Although there are many others, the “Tamper” Accusation is one of the last areas of attack on the Spirit of Prophecy. This one is the most dangerous, because it is the most subtle. Many of those who make this charge profess to believe, 100 percent, in the authority of Ellen White. They may not make an attack undermining her authority, they may not say some things were only her opinions, or claim only in vision or the Bible and the Bible only—all of the other things we looked at, they may not do.
Even though they agree that the authority of the Spirit of Prophecy is equal with the authority of the Bible, they say that some things in Ellen White’s published books were not written by her. Have you ever heard that? That is what we want to examine. Let us briefly overview a few points in relation to this theory.
Republication and Changes
Just like every other attack on the Spirit of Prophecy, you could make the same attack on the Bible.
There are two primary supports for the tamper charge: There were changes in things that were republished and there are alleged contradictions between earlier Spirit of Prophecy writings and later Spirit of Prophecy writings, and contradictions between the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy writings.
It is true that there were changes; that fact is true. Does anybody claim that there are contradictions in the Bible? Many people do. “Those who take only a surface view of the Scriptures will, with their superficial knowledge, which they think is very deep, talk of the contradictions of the Bible, and question the authority of the Scriptures.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 20. That is the exact same thing some people are doing with the Spirit of Prophecy—talking of contradictions and questioning its authority.
Jesus says, “If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true.” John 5:31. But in John 8:14 we read, “Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of Myself, yet My record is true.” The two statements appear to the superficial Bible student to be contradictory. If you study it out you will find that “bear record” and “bear witness” means the same thing. A skeptic could use that to say there are contradictions, not only in the Bible, but in what Jesus said. That is just one example of many in the Bible.
Skeptics and Infidels
“In the very same way that they treat the writings in my published articles and in my books, so do skeptics and infidels treat the Bible.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 19.
What do skeptics and infidels say about the Bible? They say there are contradictions in it. The same way these skeptics and infidels treat the Bible, people are treating the Spirit of Prophecy.
“From various sources I have been receiving letters containing statements regarding supposed inconsistencies in the Testimonies and reasons why they cannot be regarded as reliable.” Loma Linda Messages, 176.
One alleged contradiction occurs between Spirit of Prophecy, vol.1, 29, and Patriarchs and Prophets, which was the later revised and updated version of the first volume in the Spirit of Prophecy series.
In the first reference it says that Satan “repented of his rebellion,” but in the second reference it says, “He nearly reached the decision to return, but pride forbade him.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 39. So people say, See, that is a contradiction. The answer for that claim is actually very easy. The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1 quote is from Chapter 3, “Temptation and Fall.” Satan had already been cast out of heaven; he was here on the earth and then he repented of his rebellion. However, in the Patriarchs and Prophets quote, Satan is still in heaven; he almost reached his decision to repent but pride forbade him. The two quotes are not talking about the same time or the same event—so there is not the least bit of a contradiction. As is so often the case, the problem involves not understanding the context of the two statements.
Examining the Charges
Let us examine the charges for the alleged unauthorized changes in the Spirit of Prophecy. It is true; there were things which Mrs. White wrote that were republished later, and in the republication there were some things added, some things taken out, some things revised. The same thing is true in the Bible. Let us look at all three cases found in the Bible: things added, things left out, and wording changed or variation in wording.
“Then took Jeremiah another roll, and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah; who wrote therein from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire.” Jeremiah 36:32.
Jeremiah’s writings had been burned, but they were rewritten. They were redone, but “there were added besides unto them many like words.” Many words were added, when the inspired writings were redone.
1 Corinthians 5:9, gives one of several examples of things left out of the Bible. Paul is writing to the Corinthians. We call it Corinthians, book 1, or first Corinthians. In actual fact, it is really at least 2 Corinthians, and what we call 2 Corinthians is at least 3 Corinthians, because, if you will notice in 1 Corinthians 5:9, Paul says, “I wrote unto you in an epistle” or in a letter. He had already written to them once, at this point in time, but for whatever reason God did not see fit to preserve that letter and have it part of the Bible. It was not included.
There are other examples in the Bible of things being rewritten and slightly revised, of things added and of things left out. See 2 Samuel 22 and Psalm 18. The two are basically identical but a little different. Other examples are Psalm 14 and Psalm 53; 2 Peter 2 and the book of Jude.
Let us look at Deuteronomy 5, and by all means, do not miss this one. This is the strongest rebuke in the entire Bible to the tamper charge. What does the name, Deuteronomy, mean? the second book of the law, the second or repeated legislation. Deuteronomy is a repeat of what was already stated in Exodus, especially, and some of Leviticus and Numbers. It is a republication, we might say, although it was not published on printing presses.
In Deuteronomy 5 we even have the repeat of the Ten Commandments—which originally were written by God’s own finger in tables of stone because they are eternal, unchanging. Deuteronomy 5:7 begins the Ten Commandments almost word for word, but not exactly, as Exodus 20, until you get to verse 15, in the fourth commandment. Verse 12 begins the fourth commandment, but notice what it says in verse 15. Instead of saying the fourth commandment was given because God created the earth in six days and rested on the seventh, it says: “And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day.”
Is that what the fourth commandment said, which is the heart of the Ten Commandments and contains the Seal of God? No, very clearly, it is quite different. If there is anything that should never be changed, it would be the Seal of God that He wrote with His own finger in stone, representing its eternal and unchangeable nature! The skeptic would say, somebody must have been tampering with the book of Deuteronomy here! In fact, it must have been somebody who did not like the Sabbath, because they worded it in such a way as to make it sound like it was a Jewish Sabbath, as though it was given to the Jews when they came out of Egypt and that is why God commanded them to keep the Sabbath day.
That would make it a pretty sinister motive, would it not? We can attribute just about the most sinister motive there is to tampering with Deuteronomy 5:15. But then we would have to ask when was it tampered with?
In the Septuagint—which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament translated a few hundred years before Christ—this verse appears the way it is here. So it would have to have been tampered with before Christ came to this earth. The same is true with the Hebrew manuscripts that were around before Christ came to this earth.
What Does Jesus Say?
So, if this was tampered with before Christ came, let us see what Christ had to say about it. In Matthew 4:4 is the story of when Christ was led out into the wilderness and was tempted by Satan. Jesus said, in verse 4, “‘It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’”
How much? every Word. “It is written.” Where was it written? Was the New Testament written at this point in time? No! He was quoting from the Old Testament. From what book in the Old Testament was He quoting? Deuteronomy! The only place in the Old Testament He could have been quoting is Deuteronomy 8:3. In Matthew 4:7 He again quotes from Deuteronomy: “It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.’” That is from Deutero-nomy 6:16. The third time: “‘It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.’” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 315, says that Matthew 4:10 is a quotation from the Septuagint of Deuteronomy 6:13.
Did Jesus decide to undermine the authority of the book of Deuteronomy because somebody might have tampered with it? No. He quoted from it three times. “It is written,”—and He even said that we are to live by “every word.” This means Deuteronomy as well as the rest of Scripture.
It is interesting also that these three quotes from Deuteronomy are the first recorded in the Bible of Jesus quoting Scripture. Jesus did not fall for the tamper accusation, and Jesus is our perfect Example. We will not be in danger if we follow His example.
Now there are some things in the book of Deuteronomy that are not in Exodus, Leviticus or Numbers, the previous books. There are some things in the previous books that are not in Deuteronomy. There are some things that are revised, not worded the same, and there are some things that are basically unchanged.
It is the same with the Spirit of Prophecy. In the later books, some things have been added; some things have been left out; some things have been revised, and some things are about the same.
“My mind has been exercised upon the question of the Testimonies that have been revised. We have looked them over more critically. I cannot see the matter as my brethren see it. I think the changes will improve the book. If our enemies handle it, let them do so.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 97.
Oh, some people say, maybe that was not written by Ellen White; maybe that was written by the tamperers. Well we will look at that more as we continue.
Wiser than God?
“Regarding the testimonies, . . . Some matters must be withheld because some persons would make an improper use of the light given. Every jot and tittle is essential and must appear at an opportune time. In the past, the testimonies were carefully prepared before they were sent out for publication. And all matter is still carefully studied after the first writing.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 57.
Some things were left out because some people would make an improper use of them. Unfortunately, some people now are making an improper use of the fact that they were left out—thinking that their own foolishness is wiser than God’s wisdom on what should or should not have been left out or revised.
C. White wrote, “Sister White was responsible for leaving out or adding to matters…in the later editions of our books.…She had many times direct instruction from the angel of the Lord regarding what should be omitted and what by At should be added in new editions.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 452, Appendix C.
Does anyone reading this think that they have a better idea than direct instructions from the angel as to what should have been left out or put in?
God Cares About the Small Things
Let me give you another example that helps to disprove the tamper accusation. Mrs. White was given a vision of a situation before it actually occurred. Ballanger was trying to change some of the Seventh-day Adventist doctrines in a magazine that was published under the title, The Sentinel. Regarding the situation with Ballanger and the Salamanca vision, she writes, “Those in counsel pointed to certain passages, declaring that this must be cut out, and that must be changed.” Testimonies to Ministers, 469.
Now this was not publication of her inspired writings. This was just a Seventh-day Adventist magazine, but she was given this very important vision before the incident occurred. Because of the vision, she was able to stop the action.
Another vision Sister White had revealed that one of her helpers stole her hairnet. When the helper became afraid of getting caught, she burned it to eliminate the evidence. God gave Mrs. White a vision about who stole it and He even showed her that it had been burned. (See Campfire Junior Stories by Arthur White.) If God gave a special vision for something as insignificant as a hairnet, would He not give a special vision if somebody was tampering with the Spirit of Prophecy?
Pulling the Wool Over the Eyes of God?
“The Lord has preserved this Holy Book by His own miraculous power in its present shape.…Men should let God take care of His own Book,…as He has done for ages.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 15, 17. If God can take care of the Bible, can He take care of the Spirit of Prophecy? Yes, He can.
There have been some translations of the Spirit of Prophecy that may not be the most accurate. Some things may have been left out of them, but the same could be said about the Bible. There are some translations of the Bible that are not very good. With the Bible we can go back and study the original language—the Hebrew or Greek. With the Spirit of Prophecy we can go back ro the original language—English.
There have also been books, published since 1915, which contain typographical errors or minor punctuation changes. Punctuation was not inspired, nor was it inspired in the Bible. Most of the recent books were published from letters and manuscripts, for which the handwritten or signed manuscript is on file, so we know they are valid. There are two things to watch out for in these compilations that were published since Ellen White passed away. First is the ellipsis (…). When an ellipsis is used, you need to study the quote in its original context to see if something has been omitted relevant to its meaning. Second, the headings are not inspired. Last Day Events, 51, is just one example. It says, “A New Denomination Not Needed.” That is not inspired; Ellen White did not write that. The Bible also has headings; many Bibles have headings at the top of the page or down through the sections of the Bible. They are not inspired.
Reports Are Not True!
“After the matter for the Testimony is prepared, every article must be read by me.” Ibid., Book 3, 98. “What I write by hand is copied out by faithful helpers. Before any of this matter is printed, it is read over and closely examined by me.” Manuscript Release, 8, 21, 22. “I read over all that is copied, to see that everything is as it should be. I read all the book manuscript before it is sent to the printer.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 90. “The reports that are circulated, that any of my helpers are permitted to add matter or change the meaning of the messages I write out, are not true.” Ibid, Book 1, 50.
“And now to all who have a desire for truth I would say: Do not give credence to unauthenticated reports as to what Sister White has done or said or written.” She says, “If you desire to know what the Lord has revealed through her, read her published works.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 696. [Emphasis supplied.]
Throughout all the people who support the tamper accusations, there is not general agreement on what was supposedly tampered with and what was not.
“They feel at liberty to reject any portion that does not agree with them. That is the foundation for all these fanaticisms and winds of doctrines that are going around. One or more of these deceptions, especially the tamper accusation, is employed. When there is something in the Spirit of Prophecy that is so clear that they cannot harmonize it with what they believe and are teaching, they just say, oh, that was tampered with, or that was uninspired, or that was lesser light or any one of these theories that are undermining the authority of the Spirit of Prophecy.
It is funny how those who believe every word in the Spirit of Prophecy books, and who do not try to teach anything that contradicts the Spirit of Prophecy, are not the ones running around saying it has been tampered with. It is the ones who are wanting to reject something in the Spirit of Prophecy who are undermining it. Strange how that works.
Making of No Effect
Revelation 22:18, 19 presents a very solemn warning. This warning applies to the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book; And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the Book of Life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
Is there any warning in these two verses that if somebody actually did succeed in adding something to the Bible, and if you believed it, you would be lost? No. God promises us that no one will be lost for believing everything in the Bible: “Brethren, cling to your Bible, as it reads, and stop your criticisms in regard to its validity, and obey the Word, and not one of you will be lost.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 18. The warning of Revelation 22:18,19 is to the person who would add or take away from God’s word. So, if no one did add to or take away things from the Spirit of Prophecy, but I am claiming that tampering was done, then I am taking away from the Spirit of Prophecy. I am the one to whom the warning applies! But if I implicitly believe everything that is in the Bible and in the Spirit of Prophecy, then the warning does not apply to me—regardless of whether or not someone else tried to add or take away from God’s Word.
In Genesis 3, we often talk about the devil’s first lie, “Ye shall not surely die.” But how often do we notice in verse 1 what the devil said to pave the way for his first lie? The very first thing out of that archfiend’s mouth was, “Yea, hath God said…” casting doubt on God’s Word!
“It was through making the word of God of none effect that sin was brought into the world.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 345. That is how serious it is. We are all here in this sinful world because the devil undermined the authority of God’s Word, and somebody believed it.
Satan’s Last Deception
“The very last deception of Satan will be to make of none effect the testimony of the Spirit of God. . . Satan will work ingeniously, in different ways and through different agencies, to unsettle the confidence of God’s remnant people in the true testimony.” Ibid., Book 1, 48.
We have looked at many of these ingenious ways. Testimonies, vol. 5, 675, says, “The testimonies are rejected, and many excuses which are untrue are offered to others as the reason for refusing to receive them.”
“It is God’s plan to give sufficient evidence of the divine character of His work to convince all who honestly desire to know the truth. But He never removes all opportunity for doubt. All who desire to question and cavil will find occasion.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 72.
If you are trying to find something in the Spirit of Prophecy that is evidence that it has been tampered with, you will find it. But that does not mean it is true. You can do the same thing with the Bible.
“I pity those who have set their feet in the path of doubt and unbelief. I would gladly help them if I could, but the experience of the past gives me little hope that they will ever come to the light. No amount of evidence will convince men of the truth so long as they are unwilling to yield their pride, subdue their carnal nature, and become learners in the school of Christ.” Ibid.
“Let not those who seek to hedge up my way and destroy the influence of my words deceive themselves with the belief that they are doing God service. They are serving another master, and they will be rewarded according to their work. Rebellion will exist as long as Satan exists.” Ibid.
What do the tamper accusation, and all the other accusations, do? They destroy the influence of her words.
“They have professed to believe the visions, but have acted contrary to them. Their example and influence have raised doubts in the minds of others. It would have been better for the cause of present truth had they both opposed the gifts. Then the people would not have been deceived, and would not have stumbled over these blind teachers.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 234. (See also Upper Look p. 115)
“All who believe that the Lord has spoken through Sister White, and has given her a message, will be safe from the many delusions that will come in these last days.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 84.
You will not find one quote that says all who believe the Spirit of Prophecy has been tampered with, or any of these other accusations, will be safe from the many delusions.
I appeal, with tears, to anyone who may have accepted or taught accusations on the authority of the Spirit of Prophecy, even if accepted and taught honestly, to repent, to confess, and do your best to correct the wrong impressions left on the minds of others. Merely ceasing to promote error is not enough. A stand must be taken on the side of truth which is as much or more public as the stand which was previously taken on the side of error. Your decision will prove if you really love Jesus.