Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Religious Education, PhD

First Advisor

Russell Staples

Second Advisor

Robert M. Johnston

Third Advisor

John Youngberg


Problem. Ellen White's early writings reveal a pronounced emphasis on sanctification and holiness. They do not set forth a clear and comprehensive presentation of her concept of forgiveness. The purpose of this study is to explicate her concept of forgiveness as presented in her writings to 1864 in the light of the background, formation, and early development of her religious views.

Method. Ellen White wrote little about forgiveness during her early years. Her concept of forgiveness can best be deduced from inferences found in her writings. Examination of factors that contributed to her religious thought is carried forward by means of documentary and historical research and analysis. Comparative analysis is used to examine similarities and differences between religious concepts presented in her writings and the religious opinions prominent in her religious environment.

Findings. Ellen White was reared in a devout Methodist home. During the early 1840s she became involved with the Millerite Adventist movement. In 1846 she accepted the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath. Methodism, Adventism, and Sabbatarianism (to a lesser extent) appear to have been the primary conceptual factors which influenced her early views concerning the need for forgiveness, the availability of forgiveness, the functions of Christ in forgiveness, the conditions for forgiveness, and the assurance of forgiveness.

Conclusions. While Ellen White retained many religious perceptions gained during her childhood and youth as a Methodist, some views were abandoned and others were added. Many of her earliest views were modified and reset in a new theological framework shaped largely by her Adventist eschatological perspective. Her concept of forgiveness appears to have developed from her own unique synthesis of soteriological and eschatological concepts derived from Methodism, Adventism, her study of the Scriptures, and other less identifiable sources. This synthesis was substantially influenced by religious "visions" which she received. Ellen White believed that human beings are sinful by nature and that they can only be forgiven and saved through the blood of Christ. She believed that salvation consists of both justification and sanctification. While she placed a pronounced emphasis on holiness, she consistently presented a theology of grace rather than human achievement.

Subject Area

Forgiveness of sin, White, Ellen Gould Harmon, 1827-1915--Views on forgiveness of sin


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