White’s daytime visions tapered off in the 1870s. After 1879, all her visions came in dreams. White remained a somewhat controversial figure throughout her life and remains so today. Her visions and actions continued to be attacked for inconsistencies and plagiarism in her visions, especially by Adventist doctors and ministers. However, White’s position as prophet was entrenched and continued to be endorsed by the church even as the controversy over her work led to a schism, and at the time of her death, on July 16, 1915, there were over 136,000 Adventist followers.[1]

White never lost her belief in the imminent return of Christ.  She spent her final years completing a set of volumes entitled Conflict of the Ages, describing the biblical history of the world, including the second coming of Christ and the millennium.  To this day, Seventh-day Adventists talk of the imminent Advent.[2]

Despite being restricted to the “domestic sphere,” women found outlets for their talents that did not require them to overstep the boundaries of acceptable female behavior. For White, these outlets were her millennial prophecy and health reform work.[3] Despite a cultural and historical environment in which most women were unable to attain positions of power and authority, White was able to embrace and challenge norms and trends of the Methodist church, millennialism, and the Millerite movement in order to establish herself as a prophetic leader and found the Seventh-day Adventist Church with its particular brand of benevolent millennialism. Her empowerment began with her individual spiritual journey, as she chose to convert to the Methodist church but gave ultimate fidelity to the Millerite movement. Though it was not a straight or easy path, White continued to successfully become prophetess, health reformer and Adventist leader. In discussing her role as both millennialist and health reformer, Ronald Numbers suggested, “in a fundamental way [White’s] life had been a paradox. Although consumed with making preparations for the next world, she nevertheless devoted much of her energy toward improving life and health in this one.”[4] Her benevolent millennialism resolved this theological paradox by integrating these two themes–the legacy of which remains in the hundreds of medical institutions operated by the church worldwide, and by the millennial fervor that endures.

[1] Numbers, “Fighting the Good Fight.” As part of this complex controversy, Kellogg was excommunicated from the Church in 1907.

[2] Laura L. Vance, Seventh-day Adventism in Crisis: Gender and Sectarian Change in an Emerging Religion (Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1999), 47-9.

[3] Brekus, 151.

[4] Numbers, “Fighting the Good Fight.”