August 11, 1840, Historical Reconciliation

Hi Jeff,

I do the web site, I get lots of spam and sometimes someone that is real. This guy responded to PN’s article titled: A Test on Advent History. His name is RH and I responded back. I wanted to know if I responded correctly. Thanks, Glenn.

Hi PN,

I noticed on your website that you speak of Litch’s prediction regarding the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1840. Have you tried to reconcile this prediction with evidence from historical sources? I understand that the Convention of London occurred around that date, but historians today essentially show the fall of the Ottoman Empire occurred around 81 years after the predicted date. God bless. RH

Hi RH,

Mrs. White said that the event perfectly fulfilled the prediction. So if you don’t believe it then Mrs. White is a false prophet. I choose to believe her! God Bless, Glenn

Hi Glenn,

I think I understand your position: you believe Ellen White, yet simple logic dictates that, since the fall of the Ottoman Empire is a historical event, it should be easy to confirm the date using independent sources. Else anyone can claim anything; much like Harold Camping did last year. I will shortly post a quote from Ellen white on her view about herself as a historian. RH

Dear RH,

Some years back, a friend of mine was in England, and went to a large public library. His purpose was to see if there were any newspapers or anything dating back to the 1840’s and the Ottoman Empire. He told the librarian what he was looking for and she found it actually quite fast! He saw with his own eyes that yes, it was as our pioneers reported it, as well as Uriah Smith. Think about it brother. How could this not happen and be the catalyst that let the world see that the Adventists of the day had the year-day principle correct? This one event empowered the movement. The Catholic Church has for years been removing history from libraries making it harder to research the past. But we have a prophet that does not lie. She said the event perfectly fulfilled the prediction. Case closed brother! Glenn.

Thanks Glenn,

But not so easy brother. You’re referring to the Morning Chronicle, a London newspaper. Don’t forget that the historians have also had access to these newspapers. They are after all public sources. Yet, they have failed to concur with Litch’s position. As is clear from the archives of history, the Empire fell about 80 years later. Here are some well-known dates around the Empire at the time:

  1. In June 1840, the entire Ottoman navy defected.
  2. The Convention of London was signed on 15 July 1840.
  3. In September 1840, the European powers eventually moved from diplomatic means to military action.
  4. After the Royal Navy and the Austrian Navy first blockaded the Nile delta coastline, they moved east to shell Sidon and Beirut on 11 September 1840.
  5. France switched sides and aligned against Muhammad Ali in October 1840.
  6. Muhammad Ali finally accepted the terms of the Convention on 27 November 1840.
  7. When on August 11, 1840, the Ottoman Empire accepted guarantees from the Great Powers, it was interpreted as a fulfillment of Bible prophecy and Litch’s interpretation thereof.
  8. Litch slowly abandoned the historicist view of prophecy, in favor of futurism. He attended the Prophetic Conference held at the Church of Holy Trinity, in New York City, Oct. 30–Nov. 1, 1878.
  9. Finally, it is worth being aware of EGW’s own view, for what it’s worth, of her take on history: Regarding Mother’s writings, she has never wished our brethren to treat them as authority on history. When Great Controversy was first written, she often times gave a partial description of some scene presented to her, and when Sister Davis made inquiry regarding time and place, Mother referred her to what was already written in the books of Elder Smith and in secular histories. Letter from W.C. White to S.N. Haskell, circa 1912. RH.

Brother RH,

If you want to re-write history that is your choice. If I cannot believe a simple statement that Mrs. White made when she said, the event perfectly fulfilled the prediction then what do I have to stand on? May I ask you then, what is the second woe? What was the first woe?

Where it says in your link, “Mother never thought that the readers would take it as an authority on historical dates…” I have to tell myself that this is not the prophet speaking. Mrs. White was fully capable to tell us exactly what she wanted to say. God was at liberty to tell us through her what He wanted and He did. Today, people quote James White as if he were inspired because he was married to the prophet. Does not work for me. Glenn.

Dear RH,

I have thought all day today about what you have written. I will not quote SOP as I am sure you are well versed. There are many ways to document that the event, as it was predicted, empowered the Millerite Movement in 1840. This empowerment happened because the world at large witnessed the fulfillment of a prediction. They, those outside of the movement, verified themselves that Josiah Litch actually hit pay dirt to the day. This showed the validity of the year-day principle. If you cannot verify this today, it makes no difference. The fact of the matter is that hundreds and thousands of people outside this movement were able to see, of their own accord, this prediction fulfilled. All that has been written on this subject could not have been written about something that did not really happen! You are wrong. You have woven together a series of statements that are false. I have received the kind of factual evidence that you say does not exist. I doubt it would change your view of this topic. As Jesus said they will not believe even if someone rises from the dead. The angels restrained Islam or the Mohammedan’s in 1840.

You talk about simple logic. Again, just because you claim that you cannot confirm this historical event is no conclusion that it did not happen. The numbers are against you. The evidence is not with you.

In your statement of Ellen’s own view you are not quoting her! You are quoting hear-say. The Great Controversy is a book we hold up as highly accurate, brother. Let me ask you a question. Are you a Seventh-day Adventist? Or do you pretend to be one in here? A real Member of the Remnant church is just like the beginning. He or she believes what the pioneers believed and taught. Do you? Glenn.

Hi Glenn,

Thanks for your thoughtful response. Please have a close look at the link:

In particular, see: Your prophet has indeed spoken in this case. I shall bother you no more. God Bless, RH


Brother Glenn,

I agree with your points, but your problem is allowing RH to frame the discussion. By framing the discussion he places a perspective upon history that exceeds what is demanded of and by the prophecy. You are also allowing him to teach error without countering him upon it, so he begins to establish a falsehood as truth based upon repetition.

His claim about prophecy is incorrect when he says, “Have you tried to reconcile this prediction with evidence from historical sources. I understand that the Convention of London occurred around that date, but historians today essentially show that fall of the Ottoman Empire occurred around 81 years after the predicted date,” and again, “simple logic dictates that, since the fall of the Ottoman Empire is a historical event, it should be easy to confirm the date using independent sources. Else anyone can claim anything; much like Harold Camping did last year. I will shortly post a quote from Ellen White on her view about herself as a historian.”

The issue in her statement in The Great Controversy is about inspiration, not history. Inspiration always overrides history. If there is no history to uphold inspiration, then the historical evidence has not yet been recognized. In reconciling her endorsement of Josiah Litch’s prediction of Revelation 9:14-15 we must include the multitude of times that she emphasizes that “we have no new message,” and, that “we are to make the messages of 1840 to 1844 forcible now,” and that, “the messages we received in 1841, 1842, and 1843 are to now be studied and proclaimed.” There are several (not a few) places where she upholds this fact in many different ways.

Therefore to try and undermine her statement in The Great Controversy concerning Litch’s prediction by historical evidence is misdirection. Seems to me that you are dealing with someone employing the “art of debate” and therefore should not make assumptions about his honesty or not, for to employ the “art of debate” in connection with the study of God’s word is to place the human above the divine.

The brother knowingly or unknowingly is employing the technique of “framing the discussion.” Twice he states that there is no historical evidence in support of 1840. This is patently false. It’s false and every time he makes that claim you should oppose it for it is not true and your silence provides an assumption for anyone that might read your dialogue that you are a little willing to consider the idea that there is no historical evidence available to uphold the prophetic claim of 1840. There is plenty of history to uphold that claim, but not only does he claim there is none, you by your silence assent to the fact.

But he is also simultaneously misdirecting the subject in one other way. His is insisting that his definition of the fall of the Ottoman Empire is the definition that has been marked by God’s prophetic word as the fulfillment of that prophecy. He defines what history is to mark the end of the prophecy.

The prophecy began when the last Emperor of Eastern Rome in Constantinople died and the heir apparent for his throne was so intimidated by the four great sultans that then existed in his supposed kingdom, that before accepting the vacated throne he first asked permission of those four sultans. This is the history that marks the beginning of the prophecy and therefore this is the history that defines what the fulfillment of that prophecy will be. Therefore we are not looking for what the historians might define as the fall of the Ottoman Empire, but we are looking for the point in time when the Ottoman Empire surrendered its sovereignty into the hands of four powers. This history was fulfilled on August 11, 1840 and there is abundant evidence to this fact.

So this brother uses misdirection in terms of framing the discussion in an incorrect fashion that then allows him to insist you prove the points that he raises, which are not the points that have been identified by inspiration as the points of history that would take place in the fulfillment of the prophecy. As he is doing this he then employs another technique of debate when he then undermines your credibility by associating you with a known false interpreter of prophecy. After this he seeks to undermine the prophecy by interjecting that even Litch abandoned his prophetic interpretation. This also has nothing to do with the validity of August 11, 1840 as the fulfillment of Revelation 9:14-15, but it does demonstrate that this person is throwing any handful of mud in hopes that some of it will stick to the wall.

Of course, when I respond so directly to the brethren offering these types of weak and unfounded prophetic arguments, then I generally get confronted with my un-Christlike character for being so direct. So if you had been this direct with the guy he may have already delivered the “guilt card” to you, by emphasizing your unwillingness to hear a brother out over their genuine understanding of whatever subject they wish to discuss. But even that argument does not square with the fact that we have been told not to spend time in long discussion concerning prophecies that have already been made plain. If this guy wants to argue with what Sister White so clearly and repeatedly endorses, then you are in rebellion for continuing on in a discussion with him.

“The Lord wishes all to understand his providential dealings now, just now, in the time in which we live. There must be no long discussions, no presenting of new theories in regard to prophecies that God has already made plain. The great work from which the mind should not be diverted is the consideration of our personal standing in the sight of God. Are our feet on the Rock of Ages? Are we hiding ourselves in the only Refuge? The storm is coming, relentless in its fury. Are we prepared to meet it? Are we one with Christ as he is one with the Father? Are we heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ? Are we working in co-partnership with the Saviour?” Review and Herald, November 27, 1900.

I am pretty sure B.C. has the historical data on August 11, 1840 at his fingertips if you do not. I am going to also forward this to Sister PN. Jeff.

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