The 13 Times Satan Attempted to Kill Ellen White: The Great Controversy Over The Great Controversy

December 10, 2018


Of all the books that Ellen White has written, yea of all the books ever written, none can parallel that of The Great Controversy.  As far as its spiritual, historical and prophetic breadth of knowledge, this book is second only to the Bible. Additionally, no other book unmasks Satan’s strategies and his chief players than The Great Controversy (please read the introduction to the book), as well as how victory over sin through Christ may be attained; and for these reasons Satan tried to kill the author, Ellen White, during the writing of this book; something he did not attempt during her writing of any other book. You may read of this experience (and we strongly encourage you to) in Mrs. White’s own Life Sketches pages 161-163. Satan not only hates Christ and his followers but he also hates God’s written words, the Bible and the Testimony of Jesus, the spirit of prophecy (see Revelation 12:17 and Revelation 19:10).  Because Satan was unsuccessful in taking the life of God’s messenger and preventing her from completing the greatest of her works, all his pent up, vehement ire is being unleashed against The Great Controversy; and he has found the most unsuspecting of allies in those called upon to declare the messages contained therein and to widely disseminate it.


From the very onset of its publication, Satan was not idle.  He worked through some of the leading brethren in Seventh-day Adventism to urge that The Great Controversy was not to be used for evangelistic purposes and allowed it to sit for approximately two years, an idea that is refuted by the author herself. Mrs. White speaking: “I speak to you who are engaged in the canvassing work. Have you read volume 4 [The Great Controversy]? Do you know what it contains? Have you any appreciation of the subject matter? Do you not see that the people need the light therein given?...I was moved by the Spirit of the Lord to write that book, and while working upon it, I felt a great burden upon my soul. I knew that time was short, that the scenes which are soon to crowd upon us would at the last come very suddenly and swiftly...The Lord has set before me matters which are of urgent importance for the present time, and which reach into the future. The words have been spoken in a charge to me, ‘Write in a book the things which thou hast seen and heard, and let it go to all the people; for the time is at hand when past history will be repeated.’” 


Now that we have an understanding why there is such a great controversy over The Great Controversy,  we will look at a timeline of Satan’s attempts to kill the book, by discrediting it, its author and even the source of its inspiration.   


1899: The Great Controversy remained on the shelf for two years-- Ellen White wrote a scathing rebuke to those in charge of the canvassing work who deliberately allowing The Great Controversy to lay dormant on the shelf while those that would have greatly benefitted by its reading, were neglected and thus left to grope in darkness.  “Years ago, when I was in Battle Creek, I was much distressed that Great Controversy should lie idle on the shelf. For two years it was held back that Bible Readings might have more attention. All that I could say did not change the course of those who had control of the canvassing work. They treated me as if I were a child. If at that time I had appealed to the people, asking for agents to handle my books, and promising to supply them, it would have been in the order of the Lord.” 


1976: Neal Wilson stated that The Great Controversy Belongs in the Historical trash heap-- A statement was made before a federal court by then North American Division President Neal Wilson in which he asserted that the “anti-Catholicism”  contained in The Great Controversy belongs in the historical trash heap. The statement reads as follows: “‘Although it is true that there was a period in the life of the Seventh-day Adventist Church when the denomination took a distinctly anti-Roman Catholic viewpoint...that attitude on the church's part was nothing more than a manifestation of widespread anti-popery among conservative Protestant denominations in the early part of this century, and the latter part of the last, which has now been consigned to the historical trash heap as far as the Seventh-day Adventist Church is concerned. "Neal C. Wilson, President of the North American Division of SDA, in statement (deposition) submitted to the court, Merikay McLeod lawsuit, EEOC vs PPPA, C-74-2025-CBR, docket entry #84, sworn statement dated February 6, 1976.


1980’s: The Great Controversy Deemed a Hate Book in Canada-- Canada ruled that The Great Controversy was deemed hate literature after receiving complaints about the book being distributed in a wealthy section of town. “‘I am the police commissioner of Montreal..We have received numerous complaints about a book entitled The Great Controversy that is being placed in letter boxes in a ‘wealthy section’ of the city. After some research we have identified your Church as the publisher and distributor. A quick perusal has clearly shown that the book is very anti the Catholic Church and thus falls in the category of ‘Hate Literature’ because its content can easily create hatred between communities.’ Then he quoted from an article of law that prohibited such an action and mentioned the heavy fine that went along for distributing material attacking another church. Seventh-day Adventists leaders distanced themselves from those who distributed the book.



1990: General Conference Representative stated that The Great Controversy was Trash-- Neal Wilson’s sentiments were repeated by a General Conference representative, Shirley Burton to the Indianapolis Star. “Seventh-day Adventist faction from Tennessee mailed an unknown number of anti-Catholic booklets (primarily composed of quotations from the book, Great Controversy) the week of July 8 to homes in Indianapolis, where 2,000 (delegates) gathered for the denomination's 55th world convention, July 6-14. Shirley Burton, a spokesperson for the denomination, told the Indianapolis Star daily newspaper the tract was 'trash.' The pamphlet, United States in Prophecy, calls Catholicism a pagan religion and refers to the pope as a beast.  John F. Fink, editor of the Criterion, Indianapolis archdiocesan newspaper [wrote this], 'The Seventh-day Adventists have a history of anti-Catholicism, like many other Protestant religions in the U.S. during the 18th and 19th centuries. However, the main body of the Church has moved away from an anti-Catholic position. The new position of co-operation with the Catholic Church was exemplified by the invitation from the Seventh-day Adventists to the Vatican to send an official observer to the conference.’”


2010: Adventist Publication, published an article, written by an SDA Pastor titled, “Letting Roman Catholics Off the Hook” denigrating The Great Controversy and the prophecies contained therein--  Author, Loren Seibold writes: “For over a century, even before the publication of The Great Controversy, we Adventists have regarded the Roman Catholic Church leadership, typified in the first beast of Revelation 13, as our arch-nemesis, our bête noire, the enemy that takes the evil part in the apocalyptic scenario against God’s remnant. Here are seven reasons why it may be time to question them in that role. 1. More than a hundred years have passed since our prophet approved these prophetic applications...Ellen White fingered Catholicism in a very different world...The Roman Catholic Church of today is a much different institution than it was during Ellen White’s time...” The author even quotes from a man he calls his friend, Bert B. Beach, the man who represented the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in 1977 and presented Pope Paul VI with a gold medallion.


2011: Former Ministries Director calls The Great Controversy Anti-Catholic and not a good book for evangelism-- Former Church Ministries Director of the Quebec Conference of Seventh Day Adventists, Eddy Johnson, wrote an article on a (progressive) Adventist website expressing his disagreement and strong disapproval of The Great Controversy Project, in which The Great Controversy was to be distributed on a large scale, comparing the language in the book to white supremacist hate language. He further used the backlash from previous distributions of the book as a reason why The Great Controversy should not be mass-distributed. And worst of all, he stated that the prophecies contained in the book are outdated and simply not true. In his words: “Written in the United States of the nineteenth century, The Great Controversy had quite an impact because America was a Protestant country and any writing that depicted in dark overtones the doings of the Catholic Church was bound to be highly popular. Some of the words that Ellen White used to describe the Pope and the prelates of Rome are very harsh...We condemn similar anti-Catholic language used by white supremacists in their rallies, should we be careful not to be perceived as doing the same?...I do not believe that having to face irate people and the press and maybe the court, charged with distributing hate literature, is necessarily what Christ had in mind when he said that those who would be persecuted for his namesake should consider themselves as blessed...many scholars and well-informed church members consider somewhat outmoded some prophetic interpretations and beliefs that are presented in the book.” 


2014: The Great Hope (hoax), a reducing down (gutting) of The Great Controversy into a mere pamphlet removing all references to the Pope and other important truths -- Following President Ted Wilson’s election as General Conference President in 2010, he promised to launch an initiative for the mass-distribution of The Great Controversy. Initially called The Great Controversy Project,” Ted Wilson did have thousands of books, in its entirety mailed out.  Sadly, the project morphed into “The Great Hope,” wherein a mere pamphlet, devoid of foundational truths, pertinent history and the distinctive present truth messages was being circulated. The pamphlet is significantly lacking and is a poor, watered-down version of the original work. The omissions are glaring which indicate that the publishing and wide circulation of The Great Hope was an insidious conspiracy to withhold truth from individuals. For further information about the omissions and implications of this brochure called The Great Hope, please see our article at the following link: https://www.prophesyagain.org/single-post/2017/06/23/Mark-Finley-Defends-Urges-Seventh-day-Adventists-To-Silence-The-Protest-Against-Great-Hope-A-Controversy-Over-The-Great-Controversy-1



2015: An “Adventist” publication, Adventist Today publishes an article entitled “A proposed Letter of Apology to Pope Francis from the GC President-- In the article, the author denounces The Great Controversy as anti-Catholic and a collection of conspiracy theories and decries the mass-distribution of the book in Philadelphia just before the Pope’s visit for the World Meeting of Families in that city. A portion of the article reads thus: “We can be encouraged that the organization which was responsible for the mailing of The Great Controversy volume was not the official Seventh-day Adventist Church... However, the message that this mailing was clearly intended to communicate is an anti-Catholic message and the source of that message emanates from a part of the Adventist tradition. In light of this action on the part of members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, it is here proposed that the President of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church send the following letter or some version of it to the Pope asking for his understanding and forgiveness.”


2017: Adventist Today republishes “Letting Roman Catholics off the Hook” (please refer to 2010) 


June 2017: Renowned SDA evangelist, Mark Finley defends The Great Hope in a video--After much backlash over the halting of the mass-distribution of The Great Controversy and in its place the publishing and distribution of The Great Hope, Mark Finely justifies The Great Hope in a video titled, “Mark Finley responds to false claims about the Great Hope book.


May 2018: An article is published on Spectrum Magazine titled “The Great Controversy” Shackles Adventist Theology”-- In the article, Matthew Quartey argues that The Great Controversy needs to be continually updated and revised as times change, among his other denunciatory assessments about the book such as it being unkind and erroneous.  “So how do we make the book better and relevant? We revise—as often as needed. And in our revisions, we should never be afraid of correcting where previous editions made claims that are erroneous or unkind.”


July 2018: Current SDA Pastor writes and publishes an article on Adventist Today denouncing Ellen White, The Great Controversy, the Sunday Law and the Investigative Judgment.-- In his article “Itching Ears,” the author, Loren Siebold makes  his disdain for The Great Controversy abundantly clear, stating that it is anti-Catholic, its prophecies outdated and that its wide distribution is ineffective and embarrassing.


December 2018: In an article, former pastor and president of the Netherlands Union, Reinder Bruinsma, published his skepticism of a Sunday Law while stating that Ellen White is disqualified as a false prophet and denouncing The Great Controversy as outdated and in need of revision. —He writes, “Adventists must ask themselves: Does the Bible clearly predict a time when merciless Sunday laws will be enforced?  We should realize that this Sunday-law scenario is mainly based on the interpretation of the prophecies of the Revelation by Ellen White in her book The Great Controversy. For some this means that, against all present appearances, the Sunday laws are coming, because ‘she says so!’ For others it means that Ellen White was wrong and that she is thereby disqualified as a prophetic beacon for the Adventist believers. For me, it means that we must revise our concept of inspiration.

Ellen White wrote her book The Great Controversy in the late nineteenth century, against the background of circumstances that prevailed in the United States. Her world was divided between Roman Catholics and Protestants. She belonged to a tiny Adventist sect that was not welcome. She lived in a time when politicians at the state level and the national level were doing all they could to enforce Sunday observance. She experienced how in some states Sabbath keepers were actually put in prison!  However, her world no longer exists.”


As the great controversy nears its close, it is not difficult to see that the attacks on The Great Controversy are becoming more bold and more frequent. But just as Satan attempted to kill Ellen White while undertaking the writing of this matchless book and he failed, he will continue to fail as he tries to trample and kill The Great Controversy, for we know how the controversy ends, with Satan being defeated.   When reading The Great Controversy, few have a just appreciation of the  excruciating pain, tears, conflict, prayers and untold anguish borne to bring us the life-changing message in its contents, which are not the words of mortals but those inspired of God.  I pray that each reader will value The Great Controversy to an even greater degree and make a more determined effort to live according to its principles and scatter this book as the leaves of autumn. 


1. White, Ellen. Colporteur Ministry (1953), page 128

2. White Ellen.  Manuscript Releases Volume 169,(1981), page 169

3. http://www.sdadefend.com/Defend-foundation/popemedl.htm

4. https://spectrummagazine.org/article/eddy-johnson/2011/08/26/will-great-controversy-project-harm-adventism

5. http://www.sdadefend.com/Defend-foundation/popemedl.htm

6. https://atoday.org/reprint-letting-roman-catholics-off-the-hook/

7. http://www.sdadefend.com/Defend-foundation/popemedl.htm

8. https://spectrummagazine.org/article/eddy-johnson/2011/08/26/will-great-controversy-project-harm-adventism

9. https://atoday.org/a-proposed-letter-of-apology-to-pope-francis-from-the-president-of-the-general-conference-of-seventh-day-adventists/

10. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4ve5JpHudg

11. https://spectrummagazine.org/article/2018/05/17/%E2%80%9C-great-controversy%E2%80%9D-shackles-adventist-theology-0

12. https://atoday.org/adventist-todays-most-misunderstood-article-ever/

13. https://atoday.org/are-sunday-laws-coming/


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