Did Ellen White plagiarize?
No, she did not. We will prove it in the following pages. We will show that an exhaustive six-year study of Desire of Ages, headed by a man who did not like her writings, found that she did not copy anything at all from other books!
Why then did Walter Rea say she did?
First, he became disgruntled with church leaders; and he wanted to get back at them. So he used an attack on the Spirit of Prophecy to do it. Friends of his, who have personally known him over the years (both in Florida and California), told me this.
Second, Walter Rea wanted to make money. And he did. He really pulled it in for a time. He was reported to have been paid between $7,000 and $10,000 each weekend, for lectures which he gave at community halls near major Adventist centers throughout North America, on a major tour of the continent in the winter of 1981-1982. Afterward, he continued giving lectures throughout the early and mid-1980s.
But he said she plagiarized most of what she wrote.
Look at the facts: When pinned down, he said the book she plagiarized more than any other was Great Controversy. But when you push for data, he admits he only means the historical quotations she included in the book! Yet, in her introduction to that book, she freely said she had included such historical statements (GC xi-xii).
But what about Desire of Ages?
That is the book that Walter Rea specializes in. Others go to it to find God, for it has helped millions; Walter goes to it in an effort to destroy the influence of the book. He maintains that it is brimful of passages pulled directly out of other books. Because Rea had excited so much interest in this, a special group was set up to check out the facts. Called the Desire of Ages Project, they spent six years comparing that book with other contemporary books of her time, dealing with the life of Christ. It is the only real analysis of her writings that has ever been made.
But were there not many made before that? And what about Walter Rea’s findings?
Everything before the Desire of Ages Project was only talk, inference, and supposition, little more. Only the Desire of Ages Project did the careful research which was needed.
Yes, but whatever conclusion the project might come to would be tainted, since it was a church-appointed group.
Not so. We were all surprised when one of the most liberal Bible teachers in our ranks—Fred Veltman, head of the Religion Department at Pacific Union College—was appointed by the General Conference to be the sole manager of the entire project. Keep in mind that, to this day, Desmond Ford remains an honored member of the Pacific Union College Church. In regard to the New Theology, PUC has, since the 1970s, been one of our most liberal colleges. Veltman was head of its religion department, when appointed to this new assignment. If the data could be slanted in favor of Walter Rea, Veltman would be in a position to do it. He had full control of the project.
Maybe he secretly was a conservative and believed in the Spirit of Prophecy.
Frankly, we were shocked when he was appointed to direct the whole project, micro-manage its discoveries, and write up all its conclusions. About the year 1982, Veltman, by that time head of the Desire of Ages Project, spoke at a ministerial retreat at PUC and at an Adventist Forum in San Francisco. His sentiments were very liberal, indicating his disbelief in the Spirit of Prophecy. More on this later.
What were his conclusions?
Six full years later, Veltman issued his report. We will provide you with an overview of his findings later in this book. But, in brief, he discovered that there was almost nothing in Desire of Ages that he could find which could be attributed to even partial literary borrowing!
What was Walter Rea’s charge?
In October 1980, Walter Rea, pastor of the Long Beach Church in California, went public with his charges that Ellen White was a book thief. He declared that she had copied large quantities out of other books. Indeed, he said she had copied so much that most of her writings were taken from other books! In addition, he said this plagiarism ran through all her books. The story, initially released through the Los Angeles Times, on October 23-24, 1980, was carried by wire service and news syndicate and appeared in dozens of newspapers across the United States.
Did Rea prove his point?
No, he did not prove his point at the time; and the 'Desire of Ages Project' later totally devastated his claims. Yet anyone can prove the matter for himself: Just pick up any other book printed in the 19th century—and see if it reads like a Spirit of Prophecy book on your shelf!
It is of special interest that the two books which Rea really talked much about were Great Controversy and Desire of Ages. He said Great Controversy was “borrowed” because she referred to historical sources and quoted historians. Later in this book, we will examine that charge—and find it is not significant.
He said Desire of Ages was heavily borrowed; but, on that score, Veltman’s research proves quite the opposite.
Well, I’m ready now. Tell me the truth about the plagiarism charge against Ellen White.