Author Faculty (Discipline)


Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Details

This article was originally published as:

Patrick, A. (2009, November). The re-parenting of Seventh-day Adventists? Reflections on the historical development, substance, and potential of Ellen White studies. Paper presented at the San Diego Adventist Forum, California, United States of America (USA).


Christianity has many “fathers” (often described as living before or after the historic Council of Nicea that convened 325 AD) and a “mother,” Mary, who remains a focus of vigorous controversy. As a branch of Christianity, Sabbatarian Adventism acknowledges three co-founders: Joseph Bates (1792-1872), James White (1821-1881), and Ellen Gould White (1827-1915). During 1919, Adventist leaders who had shared direct, sustained experiences with Ellen White, knowing first-hand how she did her work, expressed their insights and convictions about the significance and use of her writings clearly and constructively. However, for a complex set of reasons, such historical perspectives were so lost or distorted that within fifty years few Adventists possessed a clearly-drawn, historical picture of their church’s mother. As certitude was confronted by data from newly available primary sources, conflict erupted. In secular wars, truth is often the first casualty; in religious controversy, there are usually imbalances; such realities are instructive for interpreting the past forty years of Adventism. This paper explores evidence indicating a re-parenting initiative may have potential for some Adventist members; it also suggests how such a process might proceed effectively.


Used by permission: the author