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A church whose members have less cancer.

Probably no religious movement, ancient or modern, has put greater emphasis on diet and nutrition than the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

It has done so almost from the beginning. Long before nutrition achieved the status of a full-fledged science, an extraordinary woman named Ellen G. White was instructing Seventh-day Adventists in the basic concepts of healtful living.

It wasn't merely that she denounced the use of alcohol and addictive drugs. Or that she wrote, more than 70 years ago, that tobacco is a "slow, insidious, but most malignant poison." Many other people suspected as much. More remarkable were her insistence on a well-balanced diet, before the phrase was even invented; here emphasis on natural foods in season whenever possible, long before anyone was aware of the destructive effects of preservation; her denunciation of meat, especially animal fat, a century before "cholesterol" and "polyunsaturated" found their way into dictionaries; and her rejection of refined foods, particularly flour and sugar, before scientists even suspected there were such things as "vitamins" that could be destroyed in the refining process.

She was, in short, what people would call a natural-food enthusiast. And the good effects of her tireless evangelism have spread throughout the world.

In a sense, Ellen G. White was not the founder of the Seventh-day Adeventist Church. But in another sense she most assuredly was.

In the early part of the 19th century many parts of the Christian world, and especially America, underwent a rather sudden awareness of the ancient prophecies about the Second Coming of Christ.

These believers in the imminent Second Advent of Christ were called Adventists. One of them, William Miller, concluded after a careful study of biblical prophecy that Christ would return to earth on October 22, 1844. Despite the disappointment when the appointed day came and went, many of the "Millerites" remained faitful and continued to meet in small groups to study the Bible and to pray.

Among them was Ellen G. harmon, born in Gorham, Maine, 17 years earlier. In December of 1844, during a small gathering of Adventists in the home of a member in South Portland, Maine, Ellen Harmon had her first vision. It convinced her and others present that the work was true and must be carried on. the vision was the first of the innumerable prophetic visions through which Ellen Harmon--who became Mrs. James White--guided the organization and growth of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

While Ellen Harmon was in the third grade, someone threw a rock and gashed her head. She almost bled to death, and for days her family feared for her survival. She never went back to public schools, and her health was precarious during much of her life. But by the time she died, in 1915 at the age of 88 in St. Helena, California, she had written 53 full-length books on every subject that could conceivably concern the church, more than 5,000 articles and reams of letters of encouragement and instruction to individuals.

In the archives at church headquarters in Washington, D.C., are 100,000 handwritten pages of her counsels, her visions and her prophecies--roughly 25 million words.

And her books have sold in the tens of millions, making her one of the best-selling and most prolific authors of all time. Just one book, Steps to Christ, has sold more than 10 million copies and has been translated into 80 languages.

She inspired and directed the beginning of a vast network of missions, schools and colleges, hospitals, clinics and dispensaries in all parts of medicine at Loma Linda University, 60 miles east of Los Angeles. And she ceaselessly exhorted the church to emphasize health and diet reform.

In 1863, Ellen White saw the vision that still forms the core of Adventist diet and health. The event is often referred to as the "Otsego, Michigan.

Mrs. White disclosed details of the vision over a period of years, while emphasizing that health reform had to be a gradual thing. Often when presenting a principle of diet and health, she would preface or intersperse her instructions with "I have been shown . . ."

And many of her pronouncements have an almost eerily contemporary ring to them:

It is wrong to eat merely to gratify the appetite, but no indifference should be manifested regarding the quality of the food, or the manner of its preparation. If the food eaten is not relished, the body wll not be so well nourished. The food should be carefully chosen and prepared with intelligence and skill.

Here is a suggestion for all whose work is sedentary or chiefly mental; let those who have sufficient moral courage and self-control try it: At each meal take only two or three kinds of simple food, and eat no more than is required to satisfy hunger. Take active exercise every day, and see if you do not receive benefit.

For use in bread making, the superfine flour is not the best. Its use is neither healtful nor economical. Fine-flour bread is lacking nutritive elements to be found in bread made from the whole wheat. It is a frequent cause of constipation and other unhealthful conditions.

Those who eat flesh are but eating grains and vegetables at second hand; for the animal receives from these things the nutrition that produces growth. The life that was in the grains and vegetables passes into the eater. We receive it by eating the flesh of the animal. How much better to get it direct, by eating the food that God provided for our use!

In the same year of 1863 the headquarters of the church were established in Battle Creek, Michigan. The first Adventist medical insitution was established there. At first it was called the Western Health Reform Institute, and then simply the Battle Creek Sanitarium.

Basically, the Adventists follow the instructions in Leviticus concerning clean and unclean food. Pork is forbidden, as are shellfish and the flesh of predators. Adventists also abstain from alcohol, tobacco and harmful drugs, including the drugs in coffee and tea. and many of the members do not eat meat. Most of those who eat meat, eat it only sparingly.

Mrs. White's position was that God established man's diet when He put him in the Garden of Eden. There was not death there, no killing and therefore no meat. There were just wholesome fruits and vegetables, nuts and berries and grains. After her vision in 1863 she became deeply suspicious of rich, spicy foods, heavy desserts and the overuse of butter and cheese.

She also became suspicious of the widespread and careless use of poisonous drugs by many doctors of the day, and at the Battle Creek Sanitarium the "true remedies" were pure air, sunlight, abstemiousness, rest, exercise, proper diet, pure water and faith in the healing power of God. By 1903, when church headquarters moved to Washington, D.C., the sanitarium was the largest and best-equipped health institution in the world.

Its medical superintendent was Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. He and his brother, W. K. Kellogg, gave the world cornflakes--the latter man starting the breakfast-cereal industry.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church has long been in the health-food industry. Today this industry includes 15 companies operating under the auspices of the church, including the biggest, Loma Linda Foods, Arlington, California.

So insistent was Ellen G. White on the subject of health reform that instruction on diet and the preparation of health foods became common features of Adventis missionary work. Special health-food features began to appear within the evangelistic program for the edification of the prospective convert. Whenever the missionaries went there was emphasis on health and healing, so that today the Adventist chruch operates 345 hospitals, sanitariums, clinics and dispensaries in various parts of the world, and many local churches hold nutrition classes open to the public.

In 1905, when she was 78, Mrs. White chose the site of Loma Linda University. this university, which for years was called the College of Medical Evangelists, includes one of the world's leading medical schools. It also features schools of dentistry, nursing, health and allied health professions.

the university is the heart of the city of Loma Linda, a pleasant community of about 10,000 people between San Bernardino and Redlands. It is approximately 65 percent Seventh-day Adventist.

an interesting adjunct owned and operated by the university is the supermarket. It's just a large market with a parking lot amid the cluster of university and "downtown" buildings--a pleasant, busy place, except that it has between 5,000 and 6,000 different items on its shelves, and not one of them contains meat, with the sole exception of canned pet food. There is no liquor or beer, no tobacco. There are no products made with animal shortening and refined sugar, such as cookies and cakes. All such products are made with liquid vegetable shortening, mostly corn oil. There is no bread made with bleached flour.

But what the market does have is equally interesting--a seemingly endless variety of fruits and vegetables and nuts, huge bags of all kinds of whole grains, dried fruits and beans and legumes. There are shelves and shelves of meat-substitute canned goods with unfamiliar labels, produced at Adventist plants such as the one at Arlington and at other non-Adventist firms now producing such products.

an unsual kind of market, perhaps, but it grosses more than $3 million a year, and its customers come from all over Southern California, and as far away as Arizona, to "stock up."

Other such customers patronize similar markets in other Adventist centers throughout the world.

and it seems they are healthier for doing so.
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Title Annotation:Seventh Day Adventist
Author:Cook, John
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:Mar 1, 1984
Words:1598
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