God Created Canaries AND Ostriches: A Rebooted (2.0) Adventism Celebrates Both


Jim Walters, 10/2/2023

Few Adventists would doubt the bonafides of the late Richard Hammill (Andrews University president and world-church education leader), Siegfried Horn (renown twentieth century Adventist archeologist), or former General Conference president R.R. Fighur.  However, the Adventism of these towering thought-leaders couldn’t be more different in ethos from widely respected GC presidents such as the late W.H. Branson and R.H. Pierson, and current GC president Ted Wilson.  Using the taxonomy of Gilbert Valentine’s monumental Ostriches and Canaries:  Coping with Change in Adventism 1966-1979, the first trio are Canaries, the later Ostriches.  Canaries come to terms with unwelcome truths; ostriches can’t or won’t.  Canaries are our church’s progressives; Ostriches are the fundamentalists.

God created canaries and ostriches, and Adventism is sufficiently big, dynamic, and mature to not just abide, but celebrate both.  There are powerful reasons to get beyond an either-or mentality, and applaud both-and. But deep in the denominational DNA there’s an opposing momentum: it treasures the exclusivity of either-or.  Nevertheless,  the genius of Adventism is only realized when we acknowledge our penchant for fundamentalist either-or thinking, and appreciate our more progressive both-and sentiment. 

Herein I will argue, informed by our Adventist history, that the genius of Adventism (and really religion itself) is deeply affective and largely regulated by reason, and the fundamentalist/progressive distinction roughly parallels these undergirding elements.

James White, an Early Adventist Progressive

With Millerism as the seedbed from which Seventh-day Adventism arose, that there were significant differences in temperaments is not surprising.  William Miller, a rationalistic deist-turned-Baptist attracted many other frontier-believers—mostly Methodist and Baptist folk, with Ellen Harmon coming from a shouting Methodist congregation where her father was an exhorter until family expulsion. Miller, given Valentine’s taxonomy, leaned  more canary than ostrich.  This is seen in his post-Disappointment Albany Conference at which he and key Millerite leaders regrouped, acknowledging their prophetic miscalculation, and opposed what they saw as a fanatical wing in their movement—a group that included young impressionable Ellen Harmon. It’s not coincidental that Ellen Harmon, portrayed in court documents as lying prostrate, was one of several visionaries participating in a Millerite believers’ prayer meeting, February, 1845 at Israel Dameon’s home in Atkinson, Maine.  Within a year Ellen and James would be married, and with Joseph Bates they founded what would become the Seventh-day Adventist denomination of 22+ million members, while Miller’s Advent Christian denomination continues with some 60,000 members.

In the Sabbath Conferences of the 1848, Ellen wasn’t a primary forger of doctrines, but a prophetic consensus builder—divinely led in her spiritual gift of reconciliation.  So accordingly, in his Present Truth (July 1849-November 1850), organizer James White published numerous visions of his relatively new wife.  But sensitive to criticism of “fanaticism” and following “another rule of faith than the Scriptures,” James, the calculating Canary, published zero of his wife’s now-less-frequent visions in his newly founded Advent Review and Sabbath Herald (August 1950-January 1856).  “As many are prejudiced against visions,” wrote James, “we think best at present not to insert anything of the kind in the regular paper.” However, due to Millerite-related-Adventist demand, over James White’s adamant objection, Ellen’s visions would become a staple of the Review—but under a new editor, Uriah Smith.

The backstory of James White’s ouster from his own Advent Review illustrates how a fundamentalist/progressive distinction has existed in our church from its inception.

The Fundamentalist/Progressive Distinction

Sabbatarian Adventism was burgeoning in the 1850s, especially in frontier states such as Michigan, whose population had increased by 574% during the last census decade. Evangelistic meetings were drawing up to 1500 attendees, and the Advent Review was read by at least 2000.  James White, accused of downplaying his wife’s visions, was a focus of the November, 1855, Battle Creek Conference, attended by some 60 Adventists. A month earlier “a class of persons…determined [to] make the views of Mrs. White a Test [sic] of doctrine and Christian fellowship,” reported White in his Advent Review. Editor White responded: “What has the Review to do with Mrs. W’s views? The sentiments published in its columns are all drawn from the Holy Scriptures.  No writer of the Review has ever referred to them as authority….The Review for five years has not published one of them.”  However, James White’s fellow believers resoundingly disagreed with editor White’s perceived disregard: They contended that Ellen White’s visions were God’s “adopted means…for the perfection of the saints…in these last days.”  They vented their “fear that we have grieved the Spirit by neglecting the blessings already conferred upon the church…We refer to the visions which God has promised to the remnant.”  Ellen White—gratified at having her prophetic gift overwhelmingly affirmed at the 3-day Battle Creek conference—received a seven-topic vision as the conference ended.  She immediately wrote up the vision, had it published, and within a month wrote of having sent out 150 copies.

Two months after the Battle Creek conference, newly appointed Review editor Uriah Smith published a direct criticism of James White, with White’s candid response. A “Brother Bingham,” speaking for Vermont Adventists, said White had “placed a less estimate” on Ellen White’s gift “than the Churches [sic] here have…” Bingham called for “some apology through the Review; that shall be a relief to many minds.”  But James White stood by his 5-year Review editorial leadership: “The Bible is my rule of faith and practice, and in saying this, I do not reject the Holy Spirit in its diversities of operations.” Manifesting his “both/and” approach to his wife’s spiritual gift, James recalled that it was “well known that we [Adventists] have been charged with testing all men by the visions, and making them the rule of our faith.” White concluded: “This I have denied, and deny it still.”

James White believed he could be both respectable in the eyes of the larger public and fully accepting of Ellen’s gift of prophecy. He could, personally; he couldn’t editorially.  The powerful, religio-emotional forces of the Sabbatarian Adventists (mostly ex-Millerites) were too strong.  Ellen willingly complied with her devotees’ needs—and James stepped into place, as new editor Uriah Smith resumed visionary article publication (Smith and White would seesaw being Review editor four times over the next twenty years). In 1855 (8 years before formal organization), fledgling Adventism dramatically demonstrated contrasting styles of dealing with common-faith issues. That contrast continues.

Haskell, Washburn and Holmes as Leading Fundamentalists

There’s ancient wisdom in the proverbial saying that the leopard cannot change its spots (Jer. 13:23), and that applies to our Adventist tradition.  Not coincidentally our church’s roots are in upstate New York, not New Haven, Connecticut. The popular discontent that replaced James White by Uriah Smith as the Review editor continued to gain ascendency in the church through such leaders as S.N. Haskell, Claude Holmes, and J.S. Washburn.

Self-educated Stephen Haskell at 18 heard a Second-Coming sermon, immediately began sharing, and within a year raised his first Adventist congregation. Highly entrepreneurial, Haskell made an indelible, multifaced contribution to his church: in publishing, urban evangelism, college-founding, conference administration, and advocacy of Ellen White inerrancy.   He and Ellen were close (he once proposed to her), with her writing him more testimonies than anyone outside of family.  But two years before Ellen’s death, son Willie warned Haskell: “that a few men of age and experience insist upon… the theory of verbal inspiration which Mother does not stand for, which the General Conference does not stand for, which my father [James White] never stood for.”

Judson Washburn, representing the next generation beyond Haskell, proudly continued what he saw as faithful old-line Adventism—seeing ultra-traditionalist Uriah Smith as his “idol” and following his uncle G.I. Butler in opposing the righteousness-by-faith emphasis at the 1888 GC session.  Washburn, coming from solid Adventist pioneer stock (and brilliant; he reportedly memorized the New Testament), finally accepted righteousness by faith, but was increasingly adamant about Ellen White’s verbal inspiration. Later, in a mass-circulated pamphlet, he criticized the 1919 Bible Conference’s candid discussion of Ellen White as “the most terrible thing that had ever happened” in Adventist history.  A.G. Daniells called Washburn’s claims “the worst tirade ever put in print by a Seventh-day Adventist minster.”

Claude Holmes, 18 years Washburn’s junior, and two generations younger than the still-vital Haskell, raised the decibel level even higher in beating the Ellen White inerrancy drum. This perfectionistic linotype operator accepted nothing less than a letter-perfect prophet, publishing his Have We An Infallible ‘Spirit of Prophecy’?—two years before Daniells was denied the GC presidency. Therein, Holmes asserts: “One tells me her books are not in harmony with facts historically, another that she is wrong scientifically, still another disputes her claims theologically and another questions her authorship, and another discredits her writings grammatically and rhetorically. Is there anything left?” asked sarcastic Holmes. “Several have said to me: ‘Oh, you are making a pope out of Mrs. White,’ I reply, ‘Never!’ I would not lower the dignity and authority of God’s messenger by putting her on a par with a Pope. She is far above and superior to any Pope.”

Lacey, Prescott, and Daniells as Minority Progressives

 If S.N. Haskell, the veteran churchman who delivered the sermon at Ellen White’s Battle Creek Tabernacle funeral, along with Claude Holmes and Judson Washburn, were the fundamentalists, the opposing progressive trio were Bible teacher H.Camden Lacey, historian W.W. Prescott, and GC president A.G. Daniells.

H. Camden Lacey was a Brit born to an Episcopalian family that converted to Adventism when Camden was 17. A bright student, Camden took the ministerial course at Healdsburg College, studied classics at Battle Creek College, and later was a professor of Biblical languages at Washington Missionary College.  He helped Ellen White found Avondale College, and while in Australia saw firsthand the complex production of The Desire of Ages. He was Willie White’s brother-in-law, living for some time in the White home.  Lacey believed Ellen White was divinely inspired for the “spiritual light [her writing] throws into our hearts and lives”—not in “intellectual accuracy in historical and theological matters.”

W.W. Prescott came from a Millerite family, and as a second-generation church leader he served on the GC Executive Committee for 42 years, and overall served 52 years as a publishing and educational leader.  Having earned his BA and MA from Dartmouth College, he was later president at Battle Creek College, while simultaneously co-founding Walla Walla College and Union College!  Subsequently, along with Lacey and Daniells, he helped Ellen White found Avondale College, later aiding Ellen White in her editing a new edition of The Great Controversy, suggesting 105 changes, most of which were accepted.

Arthur Daniells, a valued colleague of Ellen White, was not only an able administrator, serving as GC president longer than any other (1901-1923), but he was a bold thinker who long sensed the need for the denomination to view White’s divine inspiration more realistically—hence, the 1919 Bible Conference.  However, this conference was to become a lightning rod, attracting the fiery criticism of Washburn and Holmes and factoring into his GC presidential ouster.

Daniells courageously convened the 1919 conference, despite awareness of a widespread inerrantist sentiment among both church laity and pastors. Even many of the Washington Missionary College board members were “ultra-conservative,” observes Valentine.  This sentiment was evidently widespread even among leading laypersons.

Historian Benjamin MacArthur, who’s written the most definitive biography to date on A.G. Daniells, faults him for failing to fight for an enlightened view of Ellen White’s inspiration.  However, this would have meant taking on the Washburn-Holmes majority.  MacArthur sees Daniells’s inaction here as his most significant failure:

However, Daniells’s crucial 1919 “filing” decision may have been less a leadership failure than a perceptive leader’s reading of his denomination’s zeitgeist, or undergirding nature.  Regardless, hindsight suggests that despite popular Adventism’s inerrantist views, Daniells should have shared key insights from the 1919 transcripts, and thus deliberately kept alive the important deliberation over Ellen White’s prophetic role.

As important as the Daniells-Washburn standoff was, it is secondary to the deeper value of sustaining Adventism as a thriving American frontier church that would grow to 22+ million members. As a lifelong Adventist pastor/professor, only more recent study led to a deeper, more inclusive view of religion—and my Adventism.  I’m now more interested in accepting than changing fellow-believers.

In a rebooted 2.0 Adventism that celebrates both its fundamentalists and progressives, it’s important to understand two key points: first, the undergirding dynamic of religion, and second, the unique Adventist claim of present truth.

The Basic Nature of Religion (and Adventism)

Religion in general, and Adventism in particular, is more a matter of the heart than head—to oversimplify the issue.  It’s a question of essence, and here religion is too important to merely reside in the mind.  A growing number of contemporary philosophers, psychologists, and historians who study the phenomenon of religion see it as essential to human experience.  For example, philosopher Stephen Asma has moved from religion skeptic to advocate, seeing religion functioning primarily at the affective level of our being, where he says we really live and decide. In terms of our brains, religion is rooted in our limbic system.  Religion, like art and music, has “direct access” to our emotions in a way that science doesn’t.  The most basic life/death decisions are rooted in one’s reptilian and mammalian brains, with the neocortex kicking in to supply enabling reasons for deeply held convictions. Of course, the issue isn’t either deeper brain levels or neo-cortex; it’s their intrinsic interpenetration, with our “language, symbolic ability, executive control…energized by lower-level emotion.” Our highest brain level possesses “uniquely human emotions, like the elaborate feelings of introspective savants such as Marcel Proust and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.”

Psychologist Jonathan Haidt, in The Righteous Mind, severely criticizes the New Atheists (Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens) for their restricted view of religion. Yes, they make some good points about much of religion’s rationality.  However, they fail to appreciate what sociologists such as Emile Durkheim underscore: the unique and superior way in which religion can bind people together and make them more generous. For example, in his “Religion is a Team Sport” chapter, he cites a study of the U.S. population showing the least religious quintile giving 1.5% of income to charity; the most religious quintile, 7%!

The renown historian of religion Mircea Eliade weighs in, questioning the possibility of contemporary secularization “completely desacraliz[ing]” a normal person. Such a person “still dreams, falls in love, listens to music, goes to the theater, views films, reads books—in short, lives not only in a historical and natural world but also in an existential, private world and in an imaginary Universe.”  Eliade sees “‘religious’ structures” behind our imaginary universes. “On the most archaic level of culture, living as a human being is in itself a religious act.

Seventh-day Adventism, like all religious groups,  is rooted in human affect, but it’s a balance between our emotional and rational selves.  Early popular Sabbatarian Adventism favored the emotional side, given that Ellen White quickly rose to prominence—despite her more rationally oriented husband’s predilections. The affective and intellectual roles complement one another, but the issue of priority and dependence warrants further comment. In the final analysis, we must recognize that the rational is parasitic on the affective core of religion.  We humans cognitively reason about a viscerally felt experience—something James White experienced, but may not have been able to fully explain to himself.  It’s not that James wasn’t highly intelligent, but obviously he didn’t have our benefit of specialized studies on the emotional-rational interplay. James accepted the chastening decision of the 1855 conference and ably served his church another 26 years until an early death.  Analytically speaking, reasoned discourse is always about something more substantive, more basic to our very existence than merely high-sounding religious concepts and moral principles.  And that’s a lesson James learned: his leadership of Sabbatarian Adventism about which he was so concerned to make wise decisions, wouldn’t even have been needed if the fledging group became disillusioned and left due to neglect of a key, charismatic leader. Maybe James, given his temperament and abilities, could balance belief in his wife’s gift and his rational perception of group needs.  But the 1855 Battle Creek conferees rejected James’s balance, going with their heart.

Similarly, Daniells and his fellow top church leaders in 1919 believed in Ellen’s prophetic gift, and were at peace, if not fully comfortable, with its human limitations.   However, the popular church, influenced by and reflected in the ultra-fundamentalism of  Washburn and Holmes, was relatively free after Daniells was denied the GC presidency, to follow its basic affective instincts. Adventist fundamentalism became mainstream, so much so that the discovery and publication of the 1919 transcripts was a conceptual jolt to people like me, a pastor who’d recently completed his doctorate. These transcripts held liberating news: some thoughtful church leaders held informed, non-fundamentalist views of Ellen White’s prophetic gift!  But, again, in 1979 when I read those 1919 transcripts, there was something more basic behind Daniells’s rational explanations of Ellen’s gift: a whole church-people who deeply felt—knew in their hearts—that God was powerfully using this gifted woman’s counsels and unifying efforts. These church people, en masse, demanded that her visions be published—despite the charges of fanaticism and extra-Biblical authority that may come. If popular Adventism had not prevailed, James may have witnessed the demise of his fledging church, to say nothing of his prized Review. And there’d be no Spectrum to run analytical essays such as are in this special issue, as there’d be no thriving world church to care about.

Fundamentalist Adventism—emotionally dominant, either-or, originating in the charismatic wing of Millerism—will endure. Adventism, in being true to itself, will never mimic the Congregationalists, the Episcopalians, or the Unitarians as their adherents are true to their historical selves. And for at least that reason, the ostriches will always out-number the canaries in Adventism.  But there have always been upstanding, leading canaries. Without both species in the church, the denomination cannot flourish.

Religion, in its grandest sense, deals with the most essential question of human existence—the meaning of our human lives. And ever since we humans were able to conceptualize, we employed art, told stories, and articulated beliefs. Religion is basically affective, but its necessarily moderated by parasitic  reason.

Present Truth

Five years after the Great Disappointment James White founded the publication Present Truth, likely to herald the newly adopted Sabbath truth (1848) which replaced The Midnight Cry of Millerism.  “Present truth” is historically tied to Sabbath, but there’s is a deeper meaning to the term than its originators imagined—and that meaning rings true in two senses: first, that truth matters to Adventists; and second, that truth relates to present circumstances.  Given today’s multi-million-member church—diverse geographically, intellectually, culturally, socioeconomically, educationally—that Adventism be truly present is a challenge of unparalleled importance.  Adapting Adventism to cultural and personal need is not only permissible but  mandatory.  From our earliest days we Adventists have had our ear to the ground, to sense what God is doing at present.

The concept of making Judeo-Christian truth meaningful to present time isn’t new.  It’s intuitive to see religious truth through one’s contemporary lens; how else can one “be true” to herself?   For ages believers have  naturally used contemporary word-pictures to portray their “present truths”:

These are but a few illustrations of how believers have made religious truth applicable to personal circumstances. But let’s dig a little deeper to see if there’s conceptual justification for what’s been done intuitively.

Take the very notion, “truth.” There’s no agreement among philosophers, whose stock-in-trade is truth.  Some contend for a correspondence theory—that truth and facts correspond. OK, but what are “facts”?  Astrophysicists’ evidence-based speculation about our universe(s) only complicates the quest, as some leading physicists are questioning the bedrock of all we think, do, and believe—that we exist in a particular space and time. Spacetime may be “emergent,” with quantum physics as more basic. “We have a lot of hints from physics that spacetime as we understand it isn’t the fundamental thing,” asserts Natalie Paquette, University of Washington.  The take-home? That truth itself is intrinsically dynamic.  We need less finality in our truth-assertions about spacetime matters.  As the apostle Paul cautioned in 1 Corinthians 13, we “see through a glass darkly.” If that applied when we believed in a geocentric universe, how much more applicable, given current views of the cosmos? The status of spacetime itself may well be theoretically indeterminate, but that’s no threat to faith. Our faith is in nothing less than our infinite, Creator God—not in what God has created, including even spacetime.

 Then there’s the adjective “present”—truth that’s present or contemporary, as opposed to past truth, and yet-to-be-discovered truth.  The notion of being present indicates the importance of living “now,” taking seriously what we and our God are doing at present—in these times, places and cultures.   In a sense, the essays in this special issue of Spectrum are grappling with issues of “present” truth.

From Traditional to Contemporary (2.0) Adventism

Traditional Adventism sees itself one-dimensionally: the church is uniform, and to deviate is wrong, perhaps sin. Contemporary, rebooted Adventism is multidimensional:  our human natures lead to fundamentalism, progressivism, and sometimes a beautiful mix of ideologies.

Most Adventists are fundamentalist, and the Global South is disproportionately represented and  rapidly growing.  Brazil has more Adventists than the US,  1.7 million (up 7% some years) to 1.2 million (barely holding). Latin America has roughly 30% of Adventism, Asia 15%.  But number-wise,  Adventism is an African denomination, with half the church soon in Africa. Four African countries (Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Zambia) have one million+ members, and continental membership grows 5+ percent some years.  Anyone see the world-church headquarters heading to Sao Paulo or Nairobi?

Whereas Adventism began 165 years ago in rural New England, now old England and sister developed lands have a shrinking 6% of world membership.  But members in developed nations possess disproportionate wealth and influence.  Another difference regards culture.  Whereas the most developed nations emphasize equality, the overwhelming majority of Adventists live in world regions with hierarchical cultures: tribal Africa, Roman Catholic Latin America, and caste-influenced Asia.

All factors considered, how long can our exceedingly diverse denomination hold together?  Will we split? Probably not, and for at least three reasons:

First, the progressives have the ideological bandwidth to embrace fundamentalists and see strength in diversity.

Second, even our ultra-fundamentalist GC president Ted Wilson has limited power to enforce his agenda, as demonstrated in his drastic but inoperative compliance committees.

Third, the formerly powerful GC Is likely to be increasingly irrelevant as Divisions, Unions, healthcare corporations, and universities chart their own Adventist courses.

A related question is whether individual members will continue to be Adventist. The answer is mixed. Loyal fundamentalist Adventists are likely to remain tied to a church many essentially see as their ticket to heaven, to oversimplify.  But progressive Adventists have more options.  Some leave Adventism, often for principled reasons.  For example, in a recent interview, attorney Vicki Ballou, who had been a Walla Walla University board member and an executive committee member of the North Pacific Union, and seen church operations from the inside, shared her overall impression: “A corrupt good-ole-boys system that’s a hierarchical patriarchy.”  Melodie Roschman, writing “Pastor’s Kid” in this issue of Spectrum, decided to leave the church she loves and continues to serve.  Roschman, who wanted to be a pastor but was never invited (unlike her less fitted brother), says “patriarchy is not a quirk, [but] an atmosphere” in Adventism.  Most educated church members, thankfully, choose to remain Adventist.

 Appropriately, three such writers in this special issue are African; they have a vision beyond the prevailing American-missionary Adventism. Chigemezi Wogu calls for a distinctive Nigerian Adventism that reflects his nation’s unique culture and thought patterns. Admiral Ncube, in wanting to get beyond traditional doctrinal correctness, calls for a new African expression of Adventism for altered “lived realities.” Jeanne Mogusu writes of a “pervasive ideology” in an African Adventism that idolizes “uniformity and conformity” on secondary issues cloaked as salvific divine mandates.  Norwegian historian Edwin Torkelsen espouses a similar perspective in his penetrating critique of contemporary Adventism, writing of the “addictive power” of Imperial Adventism.  Andre Kanasiro, writing from the most wealthy Adventist powerhouse outside the US—Brazil—creatively grapples with the implications of communitarian Bible study, White-inspired country-living, and transfer of wealth.  Lars Gustavsson uplifts Climate Change as a present truth.  Finally, Anthony Bosman and Richard Hart, respectively, explore  education and healthcare—increasingly leading brands of Adventism around the world.

One hundred seventy years ago some 1500 American frontier Sabbatarian Adventists disagreed over prophetess Ellen White’s role in their fledging church group: a progressive minority vs. a fundamentalist majority. The church of today has vastly changed in demographics and organization, but a progressive/fundamentalist split over the prophetess’s role remains.  Yes, wise denominational leadership can and should take deliberate steps to lessen the divide.  However, deeper issues are at play: historical, educational, psychosocial.  And there’s the undergirding importance of our religious sensibility, which can be the basis for understanding and hopeful acceptance of the other.  This is the hope for a rebooted Adventism.


 1. Gilbert M. Valentine, Ostriches and Canaries:  Coping with Change in Adventism 1966-1979 (Westlake Village, CA: Oak and Acorn Publishing, 2022).

 2. The poet Czeslaw Milosz’s “Either-Or” questions the mentality of believers who must choose between salvation in the sky and salvation on earth. New and Collected Poems, 1931-2001 (NY: HarperCollins, 2001), 540-541.

 3. This essay expands Valentine’s helpful ornithological taxonomy by contrasting traits in human nature, illustrating how some people need simple solutions, while others entertain complex, both-and resolutions.  In using this typological method, I readily acknowledge that no person neatly fits into any type.  But suggesting undergirding socio-psychological traits that reappear may illumine our Adventist faith in a manner not otherwise readily evident. A rebooted view of Adventism isn’t needed by the church’s fundamentalists; Adventism 1.0 (supposedly unchanging) is sufficient, and to be protected at all costs.

 4. Israel Dammon’s court case was covered by a local newspaper, and a detailed account of the tumultuous religious behavior leading to Dammon’s arrest was published in Adventist Currents, Vol. 3, No. 1, 1988.  One trial witness testified that Ellen Harmon: “told her vision to a cousin of mine, that she must be baptized that night or go to hell.”  Another witness gave similar testimony about Ellen Harmon’s warnings of hell, adding, “we believed her.” http://www.1timothy4-13.com/files/bible/sda_dammon.html

 5. James White, Review and Herald Extra, July 21, 1851.

6.  I employ the fundamentalist/progressive distinction more as a contrast in personality types than in personal theologies, although often there’s a linkage. For example, James White was more able to entertain a complex handling of wife Ellen’s visions, in contrast to mainstream Adventists, hence the progressive/fundamentalist distinction. In basic theology, James, like all fellow Adventists at the time, read the Bible literally and was hence a theological fundamentalist. Gilbert Valentine thoroughly details the deep roots of theological fundamentalism from which Adventism emerged: https://spectrummagazine.org/views/2022/adventist-identity-when-did-fundamentalism-begin

 7. Adventists were aware of such developments, because their church paper reported what the editor saw as relevant secular developments. The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald 7:4 (August 21, 1855), pp.31-33.

8. James White, “Terms of the Review,” The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald 7:1 (July 10, 1855), p. 8.

 9. Approximately 60 Sabbatarian Adventists (the Seventh-day Adventist denomination would not be organized until 1863) attended a weekend conference in November, 1855. At least two leading matters of business were addressed: the location of the Advent Review publishing office, and the publication of Ellen White’s visions. The senior churchman was Joseph Bates, 62 at the time, who not only co-founded the church, along with James White, 34, and Ellen White, 28, but he’d converted the four attendees who each ponied up $300 for the establishment of the Adventist press at Battle Creek, moving it from Paris, Maine: John P Kellogg, Daniel Palmer, Cyrenius Smith, and Henry Lyon (average age at the conference, 49). Roswell Cottrell, whose 300-year heritage was 7th Day Baptist, was attracted to Millerism but didn’t join the Millerite-Adventist band until it became Sabbatarian; he was 41 at the Battle Creek Conference. Cottrell was on the editorial committee, along with J.N. Andrews, 26, and Uriah Smith, 25.  Another attendee was John Loughborough, 25, who along with Uriah Smith was but 12 at the Great Disappointment. The point of providing ages of some leading conference attendees shows the relatively youthful nature of the early Adventists.

10.  James White, “A Test,” The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald 7:8 (October 16, 1855), pp. 61-62. 

11.  “Address of the Conference Assembled at Battle Creek, Mich., Nov. 16th, 1855,” The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald 7:10 (December 4, 1855), pp. 78-79.)

 12. Ellen G. White, Testimony for the Church, No. 1, (Advent Review Office, 1851) p.22; The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald 7:12 (December 18, 1855), p. 96.

 13. Hiram Bingham, “From Bro. Bingham,” The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald 7:20 (February 14, 1856), p. 158.

 14. James White, responding to Hiram Bingham, “From Bro. Bingham,” The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald 7:20 (February 14, 1856), p. 158.

15. bid.

 16. The contrast today is significantly more pronounced, as originally it was mostly differing personality types.  Today, largely due to Adventism’s education emphasis, the contrast exists in sometimes vastly differing theologies. (See #6 above.)

 17. Wheeler, Gerald. “Haskell, Stephen Nelson.” Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=69G2.

 18. W.C. White to S.N. Haskell, 1/15/1913, E.G. White Incoming Correspondence.

 19. Lucio, Matthew J. “Washburn, Judson Sylvanus.” Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=DAD4

 20. Campbell, Michael W. “Holmes, Claude Ernest.” Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=D9HS

 21. See Valentine, 29; and Hook, Milton. Lacey, Herbert Camden.” Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=5CQ8

 22. Valentine, 27.

 23. Benjamin McArthur, A.G.Daniells: Shaper of Twentieth Century Adventism (Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2016).

 24. Benjamin McArthur, “Daniells, Arthur Grosvenor.”  Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists,     https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=8972

 25. Technically, American Fundamentalism arose in the second decade of twentieth century American evangelicalism, and it profoundly influenced Adventism, as Michael Campbell so helpfully documents in his 1919: The Untold Story of Adventism’s Struggle with Fundamentalism (Nampa, ID Pacific Press, 2019), and 1922: The Rise of Adventist Fundamentalism (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press, 2022).  However, in Adventism’s deeply literalist view of Biblical inspiration, along with an overall either-or mentality,  the religious sentiment that led to Fundamentalism had long been in popular Adventism. (See endnote #6.)

26.  The GC archives reports a world membership of 69,356 at the end of 1901. https://documents.adventistarchives.org/Statistics/ASR/ASR1901.pdf

 27. In this book, I will argue that religion, like art, has direct access to our emotional lives in ways that science does not,” asserts Stephen T. Asma, in his Why We Need Religion (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018), p. 3.  In The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (New York: Vintage Books, 2013), Jonathan Haidt makes a related point with his now near-infamous contrast between the visceral Elephant and its rational Rider—with the later assuming she’s in control while the elephant is the true manager.

 28. sma, p. 69.

 29. Haidt., p. 308.

 30. Mircea Eliade, The Quest: History and Meaning in Religion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969), ii, iv, original italics.

301  Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 535.

 32. Adam Becker, “What is Spacetime Really Made?” (Scientific American, 2/1/2022).

 33. The South American Division has 2.1 million members and growing at sometimes 7% annually. The North American Division has 1.4 million members and barely showing annual growth, with 3 Unions losing members during a recent year—North Pacific Union, Pacific Union, and Southwestern Union. Seventh-day Adventism is increasingly huge world-wide—three times the size of all the religious Jews in the world, and 6-million+ members larger than Mormonism.

34.  Jim Walters’ interview of Vicki Ballou, 8/21/2023; quotation used by permission.



Sabbath Seminars


Room 3208

Centennial Complex of Loma Linda University         Sabbath Morning 10:30-12:30