OF RELIGION Field Guide to the

This material is part of a Field Guide profile on Seventh-day Adventism.

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The following terms are related to distinctive Seventh-day Adventist doctrines not held by other groups, and primarily based on the revelations of Ellen G. White. Citations of the SDA Statement of Beliefs below are from the current version of that document.


Desolate Earth


   From the SDA Statement of Beliefs:


   26. The Millennium and the End of Sin:

   The millennium is the thousand-year reign of Christ with His saints in heaven between the first and second resurrections. During this time the wicked dead will be judged; the earth will be utterly desolate, without living human inhabitants, but occupied by Satan and his angels.



Investigative Judgement, Sanctuary Doctrine, importance of 1844


   From the SDA Statement of Beliefs:


   23. Christ's Ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary:

   There is a sanctuary in heaven, the true tabernacle which the Lord set up and not man. In it Christ ministers on our behalf, making available to believers the benefits of His atoning sacrifice offered once for all on the cross. He was inaugurated as our great High Priest and began His intercessory ministry at the time of His ascension. In 1844, at the end of the prophetic period of 2300 days, He entered the second and last phase of His atoning ministry. It is a work of investigative judgment which is part of the ultimate disposition of all sin, typified by the cleansing of the ancient Hebrew sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. In that typical service the sanctuary was cleansed with the blood of animal sacrifices, but the heavenly things are purified with the perfect sacrifice of the blood of Jesus. The investigative judgment reveals to heavenly intelligences who among the dead are asleep in Christ and therefore, in Him, are deemed worthy to have part in the first resurrection. It also makes manifest who among the living are abiding in Christ, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and in Him, therefore, are ready for translation into His everlasting kingdom. This judgment vindicates the justice of God in saving those who believe in Jesus. It declares that those who have remained loyal to God shall receive the kingdom. The completion of this ministry of Christ will mark the close of human probation before the Second Advent.



Spirit of Prophecy


   A short-hand way that SDA members speak of the voluminous collected writings of Ellen G. White … White produced something like 100,000 handwritten pages during her lifetime that were turned into printed documents.


   These are catalogued, and cited by volume and page by SDA writers much as one would cite scripture. From the SDA Statement of Beliefs:


       17. The Gift of Prophecy:

       One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and was manifested in the ministry of Ellen.G.White. As the Lord's messenger, her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested.



The Remnant


   From the SDA Statement of Beliefs:


   12. The Remnant and Its Mission:

   The universal church is composed of all who truly believe in Christ, but in the last days, a time of widespread apostasy, a remnant has been called out to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. This remnant announces the arrival of the judgment hour, proclaims salvation through Christ, and heralds the approach of His second advent. This proclamation is symbolized by the three angels of Revelation 14; it coincides with the work of judgment in heaven and results in a work of repentance and reform on earth. Every believer is called to have a personal part in this worldwide witness.



Shut Door


From: Don Hawley, Ellen G White 1997 book available online





Perhaps the most significant SDA secret was that of the "shut door." I began hearing a faint whisper about this matter when I was still a young Adventist preacher, but it was clear that the subject was strictly taboo. Finally through the years I gleaned that in her first vision Ellen G. White proclaimed that the door of mercy was forever shut to any but the little Adventist band that had believed, contrary to Scripture, that Christ would return on October 22, 1844. All others were doomed to hell. Evangelism was to cease; working for the salvation of souls would be a denial of what God had shown Ellen. There came a quiet admission of this error, but it was also claimed that this belief was held by the pioneers for only a short time. Ellen quickly set them straight on the matter.


Ron Numbers spells out the problem in some detail:


"By 1851, the Whites had abandoned much of their shut-door doctrine. They would still grant no opportunity for salvation to those who had heard and rejected the 1844 message, but they allowed the door might be cracked sufficiently to permit the entrance of children, Millerites who were willing to accept the seventh-day Sabbath, and a few other honest-hearted souls who had not rejected the October 22 message. The problem was what to do with all of Ellen’s inspired testimonies indicating the door of mercy had been shut. In an attempt to take care of this embarrassment, she and James collected her early writings, systematically deleted passages that might be construed as supporting the shut door, and published the edited version as Ellen’s first book, A Sketch of the Christian Experience and Views of Ellen G. White (1851). From then on the Whites publicly denied that Ellen had ever been shown that the door was shut, although James apparently admitted on occasions that perhaps young Ellen had been unduly influenced by shut-door advocates at the time of her first vision." Prophetess of Health, p. 27.


The cover of the shut-door secret was completely blown in 1979 when a friend of mine briefly obtained from the White Estate vault a letter that Ellen White wrote to Joseph Bates dated July, 13, 1847. He then photographed it, and it appeared in print in Adventist Currents, July, 1984. The dark secret was out, as excerpts from that letter as shown below make clear. Ellen is telling Bates about a meeting she attended in Exeter, Maine.


"Many of them did not believe in a shut door. I suffered much at the commencement of the meeting. Unbelief seemed to be on every hand.


"There was one sister there that was called very spiritual. She had traveled and been a powerful preacher the most of the time for twenty years. She had been truly a mother in Israel. But divisions had risen in the band on the shut door. She had great sympathy, and could not believe the door was shut. I had known nothing of their difference. Sister Durben got up to talk. I felt very sad.


"At length my soul seemed to be in an agony, and while she was talking I fell from my chair to the floor. It was then I had a view of Jesus rising from His mediatorial throne and going to the holiest as a Bridegroom to receive His kingdom. They were all deeply interested in the view. They all said it was entirely new to them. The Lord worked in mighty power, setting the truth home to their hearts.


"Sister Durben knew what the power of the Lord was, for she had felt it many times, and a short time after I fell she was struck down and fell to the floor, crying to God to have mercy on her. When I came out of vision, my ears were saluted with Sister Durben’s singing and shouting with a loud voice. Most of them received the vision, and were settled upon the shut door". Adventist Currents, July, 1984.


Here, in 1847, we have Ellen with another vision confirming her original vision concerning the "shut door." Later she indicated that disagreement with her on this matter constituted the unpardonable sin.


On June 29, 1851, in Camden, New York, Ellen had another vision on the shut door:


"Then I saw that Jesus prayed for his enemies, but that should not cause us or lead us to pray for the wicked world, whom God has rejected . . . our sympathy must be with Jesus, and must be withdrawn from the ungodly . . . I saw that the wicked could not be benefited by our prayers now."


       Also in 1851 Ellen White wrote:


"The Holy Ghost was poured upon us, and I was taken off in the Spirit to the city of the Living God. Then I was shown that the commandments of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ relating to the shut door could not be separated . . .


"My accompanying angel bade me look for the travail of soul for sinners as used to be. I looked but could not see it; for the time of their salvation is past." Ellen G. White letter in Present Truth, 1, 3, pp. 22-23.


So the incontrovertible truth is that instead of holding this false teaching for a brief period, and then setting the members straight, Ellen White firmly held onto error for seven years. Later she deliberately tried to claim otherwise. (End of Hawley Quote).






Unless otherwise noted, all original material on this Field Guide website

is © 2001-2011 by Pamela Starr Dewey.


Careful effort has been made to give credit as clearly as possible to any specific material quoted or ideas extensively adapted from any one resource. Corrections and clarifications regarding citations for any source material are welcome, and will be promptly added to any sections which are found to be inadequately documented as to source.


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