I grew up in a home where both of my parents were Seventh-Day Adventist. My mom was involved with the "Brinsmeads" as church members derogatorily called them, and "The Awakening" by people in the movement. I still remember the veins bulging in a minister's face as he explained to my mom "her errors". The nite my dad tried to kill us and the 2 of us literally ran into the woods to escape, is still impressed in my brain even tho i was only around 4 at the time.
She studied her SOP books and i remember seeing a light on downstairs in the wee hours of the morning, and open books on the table when i arose. She became more and more convinced that the SDA church was forsaken by God because they had forsaken him. She was a little famous as a trouble-maker in the church because she would get up and walk out of the sermon if it was contrary to some teaching in the Bible and SOP.
I was shocked when in around 1972, going to a Awakening meeting in Nashville, TN, some of the attendees were playing pinball in the lobby even tho it was the Sabbath. My mom told Robert Brinsmead in the meeting that the whole Bible and Spirit of Prophecy were inspired of God and should be followed. Fortunately she didn't follow many of her friends who just followed the man right out of faith altogether.
Then the next year she had her membership removed from the Highland, TN SDA church because she didn't want to be involved with "an organization that wasn't following God" and "giving medals to popes" (1977). Usually the voting in churches is all perfunctory, but this time the hands had to be counted 3 times. On the 3rd time the vote was something like 39 to 36 in favor of letting her take her name off the church books.
I was baptized when i was around 13, but although i wasn't cold by doing bad stuff, i wasn't hot for God either. When i graduated from MTSU and went to Atlanta, GA to be a computer programmer i re-evaluated what i believed in. What really settled me in the faith were the "old" books. Sure, i read the Great Controversy when i was 16, but frankly, there were just a few diamonds to be found among a whole slog of references. "Maybe religion is supposed to be boring" i thought. But when reading the Review and Herald articles (vol.1) and the "Little Flock" and the original SOP books i was changed. There was LIFE in this! I was happy to spend time with these books (^o^).
A Herbert Hoehn(?) sent me material explaining how the "brothers" started changing the books to suit their tastes as early as the early 1880's. Something clicked. I remember seeing my brother studying "Daniel and Revelation" and it not seeming to have much impact on him. How could i square this with Ellen White's statements about "when we as a people understand Daniel and Revelation more clearly, we will have a totally different religious experience"? Also, in studying, i could see discrepancies in some of the writings. Wait, she's a prophet. God doesn't make mistakes. What's going on here? I purchased an original 1892 Steps to Christ. I'd always thought it strange that our own publishing house wouldn't print this work by God's messenger. The Fleming Revell company printed it. What i saw surprised me. The whole 1st chapter in the present Steps to Christ wasn't in the original!!
After praying earnestly for God to open doors and then for strength to follow, i quit my $36,000/year programmer job in 1989 and moved to Japan to work at Country Life vegetarian restaurant for $240/month. It was a big change, but it drove me closer to the Lord. It also took me away from the worldly influences of being caught up in watching grown men chasing pig bladders or swatting little white orbs into holes or over fences. But the low level of spirituality in SDA churches in Japan wasn't encouraging. Lots of higher-ups don't believe that the SOP is inspired, which probably explains why there are only a few books of her's translated, and those at a high price (approx. $40/book!).
Regarding the Great Controversy: i personally quit reading the 1911 edition a long time ago. I would read the 1884 edition. Then around 1994, my brother-in-law introduced the 1858 original edition to my mom. She had the Spiritual Gifts books, and had read them, but had never realized that Spiritual Gifts Volume 1 was the original Great Controversy (me neither). She was over-joyed:) She wanted to print some more. So my dad willingly put up his 401K money, and 5,000 copies came off the press in 1995. Those copies are all distributed now, but i still want to introduce these original books to as many people as possible, because i see the results that come from reading and following them. People either reject them outright, or give up their Laodicean condition. When God has been so gracious as to give us a prophet who wrote in the most widely used language in the world today, why settle for some other's "compilations" when the originals are available??!!