Dr. J.H. Kellogg—His Rise and Fall
The new luxurious sanitarium that was being built must be paid for. Dr. J. H. Kellogg had the answer for that! With his studies in Eastern philosophy, he decided to write a book explaining how he believed that God was in everything, and to donate the sales of The Living Temple to help finance the new institution. His manuscript read, “There is present in the tree a power which creates and maintains it, a treemaker in the tree, a flower-maker in the flower!” These were Pantheistic teachings, which were denounced by W. W. Prescott, president of Battle Creek College, when he reviewed the manuscript.
But, Kellogg already had the book on the plates to be printed when the December 1902 fire burned the Review and Herald Publishing House to the ground, and also destroyed the plates for his book. Did this stop Kellogg? Not in the least, for even as the presses with his book on them crashed through the burning floors, he was planning on how he would replace it. Almost immediately he sat down and worked 40 hours nonstop dictating a replacement copy.
What a change had come about in this man! He had started on a downward path and was not willing to listen to the counsel of anyone, although there were many who labored with him, trying to get him to see his errors. The 1901 General Conference was largely influenced in a negative way by Kellogg. Referring to him in one of the meetings at the session, Ellen White stated: “After the meeting at Minneapolis, Dr. Kellogg was a converted man, and we all knew it. We could see the converting power of God working in his heart and life.” But, belief in himself, his talents and his own theories, not God’s word, were now leading him on the road to destruction, and the change had come about in the short time from 1888 to 1901. What a warning to us this is, that when we “play around, even on the edge of Satan’s playground,” we can be so easily deceived.
In 1903, the General Conference session was held in Oakland, CA, with Elder A. G. Daniells as president. Elder Daniels was dreading this conference, because he knew what a hold Dr. Kellogg had on the church by now, and he knew it was wrong. He had done much wrestling with God in prayer as to how to conduct it according to God’s plan, and not Dr. Kellogg’s. On Tuesday, before the conference began, Elder Daniells made a visit to Ellen White. The first thing she said as he came in was, “Do you know we are facing a great crisis at this meeting?” Then, she counseled him, “Do not have an interview with Dr. Kellogg, no counsel whatever with that man…Satan has his representatives right here at this place now.” How sad it was that this man, who she and her husband had treated as a son had turned into the paths of Satan, and she had to speak so strongly against him.
Nevertheless, at the General Conference meetings, Ellen White pointed out that although many mistakes had been made with the Battle Creek Sanitarium, and though it was being rebuilt at about three times the cost anticipated, the church was still to try to build it up, and not allow the work to be done in vain. But, it was not to be under the control of one man, as it had been.
Unfortunately, Dr. Kellogg did not agree at all with Ellen White or the decisions of the General Conference. He confronted Elder Daniells saying angrily, “You think that this little body of men over here are the General Conference. I will show you that there is another General Conference when I get back to Battle Creek…” Then, getting up in Elder Daniell’s face he shook his finger at Daniell’s nose and boasted: “I will show you that I have a bigger delegation representative of this body of people than you have.”
Dr. Kellogg turned critical of all the leaders, and refused to accept counsel from anyone, claiming he was better than they because some of them were not vegetarians, and all his life he had been one. He said he had no respect for ministers who continued to use flesh food, and that this gave him the right not to follow their counsel.
After the fires at Battle Creek, Ellen White was counseled by God that the church headquarters be relocated far from there, and eventually they were settled near Washington, DC. After a few years of continued rebellion, Dr. Kellogg finally gained full control of the sanitarium. Many of the SDA church tried to counsel with him to see the error of his ways, but he would not listen. In 1907 he was dropped from church membership, with only a very few close friends following him. The church pastor, M. N. Campbell cited the Doctor’s failure to attend services for many years, his lack of tithing, and his antagonism to Ellen White’s role in the denomination. The doctor was also publishing The Medical Missionary which became a voice for his own views, which were definitely against the church. Dr. Kellogg did not protest but instead stated that he had not been proud of some of his associates in Battle Creek for some time, and he also showed bitterness to them.
After this, he tried other ventures to live up to his prominence, but they failed. He ended up in bankruptcy, and lost his total “empire.” During the remainder of his thirty-six years he declared that he had not changed his religious views, (whatever that meant) but he remained bitter toward Daniells, Prescott, and other church leaders.
What a different story could have been written about this brilliant man. In spite of his later pride and rebellion, and even his deceptive beliefs, Dr. Kellogg did much in his earlier years to bring the work of Seventh-day-Adventists favorably before the world. But, how much loss was suffered, only the books of Heaven will tell.
Ellen White said that Kellogg’s teachings on Pantheism was the Alpha, and the Omega would come, and would be of a more startling nature. We, as the church living in the last days, must be aware of the dangers of the past, and live even closer to Jesus, to escape the deceptions that are everywhere today.
Compiled from the Early Elmshaven Years
And Light Bearers by Schwartz
By Dorothy Dunbar