Did Ellen White Exhibit the Physical Signs?
Author: Professor Walter J. Veith, PhD
Publish date:
Summary: The final test of a true prophet is the physical signs they manifest while in vision.
This article is part of a series. We recommend that you first read: Prophecy: God's Guiding Gift, Testing the Prophets.

The physical signs associated with a true prophet of God are so astounding, that they can only be explained by supernatural intervention.

False prophets have always been a plague to the people of God and the world at large. True prophets of God were severely persecuted, tortured, and even put to death in the most cruel fashion. False prophets, on the other hand, mostly make sensational prophecies of prosperity or promise redemption on the grounds of exclusivity rather than redemption in Christ and obedience to His requirements.

God in His wisdom has deemed it necessary to associate physical signs with the true gift of prophecy—signs that cannot be counterfeited. Because of all the criteria applicable to a prophet of God, we will have no excuse if we to ignore His prophets.

The Physical Signs of a Prophet in Vision

The physical signs associated with a prophet in vision, as discussed previously in Testing the Prophets, are as follows:

1. The prophet falls down weak
2. The prophet is strengthened by God and raised up
3. The prophet’s eyes are wide open during the vision
4. The prophet does not breathe during the vision

In the case of Ellen White, God saw fit to establish the authenticity of her visions publicly. In the early years of her ministry, she frequently went into vision at public meetings where many skeptics and physicians could examine her while she was having a vision. Eyewitness accounts prove beyond doubt that Ellen G. White exhibited all the physical criteria specified in God's Word.

After her ministry and authenticity had been established, particularly in the later years, Ellen White received most of her vision in the night, as was also the case with the prophet Daniel.

Eyewitness Accounts of Ellen White in Vision

J.N. Loughborough, a long-standing acquaintance of Ellen White who saw her in vision 50 times, describes the events as follows:

In passing into vision, she gives three enrapturing shouts of “Glory!” which echo and re-echo, the second, and especially the third, fainter but more thrilling than the first, the voice resembling that of one quite a distance from you, and just going out of hearing. For about four or five seconds she seems to drop down like a person in a swoon, or one having lost his strength; she then seems to be instantly filled with superhuman strength, sometimes rising at once to her feet and walking about the room. There are frequent movements of the hands and arms, pointing to the right or left as her head turns. All these movements are made in a most graceful manner. In whatever position the hand or arm may be placed, it is impossible for anyone to move it. Her eyes are always open, but she does not wink; her head is raised, and she is looking upward, not with a vacant stare, but with a pleasant expression, only differing from the normal in that she appears to be looking intently at some distant object. She does not breathe, yet her pulse beats regularly. Her countenance is pleasant, and the colour of her face is florid as in her natural state (emphasis added).i

The home in Otsego, Michigan, where Ellen G. White had her Health Reform vision in...

All four of the criteria mentioned in the Scriptures, in the right sequence, are listed here, and were verified by numerous reputable eyewitnesses. A further eyewitness, Nellie Sisley Starr, reports the events associated with a vision that Ellen White had on June 12, 1868 at a prayer meeting held at Battle Creek:

She [Ellen White] walked back and forth and talked to us, and as she walked, she fell right down. She fell down gently. She went down as if an angel’s hands were under her...We thought she had fainted, but Brother White said “Cause yourselves no alarm. Wife has not fainted, but has fallen in vision.” I wish I could describe the feeling that we all had. It was perfect quietness; even the children made no noise...It seemed as though heaven was settling down upon us and closing us in...Sister White lay perfectly quiet and unconscious. Oh, the feeling that was sensed in that building.

Brother White said, “There may be some in the congregation that may have doubts in regard to my wife’s inspiration. If there are any such we would be glad to have them come forward and try the physical tests given in the Bible. It may help some of you.” I knew my mother had some doubts. We had come over from England and she had come from the Church of England, and she could not quite understand it, so I said, “Mother, let us go right up and stand right by her head”. In the meantime, Brother White had knelt down, and raised Sister White’s head and shoulders on his knees.

Others came up, and there were two unusually large men. They stood one on each side of her shoulders. “Now”, Brother White said, “we all saw Sister White fall; we know she lost her natural strength. Now we will see if she has supernatural strength.” She was lying with her hands gently folded over her chest. She was lying quietly and looking up in the corner of the building. Her eyes were open, with a pleasant expression on her face. Nothing unnatural or unusual.

Brother White said to these large men, “Take her hands apart. You have two hands to her one. Just pull her hands apart.” So they tried. They pulled and pulled till some of us got anxious that they would hurt her. Brother White said, “Don’t be anxious; she is safe in God’s keeping, and you can pull until you are perfectly satisfied.” They said, “We are satisfied now. We don’t need to pull anymore.”

He said, “Take up one finger at a time.” That was impossible. They could not do so much as move a finger. It seemed like a block of granite. There was no change in appearance, but it just couldn’t be moved.

We looked to see if her eyes were closed and see if she was breathing. Then she took her hands apart and waved her hands. We said, “We will see when she comes out of vision that she has been flying.” Brother White said to these men, “Now hold her.” I think they thought they could. They grasped her by the wrists, but they could not retard the motion. It looked like any child could hold her, but she went on just the same.

Elder White said, “Now we are satisfied with that. Now we must see if her eyelids will close.” There was a large Rochester (kerosene) lamp close by on the stand. He removed the shade and put this light right in front of her eyes. We thought she would move her eyes to protect them. She didn’t. She was perfectly unconscious. The expression of her countenance changed at times. Sometimes she look pleased. At other times we could see that there was something distressing her, but the eyelids did not close.

“Now,” Brother White said, we must see if there is any breath in her body.” There didn’t seem to be any. Everything looked all right, only there was no breath. Brother White said, “No we will send out and get a mirror, and we will test it.” So someone went to the next door and got a mirror, and it was held close to her face, but no moisture gathered. So there was no breathing (emphasis added).ii

It is noteworthy that the sequence of events is again exactly in agreement with the Scriptures. Ellen White had to often contend with aggressive opposition. On one such occasion, she was taken into vision at a gathering of people who were opposed to her visions. The opposers shouted, interjected, read loudly from the Scriptures and tried every means possible to interrupt her, but she continued to speak from about midday to sunset with a voice that cut through the din until those who opposed her were exhausted.

At one stage, they placed a heavy Bible in her hand from which she began to quote. She held the Bible up above her head with the one hand, and paged to the passages with the other without looking where she pointed. Otis Nichols, an eyewitness at the meeting describes the events as follows:

Then Thayer took a heavy, large quarto family Bible which was lying on the table and seldom used, and opened it, and laid it open upon the breast of Ellen while in vision, as she was then inclined backward against the wall in one corner of the room. Immediately after the Bible was laid upon her, she arose upon her feet and walked into the middle of the room, with the Bible open in one hand and lifted up as high as she could reach, and with her eyes steadily looking upward, declared in a solemn manner, “The inspired testimony of God” or words of the same import, and then she continued for a long time, while the Bible was extended in one hand and her eyes [were] looking upward and not on the Bible, to turn over the leaves with the other hand and place her finger upon certain passages and correctly utter their words with a solemn voice. Many present looked at the passages where her finger was pointed to see if she spoke them correctly, for her eyes at the same time were looking upward. Some of the passages referred to were judgments against the wicked and blasphemous; and others were admonitions and instructions relative to our present condition. In this state, she continued all the afternoon until nearly sundown when she came out of vision.iii

Doctors' Accounts of Ellen White in Vision

Note the testimony of these medical doctors who examined Ellen White while in vision. Two well-documented occasions will be discussed here. The first was at a conference held in June, 1854, where representatives from numerous churches were present. The second was at a conference held at Hillsdale, Michigan, where there were also numerous people present.

At the first meeting, Ellen White went into vision on June 26, 1854 and David Seeley, corroborating the testimony of other eyewitnesses writes as follows:

I was present at that meeting and witnessed the examination. I agree with what is stated by Brother and Sister Lamson, and would say further that it was Doctor Fleming and another younger physician who made the examination. After Mrs. White rose to her feet, as they have stated, quoting the texts of Scripture, Doctor Fleming called for a lighted candle...He held this candle as near her lips as possible without burning, and in direct line with her breath in case she breathed. There was not the slightest flicker of the blaze. The doctor then said, with emphasis, "That settles it forever, there is no breath in her body."iv

At the second meeting, James White called for a doctor to examine his wife. On this occasion, Dr. Lord was in the audience and also found no breath in her while she was having a vision. Two reports are available regarding this event. The first is from the Fowler couple, who testify as follows:

We were present when Sister E.G. White had a vision in Waldron’s Hall, Hillsdale. Dr. Lord made an examination, and said, “Her heart beats, but there is no breath. There is life, but no action of the lungs. I cannot account for this condition.”v

The second testimony is from C.S. Cover, who states this:

I was present when Sister White had the above-named vision in Waldron’s Hall, Hillsdale. In addition to the above statement, I heard the doctor say that Sister White’s condition in vision was "beyond his knowledge". He also said, "There is something supernatural about that."vi

A True Prophet

Ellen White is the only prophet in modern history who satisfies all the Biblical criteria of a prophet of God. She wrote pointed testimonies and received instructions from God that were to provide the necessary guidance for God’s remnant at the end of time. Those who take this instruction to heart will develop a greater understanding of the will of God and will be led into a closer relationship with God.

She wrote this:

Abundant light has been given to our people in these last days. Whether or not my life is spared, my writings will constantly speak, and their work will go forward as long as time shall last. My writings are kept on file in the office, and even though I should not live, these words that have been given to me by the Lord will still have life and will speak to the people. But my strength is yet spared, and I hope to continue to do much useful work. I may live until the coming of the Lord, but if I should not, I trust it may be said of me, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them” (Selected Messages, 55-56).

What did others have to say about Ellen White and her teachings?



i. J. N. Longborough, as quoted at WhiteEstate.org

ii. Biography of E. G. White Volume 2: 232-233.

iii. Biography of E. G. White/em> Volume 1: 104.

iv. Ibid: 303.

v. Ibid: 351.

vi. Ibid: 351-352.

This article is adapted from Truth Matters by Professor Walter J. Veith, an international speaker who has studied Biblical issues in-depth in his quest for truth. His popular series Genesis Conflict brings the debate between Creation and evolution to a new climax as he dissects the arguments with a scientific eye. His highly-acclaimed series Total Onslaught sheds light on the state of the world today as we move to a one-world government and an anticipated apocalypse.
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