Apparent Discrepancies and Contradictions

Critics of Ellen White contrast certain of her statements which appear to contradict either herself or the Bible. Some of these "contradictions" are merely distortions of her words by the critics; others may be accounted for by the fact that the statement in question is only part of an idea more fully developed elsewhere in her writings. For a helpful review of such misrepresentations, see "A Closer Look at: 'Ellen White Contradicts the Bible Over 50 Times.'" But to attempt to prove that all the alleged "errors" in Ellen White's writings are not actually errors, is unprofitable for at least two reasons.

First, a person who looks for contradictions and errors in inspired writings will always be ready to supply new difficulties to replace those that have been removed. This has been demonstrated for centuries by those who take delight in looking for "mistakes" in the Bible.

Speaking of such, Ellen White wrote, "All the difficulties will not cause trouble to one soul, or cause any feet to stumble, that would not manufacture difficulties from the plainest revealed truth" (Selected Messages, book 1, p. 16).

Second, Seventh-day Adventists (including Ellen White herself) do not claim that either she or other inspired persons were infallible, either in their writing or living. Alleged discrepancies and factual errors are only fatal to views of inspiration that demand perfection in human language and in the human instrument presenting the divine message. Such views run counter to what is observed in Scripture--the standard by which we are to judge our conceptions of how God speaks.

In evaluating so-called errors, one needs to consider whether the perceived "error" is central to the divine message, or inconsequential. Even when it is central, we need to allow for the possibility that the Holy Spirit may "correct" the prophet in a future communication. See 2 Samuel 7:1-17 for an example. If, in their prophetic teachings--those messages presented as revelation from the Lord--Ellen White or any other claimant were to be found contradicting the teaching of the Word of God, then such claims would fail the Biblical test "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isaiah 8:20).

For further study, see "Realize That Prophets Are Not Verbally Inspired, Nor Are They Infallible or Inerrant." See also "Infallibility: Does the True Prophet Ever Err?"