photo credit:  CollegeDegrees360  via  photopin   cc

What the...? (Ellen White & The Golden Card)

photo credit: CollegeDegrees360 via photopin cc











All the angels that are commissioned to visit the earth hold a golden card, which they present to the angels at the gates of the city as they pass in and out. Heaven is a good place. {CET 97.2}

Then my attending angel directed me to the city again, where I saw four angels winging their way to the gate of the city. They were just presenting the golden card to the angel at the gate, when I saw another angel… {CET 101.2}
More than once I have heard people inquire, some with a sense of innocent nosy awe, and others with a sense of theological suspicion, about this so called golden card that Ellen White says the angels have. While I am not an Ellen White apologist I have, for some time, been really interested in looking into this myself and seeing what all the fuss is about.

The golden card can be found in 11 different places in Ellen Whites writings. However, those can be boiled down to just 2 since the others are simply times in which the original statements were republished in different books. Therefore, the first thing we must notice is that this golden card issue was not something that impressed Ellen White as much as it impresses some of us. During her lifetime, Ellen White wrote approximately 10,000 pages worth of material and the golden card shows up, in original format, only twice. She never wrote about it or expanded on it again. This is an important point to note because one critic has asked why God would “withhold this important piece of information from Christians” for so long. The answer is, it isn’t important.

However, it is still a topic that skeptics like to hone in on. Many are quick to point out that God is omniscient and all-knowing. Why would the angels need to present a golden card to get through the gates of heaven if God knows who his angels are and who they aren’t? In order to answer I would like to present some biblical scenarios that raise the same questions.


Scene 1: Sodom and Gomorrah

Sodom and Gomorrah were notorious for their wickedness. If these two cities were around today they would make Las Vegas look like Mayberry from the Andy Griffith Show. The cities became so bad that God had to destroy them. However, before He judged the cities He investigated first. The Bible says in Genesis 18: 20-21, "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know."

Here we read that God has heard the cries of people who are fed up with the evil in Sodom and Gomorrah. Now instead of saying, "I know that already and now I'm going to judge them" God essentially says I'm going to go down there and check it out for myself to see if its as bad as they say it is. He then sends two angels into the city and after the men of Sodom tried to rape them He judged the cities and destroyed them.

In the spirit of the "golden card critics" I then ask, Why did God need to send angels to check out Sodom? Didn't He already know everything?


Scene 2: The Passover

God told Israel that He was about to judge Egypt. The Israelite’s were to put blood on the door posts and that when He passed by a home He would look to see if the blood was there. If it was He would pass over and if it wasn't He would judge that household. 

Doesn't God know men's hearts? Didn't He already know who was His and who wasn't? Then why the blood? And further, once the blood was there why did He have to look to see if it was? Didn't He already know who put the blood on the door frame and who didn't?


Scene 3: The Fall of Jerusalem

The Fall of Jerusalem also serves as an example of this. Even though Israel had become so wicked that it was impossible to hide it God investigated before He judged them through the Babylonians. God said in Zephaniah 1:12, "At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps and punish those who are complacent..." 

Search Jerusalem with lamps? Why? Isn't it obvious that they are evil? Don't you know all things Lord? Then why "investigate" to see who is wicked and who isn't? Why does God need to investigate? Doesn't He already know everything?


Scene 4: The Mark/Seal

In Ezekiel chapter 9 God executes judgment on idolaters in Jerusalem. Before he does the story says, “Then the Lord called to the man clothed in linen who had the writing kit at his side and said to him, “Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.” As I listened, he said to the others, “Follow him through the city and kill, without showing pity or compassion. Slaughter the old men, the young men and women, the mothers and children, but do not touch anyone who has the mark. Begin at my sanctuary” (Ezekiel 9: 3-6).

Why would God put a mark on the foreheads of his faithful? Doesn’t he know who they are? In addition, this scenario repeats itself in Revelation 7 where judgment cannot be executed until the faithful receive a mark on their forehead. What’s the use of a mark if God already knows who his faithful are? He is after all, all-knowing isn’t he?

I suppose I could go on and on but I think it’s good to stop there. Each of us can give a good answer as to why God acted the way he did in each of these scenarios even though the Bible clearly teaches that he is omniscient. And likewise, a very good answer can be given as to why angels use a golden card to enter heaven even though God already knows who his true angels are. However, before I give my final answer let’s look at the two quotations in their entirety. 
Then my attending angel directed me to the city again, where I saw four angels winging their way to the gate of the city. They were just presenting the golden card to the angel at the gate, when I saw another angel flying swiftly from the direction of the most excellent glory, and crying with a loud voice to the other angels, and waving something up and down in his hand. I asked my attending angel for an explanation of what I saw. He told me that I could see no more then, but he would shortly show me what those things that I then saw meant. {CET 101.2}
There is perfect order and harmony in the holy city. All the angels that are commissioned to visit the earth hold a golden card, which they present to the angels at the gates of the city as they pass in and out. Heaven is a good place. I long to be there, and behold my lovely Jesus, who gave His life for me, and be changed into His glorious image. Oh, for language to express the glory of the bright world to come! I thirst for the living streams that make glad the city of our God. {CET 97.2}
Notice something very important in the first quotation: Ellen White makes it very clear that the angels present the golden card “to the angel at the gate” not to God. Even though God is all knowing the angels are not. The beauty of this is that it shows us that in all his power and omniscience God is not a dictator or a control freak. He entrusts his created angels with the administration of heaven. In my estimation, this paints a beautiful picture of Gods character.

Nevertheless, one critic has asked, Is it possible for “evil angels to deceive good angels to get into heaven?” At this point it is important to note that Ellen White does not actually tell us what the golden card is for. Most people automatically assume it is an access card to enter heaven. However, according to the second quotation, the angels present the card “as they pass in and out.” In addition, in the first quote Ellen White says, "...I saw four angels winging their way to the gate of the city. They were just presenting the golden card to the angel at the gate, when I saw another angel flying swiftly from the direction of the most excellent glory". Notice that in this statement Ellen White sees four angels at the gate, but only one card. The group of angels, rather than producing multiple cards only produces one. If the golden card were an access card or an ID then all of the angels would have had to present their individual ID's. Instead, only one card is shown in behalf of the four angels. Whatever the function of the card is then, it cannot be said with certainty that it is and ID that is meant to prove you are a good angel. Perhaps the card is used to keep a perfect record of angelic activities kind of like a log book. The Bible itself speaks of a book of remembrance that is used to keep a record of individual human works and experiences (Malachi 3:16; Psalm 56:8; Revelation 20:12). However, I am not suggesting what the card is really meant to do for, as I already stated, we are not told what its function is and apparently neither was Ellen White.

The main point of this whole golden card thing is really quite simple. Ellen White tells us what it is when she says, “There is perfect order and harmony in the holy city.” Whatever the golden card is, and whatever function it has, the main point is that heaven is a place of order. That is all. Any further speculation misses that simple point. So what is the golden card? It’s a golden card, that’s what it is. What is its function? We have no idea. But whatever it is this we do know, heaven is a place of order. 

Ellen White then goes on to say, “Heaven is a good place.” I don’t know about you, but the simplicity of that sentence hits me hard. Here we have an articulate woman who also has editors and friends who are skilled in writing and can help her, if need be, to express the goodness of heaven in eloquent words and yet the awe of its beauty was so grand that all she could muster was a childlike phrase, “Heaven is a good place.” Unfortunately, in their attempt to discredit and challenge what seems to be odd about this statement the critics miss that which is clearly breath taking.

The final point I would like to make is this. The golden card is such a minute issue that Ellen White herself did not seem to care much for it. This is not only true with regard to her writings at large, but it is also true with the immediate context of the statement. While she mentions the golden card, Ellen White appears to quickly lose interest in it and instead focuses her attention on something, which in her estimation, was much more impressive. Ellen White says, “Heaven is a good place. I long to be there, and behold my lovely Jesus, who gave His life for me, and be changed into His glorious image. Oh, for language to express the glory of the bright world to come! I thirst for the living streams that make glad the city of our God.”

As I said, Ellen White didn’t seem to care much for the golden card. Her heart was captured by something far more riveting. Was it heaven? Not really. Read again and you will see that it was her “lovely Jesus” that she was captivated by. That “lovely Jesus” who “gave His life for [her]”. She longed to see him face to face so that she could be “changed into His glorious image.” Then with a cry of passionate desire she declares, “Oh, for language to express the glory of the bright world to come!” She was at a loss for words. No human verbiage could describe the world she had just seen. And with solemn yet romantic words she concludes, “I thirst for the living streams that make glad the city of our God.”

With such beautiful themes to focus on no wonder she cared little for the golden card.




__________
Note: Some of the scenes and their comments were originally posted in the blog Why Does God Need to "Investigate?" You can read it by clicking here.

6 comments:

  1. You are the man! You have articulated everything on this subject I have always wanted to discuss in a intelligible way.

    (personally I speculate those cards are some type of records too) I thought identification cards because of the job incident.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank Justin! I have been meaning to write about this for a few months now. Glad it was clear!

      Delete
    2. Marcos, excellent attention to detail regarding what Ellen White does and does not say. Since she specified that the golden card was for angels who were "commissioned to visit earth," it may well be a digital mission report.

      Delete
  2. haha.....EGW was insane

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. “Heaven is a good place. I long to be there, and behold my lovely Jesus, who gave His life for me, and be changed into His glorious image. Oh, for language to express the glory of the bright world to come! I thirst for the living streams that make glad the city of our God.”- EGW

      Doesn't sound insane to me. Just in love with Jesus.

      Delete

Please feel free to share your thoughts! Just remember to keep your comments friendly and relevant. Comments that are not risk being incinerated in cyber space. Happy typing! :D