Inspiration and Research: Are They Mututally Exclusive?

Speaker: Categories: Oct 10, 1987


[55min, 37sec / 1hr, 14min, 16sec]


How does Inspiration work?

How does God speak to humans through a human voice or a human penman?

Sabbath School Lesson studies this quarter from Luke's Book of Acts raise questions regarding how some persons, apparently speaking under Inspiration, could counsel Paul not to go to Jerusalem while he, also inspired, could resolutely declare his determination to move steadfastly toward what was to be his arrest.

In recent years the Seventh-day Adventist Church has been challenged to take another look at the work of Inspiration. "Borrowing" has become a buzz-word among some. Others, perhaps less generous, dubbed the newly-surfaced findings as "plagiarism."

News headlines alerted the public to the gravity of the problem. Long-time and loyal Adventists found themselves questioning the doctrinal teachings of the Church, many of which had been attributed to the special inspiration of the church's modern-day prophetess, Ellen G. White.

Perhaps even more unnerving was the challenge these new findings brought to the churches teaching that the special bestowal of Inspiration was "an identifying mark of the remnant church and was manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White." (Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists, #17, The Gift of Prophecy, Dallas, Texas)

Subsequent fall-out has split congregations and separated families. For many, the response from the apologetics and defenders of the faith seemed unconvincing. Too frequently, members, angered and unable to cope with those data which contradicted their earlier beliefs, defected.

Taskforces and study groups were charged with finding answers - answers which would satisfy the church membership and, perhaps, silence the critics. Articles were published, books written, speeches given, tapes and papers duplicated and disseminated.

Where is the Church today -- October, 1987 -- regarding its response to these past years of doubts, questions, and controversy? Seeking an authoritative answer, the San Diego FORUM invited the White Estate to share the results of its study on this issue.

"Seventh-day Adventists have had, in past years," according to George Rice of the E. G. White Estate, "a limited concept of inspiration. It was restricted primarily to the prophetic model - i.e., to dreams and visions as the source for the content of messages contained in the Bible. However, many canonical books grew out of another model of inspiration in which dreams and visions were not the source. Yet these books are considered to be equally inspired and authoritative as those which do come to us as a result of a theophany."


George Rice is a 1955 graduate of Atlantic Union College. He obtained Master of Arts and Bachelor of Divinity degrees from Andrews University in 1957 and 1968. His Doctor of Philosophy degree was earned at Case Western Reserve University in 1974 with a dissertation entitled: "The Alterations of Luke's Tradition by the Textual Variants in Codex Bezae."

He has served as a pastor in the Atlantic and Pacific Unions, 1955-67. In 1970 he joined the faculty at Southern College. From 1972 through 1978 he was a member of the New Testament faculty at Atlantic Union College, serving as chair of its Department of Religion, 1974-78. The Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University enlisted him as Professor of New Testament, 1978-85. Since that date he has been Associate Secretary of the E. G. White Estate.

Jim Nix serves as an Associate Librarian and Chairperson of the Archives and Special Collections at Loma Linda University. (Unfortunately, due to Jim Nix's travel schedule, further vitae data were not available at the time of preparing this announcement.)

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