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Ellen G. White’s Use Of The Term “Race War”, and Related Insights

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    Appendix C—“Slavery” Categories In The Spirit Of Prophecy

    Ellen White does not always use the term “slavery” to mean the same thing. In most cases a careful study of the context, objective reasoning, and a sense for the main point will identify the meaning of the usage of the term in context. It is essential that the reader understand this, or wrong conclusions and/or confusion will ensue. She identifies this danger in a letter she wrote June 28, 1906:EGWUTRW 36.3

    Those who are not walking in the light of the message, may gather up statements from my writings that happen to please them, and that agree with their human judgment, and, by separating these statements from their connection, and placing them beside human reasoning, make it appear that my writings uphold that which they condemn. 5Arthur White, Ellen G. White, Messenger to the Remnant, (Washington, D.C.: 1969), p.86.

    There are least five categories of meaning that Ellen White employs when using the term “slavery.”EGWUTRW 36.4

    1. Literal Physical SlaveryEGWUTRW 36.5

    When reference is made to the institution of slavery prior to the Civil War/Emancipation Proclamation, slavery denotes actual bondage, with slaves, masters, etc. This usage is reflected in references such as:EGWUTRW 36.6

    I was shown that if the object of this war had been to exterminate slavery, then if desired, England would have helped the North. But England fully understands the existing feeling in the Government, and that the war is not to do away [with] slavery, but merely to preserve the Union; and it is not for her interest to have it preserved. Our Government has been very proud and independent. The people of this nation have exalted themselves to heaven, and have looked down upon monarchial governments, and triumphed in their boasted liberty, while the institution of slavery, that was a thousand times worse than the tyranny exercised by monarchial governments, was suffered to exist and was cherished. In this land of light a system is cherished which allows one portion of the human family to enslave another portion, degrading millions of human beings to the level of the brute creation. The equal of this sin is not to be found in heathen lands. 6Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church 1:258, 259 (California: 1948).

    2. Social Racial SlaveryEGWUTRW 37.1

    The social or civil bondage or disfranchisement of blacks by the whites in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s is here spoken of. Slavery here was used to refer not to actual slavery (as referred to above), but to the social, economic, and political bondage exercised over blacks. (In this context “race war” is used to refer to the mutual antagonistic exchange between the races, primarily in a physical sense.) This usage is reflected in such references as:EGWUTRW 37.2

    There will be slavery just as verily as it has been only upon a basis that is more favorable and secure to the white people. 7Interview, p. 5.

    That is the danger. That is why I have pleaded and entreated, entreated, and entreated for the work to be done in the South, because I knew that this very race war would be introduced. 8Ibid., p. 6.

    3. Symbolical Spiritual SlaveryEGWUTRW 37.3

    Here Ellen White refers to the bondage to habits of sin, such as intemperance, appetite, or selfishness. This, of course, is much different from the other uses of the word, and clearly is symbolic in a spiritual sense. The usage is reflected in:EGWUTRW 37.4

    It is now evident to all that the wages of sin is not noble independence and eternal life, but slavery, ruin, and death. 9Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, 668(California: 1911). In subsequent references this book will be notated as Great Controversy.

    “Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” is the language of the apostle Peter. Many regard this warning as applicable only to the licentious; but it has a broader meaning. It guards against every injurious gratification of appetite or passion. It is a most forcible warning against the use of such stimulants and narcotics as tea, coffee, tobacco, alcohol, and morphine. These indulgences may well be classed among the lusts that exert a pernicious influence upon moral character. The earlier these hurtful habits are formed, the more firmly will they hold their victims in slavery to lust, and the more certainly will they lower the standard of spirituality. 10Ellen G. White, Counsels on Health, 67, 68(California: 1951).

    The Christian will be filled with joy in proportion as he is a faithful steward of his Lord’s goods. Christ yearns to save every son and daughter of Adam. He lifts His voice in warning, in order to break the spell which has bound the soul in captivity to the slavery of sin. He beseeches men to turn from their infatuation. He brings the nobler world before their vision, and says, “Lay up not for yourselves treasure upon the earth.” 11Ellen G. White, Counsels on Stewardship, 136, 137(Washington, D.C.: 1940).

    4. Religious-Prompted SlaveryEGWUTRW 38.1

    This aspect refers to slavery prompted by religious issues, such as the Sunday/Sabbath question. In context these references and inferences had particular relevance in Ellen White’s day as it related to the Sunday/Sabbath question. There were questions in this area dealing with the “imprisonment of Seventh-day Adventists for the breaking of Sunday laws,” 12Comments Relative to Slavery, p. 4. 71 Ibid., p. 4. and also how the same issue should be handled as it related to teaching “the newly converted colored people.” 13Ibid., p. 4 In this context Ellen White referred to how the devil was very active, by saying:EGWUTRW 38.2

    I am instructed to say to our people throughout the cities of the South, let everything be done under the direction of the Lord. The work is nearing its close. We are nearer the end than when we first believed. Satan is doing his best to block the way to the progress of the message. He is putting forth efforts to bring about the enactment of a Sunday law, which will result in slavery in the Southern field, and will close the door to the observance of the true Sabbath which God has given to men to keep holy. 14Ibid., p. 8.

    In light of the history of the South, the possibility of religious initiated slavery being revived was very strong. Obviously, this conditional reference passed its crisis point, and the truth was able to be proclaimed in the South. For an in-depth treatment of this particular aspect, see the White Estate document entitled, Comments on the Ellen G. White Statement Relative to the Revival of Slavery.EGWUTRW 38.3

    5. Eschatologically Related SlaveryEGWUTRW 38.4

    This type of bondage will take place prior to the second coming of Christ when again the Sabbath/Sunday issue will gain prominence on a national scale. And as a result of legislative enactments, slavery, such as bondage, imprisonment, and physical control of one person by another, will again become a reality. The Bible refers to it, as does Ellen White. Again a very clear delineation should be made between this type of slavery, which will affect all races and the other categories mentioned. It is confusing or misleading to merge her different usages of the term. This very real slavery, to be in the last days, will affect Blacks, Whites, Chinese, Hispanics, Indians, et cetera—anyone who refuses homage to the powers that be and honors the true Sabbath and not the spurious one. This usage is referred to in passages in the book of Revelation and The Great Controversy:EGWUTRW 38.5

    And the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? 15Revelation 6:15-17 (KJV).

    As the defenders of truth refuse to honor the Sunday-sabbath, some of them will be thrust into prison, some will be exiled, some will be treated as slaves. To human wisdom, all this now seems impossible; but as the restraining Spirit of God shall be withdrawn from men, and they shall be under the control of Satan, who hates the divine precepts, there will be strange developments. The heart can be very cruel when God’s fear and love are removed. 16The Great Controversy, 608.

    As the decree issued by the various rulers of Christendom against commandment-keepers shall withdraw the protection of government, and abandon them to those who desire their destruction, the people of God will flee from the cities and villages and associate together in companies, dwelling in the most desolate and solitary places. Many will find refuge in the strongholds of the mountains.... but many of all nations, and of all classes, high and low, rich and poor black and white, will be cast into the most unjust and cruel bondage. 17The Great Controversy, 626.

    When the reader is armed with an understanding of the different types of meaning Ellen White used in referring to slavery and related terms, while being sensitive to the context, it is possible to get a better understanding of the principles and points set forth.EGWUTRW 39.1

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