In my mid-30’s I seriously began to try to read the Bible. I had been through some devastating life experiences, and I had new questions and doubts. My trauma had left me convinced that God was real and God was love, but giant cracks had appeared in my Adventist underpinnings.
I believed the Bible was the word of God. I believed (as I had been taught) that all doctrine had to be based on the Bible. I also believed the Bible took precedence over E.G. White’s writings. I did not, however, believe the Bible was infallible. I believed human authors had written it using their own experiences and words to interpret the truths God had revealed to them. I believed that their experiences had led them to see God’s revelations colored by their cultural milieu. Certain things they wrote made sense to them, but they didn’t work for us because we had different issues than the people faced in Bible times.
In the early ’90’s I began to team-teach a Sabbath School class in a large Adventist church. My team teacher and I used The Quarterly for our lesson topics, but we created our own lessons. We covered many Adventist subjects, including the Sabbath, and as I prepared for those lessons, it became clear to me that what The Quarterly said and what the Bible said were not always the same. The Quarterly, in fact, often seemed superficial, never really examining what the Bible said about the subjects. I became critically aware that I had to understand what the Bible actually taught. If our doctrines were based on the Bible, I had to know what the Bible really said.
I began to pray each time I sat down to study, asking God to help me to read the Bible without an EGW overlay. I asked Him to help me read it and understand what it really said, not just to read it and automatically interpret the verses according to my Adventist understanding.
Gradually the Bible began to come alive. I began to look forward to my study times. Some passages still confused me, but at least the Bible was no longer boring.
In the mid-’90’s, my husband and I began a three-year, ongoing Bible study with our Christian neighbors. We felt a need to study with people who did not have an Adventist understanding of scripture. We wanted to be sure that we were understanding what the Bible really said, not just what we thought it said.
One night made an indelible memory. We were reading a chapter in Revelation together, and [my husband] and I offered an interpretation about a somewhat difficult passage. Our neighbor looked at us in some surprise and said, “Where do you find that in the Bible?”
It was [our] turn to be surprised. We thought we had expunged all EGW interpretations from our minds; we thought we were approaching each study with complete openness. We realized with embarrassment that we had just offered an explanation right out of The Great Controversy.
Our neighbors listened with growing amazement as we explained the role and importance of Ellen White in the Adventist church. We told them the many ways our understandings had already changed. As we talked, we described several Adventist perceptions of passages we had already discussed in Revelation, and they looked at us in bewilderment, repeatedly asking how we—and EGW—supported those interpretations.
As our studies continued we found ourselves falling in love with the Jesus we found revealed in the Bible. The Scriptures seemed to be a living organism. Each time we opened them we learned something new. We began to see that each book we read meshed perfectly with the others. The Bible no longer seemed confusing and contradictory. It began to make sense as a unified whole. The old proof texts on which we had hung our doctrines had different meanings when we read them in context. The New Testament no longer seemed to contradict the Old.
Our life-long respect for EGW’s “inspired” writings died. When we realized how twisted our understanding of the Bible had been because of [EGW’s] interpretations, we released her. We no longer needed her. We had the living word, the Bible, and we had something else: the Holy Spirit. When we released EGW from her foundational place in our hearts, we experienced the reality of the Holy Spirit teaching us and guiding us. He took the place she had held, and we discovered what it meant to be born from above, to experience a completely new reality in Christ.
The Holy Spirit had been guiding us for years….Now the Holy Spirit in us awakened us to the Holy Spirit’s inspiration in the Bible. We discovered that the Bible is absolutely reliable. It is a unified whole; it is alive with truth because it is inspired by God.