[Guest Post] The Long, Lost Obituary of Joseph Clarke

[This is a guest post by Kevin Morgan, a meticulous researcher, author, and friend who has found some amazing new material about Joseph Clarke. MWC]

Historian Michael Campbell and I share a common interest in Adventist pioneer Joseph Clarke, who Michael has described on his blog as an “unsung hero.” And certainly Joseph Clarke was, as I will note below.

Michael and I joined forces to try to find out what had happened to this Adventist pioneer known for four things. The first of these is his support of church organization, when James White was trying to accomplish the Herculean task of bringing the “scattered flock” of Sabbatarian Adventists together into a formal organization in the midst of the American Civil War. The second is for fancying “that the time might come when a regiment of Sabbathkeepers would strike this rebellion a staggering blow, in the strength of Him who always helped His valiant people when they kept His statutes.” Yet, there is no evidence that he actually advocated such. Rather, he encouraged the brethren to “stop pestering Bro. White on this subject, and go to God for guidance.” He also expressed confidence that, “when the time for drafting arrives, God will shed light on the path of the S. D. Adventists.” “We have the gift of prophecy,” he wrote, “and if we look to God, he will guide our leaders, and they will walk in the light” (RH, Sept. 23, 1862, p. 134). The third thing that Clarke is known for is his early but brief foray into the South to work with freed slaves following the end of the American Civil War. Fourth, Clarke is known for his many articles in the Review and Herald. (Last count, there are over 650! For comparison, Ellen White’s numbered 1895.) [Read more...]

Ellen White’s Unpublished Writings

Annotated Edition of Ellen White's WritingsThe first volume of a projected series covering the unpublished writings of Ellen G. White was just released this month. This is a major new work that makes a major contribution to Ellen White studies. It is perhaps the most significant publication to come from the Ellen G. White Estate in over three decades, perhaps since the 1982 Prophetic Guidance workshop. It was also in the early 1980s that the White Estate made a shift to generally start releasing her unpublished writings, unless there was a reason not to. Then in the 1990s serious discussions culminated in a project to annotated her unpublished writings. Begin in earnest in 2002 Roland Karlman spent the last decade of his career on this volume.

Among some of the significant contributions:

  1. Essay by Alberto R. Timm on the interpretation and authority of Ellen White’s unpublished writings.
  2. Essay by Merlin D. Burt on the Shut Door. He argues in essence that a careful historical study separates Ellen White as taking a more moderate view that allowed for her to progressively expand her view. This essay alone is worth the price of the book.
  3. The actual unpublished writings. While all of the unpublished writings will be released next year (July 16, 2015) on the 100th anniversary of Ellen White’s death, these earliest writings (up to 1859) give valuable insights. Plus, the careful identification of important people and places is invaluable.
  4. Afterward is a list of key biographical personalities from her life, as well as a timeline and several other useful tools.
  5. One of the appendices is also by Merlin D. Burt on charismatic experiences. In it he notes that she was far more enthusiastic in her religious experience than generally characterized, but still far from many of the fanatical excesses that she warned against. [Read more...]

Ellen White & Leo Tolstoy

Ilya_Repin_-_Leo_Tolstoy_Barefoot_-_Google_Art_Project[1]Two authors who were more or less contemporaries, but who lived a world apart. Each was vegetarian, had a notable conversion experience, read widely, had a literary team that supported them, and grew frustrated with some of their followers who went to extremes. Who were these two authors? Ellen G. White (1827-1915) and Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910).

As far as I can tell, neither one knew about the other. Ellen G. White, if she ever heard of Tolstoy, does not reference him in any of her writings, and did not, as far as I can tell have his writings in her library. And conversely the same thing holds true of Tolstoy.

While the similarities are interesting, some of the contrasts are more revealing. Ellen G. White claimed to be God’s prophetic messenger. Tolstoy never claimed to receive visions, or even to be visionary kind of leader although some certainly felt led to follow him. [Read more...]

The L. T. Nicola Photograph Album

Ira Abbey Family
Primary sources are critical to do effective and accurate research. Part of the job a historian is to track down and ascertain any and all historical sources. “Anything the historian can find–must be brought to play in building up our picture of a particular landscape,” notes historian Peter Brown.

One primary resource sometimes overlooked is photographs. With the advent of photography during the nineteenth century it can be easy to take these for granted. In many ways, the story of photographs has a significant role in early Adventism. Early Adventists, with a tendency toward upward social mobility, took advantage of the opportunity to have their picture taken. Very early on James and Ellen G. White, for example, had their earliest pictures taken in the 1850s. [Read more...]

“Amalgamation”: Ellen White’s Most Controversial Statement

sD.28_-_Types_of_Mankind_-_QOSo what was the most controversial statement by Ellen G. White?

I think it is safe to say that it was her use of the term “amalgamation” used to describe how Satan corrupted the world (Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, pgs. 64, 75 and Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, pgs. 69, 78). I was reminded of this just yesterday when Dr. Timothy Standish, a research fellow at the Geoscience Research Institute, gave a presentation on the topic for graduate students at AIIAS. In a nutshell, he gave arguments from our article on the topic that we co-authored for the Ellen White Encyclopedia. Of course we wrote that piece over a decade ago so I was interested to know what research he has done in the meantime.

The first thing that Dr. Standish mentioned was a reference to the inter-testamental book Jasher (4:18-19):

“And their judges and rulers went to the daughters of men and took their wives by force from their husbands according to their choice… and taught the mixture of animals of one species with the other… The Lord said, I will blot out man that I created…” [Read more...]

Why Tramelan Matters

First Seventh-day Adventist Church outside of North America.

First Seventh-day Adventist Church outside of North America.

 Recently I had the privilege to return to the village of Tramelan, Switzerland, to see the very first Seventh-day Adventist Church organized, constructed, and dedicated outside of North America. I first visited the church four years ago. Since then, thanks to some hard work from some fellow Adventist historians and the generosity of the Inter-European Division who have arranged to rent the building, it is now possible to visit this Adventist historical treasure. For the first time I was able to go inside.

So why is this place significant?

In a nutshell, this was the place where M. B. Czechowski did some of his earliest missionary labors. As early Sabbatarian Adventists developed a sense of mission consciousness, it was difficult for these early church leaders to figure out what to do. The first person they picked to go overseas, B. F. Snook, apostatized. Early Seventh-day Adventist leaders had concerns about Czechowski who eventually was sponsored by the Advent Christian Church. [Read more...]

New Small Group Resources

EGW DiscoverI am pleased to announce that two small group resources that I have written are now available from AdventSource. About two years ago leaders from the NAD approached me about putting something together. The iFollow Curriculum transitioned to the AdventSource and so I had the privilege to work with Brad Forbes. They are now available! The goal was to simplify the development of early Adventism and Ellen G. White so that new believers, and even those who may be familiar with our past, can use these small group study guides in the local church. They are inexpensive and tested from my five years of pastoral ministry. To purchase your copy please click here or here.

For a chance to win one of ten free copies of either one of these two volumes (your choice), re-post this blog on your Facebook page and make sure that you are signed up on my blog here. Send me a message with your re-posted link from your FB page and I will enter you for a drawing that I will take on February 23.

J. H. Kellogg to Church Critics

kellogg (2)Two of the prominent critics of the early twentieth-century Adventism were two brothers: Edward S. Ballenger and Albion Fox Ballenger. After they left the denomination they devoted their lives to attacking Adventist beliefs, especially the sanctuary doctrine.

A letter that has survived from Dr. John Harvey Kellogg in response to a query from Edward S. Ballenger about why he left the Seventh-day Adventist Church. While Kellogg was caught up in a controversy at the turn of the century, and did in fact leave the denomination, he appears to have made peace with Adventism by the end of his life. In fact, he appears to be somewhat apprehensive to Ballenger because of his publishing vendetta against Adventism: “I have never thought it any part of my duty to show up people’s faults, for we are all faulty enough, and I am writing this to you simply for your information personally and not for publication.”

He continued with following advice: [Read more...]

Lost & Found: 1919 Bible Conference Research

1919-Bible-ConferenceThis past week I found an old thumb drive that had on it a digital copy of my dissertation on the 1919 Bible Conference. I thought I had lost it! (a good reason to back up files). It is now available online through the Andrews University Digital Library database of dissertations of the James White Library. For those interested in learning more, you can read my dissertation for yourself here.

Or, for those who are interested in a popularized version that was a cover article for the Adventist Review click here.

Making Oral History Easy

oral-historyOral history is one of my favorite ways to discover the past. While in some instances I can only wish to interview people (e.g. Bible characters), in my recent history it is possible to ask people what it was like to experience a particular event, person, and to learn about their life experience. I had the privilege, for example, to interview one of the last living persons who personally knew Ellen G. White. It was her great-granddaughter, Mabel Miller Robinson.

Conducting an oral history is incredibly easy. Perhaps you know of someone who knows the story about how your local church came about, or, perhaps you have a retired missionary or pioneer member in your particular congregation. Such a person may even be a relative. Whatever the circumstance, if you know of someone who you identify as having a significant story then this guide is for you. [Read more...]