Can All Be Prophets?
Ellen G. White Statements That Bear on the Question
Not by the Will of Man
“For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”--2 Peter 1:21.
The Prophet Directly Inspired, Others Not So Directly Inspired
“In the highest sense the prophet was one who spoke by direct inspiration, communicating to the people the messages he had received from God. But the name was given also to those who, though not so directly inspired, were divinely called to instruct the people in the works and ways of God. For the training of such a class of teachers, Samuel, by the Lord's direction, established the schools of the prophets.”--Ed 46.
Led of God, But Not Inspired in the Fullest Sense
“A brother asked, ?Sister White, do you think we must understand the truth for ourselves? Why can we not take the truths that others have gathered together, and believe them because they have investigated the subjects, and then we shall be free to go on without taxing of the powers of the mind in the investigation of all these subjects? Do you not think that these men who have brought out the truth in the past were inspired of God?’
I dare not say they were not led of God, for Christ leads into all truth; but when it comes to inspiration in the fullest sense of the word, I answer, No.”--CW 33, 34.
Angel Assistance No Basis for the Claim of Inspiration
Concerning Martin Luther, Ellen White declared:
“Angels of heaven were by his side, and rays of light from the throne of God revealed the treasures of truth to his understanding.”--GC 122.
Of William Miller she wrote:
“God sent His angel to move upon the heart of a farmer who had not believed the Bible, to lead him to search the prophecies. Angels of God repeatedly visited that chosen one, to guide his mind and open to his understanding prophecies which had ever been dark to God's people.”--EW 229.
On good authority it is reported that in oral conversation Mrs. White had declared of Elder Uriah Smith that she had seen an angel of God standing by his side as he wrote. While there is no documentary confirmation of this, such is not inconsistent with the above. But there are grounds for assuming that these men, while aided by the Spirit of God, were not inspired as were the prophets.
Ellen White recounted in 1895 an experience in which a colporteur leader put directly to her the question of the inspiration of the books written by Uriah Smith. “You believe they are inspired, do you not?” he asked. Indicative of her recognition of the folly of the question, she replied, “You may answer that question, I shall not.”--Letter 15, 1895.
Ellen G. White in 1894 Discusses the Basic Question
“From time to time reports come to me concerning statements that Sister White is said to have made but which are entirely new to me, and which cannot fail to mislead the people as to my real views and teaching.
“A sister, in a letter to her friends, speaks with much enthusiasm of a statement by Brother [A. T.] Jones that Sister White has seen that the time has come when, if we hold the right relation to God, all can have the gift of prophecy to the same extent as do those who are now having visions.
“Where is the authority for this statement? I must believe that the sister failed to understand Brother Jones, for I cannot think that he made the statement.
“The writer continues: ?Brother Jones said last night that is the case, not that God will speak to all for the benefit of everyone else but to each for his own benefit, and this will fulfill the prophecy of Joel.’ He stated that this is already being developed in numerous instances. He spoke as if he thought none would hold such a leading position as Sister White had done and will still do. He referred to Moses as a parallel. He was a leader, but many others are referred to as prophesying, though their prophecies are not published. . . .
“These ideas in relation to prophesying, I do not hesitate to say, might better never have been expressed. Such statement prepare the way for a state of things that Satan will surely take advantage of to bring in spurious exercises. There is danger, not only that unbalanced minds will be led into fanaticism, but that designing persons will take advantage of this excitement to further their own selfish purposes.
“Jesus has raised His voice in warning: ?Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.’ ?Thus saith the Lord of hosts, hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord.’ ?If any many shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not: for false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. But take ye heed: behold I have foretold you all things.’”--3SM 340, 341 (March 16, 1894.)
A Caution to Elder A. T. Jones
“You cannot be too careful how you talk of the gift of prophesying, and state that I have said this and that in reference to this matter. Such statements, I well know, encourage men and women and children to imagine that they have special light in revelations from God, when they have not received such light. This I have been shown, would be one of Satan's masterpieces of deception. You are giving to the work a mold which it will take precious time and wearing soul labor to correct, to save the cause of God from another spasm of fanaticism.”--2SM 86.
Ellen G. White Estate
Washington, D. C.
November 5, 1969. Retyped, March, 1989