Knight, George R., Prophets in Conflict: Issues in Authority (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2020). 220 pp. $17.99
You may be one of the lucky ones who grew into a healthy regard for Ellen White’s ministry and body of work. Or you may have been “Sister White’d” nearly to death and fled a confusing mishmash of what many hawked as the “Third Angel’s Message,” grim warnings about our slim chance at heaven.
For either cohort, and the entire spectrum between, this latest gift from the Rogue River Rascal (a.k.a. Dr. George Knight) is manna, refreshing rain, and Christ-centered sanity all rolled into 200 pages of love. Love for Christ, love for the Adventist message and movement, and, yes, love for White’s ministry and writings.
Not many readers may have enjoyed the privilege of an education in religion or theology. And fewer still have sat in a class taught by Dr. Knight. So, pardon this note of gratitude on behalf of those who pursued other studies and yet claim a solid stake in the journey of the Adventist Church and how it has shaped our lives. Even the most grizzled find some Adventist Ancestry.com connection to the great travelling evangelists such as Detamore, Barron, Brooks, Cleveland, Bradshaw, et al. But along the way many Adventists declined the “Kool Aid” and grew troubled, if not contemptuous, of our “saving souls” by scaring the Hell out of them with beasts and clocks showing Earth’s history at 11:59... since 1844 (or at least 1863).
What Knight does in this capstone synthesis of his life’s body of work on the study of EGW is to reveal to us, methodically, engagingly, and with professorial endnotes to boot, the pricelessness of the ministry gems of White’s life. While doing so, he also reinvigorates the raison d’etre of Adventism and why it remains precious to us and to the destiny of humanity. Of course, we, the heirs to her legacy of Christ-centered faith, have done a handy job of tarnishing, scarring, and pretty near smashing the jewels she fashioned as she channeled her awe of what Christ did and does for her... and us.
But Knight takes the high road. He repaves the road to understanding and appreciating her writings. He records how White’s unswerving elevation of Scripture differs from self-styled “prophets” who use and abuse the canon as a mere starting point en route to “new light” that captivates and deludes millions.
Christ, through Scripture, unites all that White did and said in her lifetime. She evolved as an intelligent person who spoke and wrote with balance and common sense. Knight shares several examples of how and why her basic writings throughout some 60 years hold keys to understanding the core message. She never wanted her writings to serve as “the last word” on any biblical issue. The posthumous “compilations” that purport to cherry pick and aggregate her “views” in certain areas often obscure our view of what she meant and said in the works she wrote or directed herself.
Prophets in Conflict evokes some wistful longing for “what might have been.” But such a reaction, one hopes, may limit itself to veterans of the systemic abuse of her writings through the 20th century by well-intended parents, schoolteachers, and pastors who sought to save us from doom. Many of these themselves were victims of misapplication and selective misinterpretations of White’s writings who just passed on the errata to the “third and fourth generations,” as it were. Yet, Prophets in Conflict calls us back to the Ellen White whose brilliant mind and tender soul admonished contemporaries to read her views, and their evolution, with reason and common sense and, above all, subject to the greater light of the Bible. That’s the Ellen White we admire and with whom we eagerly anticipate sharing heaven and life eternal. It all boils down to this: God is love.
This review was written by Ted Ramirez, Attorney: Corporate Governance and Business Transactions, and was provided by Pacific Press Publishing Association.
Book cover image courtesy of Pacific Press.
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