The Danger Of Extreme Reactions To Sunday Labor Laws



The following paragraphs are a short extract from the biography of Ellen White, written by Arthur White. In it he briefly discusses accusations that Ellen White was advocating Sunday keeping and her reaction, including sharing what happened in Basel Switzerland where local authorities were defied. 


The Extract

The short section on religious liberty interests contained a chapter on “Sunday Labor,” written August 17, 1902. In this Ellen White counseled that rather than to defy civil authorities where there were Sunday laws, Seventh-day Adventists could well use the day in various lines of missionary endeavors (see pp. 232, 233). This was to cause considerable discussion in the months to come. { 6BIO 263.5 } 

There were those who asserted that the chapter actually represented a major switch in Ellen White’s teaching and that it advocated Sunday sacredness. A. T. Jones claimed this in an antagonistic leaflet (AGD to WCW, July 4, 1910). Some suggested that a person other than Ellen White may have written the chapter, or perhaps it was material not intended for general reading. In midsummer of 1910, Ellen White wrote positively in dealing with the questions: { 6BIO 263.6 } 

I wish to write words that shall remove from the minds of any of my brethren the impression that I did not, before their publication, read the pages in Testimony for the Church, volume 9, relating to Sunday labor. { 6BIO 264.1 } 

I read this matter before it went to the printer, and have read it several times from the book, and I can see nothing in it to give anyone reason to say that Sundaykeeping is there taught. Neither does the counsel there given contradict the Bible nor former Testimonies. { 6BIO 264.2 } 

I have given not one word to sustain Sundaykeeping. In my writings will be found the most positive statements concerning the Lord’s requirements to observe the holy Sabbath, because that on the seventh day Jehovah rested. He sanctified that day and set it apart, and gave it to man to be observed most sacredly.—Letter 94, 1910. { 6BIO 264.3 } 

The president of the General Conference at about the same time made a clearcut statement in a letter to a young minister who was troubled about the question, and gave his understanding of the part played by Ellen White’s assistants in preparing matter for publication. Said Daniells: { 6BIO 264.4 } 

1. Sister White certainly wrote volume 9 of the Testimonies. Volume 9 was prepared the same as other volumes. { 6BIO 264.5 } 

2. The testimony to which you refer concerning Sunday laws was written to the leaders of the work in Australasia at a time when they very much needed counsel on the question involved. The same question had come up in Europe, and you are perhaps aware that our brethren in the Basel publishing house took a very firm, unrelenting stand on the question of running the publishing house on Sunday. They defied the authorities, and the authorities closed up the house, sold the furniture and facilities to pay the fines, and lodged Elder Holser in jail for forty days.... [As we look] back upon that experience, it seems that our brethren took an extreme view of their duty, and that the work of God was hindered thereby. { 6BIO 264.6 } 

We reached a time in Australia when we needed counsel on this same point, and the testimony above referred to came at the right time, and was followed in a reasonable way. Knowing that our people were needing the same counsel in many parts of the world, Sister White decided to publish that testimony in volume 9. The brethren in Australia did not go to extremes in either direction in this matter. { 6BIO 265.1 }


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