Here's a brief compilation of statements by Ellen White on the place of the Bible—its authority and how it is to be used:
"Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain 'Thus saith the Lord' in its support." GC 595
"We take a 'Thus saith the Lord.' Here we stand. A doctrine that has not a 'Thus saith the Lord' may be accepted by the whole world, but that does not make it truth." TMK 357
"In all the sermons and in all the Bible studies, let the people see that on every point a plain 'Thus saith the Lord' is given for the faith and doctrines which we advocate. This was the method of Christ's teaching." Ev 153.
"There is always safety in presenting a 'Thus saith the Lord.' We must put our trust in a 'Thus saith the Lord' and be well established in the faith." 2MR 186
"Walk by faith in a 'Thus saith the Lord.' . . . Be loyal and true to a 'Thus saith the Lord,' and stand fast." UL 337
"And to her [the church who are obeying a 'Thus saith the Lord'] was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." GCDB 3-7-1899
"The enemy of all good . . . has insulted Jehovah by refusing to obey a 'Thus saith the Lord.' " RH 4-17-1900
"Those who disregard a plain 'Thus saith the Lord,' are casting off their allegiance to God, and exalting human power in His stead. . . . There is no justification for those who, having the light, close their eyes and their ears to a plain 'Thus saith the Lord.' " ST 11-22-1999
"The prosperity that often for a time attends those who turn from a plain 'Thus saith the Lord' to follow a way of their own choosing, is not an assurance of divine approval. . . . Let all learn a lesson from Solomon's experience. Notwithstanding his violation of a plain 'Thus saith the Lord,' riches and worldly honor poured in upon him, and seemingly he was greatly blessed. . . ." RH 1-18-1906
"A 'Thus saith the Lord' is not to be set aside for a 'Thus saith the church' or a 'Thus saith the state.' " AA 68
"In my books, the truth is stated, barricaded by a 'Thus saith the Lord.' " CM 126
"But there are those who refuse to accept a 'Thus saith the Lord.' . . . They make rigorous human enactments in opposition to a 'Thus saith the Lord.' " TDG 84
"The plain 'Thus saith the Lord' is put aside for the 'Thus saith' of men." SDABC vol. 7A, p. 471
"They place the sayings of men where a 'Thus saith the Lord' should be." COL 110
"If they ignore a plain 'Thus saith the Lord,' and pluck from the tree of knowledge that which God has forbidden them to have, which is a knowledge of disobedience, their transgression brings them into condemnation and sin." FE 449
"They should not exclude themselves from visiting families, talking with them, praying with them, exhorting them, encouraging those who need encouraging, and presenting a 'Thus saith the Lord' to meet every case of deficiency." Kress Collection p. 157
“Proof texting” is a derogatory name for using Bible verses to teach doctrine, a practice that is generally considered improper in scholarly circles. I certainly understand the importance of making sure we don't misrepresent the meaning of Bible verses. But I feel the opposite danger is greater—that of developing theological positions for which we have no text.
Are the Scriptures intended to be used for teaching doctrine?
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16.
The Greek word translated “reproof” in this verse, ελεγχοs (élegchos, Strong’s #1650), means, “proof.” In the New Testament this word is elsewhere found only in Hebrews 11:1 where it is translated “evidence.”
The phrase “all scripture” is πασα γραφη (pãsa graphè) in the Greek. The use of the adjective πασα, “all,” with the noun in the singular, without the article, is explained as “emphasizing the individual members of the class denoted by the noun—every, each.” (Arndt and Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 1957 ed., p. 636.)
The word γραφη is used “in the New Testament exclusively with a sacred meaning, of Holy Scripture.” In the plural, this word refers to “Scripture as a whole,” designating “collectively all the parts of Scripture: the scriptures.” But in the singular, γραφη indicates “the individual Scripture passage.” (Arndt and Gingrich, p. 165.)
Hence, 2 Timothy 3:16 literally says, “Every individual Scripture passage is profitable for proof.”
So don't be dissuaded from using "proof texts," as long as you're careful to retain their original meaning. Don't build a doctrine on just one or two texts. And don't let any verse contradict the Bible's clear teachings.
Among Seventh-day Adventists,
"giving Bible studies" has been the basic method of doctrinal
instruction for over a hundred years. Standard baptismal preparation has
traditionally been equated with the giving of Bible studies. Yet, few of us can
remember the early plan which was laid down for Bible work, or the principles
behind that plan. The original term, "Bible readings," carried a more
specific meaning than do the variety of methods and publications we call Bible
studies today. (Click the link below to read more.)