At some point over the last few months, many people in our parishes have received a book in the mail entitled The Great Controversy. I received a copy too. Some people have approached me asking about it and wondering if they should read it. When I first saw the book, I became a little skeptical since no author was indicated… so I did some research.
The Great Controversy was a book written by Ellen Gould White in the 1840s (if you tried reading the book you received in the mail, you could probably tell this by the somewhat antiquated style of writing). White was one of the key individuals in the founding of the Seventh-Day Adventist movement.
Who are the Seventh-Day Adventists? Seventh-Day Adventists trace their origins back to an American Baptist preacher in the 1840s by the name of William Miller who made predictions about the date of Christ’s second coming. These predictions, of course, were unfulfilled, but splinter groups formed and the movement continued. While Seventh-Day Adventists hold many of the same beliefs as Catholics (i.e., the Holy Trinity, the divinity of Christ, the virgin birth, etc.), they also hold beliefs that are quite contrary to our faith (i.e., that the Pope is the Anti-Christ, that communal worship should take place on Saturday rather than Sunday, and many other things). Needless to say, the beliefs of Seventh Day Adventists are very anti-Catholic. While some of their beliefs are similar to those of many Protestants (i.e., that the Bible alone is the rule of faith, and that justification comes through faith alone), many Evangelicals and Fundamentalists argue they are not even Christian.
If you read The Great Controversy, you will find many anti-Catholic claims and presumptions. If you are interested in learning more about this book and about Seventh-Day Adventism, this website offers a nice summary: http://www.catholic.com/tracts/seventh-day-adventism.
Now, if after reading this you are still wondering what to do with the book you received in the mail, here’s my recommendation: the recycling bin would be a great home for it. I would not recommend giving it away and enabling false teaching to be further circulated. If you’re up for a challenge though, and would like to be able to better explain and defend your own Catholic faith, read The Great Controversy and use www.Catholic.com and other such reliable apologetic resources to refute its claims. You can always talk to a priest too if you have questions.