"Come out of her My  people" - Jesus Christ

                                          ELLEN WHITE AND THE SHUT DOOR
What is the “Shut Door”?

The Advent Movement of the early 1800’s expected Jesus to return in the year of 1844. As we all know, Jesus did not appear at that time. Yet instead of giving up what they experienced as a false revival; some within this movement decided that they had the correct date, but had expected the wrong event to occur. The Millerites decided that on that date Jesus entered the second compartment of the heavenly sanctuary and began an "INVESTIGATIVE JUDGMENT" of His people. This period would be of very short duration, hence their expectation of His soon coming. In hand with this doctrine they taught the opportunity for salvation for the world was over; there was no way anyone could be saved other than the small group of Adventists who had accepted the Millerite message and the "midnight cry." This particular doctrine was known as the SHUT DOOR.

One of the first to propose this idea was O.R.L. Crosier, who states:
"I kept the seventh day nearly a year, about 1848. In 1846 I explained the idea of the sanctuary in an article in an extra number of the Day Star, Cincinnati, O. The object of that article was to support the theory that the door of mercy was shut, a theory which I, and nearly all Adventists who had adopted William Miller's views, held from 1844 to 1848. Yes, I know that Ellen G. Harmon - now Mrs. White - held that shut-door theory at that time. Truly yours, "O.R.L. Crosier."

Concerning Crosier article Ellen White stated:
“I feel fully authorized by the Lord to recommend that extra to every saint" ("A Word to the Little Flock," pp. 11, 12)

Did the Lord authorize his prophet to endorse a book that FALSELY taught the time of salvation had passed for the sinner?

Another one of the early teachers of the ‘shut door’ doctrine was Joseph Turner.
"But can any sinners be converted if the door is shut? Of course they cannot, though changes that may appear to be conversions may take place...." The Advent Mirror, that of January, 1845.

These and men like them lead Joseph Bates into accepting the ‘shut door’ doctrine.

In the Review and Herald, Aug. 19, 1851, Joseph Bates says: "We understand that he [Christ] was a Mediator for all the world, ministering in the Holy Place (Heb. 9:26), in the Tabernacle called the Sanctuary, from the day of Pentecost (A.D. 31) until his appointed time, the end of the twenty-three hundred days, or years - the fall of 1844. At this point of time, then, the door was shut against the Sardis church [the Protestant church] and the wicked world."

James Bates added another twist to the doctrine, he explained the door was shut in 1844, and in the end of 7 years or in 1851 Christ would return. James Bates was the one who lead James White and Ellen Harmon into the ‘light’ of the shut door.

James White explains the “Shut Door” in the same manner. In The Present Truth, May 1850, he dealt in great detail with the subject, especially on the shut door. In that article he says, page 79:

"From the best light we could then obtain from the autumnal types we were very confident that the days would end at the seventh month.... When we came up to that point of time, all our sympathy, burden and prayers for sinners ceased, and the unanimous feeling and testimony was, that our work for the world was finished for ever… But the sinner, to whom Jesus had stretched out his arms all the day long, and who had rejected the offers of salvation, was left without an advocate, when Jesus passed from the Holy Place, and shut that door in 1844. "
NOTE: This article establishes that he still believed in the ‘Shut door’. His article was to establish that what they had been preaching for the previous five years was correct. Keep in mind the dates on these articles. They range from the Fall of 1844 up to 1850-51

In Selected Messages, Volume 1, page 63, Ellen explains what the term "shut door" originally meant, and admits that she did believe the doctrine like the rest of her associates. But, she insists that this was BEFORE her first vision, and that her visions corrected the error:

"For a time after the disappointment in 1844, I did hold, in common with the advent body, that the door of mercy was then forever closed to the world. This position was taken before my first vision was given me. It was the light given me of God that corrected our error, and enabled us to see the true position."
NOTE: Ellen also explains the ‘Shut door’ doctrine in ‘Spirit of Prophecy Vol 4. p.268’.

There should be NO MISUNDERSTANDING on what the term “Shut Door” meant for Adventists in the years from 1844-1851, nor should we question the fact that all three of these believed in the doctrine.

During these 7 years this group taught that the only ones who could be converted were those who were under the age of accountability during the seventh month of 1844. Some Adventists point to the fact that James and Ellen ‘labored’ for lost souls during these years as proof that they did not believe the ‘shut door’, but this is false, they merely labored for the young people who were coming to age during this period. All other conversions were said to be false, that they only had the appearance of conversion but the ‘sinful’ heart remained.

Now in the previous quote of Ellen White she tells us that she came to this position before she had a vision, and it was actually her visions that taught the group that they had erred. She and her defenders deny that she ever had a vision that supported the ‘shut door’ doctrine. With just a little investigation we can see that this is false. First the clear history of this era teaches us that it took Ellen White six years to finally wake up. If it is true that she NEVER had a vision that taught the classic "shut door" doctrine, it is strange that she never had a vision that condemned it as error either! She should have been condemning the error all those years, by inspiration, and straightening out her husband, Bates, and the rest. This was not a ‘minor doctrine’ this was a doctrine that condemned the world, and taught the poor sinners that Jesus was no longer willing to save them!  Yet we shall see that her visions did give support to the doctrine of ‘the shut door’.


Her first vision is claimed for December 1844. It was not printed until it appeared in The Day Star, January 24, 1846. It was also printed in the broadside of April 6, 1846, and again in May, 1847 in James White's booklet, A Word to the Little Flock.

In 1851, in Experience and Views, THE MOST POINTED SHUT DOOR STATEMENTS WERE DELETED, and were from that time on in all subsequent printings. In the quotation below, the deleted portion of this section has been emphasized. This is just a small part of the "vision" that deals with the Advent people, and the reestablishing of the positions taken concerning October 22, 1844:

"Others rashly denied the light behind them, and said that it was not God that had led them out so far. The light behind them went out leaving their feet in perfect darkness, and they stumbled and got their eyes off the mark and lost sight of Jesus, and fell off the path down in the dark and wicked world below. IT WAS JUST AS IMPOSSIBLE FOR THEM TO GET ON THE PATH AGAIN AND GO TO THE CITY, AS ALL THE WICKED WORLD WHICH GOD HAD REJECTED."

What does the vision teach? That the faint hearted ‘Adventists’ that had left the light had forever lost their salvation just like the rest of the wicked world! My friend this is the exact doctrine of the ‘shut door’.

What did James White say was the effect of the vision?

"When she received her first vision, Dec. 1844, she and all the band in Portland, Maine, [where her parents then resided] had given up the midnight-cry, and shut door, as being in the past. It was then that the Lord shew her in vision, the error into which she and the band in Portland had fallen. She then related her vision to the band, and about sixty confessed their error, and acknowledged their 7th month experience to be the work of God" A Word to the Little Flock, 1847, p.22.

Note what he says: After the failure of October 22, the group had given up the midnight-cry, and shut door; it was not in the past, but yet future. What turned them around to renew their faith in all of that, including the shut door, was Ellen White's vision! And, the "shut door" they had given up before the vision, and the one they preached following that vision, was that opportunity for salvation for the world was over! When Brother Bates learned of her visions he wondered if she had read the tracts by Joseph Turner (The avid teacher of the ‘shut door’ doctrine). The following is a letter from her to Bates, notice her joy in finding that her first vision was in perfect agreement with Turner's views.

"After I had the vision and God gave me light, he bade me deliver it to the band, but I shrank from it. I was young, and I thought they would not receive it from me. I disobeyed the Lord, and instead of remaining at home, where the meeting was to be that night, I got in a sleigh in the morning and rode three or four miles and there I found Joseph Turner. He merely inquired how I was and if I was in the way of my duty. I said nothing, for I knew I was not.

"Very early next morning Joseph Turner called, said he was in haste going out of the city in a short time, and wanted I should tell him all that God had shown me in vision. It was with fear and trembling I told him all. After I had got through he said he had told out the same last evening. I REJOICED, for I had expected he was coming out against me, for all the while I had not heard any one say what he believed. He said the Lord had sent him to talk the evening before, but as I would not, he meant his children should have the light in some way, so he took him.”

Now notice in the same letter that her second vision was also used to confirm others in the shut door doctrine.

"There were but few out when he talked, so the next meeting I told my vision, and the band, believing my visions from God, received what God bade me deliver to them.

"The view about the Bridegroom's coming I had about the middle of February, 1845, while in Exeter, Maine, in meeting with Israel Dammon, James, and many others. Many of them did not believe in a shut door. I suffered much at the commencement of the meeting. Unbelief seemed to be on every hand.

"There was one sister there that was called very spiritual. She had traveled and been a powerful preacher the most of the time for twenty years. She had been truly a mother in Israel. But a division had risen in the band on the shut door. She had great sympathy, and could not believe the door was shut. I had known nothing of their difference. Sister Durben got up to talk. I felt very, very sad.

"At length my soul seemed to be in agony, and while she was talking I fell from my chair to the floor. It was then I had a view of Jesus rising from His mediatorial throne and going to the holiest as Bridegroom to receive His kingdom. They were all deeply interested in the view. They all said it was entirely new to them. The Lord worked in mighty power, setting the truth home to their hearts.

"Most of them received the vision, and were settled upon the shut door. Previous to this I had no light on the coming of the Bridegroom, but had expected him to this earth to deliver His people on the tenth day of the seventh month. I did not hear a lecture or a word in any relating to the Bridegroom's going to the holiest." (Letter B-3-1847, Letter to Joseph Bates, July 13, 1847)

This letter speaks for its self. Yet another point to make is concerning Israel Dammon, in whose home the second "vision" was received, he became an avid shut-door advocate just like Joseph Turner. Though she does not relate her second vision in the letter to Bates, it appeared in the broadside of April 6, 1846. Note the following portion from it:

"Then Jesus rose up from the throne, and the most of those who were bowed down arose with Him; AND I DID NOT SEE ONE RAY OF LIGHT PASS FROM JESUS TO THE CARELESS MULTITUDE AFTER HE AROSE, AND THEY WERE IN PERFECT DARKNESS." (emphasis added)

As the year of 1851 drew near this was modified some, they eventually taught children who came to age after 1844 could be converted, which can be seen in this article by David Arnold, which was endorsed by Ellen White.

“But, says the objector, does not this leave the present generation, who have passed the line of accountability, since that time without an intercessor or mediator, and leave them destitute of the means of salvation? In reply to this objection, I would remark, that as they were then in a state of INNOCENCY, they were entitled to a record upon the breast-plate of judgment as much as those who had sinned and received pardon: and are therefore subjects of the present intercession of our great high priest”. --‘Present Truth’ December of 1849

In 1849 Ellen White’s visions were still denying any true conversions.

"I saw that the mysterious signs and wonders and false reformations would increase and spread. The reformations that were shown me were not reformations from error to truth, but from bad to worse; for those who professed a change of heart had only wrapped about them a religious garb, which covered up the iniquity of a wicked heart. Some appeared to have been really converted, so as to deceive God's people; but if their hearts could be seen, they would appear as black as ever.
My accompanying angel bade me look for the travail of soul for sinners, as used to be. I looked, but could not see it, for the time for their salvation was past." Present Truth August, 1849, pp. 21, 22

In another vision she said: “I saw the Brother Stowell of Paris was wavering upon the shut door. I felt that I must visit them….We had free, powerful meetings with them. God gave me two visions while there, much to the comfort and strength of the brethren and sisters. BROTHER STOWELL WAS ESTABLISHED IN THE SHUT DOOR AND ALL THE PRESENT TRUTH HE HAD DOUBTED....We came to this place yesterday; found our dear Brother Nichols' family as well as usual, steadfast in the faith, and strong in all the present truth.... My accompanying angel bade me look for the travail of souls for sinners as used to be. I LOOKED BUT COULD NOT SEE IT FOR THE TIME FOR THEIR SALVATION IS PAST. Dear Brother and Sister, I have now written the vision God gave me. I am tired sitting so long. Our position looks very clear. WE KNOW WE HAVE THE TRUTH, THE MIDNIGHT CRY IS BEHIND US, THE DOOR WAS SHUT IN 1844 AND JESUS IS SOON TO STEP OUT FROM BETWEEN GOD AND MAN." Letter 5-1849, White Estate, (March 24-30, 1849), (emphasis added).

Clearly Ellen White’s visions were still confirming the ‘Shut door’ doctrine. Which can also be seen by the comment concerning Brother Nichols, who again was an avid teacher of the ‘shut door’ doctrine.

In July of 1850 some in the Adventist Movement including Ellen White began to believe that Christians who did not have knowledge of the 1844 movement could be converted, and take the place of the Adventists who had fallen. But to be saved they had to be ‘baptized into’ the Shut door doctrine. This is clearly seen in the following article James Bates.

“It is true, some persons that are ignorant of this message may, and undoubtedly will be saved if they die before Jesus leaves the Holiest. I mean those that were believers before 1844.
Sinners and backsliders cannot get their names on the breast-plate of judgment now. God in infinite mercy has borne with our ignorance on this subject until now; and our children have been neglected as they should not have been. Let us then do all that our hands find to do toward their salvation.--Review and Herald, January, 1851, p. 39.

The most damning piece of evidence is the Camden vision dated June 29, 1851.  The White Estates says they doubt the authenticity of the vision because they say Ellen was not in Camden in June 29, 1851. Nevertheless, we have the following proof. In 1866, in the Review, Uriah Smith, editor of the paper, had a series of articles defending the visions of Ellen White. These articles were later printed in booklet form under the same title. On page 20 of the booklet, Smith says:

"Our only proper course here, therefore, is to confine ourselves to what has been published under sister White's own supervision, and by her own authority, and what appears in manuscript over her own signature in her own handwriting."

Further, this article by Smith was highly commended by the leading ministers, including J.N. Andrews. It was also read before the General and Michigan State conferences. With those endorsements in mind, we note in Smith's article of June 19, 1866, page 18, and reprinted on pages 27-28 of his booklet, these statements about the visions. The sentences that are emphasized are directly from the Camden vision:

".' 'HIS SPIRIT AND SYMPATHY ARE NOW WITHDRAWN FROM THE WORLD, AND OUR SYMPATHY SHOULD BE WITH HIM.' 'THE WICKED COULD NOT BE BENEFITTED BY OUR PRAYERS NOW.' 'THE WICKED WORLD WHOM GOD HAD REJECTED.' It seemed the whole world was taken in the snare; that there could not be one left, (referring to Spiritualism). 'The time for their salvation is past.'

There can be no doubt that Smith had a copy of the Camden Vision before him when he wrote the articles, and not only accepted it as authentic, but presumed the readers would too. We also note that the leading Adventists read and approved the articles for publication, and thereby accepted it as authentic. We note that Smith said that only those visions would be defended that were published under Ellen White's direction, or were approved by her, or appeared over her signature in her own handwriting. The Camden Vision would have to be accepted in that number. Any discrepancy in date is of no consequence, for whatever the date, the vision was authentic. It takes the same "shut door" position for Ellen White all the way from October, 1844, to sometime in 1851, and it was the "shut door" position that Smith was defending Ellen White against in the above section of his writing; that included the Camden vision. The following is that vision.

"Then I saw that Jesus prayed for his enemies; but that should not cause US or lead US to pray for THE WICKED WORLD, WHOM GOD HAD REJECTED - when he prayed for his enemies, there was hope for them, and they could be benefited and saved by his prayers, and also after he was a mediator in the outer apartment for the whole world; BUT NOW HIS SPIRIT AND SYMPATHY WERE WITHDRAWN FROM THE WORLD; AND OUR SYMPATHY MUST BE WITH JESUS, AND MUST BE WITHDRAWN FROM THE UNGODLY. I saw that God loved his people - and, in answer to prayers, would send rain upon the just and unjust - I saw that now, in this time, that he watered the earth and caused the sun to shine for the saints and wicked by our prayers, by our Father sending rain upon the unjust, while he sent it upon the just. I SAW THAT THE WICKED COULD NOT BE BENEFITTED BY OUR PRAYERS NOW - AND ALTHOUGH HE SENT IT UPON THE UNJUST, YET THEIR DAY WAS COMING....THEN I SAW CONCERNING LOVING OUR NEIGHBORS. I SAW THAT SCRIPTURE DID NOT MEAN THE WICKED WHOM GOD HAD REJECTED THAT WE MUST LOVE, BUT HE MEANT OUR NEIGHBORS IN THE HOUSEHOLD, AND DID NOT EXTEND BEYOND THE HOUSEHOLD; YET I SAW THAT WE SHOULD NOT DO THE WICKED AROUND US ANY INJUSTICE; - BUT, OUR NEIGHBORS WHOM WE WERE TO LOVE, WERE THOSE WHO LOVED GOD AND WERE SERVING HIM...."

How did Elder Bates view the visions and work of Ellen White? He said this: "I believe the work [of Mrs. White] is of God, and is given to comfort and strengthen his scattered, torn and peeled people, since the closing up of our work for the world in October, 1844."

As the day drew near the 1851 deadline; in Ellen’s mind the time of Christ’s return was so close, that even the ‘angels of Ellen’ expected Jesus to return shortly.

"My accompanying angel said, 'Time is almost finished. Get ready, get ready, get ready.' . . . now time is almost finished. . . and what we have been years learning,
they will have to learn in a few months." (Early Writings, pp. 64-67). June 1850

This in turn caused Mrs. White to announce time is almost finished:
"Some are looking too far off for the coming of the Lord. Time has continued a few years longer than they expected, therefore they think it may continue a few years more. . . I saw that the time for Jesus to be in the Holy Place was nearly finished, and that time can not last but a little longer." ({ExV 46.1} 1851)

Please note dear reader that this is said early in 1851, according to the SDA doctrine Jesus had been in the Most Holy Place for but 6 years. Was his work there nearly finished? Was it even half way over? No, it had but begun! It was not even one thirtieth of the way over. The reason she said this is because she was expounding the false doctrine of Jesus’ return in the fall of 1851!

When Jesus did not appear in 1851 the little band of Adventists began their work of covering the lying visions of Ellen White.

Here is but one example: Elder J.N. Loughborough, in his book, "The Great Second Advent Movement," page 263, edition 1905, desired to give Elder Joseph Bates' testimony concerning Mrs. White's work, as given on page 21 of "A Word to the Little Flock," printed in 1847. The following illustrates the manner in which he uses the material from this early publication. He quotes:

"I believe the work [of Mrs. White] is of God, and is given to comfort and strengthen his scattered, torn and peeled people, since the closing up of our work. . . in October, 1844."

Note those three little dots? They mean that something was left out of the passage quoted. What was it? Just THREE SHORT WORDS: We will insert those words omitted from the lines quoted and indicate them [in uppercase letters]. Here they are:

"since the closing up of our work FOR THE WORLD in October, 1844."

These three words reveal the fact that Bates and Elder White, who published the tract in 1847, believed that their work for the world closed up in October, 1844. The cover up of these truths have been great. Visions have been deleted and edited, and the meaning of some perverted. But the truth is out there for those who wish to seek for it. There are MANY eyewitness accounts by Christian men and women who testify in full agreement that Ellen prophesied that the door of mercy was shut for sinners.

Later in her life Ellen White tried to explain away her statements in the following manner.

“I am still a believer in the shut-door theory, but not in the sense in which we at first employed the term or in which it is employed by my opponents… I was shown in vision, and I still believe, that there was a shut door in 1844. All who saw the light of the first and second angels' messages and rejected that light, were left in darkness.{1SM 63.2-9}

Thus we see after 1851 the ‘shut door’ swung fully open for anyone, except for those who heard the Millerite message that Jesus was coming in 1844 and rejected it. I ask you dear reader, would you have accepted William Miller’s message that Jesus was coming in October of 1844? Even though Jesus said NO Man knows the hour, and that he was coming in a day when no one expected? I hope dear reader you would not have fallen for this delusion. Also I ask, Would God condemn forever those who rejected the lie that Christ was returning in 1844? Quite to the contrary, God says those who “Believe a lie… shall be damned”.


We have the written proof that up to 1850 the Advent band was teaching the door of mercy was shut for sinners.  The record of what Ellen taught and prophesied is open before us, no amount of slanting the history of this era can hide the truth of what was actually taught during these years. The White Estate’s article on this subject tries to make the reader imagine that the Adventists were working for the souls of the sinners, yet in truth they were only laboring for the children and the Christian who had not heard of the ‘1844 Midnight Cry’. How can anyone believe with an honest heart, that God attended such a deceived and deluded message? Not once rebuking their fanaticism, but rather strengthening it through vision? My friend, an honest man cannot believe this. 

I recommend to the reader the books “Extensive Overview of the Shut Door” By Maurice Barnett and the “Life of Ellen White” by D.M. Canright. Both of which furnished the historical setting of this study.

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