Did Ellen White condemn the doctrine of the Trinity?
James White would not have considered himself a Trinitarian, nor would others of our early pioneers. In at least some cases (James White included here), they seem to have been objecting to the idea, apparently held by some Trinitarians, that God is really only one Person who has appeared at different stages of earth’s existence as Father or Son or Holy Spirit. James White be¬lieved that They were separate Beings, so that in Gethsemane and on the cross the Son could actually pray to the Father, not to Himself.
However, various statements from Mrs. White uphold the eternal, self-existent nature of the Son and the full personality of the Holy Spirit. Some of these statements are conveniently collected in the book Evangelism, pages 613–617. I’ve copied some of them and a statement from The Desire of Ages at the end of this response.
However, as clear as Mrs. White’s statements are, the Bible is the source of Adventist belief in the Trinity. Several lines of evidence in the Bible provide firm support for this doctrine. The Father, of course, is not in doubt here—He is included as God in everyone’s list. But the Bible makes Jesus equal with God; see, for example, such texts as John 5:17, 18; 8:58, 59; Philippians 2:6; and the many texts that call Jesus “Lord,” which is the term used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament to refer to God. Likewise, the Holy Spirit is called a Person and is equated with God; see, for example, Acts 5:3, 4, where the Holy Spirit is identified as a Person because He can be lied to, and where lying to the Holy Spirit is equated with lying to God.
So, the Bible indicates that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three sepa¬rate Persons, yet it also says there is one God (as in Deuteronomy 6:4). How can we account for this? Frankly, it’s more than human minds can grasp—but that shouldn’t surprise us, for God must surely be greater than our minds can encompass. We express these Bible truths about God by using the term Trin¬ity, which signifies a unity of three. I can’t find a satisfactory way of accounting for all the Bible evidence other than by this means, which is why I believe in a Trinity.
Some Ellen G. White statements:
There are three living persons of the heavenly trio; in the name of these three great powers—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—those who receive Christ by living faith are baptized. . . .—Special Tes¬timonies, Series B, No. 7, pp. 62, 63. (1905). . . .
Christ is the pre-existent, self-existent Son of God. . . . In speaking of his pre-existence, Christ carries the mind back through dateless ages. He assures us that there never was a time when He was not in close fellowship with the eternal God. . . .—Signs of the Times, Aug. 29, 1900. . . .
He was equal with God, infinite and omnipotent. . . . He is the eternal, self-existent Son.—Manuscript 101, 1897. . . .
While God’s Word speaks of the humanity of Christ when upon this earth, it also speaks decidedly regarding His pre-existence. The Word existed as a divine being, even as the eternal Son of God, in union and oneness with His Father. From everlasting He was the Me¬diator of the covenant, the one in whom all nations of the earth, both Jews and Gentiles, if they accepted Him, were to be blessed. “The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Before men or angels were created, the Word was with God, and was God.—Review and Herald, April 5, 1906. . . .
Jesus declared, “I am the resurrection, and the life.” In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived. “He that hath the Son hath life.” The divinity of Christ is the believer’s assurance of eternal life.—The Desire of Ages, p. 530 (1898). . . .
We need to realize that the Holy Spirit, who is as much a person as God is a person, is walking through these grounds.—Manuscript 66, 1899. (From a talk to the students at the Avondale School.) . . .
The Holy Spirit has a personality, else He could not bear witness to our spirits and with our spirits that we are the children of God. He must also be a divine person, else He could not search out the secrets which lie hidden in the mind of God. “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.”—Manuscript 20, 1906. [The preceding Ellen G. White statements are all found in the book Evangelism, pages 615–617.]
Sin could be resisted and overcome only through the mighty agency of the Third Person of the Godhead, who would come with no modified energy, but in the fullness of divine power. It is the Spirit that makes effectual what has been wrought out by the world’s Re¬deemer (The Desire of Ages, 671). See also the following question and answer.