Friday, August 9, 2013


There is something about character of Hyacinth on the British comedy Keeping Up Appearances that reminds me of Ellen White. Hyacinth invites her kind neighbor over for coffee but so over-emphasizes the importance of her china that the neighbor is made miserable for fear of dropping and breaking her cup.  

Ellen White has a way of taking a basically sound principle and theologically spotlighting it to the point that it gives you heartburn just to read her writings on the subject. You'll see what I mean as I count down the top ten most melodramatic and exaggerated theology-of-eating quotes from Ellen White's book Counsels on Diet and Food between pages 49 through 64. 

Please keep in mind as you are reading. Ellen, like many food gurus of her time, thought there was a direct link between eating and immorality. The idea was that if food digested slowly, it would overstimulate the bowels making one obsessed with sex. 

Intemperance in eating and in drinking, and the indulgence of base passions, have benumbed the fine sensibilities, so that sacred things have been placed upon a level with common things.
Those who permit themselves to become slaves to a gluttonous appetite, often go still farther, and debase themselves by indulging their corrupt passions, which have become excited by intemperance in eating and in drinking. They give loose rein to their debasing passions, until health and intellect greatly suffer. The reasoning faculties are, in a great measure, destroyed by evil habits.Spiritual Gifts 4a:124, 131, 1864 {CD 62.}

(SDAs: No offense intended. Just needed to lighten things up around here... and also italics are mine.)

Countdown Begins:

No. 10: The Great Sins of Old--Appetite!

The people who lived before the flood ate animal food, and gratified their lusts until their cup of iniquity was full, and God cleansed the earth of its moral pollution by a flood.... The same sins of gluttony and drunkenness benumbed the moral sensibilities of the inhabitants of Sodom, so that crimes seemed to be the delight of the men and women of that wicked city....[Christ] would lay before us the danger of making eating and drinking paramount. He reveals the result of giving up to indulgence of appetite. The moral powers are enfeebled, so that sin does not appear sinful. Crimes are winked at, and base passions control the mind, until general corruption roots out good principles and impulses, and God is blasphemed. All this is the result of eating and drinking to excess.... The transgression of God’s commandments has caused His prospering hand to be removed. {CD 60, 61}(Spiritual Gifts 4a:121, 1864) 

No. 9: Don't Indulge Your Pastor's Appetite!

Some persons bring upon the campground food that is entirely unsuitable to such occasions, rich cakes and pies, and a variety of dishes that would derange the digestion of a healthy laboring man.... The minister should decline this well-meant but unwise hospitality, even at the risk of seeming discourteous....They err when they tempt the minister with unhealthful food. Precious talent has thus been lost to the cause of God; and many, while they do live, are deprived of half the vigor and strength of their faculties. {CD 55.2}

No. 8: Sanctification is Controlling Appetite!

[Sanctification] requires that our habits of eating, drinking, and dressing be such as to secure the preservation of physical, mental, and moral health, that we may present to the Lord our bodies,—not an offering corrupted by wrong habits, but “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.” Our habits of eating and drinking show whether we are of the world or among the number whom the Lord by His mighty cleaver of truth has separated from the world. It is intemperance in eating that causes so much invalidism, and robs the Lord of the glory due Him. Because of a failure to deny self, many of God’s people are unable to reach the high standard of spirituality He has set for them, and though they repent and are converted, all eternity will testify to the loss they have sustained by yielding to selfishness.—Letter 135, 1902, The Review and Herald, January 25, 1881, Testimonies for the Church 6:372, 1900 {CD 57-58}

No. 7: You are Unworthy Because of Appetite!

If they will gratify a gross appetite, and by so doing blunt their sensibilities, and becloud their perceptive faculties so that they cannot appreciate the exalted character of God, or delight in the study of His word, they may be assured that God will not accept their unworthy offering any sooner than that of Cain. God requires them to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord.—Spiritual Gifts 4a:148, 149, 1864 {CD 49.4}

No. 6: The Spirit Cannot Come Because of Appetite!

No man can become a successful workman in spiritual things until he observes strict temperance in his dietetic habits. God cannot let His Holy Spirit rest upon those who, while they know how they should eat for health, persist in a course that will enfeeble mind and body.—Undated Manuscript 88 {CD 55.3}

The Spirit of God cannot come to our help, and assist us in perfecting Christian characters, while we are indulging our appetites to the injury of health, and while the pride of life controls... It is impossible for those who indulge the appetite to attain to Christian perfection.—Testimonies for the Church 2:400, 1870, The Health Reformer, September, 1871 {CD 57}

No. 5: Tea and Coffee Make You Lust!

Excessive eating of the best of food will produce a morbid condition of the moral feelings.... Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul,” is the language of the apostle Peter. Many regard this warning as applicable only to the licentious; but it has a broader meaning. It guards against every injurious gratification of appetite or passion. It is a most forcible warning against the use of such stimulants and narcotics as tea, coffee, tobacco, alcohol, and morphine. These indulgences may well be classed among the lusts that exert a pernicious influence upon moral character. The earlier these hurtful habits are formed, the more firmly will they hold their victim in slavery to lust, and the more certainly will they lower the standard of spirituality.—The Review and Herald, January 25, 1881 {CD 62.5}

No. 4: Eden Lost Because of Appetite!

As our first parents lost Eden through the indulgence of appetite, our only hope of regaining Eden is through the firm denial of appetite and passion. {CD 59.1}

No. 3: Health Reform Brings Sanctification!

He who cherishes the light which God has given him upon health reform has an important aid in the work of becoming sanctified through the truth, and fitted for immortality.—[Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 10] Counsels on Health, 22, 1890 {CD 59.4}

No. 2: Control Appetite, Control Sin!

The controlling power of appetite will prove the ruin of thousands, when, if they had conquered on this point, they would have had moral power to gain the victory over every other temptation of Satan. But those who are slaves to appetite will fail in perfecting Christian character. Testimonies for the Church 3:491, 492, 1875 {CD 59.3}

No. 1: God Ignores You Because of Appetite!

Those who bring disease upon themselves, by self-gratification, have not healthy bodies and minds. They cannot weigh the evidences of truth, and comprehend the requirements of God. Our Saviour will not reach His arm low enough to raise such from their degraded state, while they persist in pursuing a course to sink themselves still lower. {CD 49.3}


Mark Witas said...

Surprisingly, I think that Ellen (Gangsta) White was a product of time and culture in the way she articulates things, I think she's dead on in much of what she says. When one gives way to any kind of passion (diet or otherwise) and let's it have reign and sway over life decisions, it's easy to see how that can deaden one's spiritual desires. I don't drink coffee, but friends of mine that have for years and tried to give it up really had a struggle on their hands. Being addicted to stimulants, over eating habitually, or having one's mind numbed by too much food can't be good for the spiritual nature. I think that science has caught up with these messages and now agrees. Again, equating these things with "perfection" reflects the language of the time in most churches. But to link these bad habits with a dwarfed capacity for spiritual growth isn't far fetched at all.

Teresa Beem said...

It is one thing to abstain for health reasons and it is quite another to bring into it the heavy theology of salvation. The Bible tells us quite the opposite.

Matthew 6:25 "For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink ; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?"

Matthew 6:31 "Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will wear for clothing?' 32 "For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things ; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Luke 10:Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house. 8 "Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you;

Teresa Beem said...

Romans 141 Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. 2 One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. 3 The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to judge the servant of another ? To his own master he stands or falls ; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5 One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God ; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. 7 For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself ;

I Cor. 10:25 Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience' sake ; 26 FOR THE EARTH IS THE LORD'S, AND ALL IT CONTAINS. 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience' sake. 28 But if anyone says to you, "This is meat sacrificed to idols," do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience' sake; 29 I mean not your own conscience, but the other man's; for why is my freedom judged by another's conscience ? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks ?

Ellen did exactly the opposite of what Christ and His apostles taught. Don't worry about what you eat and drink. That 's what I'm going with. But if you wish to worry about it that is up to you and the Lord. Blessings!

Arik said...

The context of Matthew 6:25-34 is not diet at all,nor is it about indulgence of diet. Jesus is speaking specifically about laying up treasures here on earth instead of heaven. "Take no thought about your life" is the message here, because your life is in God's hands, our needs will be met if we do not take it upon ourselves to secure for ourselves food, clothing etc. Be as the birds, who do not worry about these things. Final lesson 34-"Take no thought for the morrow."

Luke 10 is not permission to eat and drink anything, it must be remembered that the seventy did not go to Gentile homes but Jews and Samaritans where inappropropriate food would not be served. Again Jesus is NOT speaking to diet at all. He is giving instructions about how to bring the Kingdom of God to the world.

In Scripture we are commanded to have temperance, which is the opposite of indulgence, so EGW's comments are not wrong at all. Jesus Himself was tempted with appetite, now if food wasn't linked in some way to sin, Satan never would have tempted Jesus in such a way.

Teresa Beem said...

The point is, Arik, Christians are not to worry about these things. Ellen was not just worried but a bit obsessed. Just the stress of her heath message was enough to give one irritable bowels syndrome.

While it is a good thing to try and eat healthfully, it is not supposed to be a goal of our life. Ellen--again, many doctors at the time taught this so it is not a Ellen-exclusive mistake--wrote and BELIEVED that what you ate directly affected your ability to handle temptation. And by the quotes above very clearly believed that one MUST be perfect.

So to her, if you ate rich food that would unnaturally stimulate your colon which would in turn cause you to be sexually stimulated leaving you open to temptation. Hence because the food weakened you to temptation, you would fall morally which would then make you NOT perfect and NOT sanctified and NOT saved. Salvation through proper diet.

Read the quotes again if you think I am exaggerating.

Arik said...

It is one thing to stress your opinions regarding EGW's statements, but it is quit another to try to disagree with her by using Scripture out of context. The principles of diet that EGW has written has also been stressed by Paul in Romans 12:1 "....present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." 1Cor 10:31 "Whatever ye therefore eat, whatsoever you do, do to the glory of God."

This is sound advice and therefore shows that diet is directly linked with our responsibility with regard to sanctification.

Romans 14 is not proving your point at all, and is not permission to eat whatever we want, for if it was, it would directly contradict Paul's principle of eating I just quoted. Rather Paul's principles in Romans 14 and 1 Cor. 10 is about the conscience of strong believers vs. the conscience of weak believers. Christian love which is the source of unity and peace is Paul's underlying principle.

I would not expect you to understand. In the first few centuries after the apostles, the church adopted much pagan ideas, including the thought that the flesh is unimportant and nothing but a prison for the immortal soul. Therefore what we did with our bodies bcame not so important and the link between our bodies and our spiritual life was lost. Adventism restores the correct idea that the two are linked intrinsically.

Teresa Beem said...


We are to eat to the glory of God! Amen. We Christians all agree. The problem is that Adventist pick out a few little things to eat and make them sins.

That is obviously against scripture. It is no more unhealthy to eat organically grown, corn fed ham than SDA processed soy bean fake meat. Eating too much is worse for you than eating a little meat.

The point of the New Testament words of God is not that you can't eat pork it is that you don't worry and make a fuss about eating. Eat as healthy as you can and leave the rest to God. So if YOU are made unhealthy by eating a huge bowl of ice cream each night, don't do it. It is possible, though highly unlikely, that you might be sinning if you gorge on ice cream every evening.

But for someone to eat a ham sandwich on occasion is not a sin. Especially if they get lots of fruits and vegetables. The scripture is being balanced about food. Do your best and take care of your body and DON'T JUDGE OTHERS ON THEIR FOOD AND DRINK!

That is very clear.... that last part...

Arik said...

If you do agree that we should eat to the glory of God, then you should be in perfect harmony with EGW's statements that you posted. The sins that she is speaking against is "gluttony, drunkeness, gratification, eating and drinking in excess,intemperance, selfishness and indulgence." Now surely you would agree that these things are not to the glory of God, and are directly related to our sanctification. In none of the quotes you posted does EGW speak against pork, so again you are not considering the context.

Sure as Adventist we restrain from eating pork because we do not see such a dichotomy of what we could eat in the OT and NT. But that is not the context of any of the statements you posted. That is an entirely different topic. Thankyou for posting my comments.

Teresa Beem said...

I am not sure if you are being serious? So Ellen is okay with eating shellfish and unclean meats? Are you saying that the SDA doctrine is that as long as we don't overeat, its okay for us to eat pork?

Arik said...

I am very serious, because I am sure that the context is very clear. If you wish to have a discussion on pork or other unclean meats that is one thing, and I think it is a different topic. The statements of EGW's that you posted are about engageing in the sin of gluttony, drunkeness, gratification, eating and drinking in excess, intemperance, indulgence and selfishness" (her quotes). This applies to any food or drink. Engageing in this behavior is certainly detrimental to our spiritual life or sanctification, and is against both the OT and the NT.

Anonymous said...

A soft answer turns away wrath. Please take my reply with a soft tone also. It would appear that the pictures you have chosen to display are suggesting that EGW was displaying the same attitudes you believe that she must also have possessed. Was her character one of great pomp and pride? Ask anyone who has a real appreciation for the counsel she received from God which has been applied in their lives and has been encouraged. If taken in context, Mrs. Whites writings have been revelations from God and are always backed by a "thus saith the Lord" in Scripture. God never forces His wisdom on anyone. He said if we are willing to obey the teachings then we will know of the doctrines. Certainly if by His grace and motivated by a personal relationship with Him we choose by faith to put sound principles from the Word of God in our practices, I am of the opinion we will be the recipients of Good, not evil.

Teresa Beem said...

With this post, I was taking a light side. Former Adventists tend to be quite harsh on poor Ellen. They call her demonic and a wolfish false prophetess. I merely think she was a troubled but good girl who became mentally incompetent after her head wound. Comparing her to Hyacinth was a great compliment because I really like the sitcom, "Keeping Up Appearances." She is a very lovable character.

There are people who are able to read some of Ellen's writings and are brought closer to God. I think the Desire of Ages is one. However the bulk of what she wrote was unbiblical. My true hope is that Ellen was more like Hyacinth than who she appears to be…. a false prophetess and spiritualist. Since we as former Adventists believe her accompanying angels was either a demonic spirit or a figment of her imagination, this post was actually quite kind. Blessings to you and yours Anonymous. Thank you for coming and commenting.