In , at Lovett's Grove, Ohio , Sunday, Mid-March, a funeral was held in a schoolhouse where Ellen and James White were holding meetings, James was asked to speak and Ellen was moved to bear her testimony. Part way through her talk, she went into a two-hour vision in front of the congregation. The vision mostly concerned the matter of the "great controversy," which she had seen ten years before She was told that she must write it out. The next day on a train they began arranging plans for writing and publishing the future book immediately on their return home. At a stopover, Ellen experienced a stroke of paralysis, which made writing virtually impossible.
For several weeks afterward, Ellen could not feel pressure on her hand or cold water poured on her head. At first, she wrote but one page in a day and then rested for three. But as she progressed, her strength increased, and by the time she finished the book, all effects of the stroke were gone. The book was completed by mid-August and subsequently published as Spiritual Gifts , Vol. It is written in the first-person present tense, with the phrase "I saw" being used times to refer to the author's experience in receiving the vision given to enable her to write this book.
The book describes the whole history of sin chronologically, from before sin ever entered the universe to after its final destruction in The New Earth. Plans were laid in the late s for the Spirit of Prophecy series, an expansion of the Great Controversy theme into four volumes, designed especially for Seventh-day Adventist reading. Volume 1, dealing with Old Testament history, was published in The New Testament history required two volumes which were published in and For volume 4, Ellen was instructed through vision to present an outline of the controversy between Christ and Satan as it developed in the Christian dispensation to prepare the mind of the reader to understand clearly the controversy going on in the present day.
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The great events which have marked the progress of reform in past ages, are matters of history, well known and universally acknowledged by the Protestant world; they are facts which none can gainsay. The facts having been condensed into as little space as seemed consistent with a proper understanding of their application. Much of this history had passed before her in vision but not all the details and not always in precise sequence.
In a statement read on October 30, , carrying Ellen's written endorsement, W. White said:. She read to him a large part, if not the whole, of the five volumes. She has read other histories of the Reformation. This has helped her to locate and describe many of the events and the movements presented to her in vision.
While verbs used are still generally present tense , the first person aspect is not present. The book was published in two bindings, one, olive in color, carrying the title The Great Controversy , the other in black cloth titled Spirit of Prophecy , volume 4. The book was sold to both Seventh-day Adventists and the general public.
Fifty thousand copies were distributed within three years' time.
The Great Controversy had enjoyed escalating sales. In , C. Jones, manager of Pacific Press, informed Ellen that they needed to completely reset the type for the book because the old type was worn out. This was, therefore, a good time to improve and make corrections to the book. The book was reaching beyond the ranks of Seventh-day Adventists.
Yet the terminology and, in some cases, the content was directed largely to Adventists. Expressions familiar to Adventists were sometimes incomprehensible to the ordinary reader. Also, some subjects were too briefly treated because the readers were expected to be familiar with them.
Some adaptation of wording seemed desirable and also changing of the verb tense from present to past. At that time, Ellen was living in Europe , the land of Reformation history, a subject that is an important part of the book. Accordingly, she added a chapter on Huss and Jerome of Prague , who had previously been but briefly mentioned. More was added about Zwingli and John Calvin. Other chapters were enlarged and important additions were made about the sanctuary.
Additional scriptures were introduced and footnote references were increased. The book was also translated into French and German. The translators and proofreaders, along with Ellen and her editors, would read, discuss, and translate chapters of the book as it was being reviewed for the new edition.
By this means, the translators got the spirit of the work and so could improve the translation. The introduction describes the work of God's prophets and details God's commission to her to write the book:.
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From time to time I have been permitted to behold the working, in different ages, of the great controversy between Christ, the Prince of life, the Author of our salvation, and Satan, the prince of evil, the author of sin, the first transgressor of God's holy law. She wrote, "While writing the manuscript of Great Controversy I was often conscious of the presence of the angels of God And many times the scenes about which I was writing were presented to me anew in visions of the night, so that they were fresh and vivid in my mind.
In this enlargement, she brought in considerably more of such materials. That is partly a function of size. One in five Americans calls Texas or California home. By one in four will. Over the past 20 years the two states have created a third of new jobs in America. California would be fifth, right behind Germany.
Why Are Americans Still Uncomfortable with Atheism?
Both states were early to become majority-minority. In California non-whites have outnumbered whites since , and in Texas since The rest of the country is not expected to reach this threshold until the middle of the century. California and Texas educate nearly a quarter of American children, many of them poor and non-native English-speakers.
At first glance the two states seem as different as a quinoa burger and beef brisket. California is a one-party state in which elected Republicans may soon need the kind of protection afforded to the bighorn sheep. In Texas Republicans dominate the state legislature and all the statewide executive offices: no Democrat has won a statewide race there for more than 20 years. The last Democratic presidential candidate to do so was elected over 40 years ago. Texas has no state income tax. Texas has loose environmental regulations. California is trying to use its economic might to force the rest of the country to adopt more stringent standards on carbon-dioxide emissions.
Texas lets its cities sprawl; California has restrictive planning laws. Take a closer look, though, and Texas looks more like a teenage California. The population of Texas has only recently reached the level California was at in the late s.
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The Golden State was once a pro-sprawl, low-tax, Republican state, too. Not surprisingly, neither believers nor nonbelievers believe this. Every such ruling is a Pyrrhic victory for the devout, for whom invocations of God are sacred, and no victory at all for atheists, for whom invocations of God, when sponsored by the state, are obvious attempts to promote religion. Legal challenges to the Pledge of Allegiance, in particular, persist, because nonbelievers are concerned about its prominence in the daily lives of schoolchildren.
David Niose, the legal director of the American Humanist Association, is one of many who have suggested that atheists might even be a suspect class, the sort of minority who deserve special protections from the courts.
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But are atheists a suspect class, or just a skeptical one? Unlike racial minorities, their condition is not immutable, but, like many religious minorities, they are subject to hostility and prejudice. Yet that capaciousness is appropriate, because it suggests, correctly, that there is no single atheistic world view. Much of the animosity and opprobrium directed at nonbelievers in America comes from the suspicion that those who do not believe in God could not possibly believe in anything else, moral or otherwise.
The reason that atheists were not allowed to testify in court for so long was the certainty that witnesses who were unwilling to swear an oath to God had no reason to be truthful, since they did not fear divine judgment. Not all monotheists are literalists, and, for many of us, both now and throughout history, the Garden of Eden is not a faulty hypothesis about evolution but a rich symbolic story about good and evil. The strategy they champion, scientific ethics, has been tried before, with a notable lack of success. Auguste Comte and his fellow nineteenth-century positivists envisioned a Grand Pontiff of Humanity who would preside alongside scientist-priests; unfortunately, scientists at the time were practicing phrenology.
Today, the voguish version of science as religion is transhumanism, which claims that technology will overcome human limitations both physical and mental, perhaps through bioengineering or artificial intelligence or cyborgs that can carry around the contents of our brains. On the whole, Gray is a glass-half-empty kind of guy, and what others regard as novel or promising he often sees as derivative or just plain dumb.
He argues, for instance, that secular humanism is really monotheism in disguise, where humankind is God and salvation can be achieved through our own efforts rather than through divine intervention. Unlike the linguist—and new atheist—Steven Pinker, Gray regards the idea that the world is getting better as self-evidently silly. Religions are still thriving, as are wars between them, and secular regimes have wrought as much, if not more, havoc under the auspices of Jacobinism, Bolshevism, Nazism, and Maoism.
Gray is especially interested in those atheists who, in addition to having no faith in the divine, have none in humanity. Given his own intellectual bent, one suspects him of delighting equally in their pessimism and their unpopularity. They are thinkers like George Santayana, a thoroughgoing materialist who scoffed at human progress to the point of indifference to human suffering yet loved Catholic traditions so much that he chose to live out the end of his days in the care of nuns. Similarly, the novelist Joseph Conrad had no faith in God, and lost his faith in progress after witnessing the colonization of Congo, but he wrote beautifully about those who faced their empty fate head on: sailors surviving the indifference of the sea.
Instead of seeking surrogates for God, they try to acquiesce in something that transcends human understanding.
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In both cases, the material world may be characterized by limited understanding and limitless wonder. That is the charity so seldom extended to atheists in America: the notion that they, too, may be awed by and struggling to make sense of the human and the cosmic. Meanwhile, those who came to atheism via the new atheists might be startled to find that many of their intellectual forebears did not wage war on religion, or even feel any distaste for it. In fairness, contemporary American atheists may be inclined to wage war on religion because religion has been waging war on them for so long.