiction to Adventists.  Continuing on, White writes a typical statement of a Protestant from that error--Catholics tried to hide the Bible and were idol worshippers! Ignoring the fact Mass readings included different parts of the Bible, the 10 commandments were always standard teaching. Also, venerating icons and relics is not idolatry since idolatry is making physical objects divine representations of false gods. The practice of making images and statues was not forbidden either since in Exodus 25 we see God commanding Moses to make golden angel statues, then in Joshua 7:6 we see Moses' successor Joshua bowing to the Ark of the Covenant. Later on the Temple of Solomon itself contained lots of images and even larger angel statues.

Going on Ellen White mentions the Pope in passing in respects to her concept of God's law:
God’s will is expressed in his holy law. This is the only correct standard of righteousness, and if a man’s character stands in harmony with the Lord’s standard, his testimony may be received and relied upon; but if he stands in opposition to the requirements of God, he measures himself and others by his own finite, fallible standard, and may claim as much as does the pope of Rome.--Ellen White, The Review and Herald, How do we Stand?, July 24, 1888
He then measures himself by his own finite standard, and may claim for himself as much as does the pope of Rome; but in the light of the detector of sin, his character may be wholly wanting.--Ellen White, The Review and Herald, The Obedient Approved of God, August 28, 1894 
This is a shot White takes against the Pope, and appealing to common Protestant hatred of the Pope she says failing to keep or accept the Law makes you no better than the Pope. She's possibly mocking Vatican I also in referring to "fallible standard."

Going on:
 A former Wesleyan local preacher’s family are all interested, and thoroughly convinced of the truth. Even the children ask why they should “keep the pope’s Sunday when they know it is not the true Sabbath.”--Ellen White, The Review and Herald, The Australian Camp-Meeting, January 7, 1896
Ellen was smart, what better way to persuade your fellow Protestants something is wrong that associating it with their "boogey man" of the day--the Pope! Never mind the fact there's no evidence the Pope himself started Sunday worship.

Going on, she talks about the remission of sins and the pope:
Remission of sins can be obtained only through the merits of Christ. On no man, priest or pope, but on God alone, rests the power to forgive sins.--Ellen White, The Review and Herald, The Remission of Sins, June 13, 1899
Ellen G White insists the Catholic concept of Confession is wrong and no one has the power to forgive sins, despite what John 20:22-23 says, in which she reworks it to be about ecclesiastical censuring:
Remitting sins or retaining applies to the church in her organized capacity. God has given directions to reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine. Censure is to be given. This censure is to be removed when the one in error repents and confesses his sin.--Ellen White, The Review and Herald, The Remission of Sins, June 13, 1899
 To her forgive sins does not mean forgive sins it means to "remove" a censure, and retain means to "reprove, rebuke, exhort," "censure." However, the Apostles already had this ability since its mentioned in Matthew 18, so they did not need this special event. She disables the text rather than deal with what it plainly states.

Let's look at another time she mentions the pope:
Through the Holy Spirit’s guidance the disciples would remember the lessons Christ had given them; and in their future work, their language would express the divine thought of God. Thus the truth would come down through pure channels, commending itself to the hearts of the receivers. Christ’s followers are to plant their feet, not on the word of pope or prelate, not on the word of the clergy, who mystify everything that is plain, and confuse the minds of the ignorant; they must place their feet upon the sure foundation.--Ellen G White, The Review and Herald, The Parable of the Sower, October 3, 1899 
This statement is itself somewhat ironic since Ellen's commentaries of the scriptures are considered inspired by the Seventh-Day Adventists and therefore to be studied.  So its just a switch and bait--don't follow them--what do they know!? Follow me instead!
Another step in papal assumption was taken, when, in the eleventh century, Pope Gregory VII. proclaimed the perfection of the Romish Church. Among the propositions which he put forth, was one declaring that the church had never erred, nor would it ever err, according to the Scriptures. But the Scripture proofs did not accompany the assertion. The proud pontiff next claimed the power to depose emperors, and declared that no sentence which he pronounced could be reversed by any one, but that it was his prerogative to reverse the decisions of all others.--Ellen White, The Great Controversy 1888, Page 57
First of all, though I do not know for sure if Gregory VII made statement of the "perfection of the Romish Church" and that it could "never erred, nor would, according to Scripture"  and that no sentence "could be reversed by anyone" but I can say dozens of popes,  and bishops Church Fathers long before him made that statement. The indefectibility of the church as a whole if found in the Church Fathers long before Pope Gregory VII. Also, Pope Gregory in his letters DO use scriptural citations for his claims by he ought to be obeyed and respected as Pope, for example
Since thou dost confess thyself a son of the church it would have beseemed thy royal dignity to look more respectfully upon the master of the church,-that is, St. Peter, the chief of the apostles. [Matthew 10:2] To whom, if thou art of the-Lord's sheep, thou west given over by the Lord's voice and authority to be fed; Christ Himself saying: " Peter, feed my sheep." [John 21:17] And again: " To thee are given over the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth shall be bound also in Heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth shall be loosed also in Heaven." [Matthew 16:18] --Pope Gregory VII, Letter of Gregory VII. to Henry IV., December 1075
It seems Ellen White had in mind the "Dictatus Papae" which is uncertain if it was even written by Pope Gregory VII. In any case, the Dictatus had 27 points, ironically at one time the Seventh-Day Adventist church had "27 Fundamentals"--key doctrines they believed in from 1980-2005 when they added another making it 28 fundamentals.  Also, there is no indication the Dictatus Papae was a public document that was sent to people. Regardless, as I mention above claims of infallibility were not new, nor where Scripture passages for it unknown, just the Dictatus Papae does not cite them.

White in the some work goes on to says:
The advancing centuries witnessed a constant increase of error in the doctrines put forth from Rome. Even before the establishment of the papacy, the teachings of heathen philosophers had received attention and exerted an influence in the church. Many who professed conversion still clung to the tenets of their pagan philosophy, and not only continued its study themselves, but urged it upon others as a means of extending their influence among the heathen. Serious errors were thus introduced into the Christian faith. Prominent among these was the belief in man’s natural immortality and his consciousness in death. This doctrine laid the foundation upon which Rome established the invocation of saints and the adoration of the virgin Mary. From this sprung also the heresy of eternal torment for the finally impenitent, which was early incorporated into the papal faith.--Ellen White, The Great Controversy 1888, Page 58
 She says the heathen philosophers got much attention even before she thinks the papacy was established. Clearly, she disproves of listening to "pagan" and "heathen" philosophers. Who can be blame for this? St Paul actually!
“One of them, a prophet of their own, once said, "Cretans have always been liars, vicious beasts, and lazy gluttons."”—Titus 1:12 *He quotes the Cretan philosopher-poet, Epimenides of Knossos, who lived around the 6th Century BC
For 'In him we live and move and have our being,'—Acts 17:28a *Many attribute the first half to the philosopher-poet Epimenides of Knossos, who lived around the 6th Century BC  
as even some of your poets have said, 'For we too are his offspring.'—Acts 17:28b *This is a quote of the poet Aratus of Soli, a fellow Cilician of St Paul’s, from the 3rd Century before Christ.
 So we see quoting, read, and using "pagan" philosophers is not inherently wrong, otherwise St Paul corrupted the Bible.

As far as her other claims about the doctrines of immortality of the soul and consciousness after death--those too are taught in the Bible and were believed by the Jews of the time.
And fear ye not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell.--Matthew 10:28
Notice Christ says "destroy" rather than use "kill" when referring to damnation, showing even the damned are not wiped out of existence.

The claim about consciousness after death is refuted by the story of the Witch of Endor. Saul and Samuel where the Biblical text explicitly states the dead Samuel appears.
“An old man is coming up,” she said. “He’s wrapped in a robe.” Then Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed low out of respect, nose to the ground.

 “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” Samuel asked Saul.

"I’m in deep trouble!” Saul replied. “The Philistines are at war with me, and God has turned away from me and no longer answers me by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what I should do.”--1 Samuel 28:14-15

Also stories like Judas Maccabee meeting the Prophet Jeremiah and Jesus talking to Moses shows that soul sleep is not the case. Also Revelation 6:9
When he broke open the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered because of the witness they bore to the word of God. They cried out in a loud voice, “How long will it be, holy and true master, before you sit in judgment and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth?”--Revelation 6:9-10
As far as Mary "worship", its interesting she praises St Ambrose in her writings yet St Ambrose said:
"Mary, a Virgin not only undefiled but a Virgin whom grace has made inviolate, free of every stain of sin." Ambrose, Sermon 22:30(A.D. 388),in JUR,II:166
And why should I tell how great is the grace of virginity, which was found worthy to be chosen by Christ, that it might be even the bodily temple of God, in which as we read the fulness of the Godhead dwelt bodily. A Virgin conceived the Salvation of the world, a Virgin brought forth the life of all. Virginity then ought not to be left to itself, seeing that it benefited all in Christ. A Virgin bore Him Whom this world cannot contain or support. And when He was born from His mother’s womb, He yet preserved the fence of her chastity and the inviolate seal of her virginity. And so Christ found in the Virgin that which He willed to make His own, that which the Lord of all might take to Himself. Further, our flesh was cast out of Paradise by a man and woman and was joined to God through a Virgin.--St Ambrose, Epistle LXIII: 33
 And eternal hell is taught plainly in the Bible in Daniel 12, the aforementioned reference in Matthew 10:28 and other places like Revelation.
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to reproaches and everlasting abhorrence. --Daniel 12:2
It is better for thee to enter lame into life everlasting, than having two feet, to be cast into the hell of unquenchable fire:--Mark 9:44 
 There is no indication that causes us to believe anyone will be wiped out of existence