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people’s faults, for we are all faulty enough, and I am writing this to you simply for your information personally and not for publication.”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:
“Before closing this letter I must say a word more. . . . If I were you, I would not spend a minute in the kind of work you are doing. A man of your talents ought to be engaged in evangelistic work. Mere theological doctrines have very little influence upon character. It is the saving principles of the gospel and fundamental ideas of integrity and equity that build character, and not theological tactics. Character is the only thing that counts, and human service is the only thing worthwhile. . . . Really, the only way to serve God is to serve our fellows, isn’t it?
“Mrs. White was unquestionably an inspired woman. In spite of this fact, she was human and made many mistakes and probably suffered more from those mistakes than any person ever did. Nevertheless, I knew the woman was sincere and honest and that the influence of her life was immensely helpful to a vast multitude of people, and I have not the slightest desire in any way to weaken in the smallest degree the good influence of her life and work, and consequently I cannot lend any influence to help your work because I do not approve of it as being worthwhile when there is so much that needs to be done to help men and women who are sitting in darkness and longing for light. . . .
“I do hope that you will give prayerful thought and consideration to devoting your life and talents to work that will be more directly and immediately helpful to make men and women . . . healthier and happier. . . . Certainly such use of your time and talents will be vastly more fruitful than what you are doing in a critical way by showing up faults and weak points. Make your work creative and uplifting, and it will give you something beautiful and satisfying to look back upon when your lifework is done.
“Excuse me for this little preachment, but I felt it my duty to express to you my real state of mind. . . . You know the apostle said, ‘Whatsoever things are lovely, think on these things,’ and there are plenty of them to occupy all our time. . . .
“Your friend and Brother, J. H. Kellogg.”
[J. H. Kellogg to Edward S. Ballenger, May 23, 1941, as quoted in J. R. Nix, “Kellogg’s Counsel to Church Critics,” Adventist Review May 25, 1995, pg. 14-15]