Francis D. Nichol was editor of the Adventist Review. This article was taken from his book Answers to Objections, pp. 352-353.

A brother writes to confess his confusion of mind as to the relation between the inspiration of the prophet specifically Mrs. White, and the frail humanity of the prophet. In other words, he wonders how we can know when Mrs. White is speaking by inspiration and when she is simply giving to us her own finite thoughts as a human being. He inquires: 'May we, as we read her writings, say: 'Here she speaks by inspiration, there she is expressing only her own thoughts.'

I don't know that it will ever be possible for us finite creatures in our sinful state to know in all instances where inspiration ends and the finite aspect of the prophetic messenger begins. When God said to Moses to take off the shoes from his feet because the ground whereon he stood was holy, there is no record that God marked out with stakes or in any other way the dividing line between that holy ground and the unsanctified desert. There must have been a dividing line somewhere, but I'm sure that Moses erred on the safe side in walking a long distance away from the burning bush before he put on his sandals again. Or let me state the matter another way. When a light shines brightly, it illumines a certain area, but ultimately we come out to the periphery, where there is shadow and darkness. I think of the revelations God gives to His prophets as so many lights that shine in a dark world. While we are standing safely near the light we have no question about the shadows. But with a revelation, as with any other light, we finally reach the far edge of the circle of light, where the shadows begin and the night comes on. In other words, there is a point where inspiration has finished its task of lighting the way; for we must remember that God has not given all light on every detail to us.

I am thoroughly persuaded that the light that comes down from God to illumine a prophet's mind is a pure light, free from all error and all distortion. I feel that while I'm walking in that light I can be safe and sure in my path. Beyond that I can't be sure. I have never tried too hard to discover just where the divine ends and the human begins. I'm afraid I might find myself confused and bewildered. That applies to the Bible prophets as much as it applies to Mrs. White.

I never cease to marvel at the contrast between the power of Elijah on Mount Carmel and the weakness and fallibility of Elijah a few hours later when he argued with God and made a very great mistake in arithmetic. He thought that he alone served God, but God informed him that there were seven thousand who had not bowed the knee to Baal. Skeptics jeer at this fallibility of Elijah and would throw a shadow over all his life, even over Mount Carmel. But I am unimpressed by such jeering. I am sure the light on Mount Carmel was from Heaven and thus his message to those sullen Jews was from Heaven. I am equally sure, for the Bible so declares, that his later discussion with the Lord was a display of his own thinking and that he was grievously mistaken in his conclusions.

I am fully persuaded that when Mrs. White declared she had a message from God for the Advent people or for some member in the Advent cause, she meant what she said, that she said the truth, and that therefore that message should be received as from God. Indeed, I believe that when we read any of her books, consistency calls for us to take the position that the entire writing is inspired even though each chapter may not specifically declare that its message came from God. Otherwise we fall into the modernist error of picking and choosing inspired parts. Modernists say, not that the Bible is the Word of God, but that it contains the Word of God. And they, of course, feel they must decide which parts are truly inspired. How can we claim to be able to do with Mrs. White's writings what we declare the modernists are incapable of doing with the Bible? Or how can we consistently reason that God guided the minds of the ancient prophets from the first to the last of the books they wrote, thus giving us sure guidance through them, but that He failed to do that with the prophet He gave to the remnant people today, thus leaving us in uncertainty?

When Mrs. White wrote, for example, a personal, informal letter to some friend or relative, I do not believe that there is necessarily any inspiration in it, nor did Mrs. White so claim. Nor need we attempt to take the impossible position of trying to square every remark she ever made or every act she ever performed, with an idealistic conception of infallibility and perfection. Why claim more for her than for Elijah? She made no such claim.

I think we need have no perplexity or fear whatever as to the divine origin of Mrs. White's revelations. I believe them firmly and fully and thank God for them daily. There would really be no Advent Movement today if it had not been for the gift of the Spirit of Prophecy to guide us through the troubled years of our history. Of that I am also fully persuaded. Taken from the book Questions People Asked Me, pages 293-295. 

Francis D. Nichol, is a very respected author among the Seventh-day Adventists. He wrote this article when he was Editor of the Adventist Review.