Thursday, March 19, 2009

This week's lesson: the blessings of prophecy

In six years, we'll mark the centenary of Ellen White's death.

I wonder if anyone will notice.

As noted in this week's lesson, our church would have been far smaller (and much stranger) if it had not been for her ministry. Imagine an Adventist church, for instance, with no mission work. No health reform. No belief in the Trinity or righteousness by faith.

In short, imagine us as Seventh-day Jehovah's Witnesses.

In spite of her impact, our interest in Ellen White's ministry is fading fast. Even the Adventist students in my Bible classes, for instance, don't seem to know much about her. They're not hostile; she's just not on their radar. And as a rule of thumb among pastors, I find that:
  • If you're older than me, you quote her in your sermons.
  • If you're my age, you read her but don't quote her.
  • If you're younger than me, you don't read her. (Not on a regular basis, anyway.)
Myself, I'm not sanguine we can turn this around anytime soon -- but I'd like to see us try. As part of that, I'm hoping the following projects could be developed in time for her centenary:
  1. Publish a new edition of her Conflict of the Ages series -- one that uses a contemporary translation of the Bible. The updated Desire of Ages was a nice start (thought why they used the New King James Version is beyond me); let's do the same with the rest.
  2. Record audio versions of her books. Get the Voice of Prophecy to make them -- and give them away for free.
  3. Write a good, one-volume biography. Okay, let's make that two biographies -- one about a hundred pages long (much like the ones in the Penguin Lives series), the other about 350-pages or so.
  4. Have an annotated version of The Testimonies available on the Web. Brother A and Sister Z and all those other pioneers of the alphabet have been dead long enough; it's time to reveal their true identities. And if we could add a little historical/social/religious context to what she wrote . . . all the better!
  5. Pull together a one-volume compilation of her most important writings. No, you don't need to call it Ellen White's Greatest Hits -- but it should be something I can use to introduce a broad spectrum of her work to a Bible class, study group, or prayer meeting.
That's my list -- I'm sure you have a better one. (And I hope you'll let me know what's on your list in the "Comments" section of this blog.)

But once we've made our lists, let's then go on to make them come true.

Ellen White may be dead, after all.

But we can make sure she's not forgotten.


Nick said...

A good book that helped me gain a better appreciation for Ellen White was the book Meeting Ellen White by George Knight. It was very helpful in helping me to understand just who she was.

Another book that helped me was the first 14 chapters of Testimonies for the Church volume 1. Ellen White tells her story there. I believe this helped me more than anything to understand that she wasn't just some high and holy prophet unreachable by the common person. She struggled with many of the same things that I struggle with, and what she had to say on those issues helped me tremendously.

Ansku said...

Good list!