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Adventist Bodies.

1. Adventism centers in the belief that there are 2 advents of Christ (both visible and personal), that the 2d coming of Christ is imminent, and that the central feature of this event is the est. of His millennial reign. Adv. has existed throughout the hist. of the ch., esp. in times of stress. The most significant Adv. movement of modern times originated with W. Miller.* An ardent student of the “chronological portions” of the prophetic writings of the Bible, Miller believed that the dates for all important events in sacred hist. have been fixed in prophecy. Since the exact dates of the Flood, the sojourn of Israel in Egypt, the destruction of the Canaanites, and the duration of the Exile had been foretold, the exact date of Christ's final coming must also have been prophesied. Miller believed that he found the date of Christ's final coming in Dn 8:13–14, which speaks of 2,300 days until the cleansing of the sanctuary. He fixed the date of the beginning of this period in 457 BC, the year in which the command to rebuild Jerusalem was given, Dn 9:25. Holding, like most date setters, that acc. to Nm 14:34 a day in prophecy is a year, he proclaimed that the cleansing of the sanctuary would occur within a yr. after March 21, 1843. The 70 weeks of Dn 9:24, totaling 490 yrs. and ending 33 AD, would be the first part of the 2,300 “days,” and the 1,335 days of Dn 12:12 would be the 2d part and end in 1843. Miller held that the cleansing of the sanctuary was figurative language denoting the personal return of Christ to cleanse the world of all its pride and power, pomp and vanity and to est. the peaceful kingdom of the Messiah in place of the kingdoms of this world. In 1831 Miller opened a vigorous campaing to gain adherents to his views, and by 1843 his followers numbered 50,000. When March 21, 1844, passed without the Lord's visible return, there was keen disappointment, and Miller admitted his mistake. But some prominent leaders held that the Lord would come on the Festival of the Atonement, October 22, 1844, and not on the Jewish New Year, as Miller had predicted. This encouraged the Adventists, and they made extensive preparations for the Lord's glorious appearance, only to be bitterly disappointed again.

2. The belief that Christ would appear at an early date to est. His millennial reign persisted, and in 1845 a group of Adventists met at Albany, New York, to define their position and to adopt principles embodying the views of Miller about the nature of Christ's final advent the resurrection, and the renewal of the earth. The salient points agreed on at Albany are: (a) The present world is to be destroyed by fire, and a new earth is to be created for the believers. (b) There are only 2 advents of Christ, both visible and personal. (c) The 2d advent is imminent. (d) The condition of sharing in the millennial reign of Christ is repentance and faith, a godly and watchful life. (e) There are 2 resurrections, that of the believers at Christ's 2d coming and that of the unbelievers after the millennium. (f) The departed saints do not enter Paradise in soul and spirit until the final blessedness of the everlasting kingdom will be revealed at Christ's 2d coming. Yet differences arose within the group concerning the nature of Christ's coming, the immortality of the soul, the condition of the dead in the intermediate state, and the observance of the Sabbath. Controversies on these points led to the organization of various Adventist bodies.

3. Advent Christian Church. After the disappointment of 1844, Jonathan Cummings and others predicted that the Lord would come in 1853 or 1854. This caused a division When the prophecy remained unfulfilled. Cummings admitted his mistake and advised his adherents to reunite with the parent body. During, however, the years of separation from the main body the followers of Cummings had developed ideas on the immortality of the soul that were at variance with the views of the majority. For this reason they organized a Gen. Conf. 1860 and are known as Advent Christian Church. They accept the Bible as the only divinely revealed truth; they repudiate the “inspired” writings of E. G. White*; and they confess the doctrine of the Trin. Their distinctive tenet is the theory that man, who was created for immortality, forfeited his divine birthright through sin and that only believers in Christ will receive immortality. They believe that death is the state of unconsciousness and that all men will remain in this “soul sleep” until the 2d coming of Christ, when the righteous will receive everlasting life and the wicked will be annihilated. In common with other Adv. they believe that Christ will return visibly and rule personally in this world, which will be rejuvenated as the eternal home of the redeemed. They observe Sun, as the proper Sabbath and refuse to bear arms. See also 9.

The Life and Advent Union (see 8) merged with this body 1964.

4. Seventy-day Adventists. The movement that resulted in the organization of the Seventh-day Adv. denomination originated with the Adv. leaders who believed that the date of the cleansing of the sanctuary had been fixed correctly by Miller but differed from him in interpreting the nature of this event. They held that the cleansing of the sanctuary did not refer to the rejuvenating of the world, as Miller had believed, but to Christ's “investigative judgment” in the sanctuary of heaven. According to this view Christ began in the fall of 1844 to judge the conduct of His chosen people according to the standard of the Decalog. In the meantime a congregation connected with the Adv. movement had come into contact with Seventh-day Baps., and this group insisted that the keeping of the OT Sabbath was God's everlasting commandment. Gradually an increasing number of Adventists held that Christ was cleansing the sanctuary according “to the fourth principle of the Decalog,” that is, judging people as to their attitude over against the commandment to observe the Sabbath according to the Mosaic Law. In 1847 a female leader of the group, Mrs. E. G. White,* reported visions she had had in support of this doctrine. In one vision she saw two angels standing by the heavenly ark of the covenant in the “sanctuary” and Jesus raising the cover of the ark containing the Ten Commandments, the “fourth” being surrounded by a halo. In another vision she was informed that the third angel's message, Rv 14:9–12, referred to the papacy and that according to Dn 7:25 the great antichristian sin is the changing of the OT Sabbath into Sunday. Under Mrs. White's aggressive leadership, fortified by her vision of 1849 that her enemies were opposing not her but the Holy Spirit, the movement rapidly achieved its present basic form. An organization was formed 1853. The founding of the group's 1st pub. house at Battle Creek, Michigan, in 1855 marked the beginning of the movement's use of the printed word to disseminate its tenets. In 1863 the Gen. Conf. adopted a definitive constitution.

While Seventh-day Adventists have no formal creed, they believe that at the conclusion of His investigative judgment, begun in 1844 and based on man's attitude over against the Sabbath, Christ will return to this world, resurrect and translate all the just who have observed the Sabbath, consume the unjust who have kept the Sunday, remove the just from this world, and leave the world desolate for 1,000 years. After the 1,000 years Christ and the saints will return to this world, the unjust will be raised, be granted a period of probation, and, if found unworthy, be annihilated with Satan. This earth will then become the rejuvenated home of the redeemed race of Adam. The Seventh-day Adventists believe it is their work to announce to all nations that the keeping of the Sabbath is man's only hope of preparing for the Lord's 2d coming. In the interest of this cen. doctrine they have developed their entire theology. (a) Although they claim to accept the Holy Scriptures as the only source of faith and practice, they actually base their cen. doctrine on the visions and revelations of Mrs. White, whom they consider to have been an inspired prophetess. (b) On the one hand they confess that the sinner is “justified by the Savior's grace, who cleanses from sin,” but on the other hand they subscribe to Mrs. White's doctrine that the work of Christ consisted largely in showing that the Law of God could be kept by man. Obedience to such commandments as keeping the Sabbath, contributing the tithe, abstaining from pork, intoxicants, stimulants, and tobacco, and wearing modest clothes occupies a prominent place in their scheme of salvation. (c) In the doctrine of Christ's sacerdotal office they differ fundamentally from historic ev. doctrine. On the basis of Heb 8:1, 2 and similar passages they teach that the priestly office of Christ consists of 2 phases, the 1st extending from His ascension until 1844, the 2d inaugurated in the fall of 1844. The theory of the atonement is as follows: As the OT high priest pleaded for the congregation in the Holy Place of the temple throughout the yr., so Christ interceded for His people during the NT period; and as the high priest entered the Holy of Holies once a yr. and placed the sins of the congregation on the scapegoat, thus cleansing the sanctuary, so Christ entered the heavenly sanctuary in 1844 and is now placing the sins of His people on the devil. (d) Since the atonement is not completed until the sins have been removed from the sanctuary, the fate of the departed cannot be determined until Christ's 2d coming. In the interest of this theory they hold that all the dead, good and evil, are in a state of unconsciousness in the intermediate state. This is in line with their view that man is by nature mortal, that immortality will be given only to the believers, and that all wicked men will be entirely annihilated. When the world is rejuvenated, there will be no hell. Seventh-day Adventists reject infant baptism. They understand the ordinance of the Lord's Supper symbolically and observe it 4 times a yr. in conjunction with the rite of foot washing.

In recent yrs. an effort has been made by some denominational leaders to assimilate the Seventh-day Adventists into conservative Protestantism by minimizing the traditional differences in the Seventh-day Adv. doctrines of the Trin. and of the person and work of Christ. This effort has met with some resistance within the group and with skepticism on the part of some conservative Prots., other conservative Prots. have praised the development and have affirmed their willingness to recognize the Seventh-day Adventists as a basically Christian denomination. The group is marked by its energetic for. miss. activity (notably in Lat. Am. and in Afr.), its use of mass media of communications, its stress on educ., its work in medicine and health, its aggressive anti-RC polemics, and its emphasis on the absolute separation of religion and govt.

5. The Church* of God (Seventh Day), Denver, Colo.

6. The Church* of God (Seventh Day), Salem, West Virginia

7. The Church* of God of the Abrahamic Faith.

8. Life and Advent Union. Small Adv. group organized 1848 by John T. Walsh; held there will be no resurrection of the wicked. Merged 1964 with the Advent Christian Ch. See 3.

9. Primitive Advent Christian Church. A small body that developed out of the Advent Christian Church (see 3).

See Religious Bodies (US), Bibliography of. FEM; ACP

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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Content Reproduced with Permission

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