Signed and attested by him, Hagerstown,
Maryland, June 4, 1950
Interviewed by Robert J. Wieland
The Minneapolis Conference, 1888: Elder
J.H. Morrison was put up to answer E.J. Waggoner, to defend the
"old" view of the Law in Galatians. I was present at the
Conference. E.J. Waggoner and A.T. Jones were about 35 then (actually,
Jones was 38). Morrison defended the law as ceremonial, and Uriah Smith
defended the Huns as one of the ten horns. When A.T. Jones made his bold
remark asking the delegates not to blame him for what Uriah Smith said
he did not know, Ellen G. White rebuked him saying, "Not so sharp,
Brother Jones, not so sharp!"
A.T. Jones had a wonderful Christian
experience. I went to the Conference prejudiced in favor of the Old view
of the "Law" in favor of Morrison and Elder G.I. Butler. I
felt that Jones and Waggoner were undermining the faith. But I was
perplexed to hear Jones praying, and said to myself, "That man
prays as though he knows the Lord!" I couldn’t understand how
such a bad man as Jones must be in opposing Uriah Smith so sharply,
could pray like that. Jones was very keen, and logical. But Uriah Smith
was sort of an idol to me.
(James White was the head of his
household, let his wife know he was. Ellen G. white was a great walker.
She was walking down the street near the office in Battle Creek, when
James called, "Ellen!" and she returned obediently. Often she
would rebuke her husband, saying, "Too sharp!" and he would
always take it.)
J.H. Morrison was father to Elder H.A.
Morrison of Takoma Park [in 1950, H.A. Morrison was prominent there].
"Why, that man who talks to Uriah Smith as he does, certainly talks
like he knows the Lord!" I thought.
When my wife saw Ellen G. White she
said, "Isn’t she homely!" Sister White would stand by A.T.
Jones and E.J. Waggoner and would say, "Brethren, there’s great
light here." She would hear Waggoner all the way through, but would
get up and go out before Morrison would finish his rebuttal. So I asked
Morrison, "I know those two men are wrong." "Of course
they are," he said. "They were all in California together,
including Sister White, and came on the train together, so they
influenced Sister White to go with them."
"Well," I thought, "she’s
no prophet if she will be persuaded by men to follow them. We don’t
really have a prophet!"
At that meeting, I received a call to
go to West Virginia. I went with J. H. Morrison [president of the Iowa
Conference at the time] to see Sister White about my going to West
Virginia. She would give no counsel, said, "Brethren, my counsel
has no weight in Iowa!"
Morrison, in his belittling the Spirit
of Prophecy, would reason that not all that Ellen G. White said was
inspired. When she said, "I saw," all right; but otherwise,
she is not inspired any more than other people’s utterances. "Is
‘pass the potatoes’ inspired, simply because she would say so?"
he would ask.
So I decided to go to her alone. She
was always talking about faith. "What is faith?" I asked her.
"Why," she replied, "don’t you believe what your father
and mother tell you?" "Yes. I do." "Well, believe
God in just that way!" I marveled at such a simple answer.
I was on the wrong side at Minneapolis.
But I couldn’t understand how A.T. Jones could pray as he did, if
Jones were so wrong.
Afterwards, in a discussion with a
Campbellite preacher in my work, I won out. But soon afterwards, the old
doubts of Minneapolis came back. "We don’t have a prophet! She
can’t be one, and those two men influence her like that," I
reasoned to myself. Then I went West to College Springs, to have a
series of meetings. The National Reformers came to fight against us, at
the time of my meetings there. The National Reform agitator said there
were four seeps to be taken in making this nation "Christian":
1st, agitation; 2nd, petition; 3rd, ballot; 4th, sword and bullet if
necessary. I answered him sharply and strongly, but lost my crowd. I
only baptized four or five from that meeting. The old doubts returned
I knelt outside one starlight night,
praying desperately. I reasoned out that if this people keep the
commandments of God, they must also have the Spirit of Prophecy. But
they couldn’t have it if the prophet were swayed by two young men, to
go their way. And if we don’t have a prophet, how can we believe the
Bible is truly inspired either? "If there be a God, let me
believe!" I prayed. It seemed like a voice reasoned with me,
"Well, look at the stars." But the devil replied, "How do
you know they are stars? How do you know they are not just a
J.H. Morrison had said he would go home
before the session  was ended. He said: "They are going to
try to force me to acknowledge that I am wrong. So I am leaving."
So I went to my father, a worker, a "stubborn debater," a
wrestler. I told him of Morrison’s going home. My father said,
"If he is right, why is he going home? He ought to stay and defend
Ellen G. White tried desperately to
bring a revival before the close. S.N. Haskell … stood loyally with
Jones and Waggoner, but three-fourths of the workers stood against the
Later, Sister White accompanied Jones
and Waggoner in revival meetings. They went to Ottawa, Kansas. I was
among the delegates who went to that Institute. I went on the train,
with my wife.
A. T. Tones had been to Washington for
a hearing on the Blair Sunday bill. Jones was too much for Senator
Blair. He was a great historian, also a great man for faith. When I got
on the train, lo, there was A.T. Jones! It was the Spring of 1889. I was
only 26. I had been interested in being a lawyer, and in politics. Jones’
victory at Washington had impressed me in spite of the fact I had doubts
about his being "straight." ‘There is something to that
man," I reasoned, "in spite of the fact that he is wrong along
I introduced myself to Jones somewhat
fearfully, but found him very friendly and kind. I learned to like him,
went with him to meeting, spent a week-end with him, walked up and down
the river with him, talking a great deal. Jones preached that Sabbath,
"Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness." He
preached the truth clearly, showed how Christ had sinful flesh as we
have, tempted in all points just as we are, yet without sin. Thus He was
our righteousness, He could live in our flesh. Previous to the
Minneapolis meeting, I had read D’Aubigne’s History of the
Reformation. and had rejoiced in an understanding and acceptance of
"justification by faith" from reading that work. This
preaching of Jones recalled that experience, and the warmth and joy of
it returned. I then recognized that what Jones was preaching was truth.
All the previous horror of a great darkness was now gone.
Then Ellen G. White came. She was
"great" on early morning meetings. "We don’t want any
of that Minneapolis spirit down here!" she said. "If J.H.
Morrison and Henry Nicola don’t repent and become converted, they’ll
never be saved, she added. I was shocked to hear her talk so bluntly of
their Iowa leaders. "She’s wrong!" I was upset again, and
the old doubts returned, the old Minneapolis spirit returned to me. I
determined to have a visit with Sister White, to settle matters. So I
wrote her a note, asked if she would see me. She replied in the kindest
manner, with a note inviting me. [He said he did not think he still had
So I went to have a visit with her in
her tent at the Ottawa meeting. I told her I had always thought and
believed that she was a prophet. But I was disturbed by the Minneapolis
episode. I had thought Uriah Smith and J.H. Morrison were right.
"Do you know why J.H. Morrison left the Conference early?" she
asked me. I replied, "Yes." Then she told me just what
Morrison had said to me—and the revelation of her apparently
superhuman knowledge of that private, confidential conversation
frightened me. I realized that here was one who knew secrets.
Sister White told me of her Guide in
Europe, who had stretched His hands out, and said, "There are
mistakes being made on both sides in this controversy." Then she
added that the "Law in Galatians" is not the real issue of the
Conference. The real issue is Righteousness by faith! (That apparently
to Washburn was a deeper insight than he had yet realized as to the
fundamental issue at Minneapolis.) "E.J. Waggoner can teach
righteousness by faith more clearly than I can," said Sister White.
"Why, Sister White," I said, "do you mean to say that E.
J. Waggoner can teach it better than you can, with all your
experience?" Sister White replied, "Yes, the Lord has given
him special light on that question. I have been wanting to bring it out
more clearly, but I could not have brought it out as clearly as he did.
But when he brought it out at Minneapolis, I recognized it."
Report of Interview, J.S. Washburn.
"When Brother Waggoner
brought out these ideas in the Minneapolis Conference, it was the first
clear teaching of the subject from any human lips I had heard, excepting
the communication between myself and my husband. I have said to myself, it
is because God has presented it to me in vision that I see it so clearly,
and they (the brethren at Battle Creek) cannot see it because they have
not had it presented to them as I have, and when another presented it,
every fiber of my heart said Amen."—MS 5, 1889