[An expanded treatment of this issue can be found at http://www.whiteestate.org/issues/rev-insp.html.]
Ellen White and Sola Scriptura
In the days of the Protestant Reformation the rallying cry of the "protesters" against the primacy of human tradition over inspired Scripture was "The Bible and the Bible Only!" How can we accept Ellen White’s writings while holding fast to this principle?
1 Th 5:20 admonishes us, “do not treat prophecies with contempt,” and 1 Co 14:39 encourages prophecy. It is mentioned as a gift of the Spirit, both in Ephesians 4 and Romans 12. Rev 12:17 promises the prophetic gift (“the testimony of Jesus”, see Rev 19:10) close to the end of time. With the Bible predicting prophecy to come long after the Bible was complete, we cannot play the Bible off against itself and refuse to listen to God when He speaks.
“Sola Scriptura” therefore does not exclude any further revelation. Instead, it “is the doctrine that the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness. Consequently, sola scriptura demands only those doctrines are to be admitted or confessed that are found directly within or indirectly by using valid logical deduction or valid deductive reasoning from scripture. However, sola scriptura is not a denial of other authorities governing Christian life and devotion. Rather, it simply demands that all other authorities are subordinate to, and are to be corrected by, the written word of God.” [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sola_scriptura, accessed 11/06/2013]
This is exactly what the Seventh-day Adventist church holds regarding the relationship between the writings of Mrs. White and the Bible:
- We do not regard the writings of Ellen G. White as an addition to the sacred canon of Scripture.
- We do not think of these writings as of universal application, like the Bible, but as written particularly for the Seventh-day Adventist church.
- We do not regard Mrs. White's writings in the same sense as the Holy Scriptures, which stand alone and unique as the standard by which all other writings must be judged. [QoD, 89]
The Authority of Ellen White
With the above being said, we need to remember that it is God who lends authority to any prophet. The Holy Spirit as the source of the prophetic gift gives the messages of Ellen White authority. We ignore the counsel of God at our own peril. At the same time, we recognize that the Scriptures have a universal scope and function, making them the source of doctrine and the ultimate authority by which we test every other prophetic claim.