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Like Adventist pioneer W.W. Prescott, Andrews University Professor Denis Fortin said, he had “had to adjust his view of things” after studying the events surrounding the 1919 Bible Conference. And he called on his colleagues to do the same in his presidential address that opened the Adventist Society for Religious Studies (ASRS) Meeting in San Diego Nov. 21.

To honor the 100th anniversary of the 1919 Bible Conference, it was chosen to be the theme for the ASRS Conference. Fortin skillfully set the context for the conversation with a description of the six-week long event in 1919 that was called to provide time for reflection and discussion of difficult subjects and points of interpretations religion teachers faced at that time.

New - Information - Insights - Accuracy - Facts

“New information and insights challenged the accuracy of biblical and historical facts and chronologies that Adventists had used to buttress their interpretations of prophecies. Prophetic timelines were now quietly questioned,” he said. Consequently, the writings of Ellen White were also addressed. One challenge concerned how inspiration worked. Some felt that there is no degree of inspiration between canonical and non-canonical prophets, so a prophet was either inspired or not. This favored a “predisposition toward the inerrancy and infallibility of all inspired writings.”

However, two of the people at the Conference “(A.G.) Daniells and (W.W.) Prescott had seen first-hand how Ellen White’s books were prepared and they could not espouse their inerrancy and infallibility.” They also knew that the facts about Mrs. White’s inspiration had not been clearly and honestly presented to church members.

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Daniells risked discussing how some of Ellen White’s books had been prepared, “to illustrate that she was not inerrant or infallible, and that her books were not to be the last word in matters of interpretation or history.” For instance, when revising The Great Controversy in 1909, Ellen White “asked a...
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