Amalgamation of Man AND Beast: A Troubling Statement?
By Stephen Bohr
A few years ago one of my church members came to my office and by the tone of his voice I could tell that he was greatly troubled. He told me that while he was surfing the internet he came across one of those websites that are inimical to Ellen G. White. His curiosity peaked when he read an article which attempted to prove that Ellen White believed and taught that before the flood, animals and humans had cross-bred and produced hybrid offspring that were part human and part animal. He said: “How can I believe that Ellen White was a true prophet when she taught such an unscientific concept?" I told him that Ellen White did not teach any such thing and I promised to study the matter further to give him a more detailed answer in the near future.
Here is the Ellen White quotation in question with the key portions emphasized:
“But if there was one sin above another which called for the destruction of the race by the flood, it was the base crime of amalgamation of man and beast which defaced the image of God, and caused confusion everywhere. God purposed to destroy by a flood that powerful, long-lived race that had corrupted their ways before him.” Spirit of Prophecy, volume 1, p. 69
According to the three page printout that the church member gave me, strong expressions such as ‘base crime,’ ‘man and beast,’ ‘defaced the image of God,’ and ‘confusion everywhere’ could not refer to sexual relations between human beings; rather the article affirmed that Ellen White believed that the confusion everywhere was the result of cross-breeding between humans and animals. But was this assumption valid?
How to Study Difficult Statements
Long ago the apostle Peter affirmed that his colleague, the apostle Paul, wrote some things that are hard to understand. But instead of blaming Paul for not being clearer in his statements, Peter blamed those who hard sayings:
“There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.” 2 Peter 3:16 ESV
The same can be said about the writings of Ellen G. White. She also wrote some difficult things to understand (under the guidance of the same Spirit that guided the apostle Paul) which the ignorant and unstable today, twist to their own destruction. The question is, how can we determine the true meaning of these things that are hard to understand? The answer is that we must allow Paul to interpret his own writings and Ellen White to interpret hers. That is to say, we must go to other passages where the writers clarify what they meant in the difficult passages.
So I decided to look up the key expressions in the controversial quotation to find out how Ellen White used them elsewhere in her writings. In this way I allowed Ellen White to be her own interpreter. The research was rewarding indeed!
One Sin Above Another
In the controversial quotation Ellen White states that there was one sin above another that led to the destruction of the world by the flood, the sin of amalgamation of man and beast. Does she clarify elsewhere in her writings what the sin of amalgamation was that led to the destruction of the world? Was it the cross-breeding of humans with animals? Let’s allow Ellen White herself to explain what the sin was:
Unhallowed marriages of the sons of God with the daughters of men resulted in apostasy which ended in the destruction of the world by a flood.” Testimonies, volume 5, p. 93
So the amalgamation that led to the flood was the intermarriage or mixing of the faithful and the unfaithful, not the sexual union of humans with animals.
Base Crime
The article on the internet suggested that because Ellen White wrote that amalgamation was a ‘base crime’ she could not have meant simple illicit sexual relations between human beings because the expression ‘base crime’ is too strong to describe sex between human beings. As did my research, however, I discovered that Ellen White uses the expression ‘base crime’ (although she uses the words ‘base’ and ‘crime’ separately in other places) only one other time in all of her published writings. Describing the accusation that was hurled at Joseph by Potiphar’s wife when he refused her adulterous advances, Ellen White remarks:
“And when he was accused, and a base crime was falsely laid to his charge, he did not sink in despair. In the consciousness of innocence and right he still trusted God. And God, who had hitherto supported him, did not forsake him.” SR, p. 102
Thus Ellen White defines a ‘base crime’ as the sin of adultery. This is a far cry from the idea that a ‘base crime’ must be crossbreeding between humans and animals!
Meaning of ‘Amalgamation’
According to Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, which most likely would have been the one that Ellen White used, the word ‘amalgamation’ is defined as “the mixing or blending of two different things.”
The crucial question at this point is: According to Ellen White, what were those two different things that were blended or mixed before the flood? Was it humans with animals? Once again, let’s allow Ellen White herself to explain what she meant by the word ‘amalgamation’. In the following statement, notice how Ellen White uses the words ‘amalgamated’ and ‘confused’ when she describes the danger of God’s faithful people uniting with unbelievers:
“There is constant danger that the obedient and the disobedient in the world and in the nominal churches will become so amalgamated that the line of demarcation between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not will become confused and indistinct.” Manuscript Releases, volume 18, p. 26
And again:
“Those who profess to be followers of Christ, should be living agencies, co-operating with heavenly intelligences; but by union with the world, the character of God’s people becomes tarnished, and through amalgamation with the corrupt, the fine gold becomes dim.” Review and Herald August 23, 1892
Concerning the reason why the Jews so frequently lost their identity as God’s peculiar people, Ellen White explains:
“It came to be a common practice to intermarry with the heathen. The Israelites rapidly lost their abhorrence of idolatry. Heathen customs were introduced. Idolatrous mothers brought their children up to observe heathen rites. The Hebrew faith was fast becoming a mixture of confused ideas.” FE, p. 499
Did you notice in these statements that Ellen White used the words ‘amalgamation’ and ‘confused’ which are the very words that appear in the controversial statement that we are analyzing?
So, who were the ‘men’ that amalgamated before the flood? In Patriarchs and Prophets which was an expansion of The Spirit of Prophecy, volume 4 where the controversial statement is found, Ellen White clearly explained what she meant by the amalgamation of man before the flood:
“For some time the two classes [the female descendants of Cain and the male descendants of Seth] remained separate. The race of Cain, spreading from the place of their first settlement, dispersed over the plains and valleys where the children of Seth had dwelt; and the latter, in order to escape from their contaminating influence, withdrew to the mountains, and there made their home. So long as this separation [which is the opposite of ‘amalgamate’] continued, they maintained the worship of God in its purity. But in the lapse of time they ventured, little by little, to mingle [a synonym of ‘amalgamate’] with the inhabitants of the valleys. This association was productive of the worst results. “The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair.” The children of Seth, attracted by the beauty of the daughters of Cain’s descendants, displeased the Lord by intermarrying [in other words, ‘mixing’] with them. Many of the worshipers of God were beguiled into sin by the allurements that were now constantly before them, and they lost their peculiar, holy character. Mingling [which a synonym of the word ‘amalgamate’] with the depraved, they became like them in spirit and in deeds; the restrictions of the seventh commandment [the same commandment that Potiphar’s wife had tried to get Joseph to transgress] were disregarded, ‘and they took them wives of all which they chose.’ The children of Seth went ‘in the way of Cain’ (Jude 11); they fixed their minds upon worldly prosperity and enjoyment and neglected the commandments of the Lord. Men ‘did not like to retain God in their knowledge;’ they ‘became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.’ Romans 1:21. Therefore ‘God gave them over to a mind void of judgment.’ Verse 28, margin. Sin spread abroad in the earth like a deadly leprosy.” Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 81, 82
Man and Beast
It will also be noticed that Ellen White does not say that there was amalgamation of man with beast. Both in the reference above and the one that follows she refers to amalgamation of man and beast, not man with beast. That is to say, humans amalgamated with humans and beasts with beasts!
“Every species of animals which God had created was preserved in the ark. The confused species [of animals] which God did not create, which were the result of amalgamation, were destroyed by the flood. Since the flood, there has been amalgamation of man and beast, as may be seen in the almost endless varieties of species of animals, and in certain races of men.” Spirit of Prophecy, volume 1, p. 78
It will be noticed that immediately after saying that amalgamation of man and beast continued after the flood, Ellen White states that the result could be seen in the ‘almost endless variety of species of animals,’ and in ‘certain races of men.’ The result of the amalgamation, in other words, affected the animal kingdom (‘species of animals’) and the human kingdom (‘certain races of men’) but no mention is made of a human/animal hybrid.
Defacing the Image of God
Also significant is the declaration that this amalgamation defaced the image of God. What does Ellen White mean when she says that amalgamation of man and beast defaced the image of God? Does she mean that the defacing was due to the cross-breeding of humans with animals? Once again we must allow Ellen White to interpret Ellen White:
Polygamy was practiced at an early date. It was one of the sins that brought the wrath of God upon the antediluvian world. Yet after the Flood [do you remember that Ellen White wrote that there was also amalgamation after the flood?] it again became widespread. It was Satan’s studied effort to pervert the marriage institution, to weaken its obligations and lessen its sacredness; for in no surer way could he deface the image of God in man and open the door to misery and vice.” Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 338
What is the sin that defaced the image of God and opened the door to misery and vice, that is to say, to confusion? Was it the interbreeding of humans with animals? Of course not! Ellen White clearly explains that it was the perversion of the marriage institution by the practice of polygamy!
In another place Ellen White describes how illegitimate relationships between the Israelites and the nations that surrounded them effaced the image of God:
“Commerce with other nations brought the Israelites into intimate contact with those who had no love for God, and their own love for Him was greatly lessened. Their keen sense of the high and holy character of God was deadened. Refusing to follow in the path of obedience, they transferred their allegiance to Satan. The enemy rejoiced in his success in effacing the divine image from the minds of the people that God has chosen as His representatives.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 499
Ellen White repeatedly underlines the fact that unbridled passions and intemperate habits defaced the image of God in man, but not once does she affirm that illicit sexual relations between human beings and animals did so. Regarding Satan Ellen White states:
“By his power he had controlled cities and nations until their sin provoked the wrath of God to destroy them by fire, water, earthquakes, sword, famine, and pestilence. By his subtlety and untiring efforts he had controlled the appetite and excited and strengthened the passions to so fearful a degree that he had defaced and almost obliterated the image of God in man. His physical and moral dignity were in so great a degree destroyed that he bore but a faint resemblance in character and noble perfection of form to the dignified Adam in Eden.” Confrontation, pp. 34, 35
What can we learn?
What can we learn from what I have shared in this newsletter? I believe that there are at least three important lessons we can glean that will help us in our spiritual walk with the Lord.
First of all, there are a plethora of websites that despise Ellen White and her writings. The vast majority of objections that these websites raise against Ellen White have been soundly answered by the Ellen G. White Estate on its website. What I have found is that most of the venom that is hurled at Ellen White is a rehash of the objections that were raised in the past by disgruntled former members such as Dudley M. Canright who lost confidence in Ellen White because she constantly rebuked his pride and self-sufficiency. Many of these websites are sponsored by disgruntled Adventists who have an ax to grind.
My personal recommendation is that people not waste their time reading these faith-destroying websites. Those who sponsor them have no desire to embrace the truth. When the White Estate provides answers to their objections they simply come up with new ones. Why waste our time on those who have no desire to embrace the truth? The sole purpose of these websites is to lead people to doubt the prophetic gift of Ellen White. While these websites mangle, mishandle and manhandle the writings of Ellen White, many a sincere soul is turned against her writings for lack of knowledge. This study on amalgamation is just one example of how these websites put words in Ellen White’s mouth, twist her intended meanings, and fail to allow her to explain her own writings. The second lesson we can glean from this study is that it is rebellion against God for a Seventh-day Adventist to marry someone who is not of the same faith. This may sound harsh but it is the truth. We have been warned:
“Never should God’s people venture upon forbidden ground. Marriage between believers and unbelievers is forbidden by God. But too often the unconverted heart follows its own desires, and marriages unsanctioned by God are formed. Because of this many men and women are without hope and without God in the world. Their noble aspirations are dead; by a chain of circumstances they are held in Satan’s net. Those who are ruled by passion and impulse will have a bitter harvest to reap in this life, and their course may result in the loss of their souls.” Counsels to the Church, p. 121
Someone might want to rationalize that it would be wrong to classify a Christian from another denomination as an unbeliever. But Ellen White has clearly explained the word ‘unbeliever’ as one who has not accepted the truth for this time. She once wrote some wise counsel to a woman who was laying plans to marry a non-Adventist:
“My sister, dare you disregard these plain and positive directions? As a child of God, a subject of Christ’s kingdom, the purchase of His blood, how can you connect yourself with one who does not acknowledge His claims, who is not controlled by His Spirit? The commands I have quoted are not the word of man, but of God. Though the companion of your choice were in all other respects worthy (which he is not), yet he has not accepted the truth for this time; he is an unbeliever, and you are forbidden of heaven to unite yourself with him. You cannot, without peril to your soul, disregard this divine injunction.” Testimonies for the Church, volume 5, p. 364
The final lesson we can learn is that our beloved church must be very careful not to amalgamate with the world lest we lose our identity:
“Those who profess to be followers of Christ, should be living agencies, co-operating with heavenly intelligences; but by union with the world, the character of God’s people becomes tarnished, and through amalgamation with the corrupt, the fine gold becomes dim.” Review and Herald August 23, 1892
We must shun the temptation to embrace worldly beliefs and practices and incorporate them into our church. Seventh-day Adventists must remain distinct from the world. Our music, worship styles, evangelistic methods, lifestyle and theology must be kept untarnished by the world.
The apostle Paul wisely warned the Corinthians:
“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” ‘I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 2:14-18