To most Millerites, Ellen’s visions were simply another manifestation of the unfortunate religious drift of the times toward “fanaticism.” Early 19th-century America abounded with”prophets” of every description, from little-known frontier seers in Ellen Harmon’s own Methodist Church to prominent sectarian leaders. Mother Ann Lee of the Shakers had long since passed away, but her devoted followers perpetuated her reputation as the female Messiah. In the 1830s an epidemic of visions spread through the Shaker communes as young girls “began to sing, talk about angels, and describe the journey they were making, under spiritual guidance, to heavenly places.” Frequently those afflicted “would be struck to the floor where they lay as dead, or struggling in distress, until someone near lifted them up, when they would begin to speak with great clearness and composure.” Jemma Wilkinson, the Publick Universal Friend who founded the religious community of Jerusalem in Western New York, was known for her visions and religious dreams. Joseph Smith, the Mormon profit from Palmyra, New York, begin having visions at age 14 and he continued to receive divine revelations until his death in 1844. During the second quarter of the century the Mormons were highly visible in Missouri and Illinois, and Ellen White went west in the 1850s, she was often mistaken for a Mormon.
—Ronald L. Numbers, Prophetess of Health: A Study of Ellen G. White (New York: Harper & Row, 1976), 16.
I grew up in western New York State. Even to this day, the region is still referred to as the burned-out district, and not only due to Finney’s revivalism. There is barely an evangelical presence, and next to zero reformed or other confessional churches.
Along with certain areas of Appalachia and New England, western New York is among the least “churched” population area in the U.S. The church of my childhood and youth, at the time fundamentalist and evangelistic, has lost its gospel roots, and is currently hawking a moralistic Jesus.
Rev. Ron Beabout, Evangelist
Trinity Reformed Church (OPC)
Sorry to hear your report, Ron.
To Ronald Numbers: Joseph Smith was the Mormon “prophet” (in quotes, since I see him as no such thing)–although perhaps he made some “profit” on the folks who fell for his message.
Peter, Joseph Smith is still very profitable to Mormon finances.
Gary North keeps wondering where the line is between “influencing” the majority culture and not being relevant. http://www.garynorth.com/public/14582.cfm
…as young girls “began to sing, talk about angels, and describe the journey they were making, under spiritual guidance, to heavenly places.” Frequently those afflicted “would be struck to the floor where they lay as dead, or struggling in distress, And J. Smith’s (supposed) visions.
I have a serious question. Would these happenings be considered demonic?