General Conference President Announces Plans to Distribute the ‘Great Controversy
by Atoday News Team
General Conference President Announces Plans to Distribute 162 Million Copies of Great Controversy
A goal that Ted N. C. Wilson, the world president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, has repeatedly promoted is the wide distribution of Ellen White’s book, The Great Controversy. It is a review of Christian history and extends into a description of the return of Christ and end time events.
Wilson has announced that plans are in place to circulate at least 162 million copies of the book next year. A total of 70 million of these will be in Latin America where the majority of the population is at least nominally Catholic. The book includes a critique of the Roman Catholic Church.
Most of the copies that will be distributed under this plan are actually condensed versions of the nearly 700-page volume. For example, Project Steps to Christ, an ASI-member organization, publishes an abridgement which they will distribute through direct mail at 65 cents per household. Any organization or individual can pay for delivery in communities they select.
This version is 112 pages in a small paperback format and carries a new title, On The Edge of Time. The main thing the abridgers did to shorten this beloved, but hefty, book was simply to leave out the first two-thirds, which deals with the history of the early reformers, the Protestant Reformation, and the early Adventist movement in Europe and America, the story of William Miller and others. Chapter 29 in the original volume, “The Origin of Evil,” is chapter 1 in this version.
These 13 chapters included in the abridged version are condensed. Some of the material that has been removed includes quotations from early Catholic journals saying that Protestants ought to keep the Sabbath if they are really against Catholicism, much of the discussion of detailed prophecy charts, most of the description of the papacy and its policies, material on the sanctuary and its relevance to our time, as well as considerable repetition and some illustrative stories, both biblical and non-biblical.
The main principles of “the conflict of the ages” are still there. The material that is retained is not changed, but is word-for-word the originally-published Ellen White material.
The other major change is some reordering of the chapters. After shortened versions of the original chapters 29, 31, 33, and 34, this version jumps back in the time line and inserts some of chapters 17, 25, and 27, including Jesus’ promise to return and the signs of His second coming. It leaves out the Lisbon earthquake as fulfillment of prophecy. There is a presentation of the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14, the Sabbath, some review of prophecy time lines, a discussion of 1798, and the “lamb-like beast” of Revelation 13.
This version then goes back to Chapter 36 from the original and follows the full version, abridging it some, but retaining the main message. It greatly reduces the description of the time of trouble, people worrying about “one sin not repented,” the appearance of the ark in heaven just before Jesus comes, the detailed reunion of Adam with Christ, and other more features from the original that have raised arguments. The famous and lyrical ending is intact.
It introduces people to the traditional Seventh-day Adventist understanding of the great battle between good and evil, and how it will end. Yet, it is not precise about every small detail in the traditional telling of this narrative. The emphasis is on how the reader can align with God’s side in their daily lives and look forward to Christ’s promised return.