Frequently Asked Questions
About the Project
Where do I buy the sharing versions of the Great Controversy?
Each world church administrative region, or division, is responsible for setting the distribution method between the publishing houses and church members who order the books. Please contact your division for region-specific information.
Ellen White wrote many books, why did you send this book?
This is the book for which Ellen White urged the greatest circulation.
“The Great Controversy should be very widely circulated. It contains the story of the past, the present, and future… I am more anxious to see a wide circulation for this book than for any others I have written; for in The Great Controversy, the last message of warning to the world is given more distinctly than in any of my other books.” – Letter 281, 1905.
How can I get the unabridged version?
The full text of this book is available for download at no cost on this website.
Why did you change the title from The Great Controversy to The Great Hope?
Our reason for the change is simple; we wish to make the book as appealing as possible to today’s audience and have found no evidence that such a change is contrary to the inspiration of the book.
The understanding of the Ellen G. White Estate is that while the content itself is understood to have been inspired, there is no indication that the title of the book is the product of any direct inspiration. In fact, its title was changed with each of the four versions published in Ellen White’s lifetime. In 1858 it was “Spiritual Gifts. The Great Controversy, Between Christ and His Angels, and Satan and His Angels.” The 1884 edition was titled, “The Spirit of Prophecy. The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan, From the Destruction of Jerusalem to the End of the Controversy.” The 1888 edition was called, “The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan During the Christian Dispensation.” The 1911 edition reads, “The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan. The Conflict of the Ages in the Christian Dispensation.”
Given the variability which Ellen White accepted we do not believe that changing the title is contrary to her inspiration. The title recommended by the General Conference is “The Great Hope. A revealing look at the battle between good and evil—and who wins.” We believe this title maintains the spirit of the various early titles while emphasizing the comfort to be found in knowing not only how the battle has waged but how it ends.
Why are there multiple covers?
We want to appeal to varied audiences. The General Conference has prepared two recommended book covers for this project, one prepared for religious audiences and one for secular audiences. The religious cover features a portrayal of the second coming. The secular cover has only the title with a background image of clouds. Ultimately, each Church Division is choosing for itself what title and artwork they will use to distribute this book in their territory during the Great Controversy Project. They may avail themselves of one of the recommended options or create their own. Their choices will take into account the various cultural and political considerations in their area in order to present the book in an appealing and inoffensive manner.
Where did you get the addresses?
In cases where this book is distributed through the mail, we have used publicly available resources to obtain as many addresses as possible. We are distributing this book as widely as possible because we believe it contains a message that will prove universally valuable.
How should I explain this project to my neighbor?
We believe this book has a unique perspective on history—past, present, and future—that offers timely answers about the world’s problems. We think this information is too valuable to keep to ourselves. It was written in an era of different cultural sensitivities, so there are places where it is not worded as it might have been had it been written today, but if you can look past that we believe you will find that the message is as relevant now as when it was first published in 1858.
How can I have input on this project’s implementation in my area?
Local Church administrators (from conferences/missions, union conferences/missions, or unions of churches) are making the specific strategies for implementing this project in their local areas. To get involved in the planning or distribution phases of this project, individual members and congregations are encouraged to communicate directly with these administrators. The contact information for these entities can be found at www.adventistdirectory.org.
About the Book
What are the major themes of The Great Hope (also published as The Great Controversy)?
As explained by the author, Ellen White, the book was written:
“To unfold the scenes of the great controversy between truth and error; to reveal the wiles of Satan, and the means by which he may be successfully resisted; to present a satisfactory solution of the great problem of evil, shedding such a light upon the origin and the final disposition of sin as to make fully manifest the justice and benevolence of God in all His dealings with His creatures; and to show the holy, unchanging nature of His law” (p. xii).
We understand that a universal conflict is raging between God (the entirely good all-powerful Being who created all life in perfection and complete happiness) and Satan (a created being who wished to usurp God’s power, sought to effect this by accusing God of unjust government, and in so doing originated all known evil). God’s power is not in jeopardy in this conflict. Rather, the conflict is over Satan’s false claims about the character of God. To allow all created beings in the universe to fully see and understand the government of Satan God allows him continued life and influence over our planet—an arrangement He will eventually bring to an end.
The Great Hope is the last in a series of five books which make a detailed examination of the issues and workings of this conflict from the creation of this world to the future event of the end of Satan and all evil. It picks up the story after the fall of Jerusalem to Roman armies in 70 A.D. and highlights significant events from Christian history that illustrate what lies ahead according to Bible prophecy. (The other four books in this series are Patriarchs and Prophets, Prophets and Kings, The Desire of Ages, and Acts of the Apostles.)
Who is the antichrist?
Seventh-day Adventists regard Satan, the author of rebellion in heaven, as the antichrist par excellence, and identify him as the “mystery of iniquity” (2 Thessalonians 2:7) who throughout history has sought to use an assortment of tools to undermine the authority of Christ.
By claiming to be God and deceiving people by his miracles, by utilizing religious systems and leaders who undermine God's law, substituting it with human invention or tradition or by leading people to deny that Jesus is the Christ, Seventh-day Adventists ultimately believe that Satan is the power behind such individuals or systems in the past, present and future.
Adventist theology has called “spiritualism” the “manifestation of antichrist" as well as having applied the word "antichrist" to the system of the papacy. However, the Seventh-day Adventist Church does not attribute the term "antichrist" to any specific person.
How can a book written so long ago have relevance for today?
The reader will discover how an understanding of the great conflict between good and evil provides answers to questions that still puzzle us today, such as why there is so much suffering in the world, whether there is an afterlife, or if angels really exist. It presents Bible evidence that God is in control of the future, and how each person’s destiny can be made certain in uncertain times.
Why are there so many versions of The Great Hope book?
For more than a century, readers have recognized the valuable principles outlined in this volume. Publishing companies and individuals from around the globe have printed editions in more than 70 languages under various titles—sometimes abridging or adapting the full book so as to meet the needs of various cultures and economies. It is important to recognize that because the book is in the public domain, there are also individuals who have produced versions containing their own illustrations or commentary, some of which may not correctly represent the original author’s viewpoint.
Why are there so many different historical editions?
Ellen White published her initial 219-page edition in 1858, which she expanded in 1884 to 492 pages. After traveling to many of the countries of the Protestant Reformation in the mid-1880s, she wished to include further lessons from that historical period as well as from events in her own day, and a volume of more than 650 pages was issued in 1888. A few years before her death in 1915, she made further updates, which are represented in the current edition known as The Great Hope.
I’ve heard that Ellen White used other literary sources—sometimes without credit—in her book The Great Controversy [or The Great Hope.] Is that true?
Yes. Regarding The Great Controversy [The Great Hope], Ellen White plainly stated in the book’s Introduction that she had made use of other published works:
“In some cases where a historian has so grouped together events as to afford, in brief, a comprehensive view of the subject, or has summarized details in a convenient manner, his words have been quoted; but in some instances no specific credit has been given, since the quotations are not given for the purpose of citing that writer as authority, but because his statement affords a ready and forcible presentation of the subject. In narrating the experience and views of those carrying forward the work of reform in our own time, similar use has been made of their published works” (The Great Controversy, p. xii).
It is important to remember that Ellen White wrote during a time when less stringent literary standards were both common and acceptable. The fact that she urged her readers to get copies of some of the very books she made use of demonstrates that she was not attempting to conceal the fact of her use of such sources, or that she had any intention to defraud other authors.
About the Message of the Book
Is this book meant as an attack on other faiths?
No. Seventh-day Adventists deeply respect members of other faiths and the right of every person to worship God according to the dictates of their conscience. We also believe that truth matters, that the Bible is God’s revelation of truth, and that we must continually engage in self-examination of our beliefs and actions in light of this standard. This book explores the history of the Christian faith with an emphasis on examining where it has strayed from the principles of Christ and calls on Christians today to follow the Bible’s teachings wholeheartedly.
What relevance does an examination of Christian religious history have for us today?
The lessons we learn from past history—such as the Inquisition, the Crusades, even the treatment of Roger Williams by the Puritans—are important because Bible prophecy predicts that religious intolerance will be revived on an even wider scale than before shortly before Jesus’ return.
Do Adventists believe in the secret rapture?
The term “secret rapture” is not found in the Bible, but is used by many to refer to a scenario where the righteous suddenly disappear from the planet, after which the wicked endure a seven-year tribulation period. We do not find this interpretation of the Second Coming to be biblical. Adventists, like most Christians, believe in a literal return of Christ, but one which will be visible to all and mark the end of this world’s history as we know it. This belief is based on Bible passages such as 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 2 Peter 3:10-13, and Revelation 22:11,12, among others. When Jesus returns in this literal, visible, and spectacular coming, the judgment is complete and all decisions will have been made for eternity.
Do Adventists believe in cooperating with civil governments?
Yes. Seventh-day Adventists have long been full and active participants in civil society, and believe in joining hands with others to make the world a better place for everybody. In accordance with Romans 13:1-7, we believe that we are subject to the rule of law. All around the world, Adventist Christians love and support their nations. We actively contribute through humanitarian measures, quality education, and health care. Like other Christians, we also believe that when a law directly requires us to be disobedient to God, we face an important choice: will we obey humans or God? A good case study for Christian response in this situation is found in Acts 5:28,29, where the disciples were ordered to quit preaching the gospel. If such legislation against our biblical convictions should occur, we would, like Peter, choose to “obey God rather than men.”
How is it possible that religious liberty could erode in the U.S.?
Thousands of years of human history have shown us that liberty can be quickly eroded when circumstances change. American history itself has some notable examples: slavery, Sunday “blue laws,” and 7th-day Sabbath-keeping Christians being arrested for working on Sunday. Bible prophecy teaches us that before Jesus returns, people will be required to worship an anti-Christ power or face economic sanctions and/or death. (Revelation 13) Given the trustworthiness of Bible prophecy we believe that this, too, will come to pass. In the mean time, we work actively to promote religious freedom for all, believing that while salvation comes through Jesus Christ, God does not force people into His kingdom. We actively champion and defend religious freedom for people of all faiths.
What is so important about the seven-day Sabbath?
The Sabbath was initiated by God as a memorial of Creation week. “And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made” (Genesis 2:3). God reminded His people at Mt. Sinai, as part of the Ten Commandments, not to forget the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath (the day we commonly call Saturday). God emphasized the importance of His law by audibly speaking it with His own voice and writing it with His own finger (Deut. 9:10). The fourth commandment is the only commandment that begins with the word “Remember,” showing that this celebration was already known and should be continued. Additionally, God is love, and the greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all our hearts. Every love relationship grows through spending time with someone. The 7-day Sabbath is the only day God has specially blessed each week in order for us to spend quality time with Him, growing in this most crucial love relationship. He says that the Sabbath is a sign of our salvation and re-creation. “I gave them my Sabbaths as a sign between us, so they would know that I the Lord made them holy” (Ezekiel 20:12).
Why did Christians start worshipping on Sunday?
The change from Sabbath to Sunday was a gradual one. For the first two hundred years of Christian history believers in Jesus worshiped consistently on the same day as the Jews (Acts 13:42-44). Meanwhile, sun worship was the official religion of the Roman Empire. It also had an official worship day on the first day of the week, called “The Venerable Day of the Sun.” This is where we get the name for Sunday. Around the early fourth century following Constantine’s conversion, thousands of Romans began flooding into the Christian church, bringing an affection for Sunday worship with them. During this same period Judaism became very unpopular in the Roman Empire. So in an effort to distance themselves from the Jewish faith and make Christianity more popular among the pagans, Christian leaders accepted the additional observance of Sunday, which gradually began to eclipse the Bible Sabbath as the popular day of worship.
The first chapter of The Great Controversy (The Great Hope) uses strong language when describing the Jewish leadership at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. How do Adventists relate to Jewish people today?
It is important to note that Jesus’ condemnation of Israel in Matthew 23:36-38 was against a generation, not a race. Jesus Himself was Jewish - as were all the disciples and the first Christians. Secondly, the Bible, written mostly by Jews, is clear that Christians, imbued with the love of God, are not to discriminate against people based on ethnicity. The Bible teaches that God “has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth,” (Acts 17:26), and that in Jesus, all are equal (Galatians 3:28).
About the Author
Who was Ellen G. White?
Ellen White was one of the co-founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and a woman of remarkable spiritual gifts who lived most of her life during the nineteenth century (1827-1915). Through her writings she is still making a revolutionary impact on millions of people around the world. During her lifetime she wrote more than 5,000 periodical articles and 40 books; but today, including compilations drawn from unpublished manuscripts, more than 100 titles are available in English. She is the most translated woman writer in the entire history of literature, and the most translated American author of either gender. Her writings cover a broad range of subjects, including religion, education, social relationships, evangelism, prophecy, publishing, nutrition, and management. Her life-changing masterpiece on practical Christian living, Steps to Christ, has been published in more than 160 languages.
What relevance does a 19th-century author have for a 21st-century world?
Readers of Ellen White’s writings have been amazed by the insights she has presented not only on Bible themes and spiritual development but also on holistic health, family relationships, and education. The noted American radio commentator, Paul Harvey, remarked, “Ellen White—You don’t know her? Get to know her!” (From his September 25, 1997 broadcast.)
What are some of Ellen White’s other most popular books?
Steps to Christ – Meeting Jesus and building a relationship with Him
The Desire of Ages – Practical lessons from the life and teachings of Jesus
Christ’s Object Lessons – Understanding the meaning of Jesus’ parables
Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing – Insights from the Sermon on the Mount
Education – Principles for all who are preparing for life today and the world to come
The Ministry of Healing – A Biblical and holistic approach to healthful living
Do Seventh-day Adventists believe Ellen White was a prophet?
Yes. Adventists believe that the Bible teaches that men and women may be specifically chosen by God to share spiritual truths and messages. See Joel 2:28-32; Ephesians 4:11-13; Revelation 12:17; 19:10. [provide links to these texts] Ellen White claimed to have been divinely called in her youth to direct persons to Jesus and His Word. Examining her life and teachings against the Scriptures, Adventists believe that she was uniquely gifted by God with spiritual insights and principles that are in full harmony with the Bible.
Does the Seventh-day Adventist Church view Ellen White’s writings as being equal to the Bible?
No. As stated in Seventh-day Adventists Believe . . . , “The writings of Ellen White are not a substitute for Scripture. They cannot be placed on the same level. The Holy Scriptures stand alone—the unique standard by which her and all other writings must be judged and to which they must be subject” (Seventh-day Adventists Believe . . . , Ministerial Association, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Silver Spring, Md., 2005, p. 258).
What did Ellen White believe about the many different religions and denominations?
Ellen White believed that while all truth comes from God the clearest revelation of truth is found in Jesus Christ and His Word—the writings of the Old and New Testament. She believed that “there are now true Christians in every church” (The Great Controversy [The Great Hope], p. 449), but that it is each person’s responsibility before God (both Christian and non-Christian) to continue to search for and accept truth in contrast to error, following the convictions of their conscience.
Ellen White understood the book of Revelation to teach that as we get closer to the time of Jesus’ return the distinction between mere human religious systems and the true worship of God will progressively sharpen, leading to the call described in Revelation 18 for God’s faithful followers to separate themselves (“come out”) from false religious systems (“Babylon”).
About the Adventist Church
Where can I find a Seventh-day Adventist Church?
There are over 65,000 Seventh-day Adventist Churches that can be found throughout the world and in most communities. The Adventist Directory is a good resource for the United States and Canada. Outside the US consult local directories for the location of an Adventist Church close to you.
Do Adventists believe that they are the only ones who have truth or who will be saved?
No. Adventists believe there are many committed Christians in other denominations, but we also believe we have a special message for the time just before Christ’s return and that it is our responsibility to share that with the world.
Are Adventists a cult or a sect, or are they Christians?
Seventh-day Adventists are Bible-believing Christians. We look exclusively to the Bible for our basic beliefs. The term “cult” or “sect” has taken on a negative meaning usually referring to a group that is “different” or that follows a charismatic leader in contrast to the Bible. While the Adventist Church has distinctive beliefs, we do not have an authority higher than Christ and the Bible. Adventist churches and members are contributors to their communities and neighbors. The church runs one of the largest non-profit religiously-based healthcare systems in the world including a medical school. Further, its educational system educates students throughout the world from primary school through graduate school with over 1.7 million students worldwide.
How can I learn more about the Adventist Church?
There are several resources that can help you learn about the Adventist Church. On the Internet www.adventist.org provides a wealth of information about who we are, what we believe, and what we do. The book Seventh-day Adventists Believe provides a comprehensive and accessible account of our theological beliefs. Further, those interested in receiving Bible studies can find resources at www.hopetalk.org.
Do Adventists support religious liberty?
The Seventh-day Adventist Church has been a strong supporter of religious liberty since its founding. Through such publications as Liberty Magazine, the work it does through its Public Affairs and Religious Liberty offices, and the work done by the International Religious Liberty Association, it constantly fights for the rights of all to follow the dictates of his or her conscience.