An Evaluation of Matthew Quartey’s “The Great Controversy” Shackles Adventist Theology.
I would like to start out by stating that this response is not aimed at Matthew Quartey personally. I believe he and his lovely wife Sophia are sincere Christians who have helped numerous young people through university. But the fact of the matter is that the entire article displays unbelief in the prophetic gift of EG White. This type of thinking among Seventh-day Adventists is a sure indication that we are indeed living in the time of the final events of Bible prophecy. EG White prophesied that,
“Satan is . . . constantly pressing in the spurious--to lead away from the truth. The very last deception of Satan will be to make of none effect the testimony of the Spirit of God. "Where there is no vision, the people perish" (Prov. 29:18). Satan will work ingeniously, in different ways and through different agencies, to unsettle the confidence of God's remnant people in the true testimony.”
Either EG White was God’s mouthpiece or she was not. The Bible states concerning the prophetic gift that, if anything the prophet says on God’s behalf is not true, he is not speaking for God and thus is not a prophet,
“And if you say in your heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken? When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken, but the prophet has spoken it presumptuously: you shall not be afraid of him.”
The author of “The Great Controversy” Shackles Adventist Theology has taken issue with EG White’s book, as though it was not inspired by God, and he even vehemently protests that it “has not been updated in any form.” But as Seventh-day Adventists we recognise that EG White received the information contained in The Great Controversy from God. In the introduction to this book she writes (emphasis added),
“Through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, the scenes of the long continued conflict between good and evil have been opened to the writer of these pages… I have been bidden to make known to others that which has thus been revealed…”
Some may take exception to this, reasoning that the individual in question cannot evaluate herself. After years of research, Rene Noorbergen, who was a total sceptic of EG White’s prophetic gift, wrote the book, Ellen G. White - Prophet of Destiny, in which he finds her inspired of God, and he concludes,
“Was she truly inspired? Was she truly “led”? When the counsels of her visions were heeded prosperity marked the work. When neglected, the result has been great loss.”
EG White’s works and writings bear testimony to their inspiration. The same can be seen in the book Spiritual Gifts (emphasis added),
“I was shown that I must write it out. That I should have to contend with the powers of darkness, for Satan would make strong efforts to hinder me…”
EG White, on instruction from God, penned what she saw in vision in The Great Controversy, but in this very act she went directly against the powers of Satan. The writing of this work infuriated Satan. Arthur L. White, EG White’s grandson, explained this situation in 1938 as follows,
“White was shown that, in writing these out, she would be opposed by Satan. This is readily understood; for if the Lord’s humble servant could be hindered from exposing his work and methods of attack, there would be less interference with his work. The great adversary was not slow in bringing his attacks. Before Mrs. White reached her home a few days after the vision at Lovett’s Grove, she was stricken with paralysis and despaired even of her life. Healed through prayer, but not completely restored at first, Mrs. White wrote out the story in a very brief form...”
Satan tried to murder Ellen White as she penned The Great Controversy,
“In the sudden attack at Jackson, Satan designed to take my life to hinder the work I was about to write; but angels of God were sent to my rescue, to raise me above the effects of Satan’s attack.”
The logical question is, why would Satan hate this book so much? In The Great Controversy EG White writes,
“The season of distress and anguish before us will require a faith that can endure weariness, delay, and hunger – a faith that will not faint though severely tried. The period of probation is granted to all to prepare for that time.”
The final events of end-time prophecy which we are rapidly entering into will try our faith ‘severely’ and we should thus ‘prepare for that time.’ That is why this book is so crucial, because it shows us exactly what is to transpire. Another reason I believe Satan hates this book, is its astounding potential to win souls,
“The results of the circulation of this book (The Great Controversy) are not to be judged by what now appears. By reading it some souls will be aroused and will have courage to unite themselves at once with those who keep the commandments of God. But a much larger number who read it will not take their position until they see the very events taking place that are foretold in it. …[M]any souls will take their position on the commandments of God as the result of this agency.”
In the face of this, Quartey rebelliously assumes that the book The Great Controversy “poses grave problems for the church” and continues then to list the pillars of our faith that are “advocated” herein like 1844, the Sanctuary and the investigative judgment. The doubtful tone of Quartey’s article casts a cloud of suspicion over these doctrines which are at the very core of the identity of the Seventh-day Adventist movement. EG White comments on this,
“It does not become anyone to drop a word of doubt here and there that shall work like poison in other minds, shaking their confidence in the messages which God has given, which have aided in laying the foundation of this work… you must give an account to the God of heaven…”
I would postulate that the antithesis of the so called grave problems referred to by Quartey instead poses a grave danger to God’s remnant church with respect to disregarding the testimonies of His Spirit. Inspiration confirms this, “Those Seventh-day Adventists who take their stand under Satan's banner will first give up their faith in the warnings and reproofs contained in the Testimonies of God's Spirit.” This type of critique of EG White’s writings is nothing new. John Robertson comments on such criticism,
“Ellen White was familiar with criticism, both polite and impolite… Dudley M. Canright, John Harvey Kellogg, Alonzo T. Jones, Louis R. Conradi, Albion F. Ballenger, and others… In each situation two points emerge. One, opposition to the spirit of prophecy; two, conflict with one of the “old landmarks” endorsed by her visions. Today it is similar…”
After reading Quartey’s article, it is with dismay that I report that much of his writing is misleading. What else could one expect from such a Satanic attack on God’s truth? Satan’s main weapon in his arsenal is deception.
Quartey purports that, “EGW never considered this book as a finished product. She kept working at it, revising it four times in 57 years.” Only the prophet that saw and heard God’s message directly could deliver that message and accordingly expand on the very same message. Since none of us is a prophet, we cannot alter or revise her writings.
Further, Quartey schemes that since it was written more than a century ago, The Great Controversy “has become dormant, effectively freezing Adventist theology in its tracks”. I cannot differ more. Since the inception of our movement, we have believed that truth shines clearer as we near Christ’s coming, without negating or altering any portion of the truth already understood. That is why our fundamental beliefs have been expanded, but without changing any existing pillar of truth we have believed thus far.
According to Quartey’s thinking, the effect of this frozen Adventist theology brings about “a perpetuation” of “many 19th and early 20th century EGW understandings of our world and our place in it…” His essential idea is that truth is relative to the society and culture we live in, and thus the day and age of EG White’s time informed her views and writings. Nothing could be further from the truth. Throughout the ages, God’s prophets have always been countercultural! EG White was even called a reformer in her day by the media of that time. After the Groveland camp meeting of August 25-30, 1876, EG White was invited by the Haverhill Temperance Reform Club to speak to them the following evening. EG White reflected excitedly on this wonderful opportunity to speak to an influential non-SDA audience:
“I was stopped several times with clapping of hands and stomping of feet... Never did I witness such enthusiasm as these noble men leading out in temperance reform manifested over my talk upon temperance. It was new to them.”
Through distortion Quartey assails the foundation of our movement, namely the prophetic understanding of 1844. In an ambiguous effort he denounces it with clear theological deficiency, “The inconvenient fact is that “2300 evenings and mornings” do not add up to the KJV’s mistranslated “2300 days,” just as the “evenings and mornings” that set apart successive days of creation week do not add up to 14 days.” Our hermeneutic as SDAs has always been that the Bible interprets itself. How does Scripture interpret one evening and morning? “And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day,” indicating that one literal day of 24 hours is one evening and one morning. This is the very reason the KJV and many other translations translate the original Hebrew wording בֹּקֶר עֶרֶב as a day. (Quartey argues that Daniel 8:14 speaks about 1250 days; I think he means 1150 days…)
While Quartey argues against 14 days of creation, he is not consistent and argues against himself. In any case, his use of the phrase ‘days of creation’ is surely meant metaphorically (which would destroy his case against 2300 days), since he obviously argues in favour of an evolutionary creation model. With phrases such as, “our current Young Earth Creation (YEC) posture found in Fundamental Beliefs (FB) # 6” and ““recent,” and the phrase, “literal six-day creation,” have become an official part of Adventists’ YEC lexicon” he leaves the reader with the following choice, “empirical data or faith-based ideas?”
With cunning deception, he tries to prove that EG White as well as SDAs believe in a universe that’s only 6000 years old. Our fundamental belief is clear - we believe that the creation and everything with regard to our planet is “recent” (more or less 6000 years as EG White defines it), in contrast to our universe. It reads as follows, “He created the universe, and in a recent six-day creation the Lord made “the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them” and rested on the seventh day.” Please note that the belief differentiates between the universe and our recent six-day creation. His new historical narrative that the final editing of the creation belief of the 1980’s was done by “the Andrews University Seminary committee” so as to leave space for everyone, is an untruth.
Quartey’s belief that The Great Controversy has a restricted audience appeal is precisely that, a belief and not the truth. He tries to justify this belief with the notion that “God’s faithful followers were not limited to Europe and America,” and asks the question “Where, for instance, is any place in my native Africa on these pages if this indeed is a “cosmic” portrait? Where is China? India? Latin America?” Since when is the absence of any unrelated data a case for any argument? The Great Controversy provides commentary on the prophecies of the book of Revelation, so why would it or how could it expound on China, India or Africa if these places are not the main focus of the apocalypse? This does not mean that its message is not for everyone, and thus this reality renders the above argument of Quartey nonsense.
What is really uncalled for is the stretch he takes from this false premise to conclude that, “Neither is it impertinent to question the near complete absence of commentary on other world religions like Islam and Hinduism, which together, have more adherents than Christianity and are as impactful in our world today.” This type of preposterous reasoning leaves me questioning the journalism ethic claimed by Spectrum Magazine, despite their theological worldview. Limited space prevents me from commenting on all the subtle dishonest claims Quartey employs to lash out at the gift of the spirit of prophecy (as we know EG White’s writings), and especially her book, The Great Controversy. He lies outright concerning the “narrow prism of her known universe,” about “the two world wars,” “little resemblance to the contemporary landscape,” and so we can continue. The whole article is one big satanic lie that is designed to create doubt in the mind of the believer.
Quartey’s conclusion is no surprise. He ends where he started – The Great Controversy must be revised. “So how do we make the book better and relevant? We revise—as often as needed. And in our revisions, we should never be afraid of correcting where previous editions made claims that are erroneous or unkind.”
Dear reader, we have come to the crossroads here in the end-time. There are voices like those of Quartey and Spectrum that call for a change in our beliefs and doctrines which they claim are erroneous and unkind. Where will you stand? Whatever your choice, truth is absolute and cannot change,
“To all who have stood in the way of the Testimonies, I would say, God has given a message to His people, and His voice will be heard, whether you hear or forbear.”
The problem with articles like this is the more often you repeat a lie, the more acceptable it becomes; later it becomes integrated into the discourse and worldview to such an extent that it becomes the “truth.” How does something like this happen? It occurs subtly with untrue nuances that, over time, are established as (false) premises and thus introduced into our theology. In the article Quartey states,
“Desmond Ford dared to question our teaching about Christ’s Heavenly Ministry and the Investigative Judgment and ended up losing his teaching job as well as his ministerial license. Among Ford’s many concerns was our interpretation of Daniel 8:14.”
From this subtly nuanced false premise, he then continues to try and show that Daniel 8:14 does not speak of 2300 days as we noted earlier. This statement about Desmond Ford lays a false premise as Quartey nuances through the careful wording of dared to question and many concerns, creating a platform in sympathy with Ford in disputing our pillar doctrines. It’s unbelievable that after Ford has been dismissed many years ago, that there is a resurgence of interest in his theology and stance. I remind the reader that Ford’s conclusion was,
“…an Investigative Judgment beginning in the Most Holy Place of the Heavenly Sanctuary in 1844 is a non-event, and that nowhere does Scripture teach an Investigative Judgment of the Saints.”
In W.H. Johns’ The ABCs of Dr. Desmond Ford's Theology he refutes Ford’s conclusion and concludes himself that “Dr. Ford is a preterist basically, who wears the hat of a historicist and the cloak of a futurist.” But he also adds that “Dr. Ford's favorite is preterism.” What is the predicament in terms of SDA theology? “Preterism is anathema to Adventism.” Our prophetic mission and identity is non-existent in terms of Quartey’s reasoning which is based on that of Ford. You can hear Ford’s mind echoed in the cunning and enticing question of Quartey, “Does the fact that a “belief” has become a dogma and has the backing of a prophetess make it untouchable even (when) confronted by demonstrable error?”
To conclude, I would appeal to Matthew Quartey, though I don’t know his heart or motives, to repent of this evil. We have light revealed to us from God,
“I do not write one article in the paper expressing merely my own ideas. They are what God has opened before me in vision – the precious rays of light shining from the throne.”
“I saw that in striking against the visions they did not strike against the worm—the feeble instrument that God spake through—but against the Holy Ghost. I saw it was a small thing to speak against the instrument, but it was dangerous to slight the words of God.”
Professor Norman Gulley encourages each of us as Seventh-day Adventists with his statement that
“Ellen G. White’s The Great Controversy is a remarkable book for studying last-day events.” He asks, “Have you ever read The Great Controversy…? It opens your eyes. Try it.”
Robertson ends his book, The White Truth, with this thought-provoking truth,
“Daniel was not on trial in the lions’ den. Babylon was. Jeremiah was not on trial in the pit. Zedekiah was. Paul, standing with chains before Agrippa, was not on trial. The king was. And Jesus, the greatest of prophets and King of kings, standing accused before the Praetorium, was not on trial. Pilate and His accusers were… Remember that Mrs. White is not on trial. Those of us who read her are.”
Reinhardt Stander is a pastor in Cape Town, South Africa.
 EG White, 1 Selected Messages, p. 48
 Deuteronomy 18:21-22
 EG White, The Great Controversy (1888 edition), p. 10-11
 Rene Noorbergen, Ellen G. White - Prophet of Destiny, p. 248
 EG White, Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, p. 270
 EG White at the Field Missionary Secretaries’ Council at Sanitarium, California, 30 September 1938.
 EG White, Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, p. 272
 EG White, The Great Controversy, p. 621
 EG White, Last Day Events, p. 214
 EG White, 1 Selected Messages, p. 43
 EG White, 3 Selected Messages, p. 84
 John J. Robertson, The White Truth, p. 13, 14
 Proverbs 4:18
 EG White, Letter 42, 1876
 Genesis 1:5
 The message of the Apocalypse is for everyone according to Revelation 14:6.
 EG White, 1 Selected Messages, p. 43
 Summarised by W.H. Johns from the book: Desmond Ford, Daniel 8:14, the Day of Atonement, and the Investigative Judgment.
 EG White, Testimonies to the Church, vol. 5, p. 67
 EG White, 1 Selected Messages, p. 40
 Norman Gulley, Christ is Coming, p. 69
 Norman Gulley, Christ is Coming, p. 69
 John J. Robertson, The White Truth, p. 108