What about that BIG Bible?

One popular Adventist legend tells of Mrs. White performing a feat of supernatural strength. She purportedly held up a 40 POUND Bible above her head for over 30 minutes, turned the pages, and without looking, quoted the verses she was pointing at with her finger. J.N. Loughborough describes the incident as follows:

"I will here state some facts respecting her third vision...related to me by Mrs. White's father and mother, by her sister, Mrs. Sarah Belden, and others. In the room where the vision was given, there was lying on the bureau a very large family Bible...and weighs a little over 18 pounds . While in vision, she arose, and took this heavy Bible on her left arm, the book lying open, and held it out at right angles with her body; and then for over half an hour , with her right hand, turned from place to place, and pointed to different texts of Scripture, which she repeated while her eyes were looking upward...in every instance she was repeating the Scripture upon which her finger was resting." (Great Second Advent Movement, pp.236-37).

Why did it fail to convince those watching the event?

Such feats of supernatural strength should have been enough to convince the most hardened skeptic. Among those present at this event were Mrs. White's father, mother, and sister. Strangely enough, her own family were not convinced by this awesome display of strength. None of her close family members ever became a believer in her visions or joined the Adventist church.

The fact that those witnessing the event were not convinced is cause for concern. It calls into question whether or not anything supernatural actually occurred. One would have expected that if Mrs. White had indeed received supernatural strength, then her own family would have been convinced that her visions were from God and would have joined the Advent movement.

A General Conference president speaks

Perhaps one of the best people to assess whether or not anything supernatural happened is SDA General Conference president A.G. Daniels, who knew Mrs. White for over forty years. Listen to what he said on July 30, 1919 , at the Conference on the Use of the Spirit of Prophecy:

"Now with reference to the evidences: I differ with some of the brethren who have put together proofs or evidences of the genuineness of this gift. In this respect, I believe that the strongest proof is found in the fruits of this gift to the church, not in physical and outward demonstrations. For instance, I have heard some ministers preach, and have seen it in writing, that Sister White once carried a heavy Bible, I believe they said it weighed 40 pounds and on her out-stretched hand, and looking up toward the heavens quoted texts and turned the leaves over and pointed to the texts, with her eyes toward the heavens. I do not know whether that was ever done or not. I am not sure. I did not see it, and I do not know that I ever talked with anybody that did see it. But, brethren, I do not count that sort of thing as a very great proof. I do not think that is the best kind of evidence. If I were a stranger in an audience, and heard a preacher enlarging on that, I would have my doubts. That is, I would want to know if he saw it. He would have to say, No, he never did. Then I would ask, 'Did you ever see the man that did see it?' And he would have to answer, 'No, I never did.' Well, just how much of that is genuine, and how much has crawled into the story - I do not know. But I do not think that is the kind of proof we want to use. "

Separating Facts from Fiction

Mrs. Lunt, a witness to the event, wrote:

"The Teale Family Bible, weighing 18 pounds was...taken from the bureau...it was held on her open hand at an angle of 45 degrees ... for several minutes ..." (Great Second Advent Movement, p.238).

Please note that it is much easier to hold a weight at a 45-degree angle to the body rather than a 90-degree angle. Let us separate the myths from the facts:

Myth

Fact

Bible weighed 40 pounds

Bible weighed 18 pounds

Bible held with arm straight out ( 90-degrees to body)

Bible held up at a 45-degree angle

Bible was held up for over 30 minutes

Bible was held up for several minutes

Mrs. White pointed and quoted verses without looking

It is physically impossible for the right hand to point to verses while holding an open Bible, 11 by 27 inches in size, up at an angle of 45 degrees with the left hand. Try it.

Is the White Estate telling the truth?

Visitors to the White Estate in Takoma Park , Maryland , can view the 40 pound Bible that Mrs. White purportedly held up in vision. Former SDA, Wallace D. Slattery writes of an experience:

"My aide in my last SDA teaching position in Pennsylvania was a great-granddaughter of Sister White. I discussed this supposed event with her, and she agreed that undoubtedly it never happened . She telephoned her mother, who worked at the White Estate in Washington , D.C. , and asked her, "Why do you still show that big Bible to people who come in, when you know that the event never took place ?" Her mother answered, " But you should see their faces when they see it !" (Are Seventh-day Adventists False Prophets? A Former Insider Speaks Out, p.5).



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