| Ellen G. White Estate

Did Ellen White say the General Conference is Babylon?

In 1901, after the General Conference session, Mrs. White wrote to her own son Edson, who was unhappy over some unjust treatment he had received at the hands of the Review and Herald Publishing Association prior to 1901. He was seeking compensation, and she reproved him: “It hurts me to think that you are using words which I wrote prior to the conference. Since the conference great changes have been made.”—Letter 54, 1901 (To “My Dear Son Edson,” J. E. White, June 1901) [Manuscript Releases, 3:205].

In 1905, she wrote of the church (which, of course, includes the General Conference) in a decidedly “non-Babylon” manner: “We cannot now step off the foundation that God has established. We cannot now enter into any new organization; for this would mean apostasy from the truth.”—Manuscript 129, 1905 (Selected Messages, 2:390).

In 1909, in volume 9 of the Testimonies, Mrs. White published the following affirmation of confidence in the church and its broad-based leadership, as had been established in that 1901 General Conference Session:

I have often been instructed by the Lord that no man’s judgment should be surrendered to the judgment of any other one man. Never should the mind of one man or the minds of a few men be regarded as sufficient in wisdom and power to control the work and to say what plans shall be followed. But when, in a General Conference, the judgment of the brethren assembled from all parts of the field is exercised, private independence and private judgment must not be stubbornly maintained, but surrendered. Never should a laborer regard as a virtue the persistent maintenance of his position of independence, contrary to the decision of the general body (260).

I think that is quite a direct answer to the claim that your friend made. It explains the meaning of her earlier statement, when the General Conference consisted of about three men who thought they could dictate to the whole church. This problem was resolved in 1901. Mrs. White’s later statements, both immediately after the resolution (as in the statement you found) and much later (as I have noted above) show that she did not hold the view that the General Conference was Babylon.

In 1913, she wrote the following in a communication to the delegates at the General Conference session:

When in the night season I am unable to sleep, I lift my heart in prayer to God, and He strengthens me, and gives me the assurance that He is with His ministering servants in the home field and in distant lands. I am encouraged and blessed as I realize that the God of Israel is still guiding His people, and that He will continue to be with them, even to the end (Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 437, 438).

In Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, the entire first section gives Mrs. White’s view on the question of whether the church is Babylon. Here is one section from it, from page 41:

When anyone arises, either among us or outside of us, who is burdened with a message which declares that the people of God are numbered with Babylon, and claims that the loud cry is a call to come out of her, you may know that he is not bearing the message of truth. Receive him not, nor bid him Godspeed; for God has not spoken by him, neither has He given a message to him, but he has run before he was sent.

Though these passages from Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers were written in 1893, we do not find Mrs. White repudiating them or contradicting them later on. In fact, they were written during the very time that she was keenly aware of the problems in leadership at the General Conference. She did not try to make a distinction, saying that it was wrong to declare the church to be Babylon but it was correct to declare the General Conference to be Babylon. No, for her it was one package—the church: enfeebled, defective, but still the one object upon earth on which God bestows His supreme regard.

See also the two following questions and answers.

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