Q: Why does the book “The Great Hope” not have any chapter about Roman Catholicism? It seems that this might be because of the influence of Jesuits. Please explain to us. Thank you! — Alexander, from Russia
A: Alexander, thank you for your question! As you may know, beginning in 2012 Seventh-day Adventists around the globe were involved in The Great Controversy Project. Millions of copies of “The Great Controversy” by Ellen G. White, or the abridged version — “The Great Hope” — were distributed in multiple languages.
In addition to the abridged version, millions of copies of the classic version were distributed as well as other versions, including a children’s edition. Also, it is important to know that Bible study applications were included in many of the copies of The Great Hope and the other versions distributed. Websites were given to direct people to truth-filled information.
Some have questioned the validity (and motivation) for distributing the abridged version. To best answer your question, I’ll quote the written response of Pastor William Fagal to someone who had similar concerns. At the time, Pastor Fagal (now retired) was serving as an associate director at the Ellen G. White Estate in Maryland.
“’The Great Hope’ was developed, in part, here at our office. The impetus for it came from the South American Division, where they wanted a witnessing book that they could distribute in huge quantities — millions of copies — as a first contact with large numbers of people in their division.
“They knew that a large book would likely be discarded unread by most people who received it ‘cold.’ So they wanted something short … yet it should speak powerfully to issues that people face, such as where evil comes from and the allure of spiritualism.
“They also wanted to introduce people to some of our key Bible teachings. So they prepared a selection of 10 or 11 chapters from the book ‘The Great Controversy’ and submitted it to the White Estate for authorization to publish it.
“Our staff and trustees considered the request but were not satisfied with the contents. They wanted to strengthen it in certain key areas. To do this and keep the book short, in a number of the chapters it was necessary to pull together material from several different chapters of the full book, something that would have to be done by the White Estate. We reworked this material, and before long we had a manuscript that the Board could approve of.
“The intent was not to replace ‘The Great Controversy,’ but to provide a kind of introduction to it. In a number of places through the book, there is reference to the fuller presentation in the complete book, and each copy contains information about how a person may obtain the whole book.
“That is the purpose — to use a low-cost ‘sampler’ to awaken interest, so that a person may desire the complete book. Such a person is much more likely to read it than one who receives a 600-plus page book ‘out of the blue.’
“At the same time, if someone read ‘The Great Hope’ and nothing more, he or she would get significant exposure to our understanding of the problem of evil (the Great Controversy theme), the Sabbath, the law of God, the condition of man in death, the dangers of spiritualism, the Second Coming, the Millennium, and God’s plan for eternity. This seems like something worth doing.
“Some have been upset because the book does not include all the material about Catholicism or the mark of the beast, etc. But you cannot include everything from a 600+ page book in a hundred pages or so … there is enough challenging material remaining so that a person not of our faith will have some serious thinking to do. …
“As for whether it is legitimate to publish less than the whole book, as some have wondered, this is nothing new. For many years we have published tracts that reproduce single chapters of ‘Steps to Christ,’ such as ‘God’s Love for Man’ or ‘The Sinner’s Need of Christ’ or ‘What to Do With Doubt.’
“We have published a portion of ‘The Great Controversy’ before, too, with the title ‘The Impending Conflict.’ This was only about a dozen chapters or so from the latter portion of the book. The church has seen these efforts as legitimate, and I do not find ‘The Great Hope’ to be out of harmony with these accepted handlings of Ellen White’s material.”