Stop Quoting Ellen White!


Imagine spending time with someone who was always quoting Shakespeare. I mean like always. Every day. Non stop. Seriously, how annoying would that be? Every time a situation came up in everyday life this person would look at you and say, "Well, you know Shakespeare once said..." Or you are watching the news and the person constantly kept referring to how Shakespeare would react to what the journalists are reporting. Or you share an idea and the person quickly shuts you down because, after all, Shakespeare had a better idea. I guarantee you, a few weeks of that and your previous appreciation to Shakespeare would mutate into vehement hatred for the man who never did you wrong. The very sound of his name would make you cringe.

This is exactly what many Adventists do with Ellen White. I love Ellen White. Her books are awesome. Her insights are remarkable. Her life was epic. But please for the love of Ellen, Stop quoting her all the time! 

Perhaps I am being too emotional. Allow me then to step back for a moment and share some objective reasons why I find this so irritating. However, before I do I want to make some qualifications. Number one, I am glad people are still reading Ellen White. While more and more Adventists are missing out there are still those who are enjoying the wisdom and insights of "Adventisms grandmother."[1] Number two, I am glad people are blessed by what they are reading. So for those of you who quote her fifty times a day I commend you for valuing her ministry and for finding encouragement in what you read. I am the first to admit that almost everything the lady wrote is quotable. Her prose was excellent and it makes for a multitude of thought provoking passages. Number three, thank you so much for being willing to share what has blessed you. So many of us learn things about God that we then stuff into our back pocket. Not you. You share what you have learned from Ellen White with the hopes that others will be blessed by it as well. Again, for that I am thankful. And lastly, while myriads are filling their minds with useless novels and derisory materials I commend you for instead filling your mind with Christ-centered, uplifting, and wisdom filled literature.

Nevertheless, I would like to share some reasons why I find the quoting of Ellen White from dusk till dawn irritating. Number one, those who quote Ellen White for anything and everything demonstrate a lack of true spiritual wisdom. The picture they portray is that all of their wisdom needs to be filtered through the mind of one person. "I cant think for myself" is the message. I remember being a part of a Bible study at church. Part of the program was to answer some Bible questions at home. Sadly, some of the participants would simply go home and copy Ellen White statements about the Bible passage onto their answers and leave it at that. This is a terrible misuse of the gift of prophecy. And while this article is about quoting Ellen White a little less, allow me to share her own views on the matter:
Lay Sister White to one side. Do not quote my words again as long as you live until you can obey the Bible.... When you make the Bible your food, your meat, and your drink, when you make its principles the elements of your character, you will know better how to receive counsel from God. I exalt the precious word before you today. Do not repeat what I have said, saying, “Sister White said this,” and “Sister White said that.” Find out what the Lord God of Israel says, and then do what He commands.—Manuscript 43, 1901. (From an address to church leaders the night before the opening of the General Conference session of 1901.) {3SM 33.1}[2]
Number two, the act sends a cultish message to the world. Cults are characterized by the idea that all truth must come from the leader or founder of the cult. No one else is allowed to have a say. Whatever the leader says goes and you are forced to submit. People who quote Ellen White incessantly give this cultish impression. "I'm not allowed to think for myself" is the message. 

Number three, the practice is simply obsessive. Anyone who quotes Shakespeare, Elvis Presley, John Calvin, or even the Bible itself over and over again would be easily classified as obsessed. Obsession is defined as: [to] preoccupy or fill the mind of (someone) continually, intrusively, and to a troubling extent.[3]

Number four, quoting Ellen White all day does not actually breed a greater appreciation of her. In fact, the opposite is true. People begin to despise the very name of Ellen White when she is constantly brought up. This is true of anything or anyone. I still remember talking about my friend Luis as a kid. I would mention him for just about everything. One day my father got so tired of it he lost his cool. He never even met Luis and he was already fed up with him. Do you want your friends, family, and co-workers to get sick and tired of Ellen White? Quote her like a parrot and you will be well on your way.

In conclusion, when Adventists quote Ellen White incessantly we are misusing the gift of prophecy. The purpose of the gift is to point us to the Bible so that we can learn, base, and quote our truth from it. However, many Adventists are happy to read Ellen White and stop there. They learn, base, and prove all of their ideas from a "thus saith sister White." They quote her fifty times a day for just about everything and then wonder why people can't stand her anymore. Lets not misuse the gift we have in the ministry of Ellen White. Read her. Learn from her. Be blessed by her. Share her insights and concepts. But please, for the love of Ellen, go easy on the "sister Whites."


[1] I must give credit to my friend Cherie Lynn Milliron for this phrase.

[2] Ellen White is not saying that we should never quote her here. The context of this quote was related to people misusing Ellen Whites writings. Likewise, those who cannot go through a day without quoting her are misusing the gift. The statement encapsulates Ellen Whites desire that all would build their faith on the Bible, not her writings.

[3] From Google Dictionary, emphasis mine.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Yo Edward! How you doing man? Long time no talk. How is ministry? I hope all is well.

      Why did you remove your comment? It was a good comment dude. Anyways, I'm not sure whether or not to respond since you removed it but I'll go ahead and do so. The simple answer is that this article is not about Ellen Whites authority, its about quoting her way too much. So I am not comparing Ellen Whites authority to Shakespeare's authority I am comparing quoting her a lot to quoting Shakespeare a lot. That's all. I even mention that the same is true for quoting the Bible a lot. So the Shakespeare thing is just an illustration to point out how quoting one person all the time can be counter productive but it is not a comparison of authority.

      Hope that clears it up a bit!


  2. When I was SDA I rarely remember her being quoted ever except during Bible class or during morning devotions at school. Do you think you are hearing her quoted lots because you are taking theology and are around seminary students? Or are regular SDA Joe Blows quoting her all the time?

    1. Hey Teresa!

      I actually hardly hear her quoted in theo school and when she is quoted its done very sensibly. My church is the same way. People are much more focused on their Bibles which is awesome. However, I still encounter people who quote her so much that even I start rolling my eyes after a while. Growing up in a Hispanic culture Ellen White was thrown around a lot as well and some of the more conservative churches I have been to in recent years were pretty much the same. One study I read indicated that young people couldn't stand her, not because of her content, but because she was quoted way too much.

  3. Let quote who will, let complain who will. Even incessant Scripture quoters eventually get rolled eyes at, why should Ellen-White reciters fare any better? I hear you, though; frankly I have rolled eyes at people who quoted Ellen White all the time - because I envied them! I wish I committed enough Ellen White in memory to recite in all situations.

  4. Hi Anthony, That's a really interesting perspective!

    Thanks for sharing.

  5. untonyto,
    I think it's like anything... If you LIVE it first, talking about it all the time is less offensive to the hearer. And when I was young in an SDA school in the 1970's the fad was to quote Confucius (Kung Fu was a popular television show.) No one really cared because the sayings were not used to condemn someone but as general life proverbs. It depends on how one gives quotes--out of pride or out of a humble heart. True, sincere humility usually doesn't get as negative a response as those who are out to pridefully teach someone.

  6. Thank you!!!! This is exactly what the church needs to hear!

  7. Please, someone post this on David Asscherick's, Doug Bachelor's and the SDA FB page so many will see it!

  8. I wish her writings were introduced to people in whatever manner it would be for them to truly be blessed When I read her words there is a feeling inside that it is evident, to me, that her writings come from her love of God She is a profit and we are to pay attention to God's profits. Great article, I can sure understand how listening to anyone being quoted 50 times a day would get old. It's all in the approach.

    1. When people quote Sister White without the power of the Holy Spirit, they rob the underlying message of its power. The same applies to the Bible, verses regurgitated without pausing or stressing certain words, or waiting for the Holy Spirit to hit home to the heart, make the word of no effect.
      However, I absolutely encourage hearing Ellen White during adult Bible study for those mature in the faith. This is because we have proved her teachings from the Bible, accepted her as a prophet of God, and her writtings sometimes offer light revealed by God not explicitly revealed in the Bible. Can you imagine early Christians questiong everything Paul or Peter writes in their letters? (remember, not all of their letters make it into the Bible).
      2 Thes 2:13 "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God" (1 Thess 2:13)


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