The origin of the Seventh-day Adventist church can be traced to the Millerite
Movement of the 19th Century. This movement was largely responsible for what has been
called the Great second advent awakening.
William Miller (1782-1849) was a
farmer who settled in upstate New York after the war of 1812. He was originally a
person who believes that God created the universe but has not been actively involved
since). After two years of private Bible study, Miller converted to Christianity and
became a Baptist lay leader. He was convinced that the Bible contained coded information
about the end of the world and the Second Coming of Jesus. He
also felt an obligation to teach his findings to others. In 1831, he
started to preach; the next year, he wrote articles about his findings. In 1833, he
published a pamphlet on end-time prophecy. In 1836, his book Evidences from Scripture
and History of the Second Coming of Christ about the Year 1843 was published.
One of the key texts that he interpreted was in the Book of Daniel: Daniel heard
two angels talking; one asked how long it will take until the destruction of the Temple is
avenged and it is restored to its rightful state. The other replied in Daniel 8:14
"And he said onto me, unto 2,300 days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed."
Miller believed that the 2,300 days were each of one year duration and that the
interval started in 457 BCE. He concluded that the cleansing of the temple (i.e. the
Second Coming) would occur sometime between two spring equinoxes: 1843-MAR-21 to
1844-MAR-21. He found other methods of calculating the end time which also seemed to point
to the year 1843 CE.
In common with all other predictions of the Second Coming,
before and since, the end didn't happen on cue. Samuel Snow, a follower of Miller, then
interpreted the "tarrying time" referred to in Habakkuk 2:3 as equal to 7 months
and 10 days, delaying the end time to 1844-OCT-22. That prophecy also did not come to
pass. Many believers left the movement in what has become known as The Great
Disappointment. Miller himself gradually withdrew from the leadership of the group and
died in 1849. His followers called themselves Adventists; the group was often
referred to as Millerites by others.
Ellen Harmon (later known by her married name Ellen White) joined with other Adventists,
including Joseph Bates, and her husband James White to form a small group of
Baptist, Methodist, Congregational and Presbyterian believers in Washington, NH. The church was formally organized as the Seventh-day
Adventist Church on 1863-MAY-21. She believed that the 1844
prediction was correct, but that it referred to the start of an Investigative Judgment.
This is a time when Christ will judge the dead and the living on earth for righteousness.
She predicted that this would soon be followed by the second coming of Jesus. This belief was also wrong. Late in her
career, the church voted her the credentials of an ordained minister. However, she was
never actually ordained.
Victor Houteff joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church church in 1919. His beliefs also deviated from main-line
church doctrine. This became obvious when he wrote his book The Shepherd's Rod in
which he outlined errors that he found within the SDA. He left the church and formed a
new sect in 1929 called the Davidian Seventh-day Adventists. This group
split further and eventually led to the organization of the the Students of
the Seven Seals, popularly known as the Branch
Davidians. In 1993, after a violent altercation and a long standoff with the FBI, the Branch Davidian's
compound burned down with major loss of life.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church now:
The church has always taken a special interest in health concerns. They have played
a major role in health research into the dangers of smoking and of diets rich in
cholesterol and fats. Dr. John Kellog, founder of "Kellogg's" and a major
supplier of breakfast cereals was a well known member of the church.
The church promotes plans to
help people quit smoking and consuming alcohol. They sponsor cooking classes, heart
disease teams, narcotics education outreaches, and disaster teams. There are 155
hospitals and 276 clinics, dispensaries, etc. in the world. Many congregations have a Dorcas
Society which provide food and supplies to the needy.
They currently operate 92 post-secondary institutions, almost 1000 secondary
schools and over 4000 elementary schools and kindergartens.
The Seventh-day Adventist church is a strong supporter of the principle of
separation of church and
state. They also promote religious liberty, and publish a periodical called Liberty
devoted to this topic.
As of mid-2000, the Church had about 11 million baptized members, worldwide, who are "of age"
and on the "official" roles. The total number of members and adherents is
perhaps double that. They have a growth rate of about 11% per year. "Adventists
can now be found in 205 of the 229 countries and areas of the world
recognized by the United Nations, with 91.6% of membership living outside
of North America." 2
By the middle of 2004, the total world church membership reached
13,663,497. The Adventist News Network reported that:
"Six of the church's
13 world regions -- Inter-America, South America, East-Central Africa,
Southern Africa-Indian Ocean, Southern Asia Pacific and North America --
have memberships of more than 1 million each. The church regions with the
largest membership are: Inter-America, with 2.5 million; South America, with
2.3 million; and East-Central Africa with, 2.1 million." 3
By 2007, the church had grown to 15.4 million members. Almost 3,000 people
join the church daily. There is about one Seventh-day Adventist for each 429
people worldwide. 4
In 2008-JUL, BiggyTV introduced SDALink, a trust social networking
site for the Global Seventh-day Adventist community.
During 2008-JUL-12 and 13, the Seventh-day Adventist sponsored the first Festival of
Religious Liberty to be held in the United States. Representatives from
more than a dozen religious communities gathered in Honolulu, HI. Mufi Hanneman,
the mayor of Honolulu, greeted attendees on JUL-13 and expressed appreciation of
the work of the Seventh-day Adventist church in encouraging peace and understanding among people
of different faiths. PARL, the Seventh-day Adventist's Public Affairs and Religious Liberty
department organizes similar festivals in countries around the world. 5
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.