Seventh-Day Adventism
Heterodox Christian cult stemming from the teachings of
William Miller (1782–1849), formerly a Baptist convert, whose
simplistic interpretation of scripture led him to asssert that
Christ would return to earth March 21, 1843. He built up a considerable
following, but lost support when the return did not
take place, even for a revised calculation of October 22, 1844.
His teachings were later modified by the Millerite Hiram
Edson in New York State, who claimed that he had a vision
which confirmed that Miller was right about the time of redemption
but wrong about the place, which should have been
the ‘‘heavenly sanctuary’’ and not the earth. Edson’s doctrine
was further developed by ‘‘Father Bates’’ (former sea captain),
Elder James White of the S.D.A. church which had been organized
in 1860 and his wife Ellen G. White.
Since then, S.D.A. has built up a membership claimed at
over two million in the United States and abroad. Two of its
doctrinal points influenced Charles Taze Russell (1870–1916)
in the formation of his evangelical cult of ‘Russellites’ which became
known as Jehovah’s Witnesses under Joseph Rutherford
(1916–1942). These doctrines were those of a ‘‘soul-sleep’’ after
death, and of annihilation of the wicked. Other specifically
S.D.A. doctrines include the concept of a completion of Christ’s
atonement which had remained unfinished and the need to observe
the Sabbath on Saturday.
Land, Gary, ed. Adventism in America. Grand Rapids, Mich.
William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1986.
Nichol, Francis D. The Midnight Cry. Tacoma Park, Md. Review
and Herald Publishing Association, 1944.