The Early Years 1827 through 1862

“The Godhead in Black and White” book.

Ellen, with her twin sister Elizabeth, was born November 26, 1827, to Robert and Eunice Harmon. With eight children in the family, home was an interesting and busy place. The family lived on a small farm near the village of Gorham, Maine, in the northeastern part of the United States. However, a few years after the birth of the twins, Robert Harmon gave up farming, and, with his family, moved to the city of Portland, about twelve miles east.ellen white

On the night of November 13, 1833 Ellen (nearly six years old) slept while the stars fell, causing a fresh interest in prophecies and giving an impetus to the Advent doctrine. At the young age of nine, Ellen met with a life changing accident. While returning home from school one afternoon, she was severely injured in the face by a stone thrown by a classmate. For three weeks she was unconscious, and in the years that followed she suffered greatly as a result of the serious injury to her nose.

In March of 1840 twelve year old Ellen (now a Methodist) attended a course of lectures by William Miller on the second coming of Christ. Two years later she again attended his second course of lectures given in Portland. The heart stirring truths accompanied by the conviction of the Spirit had their effect and the Harmon family became believers in the doctrine of the Second Advent. Not long after, Ellen and her family were expelled from the Methodist church for their faith in the soon coming Saviour.

1844 was the happiest year of Ellen’s life. Her heart was full of glad expectation. Ellen was 16 years old when she went through the trying disappointment of October 22, 1844. Though severely disappointed, she was not disheartened.

It was not long after the passing of the time in 1844 that her first vision was given her in December of that year. She was given a view of the travels of the Advent people to the Holy City (See Early Writings pp. 13-20). “Relate to others what I have revealed to you” was the instruction given to Ellen. She related the vision to the little company in Portland, who then fully believed it to be of God.

Meanwhile, fanaticism was breaking out. Under God’s guidance and protection this young 17 year old woman was to meet the spreading fanaticism. Some continued to hold that prophecy was fulfilled on October 22. A much larger group took the position that they were mistaken in the date. These fanatical teachings and actions on the part of some divided the little group who were clinging to their confidence that prophecy had been fulfilled on October 22. There were those who patiently awaited the dawning of light that they might gain a true understanding of their position and their work.

These were later to become the spiritual forefathers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Ellen was traveling accompanied by her older sister and Elder James White. The historic vision of the “End of the 2300 Days” (See Early Writings, pp. 54-56) was given in 1845. That vision revealed what took place in heaven on October 22, 1844.

By August 30, 1846, Ellen was united in marriage to Elder James White. Elder White had enjoyed a deep experience in the advent movement, and his labors in proclaiming the truth had been blessed of God. Their hearts were united in the great work, and together they traveled and labored for the salvation of souls. Several phases of fanaticism had their roots in the teaching of some that Christ had actually come in a spiritual sense. This teaching was carried to the point that some declared that there is no such thing as a literal body of Christ and a universal God. This fanatical teaching was carried by some to the extent of denying that God was a personal being who has a form. The vision of the “End of the 2300 Days” helped to meet this falsehood. That early vision also confirmed the Two divine occupants of the heavenly throne.

The God of heaven saw it fit to establish the Advent movement on a solid foundation of truth. This foundation included a correct understanding of who He is. The Advent band was not left to wander through the multiplied delusions of the spiritualizers. From the earliest visions God assured His children of the reality of His being. “I have often seen the lovely Jesus, that He is a person. I asked Him if His Father was a person and had a form like Himself. Said Jesus, “I am in the express image of My Father’s person.” I have often seen that the spiritual view took away all the glory of heaven […]” {E. G. White, Early Writings, p. 77}

While at Rocky Hill, Connecticut, in the summer of 1849, James White began publication of The Present Truth, an eight page semi monthly paper. The later numbers carried articles from Ellen White’s pen setting forth prophetic views of the future of the church and sounding notes of warning and counsel.

The year 1851 marked the appearance of Mrs. White’s first book, a paper-covered work of 64 pages entitled, A Sketch of the Christian Experience and Views of Ellen G. White. The days of the beginning of the Review and Herald in 1850 and theYouth’s Instructor in 1852, the securing of a hand press, then the publishing of the papers in Rochester, New York, during the years 1852-1855, were strenuous and trying. Money was scarce. Sickness and bereavement played their part in bringing distress and discouragement. But there were brighter days ahead, and when in 1855 the Advent believers in Michigan invited the Whites to Battle Creek and promised to build a little printing house, the tide seemed to turn for the better.

The record of the next few years shows Elder and Mrs. White establishing the publishing work and church organization, and traveling here and there by train, wagon, and sleigh. It is a record of suffering from severe cold on long trips through sparsely settled country, and of God’s special protection from many dangers. It is a record with discouraging features as attacks were directed against the work, and also one of great encouragement as the power of God brought victory into the lives of the Sabbathkeepers and success to the work of those who were leading out in advancing the Advent cause.

At an Ohio funeral service held on a Sunday afternoon in March, 1858, in the Lovett’s Grove (now Bowling Green) public school, a vision of the ages-long conflict between Christ and His angels and Satan and his angels was given to Mrs. White. Two days later Satan attempted to take her life that she might not present to others what had been revealed to her. Sustained, however, by God in doing the work entrusted to her, she wrote out a description of the scenes that had been presented to her, and the 219-page book Spiritual Gifts, volume 1, The Great Controversy Between Christ and His Angels and Satan and His Angels, was published in the summer of 1858. The volume was well received and highly prized because of its clear picture of the contending forces in the great conflict, touching high points of the struggle but dealing more fully with the closing scenes of this earth’s history.

By the fall of 1860 the White family numbered six, with four boys ranging from a few weeks to 13 years of age. The youngest child, Herbert, however, lived only a few months, his death bringing the first break in the family circle. The culminating efforts to establish church and conference organizations, with the demands for much writing, traveling, and personal labor, occupied the early years of the 1860s. The biographical information in this and other sections comes from: Testimonies for the Church Volume 1, (Ch. 1-4); Spiritual Gifts Volume 2 (Ch. 1-7)Ellen G. White: The Early Years Volume 1 – 1827-1862, By Arthur L. White (1985), (Ch. 1-4); A Brief Biography of Ellen
G. White by Arthur L. White

Examining the writings 1827-1862

What did Ellen White write in those early years that can shed some light for us on the topic of the Godhead? Did God reveal to her these vital truths or not? An examination of her writings in, and regarding, that period will adequately answer these questions. (Please note: text in the quotes is italicized for emphasis).

Were there false views being circulated about God in those early years?

“After the passing of the time in 1844, we had fanaticism of every kind to meet. Testimonies of reproof were given me to bear to some holding spiritualistic theories. There were those who were active in disseminating false ideas in regard to God. Light was given me that these men were making the truth of no effect by their false teachings. I was instructed that they were misleading souls by presenting speculative theories regarding God.” {E. G. White, Testimonies Volume 8, pp. 292, 293} 1904

The people disseminating these views were called “spiritualizers.”

What were some of the false views about God that were present in those early days?

In eastern Maine Ellen was traveling and working in the atmosphere of the spiritualizers who had allegorized away heaven, God, Jesus, and the Advent hope. In the vision at Exeter in mid-February (1845) she seemed to be in the presence of Jesus, and she was eager to procure answers to some vital questions (such as ‘does God have a form or not?’).

“I asked Jesus if His Father had a form like Himself. He said He had, but I could not behold it, for said He, “If you should once behold the glory of His person, you would cease to exist.” {E. G. White, Early Writings, p. 54}

This was not the only occasion Ellen was to converse with Jesus and the angel about the person of Jesus and concerning God being a personal being (which was denied by the spiritualizers). The answers satisfied her fully that the spiritualizers were in gross error in this regard.

What were the spiritualizers specifically teaching that was regarded as “false views about God”?

From James White we receive a remarkable eyewitness account:“The way spiritualizers have disposed of or denied the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ is first using the old unscriptural Trinitarian creed, viz., that Jesus Christ is the eternal God, though they have not one passage to support it, while we have plain scripture testimony in abundance that he is the Son of the eternal God.” {J. S. White, The Day Star, January 24, 1846}

Even Ellen White back in those days was accused of teaching similar things to the spiritualizers (called “spiritualism” in the following quote).

“I have frequently been falsely charged with teaching views peculiar to spiritualism. But, before the editor of the “DayStar” ran into that delusion, the Lord gave me a view of the sad and desolating effects that would be produced upon the flock, by him and others, in teaching the spiritual views. I have often seen the lovely Jesus, that he is a person. I asked him if his Father was a person, and had a form like himself. Said Jesus. “I am in the express image of my Father’s Person. I have often seen that the spiritual view took away all the glory of heaven, and that in many minds the throne of David, and the lovely person of Jesus had been burned up in the fire of spiritualism. I have seen that some, who have been deceived, and led into this error, would be brought out into the light of truth, but it would be almost impossible for them to get entirely rid of the deceptive power of spiritualism. Such should make thorough work in confessing their errors, and leaving them forever.” {A Sketch of the Christian Experience and Views of Ellen G. White, p. 64} 1851

(Amazingly, similar charges continue to be leveled at Sister White to this very day. She is charged with teaching the trinity. All those who believe that charge would do well to review our past history before heeding such idle tales).

The spiritualization of heaven, God, Christ, and the coming of Christ lay at the foundation of much of the fanatical teachings that young Ellen Harmon/White was called upon by God to meet in those formative days. The visions firmly established the personality of God and Christ. This sound guidance saved the emerging church.

Would we expect that God would declare His truth to His messenger, thus correcting those “false ideas in regard to God”?

Speaking of the period “after the passing of the time in 1844” she says, “The whole company of believers were united in the truth. There were those who came in with strange doctrines, but we were never afraid to meet them. Our experience was wonderfully established by the revelation of the Holy Spirit.” {E. G. White, Manuscript Releases Volume 3, p. 413} 1903

Did that revelation of the Holy Spirit include a correct knowledge and understanding regarding Christ?

Recounting those early experiences she says, “After the passing of the time in 1844 we searched for the truth as for hidden treasure. I met with the brethren, and we studied and prayed earnestly. Often we remained together until late at night, and sometimes through the entire night, praying for light and studying the Word. […] When they came to the point in their study where they said, “We can do nothing more,” the Spirit of the Lord would come upon me. I would be taken off in vision, and a clear explanation of the passages we had been studying would be given me, with instruction as to how we were to labor and teach effectively. Thus light was given that helped us to understand the scriptures in regard to Christ, his mission, and his priesthood. A line of truth extending from that time to the time when we shall enter the city of God, was made plain to me, and I gave to others the instruction that the Lord had given me.” {E. G. White, Review and Herald, May 25, 1905 par. 24}

Would that foundational understanding of Christ have to be changed in later years?

“The evidence given in our early experience has the same force that it had then. […] That which was sought for out of the Word in 1844, 1845, and 1846 remains the truth in every particular.” {E. G. White, Manuscript Releases Volume 1, p. 52} 1906

What was understood (and revealed) in regard to Christ in those early years?

Ellen White’s vision of the great controversy between Christ and His angels and Satan and his angels clearly revealed the identities of the contending parties. “But the Son of God, who was with the Father before the world was, took pity upon us in our lost condition, and offered to step in between us and the wrath of an offended God.” {E. G. White, The Youth’s Instructor, August 1, 1852 par. 6}

“Angels were engaged in the battle; Satan wished to conquer the Son of God, and those who were submissive to his will. But the good and true angels prevailed, and Satan, with his followers, was driven from heaven.” {E. G. White, Spiritual Gifts Volume 1, p. 18} 1858

And I saw that when God said to his Son, Let us make man in our image, Satan was jealous of Jesus.” {E. G. White, Spiritual Gifts Volume 1, p. 17} 1858

Who was the third highest being in heaven, next in command to Jesus Christ (God’s dear Son)?

“The Lord has shown me that Satan was once an honored angel in heaven, next to Jesus Christ.” {E. G. White, Spiritual Gifts Volume 1, p. 17} 1858

Therefore, how many divine occupants are on the heavenly throne?

“In February, 1845, I had a vision of events commencing with the Midnight Cry. I saw a throne and on it sat the Father and the Son. I gazed on Jesus’ countenance and admired his lovely person. The Father’s person I could not behold, for a cloud of glorious light covered him. I asked Jesus if his Father had a form like himself. He said he had, but I could not behold it, for said he if you should once behold the glory of his person you would cease to exist.” {E. G. Harmon, Broadside1, April 6, 1846 par. 7}

When the time came to execute the plan of salvation (when man fell), who was involved in that divine communication?

“Sorrow filled heaven, as it was realized that man was lost, and the world that God created was to be filled with mortals doomed to misery, sickness and death, and there was no way of escape for the offender. The whole family of Adam must die. I saw the lovely Jesus, and beheld an expression of sympathy and sorrow upon his countenance. Soon I saw him approach the exceeding bright light which enshrouded the Father. Said my accompanying angel, “He is in close converse with his Father.” The anxiety of the angels seemed to be intense while Jesus was communing with his Father.

Three times he was shut in by the glorious light about the Father, and the third time he came from the Father we could see his person; and his countenance was calm, free from all perplexity and trouble, and shone with loveliness, such as words cannot express. He then made known to the angelic choir that a way of escape had been made for lost man; that he had been pleading with his Father, and had obtained his consent to give his life a ransom, to bear their sins, and take the sentence of death upon himself […] Then joy, inexpressible joy, filled heaven, and the heavenly choir sung a song of praise and adoration. They touched their harps and sung a note higher than they had done before, for the great mercy and condescension of God in yielding up his dearly 

Beloved to die for a race of rebels, and praise and adoration was poured forth for the self-denial and sacrifice of Jesus; that he would consent to leave the bosom of his Father, and choose a life of suffering and anguish, and die an ignominious death to give life to others. {E. G. White, Supplement to the Christian Experience and Views of Ellen G. White, pp. 47, 48} 1854

God consented to give his only Son to die for lost man.” {E. G. White, The Youth’s Instructor, August 1, 1852 par. 6}

“I have been shown the great love and condescension of God in giving his Son to die that man might find pardon and live.” {E. G. White, Supplement to the Christian Experience and Views of Ellen G. White, p. 46} 1854

Was it easy for the Father to consent to give His only Son, His dearly Beloved, to die for a guilty race?

Said the angel, “Think ye that the Father yielded up his dearly beloved Son without a struggle? No, no.” It was even astruggle with the God of heaven whether to let guilty man perish, or to give his darling Son to die for them. […] I saw that it was impossible for God to alter or change his law, to save lost, perishing man; therefore he suffered his darling Son to die for man’s transgression.” {E. G. White, Supplement to the Christian Experience and Views of Ellen G. White, p. 48} 1854 

(Note: Christ was a real Son prior to coming, which explains the struggle of the Father. It was a real struggle of a real Father over a real Son.)

“At first the angels could not rejoice, for their commander concealed nothing from them, but opened before them the plan of salvation. Jesus told them that he would stand between the wrath of his Father and guilty man, that he would bear iniquity and scorn, and but few would receive him as the Son of God.” {E. G. White, Spiritual Gifts Volume 1, pp. 23, 24} 1858

Who is Michael and who is His Father?

“I saw that Moses passed through death, but Michael came down and gave him life before he saw corruption. Satan claimed the body as his, but Michael resurrected Moses, and took him to heaven. The Devil tried to hold his body, and railed out bitterly against God, denounced him as unjust, in taking from him his prey. But Michael did not rebuke the Devil, although it was through his temptation and power that God’s servant had fallen. Christ meekly referred him to his Father, saying, The Lord rebuke thee.” {E. G. White, Spiritual Gifts Volume 1, p. 43} 1858

How is Christ (the True Witness) the Son of the Father?

“Says the true Witness, the only Begotten of the Father, “Blessed are they that do his [the Father’s] commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the City.” Rev. xxii, 14.” {E. G. White, Review and Herald, June 10, 1852 par. 17}


From a brief examination of the early writings we find that God revealed some certain basic truths regarding Himself and His Son. These truths were sent to establish His people on a firm and lasting foundation of truth.


From these brief early evidences we learned:

* There were false views circulated about God shortly after 1844.
* These spiritualizers promoted the trinity doctrine.
* The pioneers were not afraid to meet these false views.
* Bible study and revelations of God served to correct these and other fanatical errors.
* God revealed that He is a person who has a form, and so does His Son.
* The pioneers understood the scriptures regarding who Christ was.
* The Spirit of Prophecy confirmed this understanding (Begotten Son of the Father).
* Only God and His Son occupied the heavenly throne, next came Lucifer.
* Lucifer hated God’s dear Son in heaven.
* The counsel to redeem man was between the Father and Son.
* The Father consented to give His darling Son to die for us.
* It was even a struggle with the Father to suffer His darling Son to die for man.
* Christ told the angels that few would actually receive Him as the Son of God.


The Godhead in Black and White

The Early Years 1827-1862

The Progressive Years 1862-1876

The Lonely Years 1876-1891 

The Australian Years 1891-1900

The Crisis Years 1900-1905

The Final Years 1905-1915 

Appendix – (Dr. Kellogg & the Trinity)
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