4 March 2021  |

Dear editor:

The AT interview of Steve Daily about Daily’s book on Ellen White came across to me as more sycophantic than journalistic. It was like watching FOX News interview Donald Trump. No follow-up questions. No cross-examination. No pressing him on bias or misinterpretation.

Over the years, I have admired much of the Seventh-day Adventist history Steve Daily has written. At La Sierra University he did an excellent M.A. thesis under my tutelage, and has remained a friend ever since.

I do have my criticisms of this psychobiography, though. In his new book, he seems determined to expose Ellen White as a fraud and, in my view, ultimately fails at this. He’s right that she’s a flawed person, but I think “fraud” is a bridge too far.

Since the 1970s and early 80s, White’s warts-and-all humanity has been in full view of most Adventist historians and much of the public. The early Steve Daily, steeped in this revisionist history of forty-plus years ago, was well aware of White’s weaknesses as a person and as a prophet but still believed in her as a supernaturally gifted charismatic authority. What’s new in this psychobiography by the later Steve Daily is not so much the facts of White’s life, as Daily’s perspective on them. I would have preferred it if the interviewers had pressed him on what has changed his opinion of her. Is this less to do with White than Daily?

The FOX News approach let us down on that sort of question. We needed a little CNN or MSNBC. If Ellen White can take the heat as a prophet, Steve Daily can take it as a historian.

Jonathan Butler
Riverside, California

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