Who are the Seventh Day Adventists? Just in Case

By July 17, 2015 10 Comments

The Seventh-Day Adventists were founded by William Miller (1782-1849).  Born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts on February 15, 1782, he was a veteran of the War of 1812 and a farmer in upstate New York.  At the age of 34, he abandoned Deism to join the Baptist Church.  Self-ordained, he began preaching in 1831.  Enthralled by the prophecies of the Bible, he believed that every prophecy that had not been fulfilled by Christ during His time on earth would be fulfilled in His Second Coming.   Miller’s scholarship, however, was superficial at best.
Nevertheless, his interpretation of Daniel and the Book of Revelation (Apocalypse) led him to predict the Second Coming.  Miller thought that the prophecies concerning the end of the world contained a numerical code that could be deciphered.  He took the two thousand, three hundred evenings mentioned in Daniel (8:14) regarding the coming purification of the Temple, converted them to years, and then counted from the year 457 B.C. (which he maintained was “70 weeks” since the commencement of the first coming) to predict the Second Coming of Christ on March 21, 1843.  He gained great following through his preaching and through the publication of The Midnight Cry.  While his prediction caused great excitement, it failed to come true.
Not to be thwarted, he revised his calculations and predicted March 21, 1844 as the time of the Second Coming.  When that prediction also failed, he predicted October 22, 1844 as the date.  Again, Miller was wrong.  This last failure became known as the “Great Disappointment,”   and caused most of his followers to abandon him.
His remaining followers met the following year in Albany, and formed a plan to keep the millennial movement alive.  Factions developed, but one strong group survived.  In 1860, they formally inaugurated the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.  James White became the president of the Seventh-Day Adventists after the denomination was organized at Battle Creek, Michigan in 1863.
Mrs. Ellen Gould Harmon White (1827-1915), a devout follower of Miller and wife of James, influenced the sect heavily.  Probably due to her delicate health, she experienced visions, claiming to have had over 2,000 during her lifetime.  Several factors influenced her religious perspective: (1) Methodist revivalism, which led to her conversion in 1841; (2) faith healing, upon which she depended for her many and frequent ailments; (3) supernatural visions; and (4) the teaching of Miller.  Although she had only a third-grade education, she wrote 45 major books and more than 4,000 articles.  Steps to Christ has been translated into 85 languages.  Most of Mrs. White’s teachings which have been incorporated into official doctrine were derived from her various visions and are considered to be inspired.
Ellen White and her confrere Hiram Edson restudied the Biblical prophecies regarding the Second Coming and Miller’s own teachings, and concluded that they indicated the beginning of the final judgment.  They now taught that the Second Coming was still imminent, but the day and hour were unpredictable.
White also believed that Saturday, not Sunday, was the Sabbath day commanded by God in Genesis.  According to her, the change of the Sabbath to Sunday was introduced by the anti-Christ or papacy.  Of course, Christian tradition since the apostolic times has regarded Sunday as the Lord’s Day, since our Lord rose from the dead on Easter Sunday.  We find evidence of this in Acts of the Apostles–  “On the first day of the week, when we gathered for the breaking of bread, Paul preached to them” (Acts 20:7), and St. Paul in his  First Letter to the Corinthians speaks of the faithful gathering and taking up charitable collections on the “first day of the week” (16:2).   The great apologist, St. Justin Martyr (d. 165), wrote, “Sunday, indeed, is the day on which we hold our common assembly because it is the first day on which God, transforming the darkness and matter, created the world; and our Savior, Jesus Christ, arose from the dead on the same day” (First Apology).  Interestingly, the Seventh-Day Adventists changed a tradition originating in apostolic times and consistently recognized by Christians over the centuries.  Clearly, such a change shows what force a personal revelation can have!
Just as a “fun” aside, Ellen White had a vision on June 5, 1863 in which she learned that meat, alcohol, and tobacco were forbidden, that doctors and drugs were to be avoided, and that the disciples should have a healthy regimen of fresh air, sunshine, rest, exercise, and diet.  Any sexual impurity was also condemned.  Interestingly, these teachings inspired Sylvester Graham to develop a nutritious cracker to promote well-being, hence, the “Graham Cracker.”  Also, John Kellogg of Battle Creek, Michigan, developed a wholesome diet of fruit, grain, and vegetables, and, yes, cereals, that not only insured health but prevented sexual impurity.  (I don’t think Count Chocula knew he had such an impact!   However, in our Washington area, some people may have overdosed on Fruit Loops while others should eat more Lucky Charms.)
Concerning their tenets today, the Seventh-Day Adventists affirm the full deity of Christ. Seventh-Day Adventists believe that man is by nature mortal, not immortal.  Death is considered a sleep.  The resurrection of the righteous dead will occur at the Second Coming, when both they and living will be taken to Heaven, where together they will spend the millennium.  Those living in this hour who have rejected salvation will be destroyed; they and the wicked dead will rise when Christ returns at the end of the 1,000 years to cleanse the earth.  At that time they will be destroyed forever by fire.  The earth will then be restored to the state of the Garden of Eden and provide a paradise for the saints.
The Seventh-Day Adventists have two primary liturgical rites:  Baptism by immersion is reserved for those of sufficient maturity to understand its meaning.  Secondly, imitating the Last Supper, a communion service is held four times a year and is preceded by a foot-washing ceremony; however, the bread and unfermented wine used are considered only symbols of the body and blood of Christ.
Seventh-Day Adventists observe the Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.  All unnecessary work, including cooking, is avoided during these hours.  They attend church and Sabbath school on Friday evening and Saturday morning.
They tithe one-tenth of their income.  Most members follow a vegetarian diet; those who do not must abstain from foods forbidden by the Old Testament, such as pork, ham, and shrimp.  For health reasons, they abstain from liquor and tobacco.  The church also operates an extensive medical program with hospitals and clinics around the world.
The church government is democratic.  Each local church is governed congregationally but belongs to a state conference which appoints its minister.  Four or more conferences comprise a union conference and several union conferences make up a division.  There are 10 divisions in 189 countries with a headquarters in Washington, D.C.  In 1998, the Seventh-Day Adventists reported a membership of 5 million in the United States, and 9-10 million worldwide.


  • kale kelby says:

    Seveth-day adventists are true becouse sunday is the mark of authority…the church is above the Bible, and this transference of sabbath observance is proof of the fact.-Catholic Record,September 1,1923 (Ontario).

  • kalfoof says:

    Sadly I find this article has many inaccuracies. It only showed me the author has a superficial knowledge on the subject.

  • Nancy says:

    We do NOT attend church and have Sabbath School on Friday night. We attend church and have Sabbath School on Sabbath (Saturday) mornings. We attend church on the Sabbath that GOD told us to worship him.., which would be the same one that Jesus kept. BTW, it’s funny that the day GOD told us to REMEMBER, is the very one your church chose to change. The Sabbath was not changed until after 300 B.C…, again by the Roman Catholic Church. Jesus kept the Sabbath as directed by God. It’s not the Jewish Sabbath, it’s not the SDA Sabbath. It’s God’s Sabbath. There are over 500 churches of different denominations that worship on the original Sabbath.
    So people met and broke bread on the first day of the week. That means nothing. Our God told us to remember the Sabbath Day (which is the 4th Commandment BTW, even though your church changed the order of commandments. You worship idols, so you had to fix that one.) You cannot show one place where Jesus told us he approved changing the day to Sunday. And if I’m correct, your church admits to changing the Sabbath.

    • susan says:

      @Nancy don’t just believe the anti-catholic views from your church SDA purpose to find out why so many lies have been said bout it but still standing 200years later, do your history homework. Then speak from a Point of knowledge.

    • Ben Gomez says:

      I am Catholic and I bible-studied with our SDA brothers and sisters for two years. This article is unflattering with inaccuracies. It could have been more well written. If you spent any time with our SDA brothers and sisters, you will find them to be absolutely wonderful, wonderful people.

  • Mike says:

    Colossians 2:16-17
    Freedom From Human Rules
    16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
    Corinthians 16:2
    2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.
    Acts 20:7
    7On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.
    Rev 1:10
    10I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet,

  • Mike says:

    Colossians 2:16-17
    Freedom From Human Rules
    16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

  • Rob says:

    I concur with those who pointed out the inaccuracies in this article. I’ll not take the time to point them out, as they are too numerous. Let me just point out 3 in the first paragraph, which ironically ends with, “Miller’s scholarship, however, was superficial at best.”
    First, William Miller was not the founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, although the church arose from Millerite roots. Miller in fact opposed key teachings of Seventh-day Adventists, including the Seventh-day Sabbath and the Investigative Judgment doctrine. If any church can directly trace its roots to William Miller as “founder”, it is probably the Advent Christian Church.
    Second, he was not “self-ordained”. He was never ordained. Rather, he received a preaching license (I think it was from the Baptists).
    Third, he most definitely did not believe “that every prophecy that had not been fulfilled by Christ during His time on earth would be fulfilled in His Second Coming.” As just a few prophecies that Miller taught that were not fulfilled by Christ yet would not be fulfilled at His Second Coming, please note the 1260 and 1290 day prophecies, ending in 1798 A.D., and beginning in 508 and 538 A.D. The 70 week (490 year) prophecy ended 3-1/2 years after Christ’s death. One version of the 2520 day prophecy ended in 1798.
    There are numerous other errors in this article, but hopefully that is enough evidence to convince other readers to study Adventist history elsewhere, and to convince the author to improve his “scholarship, which is superficial at best”

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