From Z-File to Compact Disk: The Democratization of E.G. White Sources

Speaker: Categories: May 14, 1988


[1hr, 19min, 46sec / 17min, 24sec]


Within the last decade many Adventists have become alarmed, shaken, and disillusioned by certain "revelations" about the work and writings of Ellen G. White. These "revelations" were, for the most part, discoveries about the originality of the writings, the sources available, the literary assistants involved, and the supernatural phenomena associated with visions, dreams, and prophetic insights.

Denominational leaders frequently sought to allay the membership's restlessness by assuring that these "new insights" were really not new at, that all this information had always been known to them. There was even the suggestion that the membership had been "sheltered" from these "insights" so as not to cause them alarm! In essence, the members had been protected from knowing the truth!

Other leaders, however, publicly stated that the problem was not to be easily dismissed, that all these "new insights" had not been known earlier, and that serious attention must be devoted to resolving the many questions raised.

Just how did all this come about? Were the "new insights" the result of poor security at the White Estate? Were graduate students, in their efforts to contribute to knowledge, probing into areas not previously explored? And just how did the White Estate respond to this intensified interest on the part of the laity to really know the truth about the modern-day manifestation of the Spirit of Prophecy?

The May San Diego FORUM meeting will provide some answers. Our speaker, Dr. Graybill, has been in a unique position to monitor these years of unrest while serving as Assistant/Associate Secretary, Ellen G. White Estate, 1970-78/1978-83.

He has noted, "The original Trustees of the E. G. White Estate voted not to publish any material from her manuscript files that had not been placed in print during her lifetime. From that day to this, the White Estate has been, slowly but surely, opening its sources more and more fully to scholars and lay persons alike. Recently the Estate removed the sensitive documents in its "Z-File," integrating them into its regular research files. The Estate has also expressed interest in annotated editions of Mrs. White's writings, and is laying plans to reissue all her published works on compact disk. The trend toward greater openness has not always been so apparent in the past as it is now, but the current posture of the White Estate promises to provide the church with a rich opportunity to understand Mrs. White and her work better."


Ron Graybill's educational background includes a Ph.D. Degree in American Religious History, Johns Hopkins University, 1983; Master’s Degrees from Johns Hopkins, 1978, and Andrews University, 1968; and a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology with Journalism minor from Loma Linda University, 1966.

His employment experience includes pastoring in Ukiah and East Oakland, California, 1968-70; Assistant Secretary Ellen G. White Estate, 1970-78; Associate Secretary Ellen G. White Estate, 1978-83; Course Writer and Teacher, Home Study International, 1984 to present; Communication and Religious Liberty Director, Columbia Union Conference, 1984-86; and Assistant Professor of History and Religion, Loma Linda University, 1986 to present.

He has served as editor of College Criterion, Columbia Union Visitor, and Adventist Heritage. He is the author of Ellen G. White and Church Race Relations, 1970, and Mission to Black America: the True Story of James Edson White and the Riverboat, Morning Star, 1971.

His wife, Gerte, is a physical therapist for California Children's Services. His son, N. Torsten, is a senior at La Sierra Academy; his daughter, Lela, is an eighth grade student at La Sierra Elementary School.


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