Adventists are various groups of Christians who since apostolic times have believed that the Second Coming of the Lord was imminent (see parousia). Adherents of montanism in the 2d century looked for an early end of the world, as did the anabaptists during the Reformation. Modern adventism began in the early 19th century in America with the biblical prophecies of William miller (1782–1849). Seeing signs of widespread moral deterioration, Adventists believe that the world is evil and must soon be destroyed. They foresee a final battle between the forces of good and evil, usually identified as the battle of Armageddon, and the victory of Jesus Christ, who will then establish a kingdom of righteousness that will last for 1,000 years. Miller set definite dates for the Second Coming in 1843 and 1844 but when these dates passed, his followers became disillusioned. Only a remnant continued to proclaim the imminent Second Coming and these adventists usually refused to specify a date.
Largest of the adventist bodies that stem from Miller's preaching is the seventh day adventist Church. Along with adventism it teaches the observance of the Jewish Sabbath, conditional immortality, and the prophethood of Mrs. Ellen G. White (1827–1915). The general conference of the church was organized in 1863 and since then Seventh Day Adventism has spread throughout the world. A much smaller adventist body, the Advent Christian Church, was organized in 1855 by Jonathan Cummings, who taught doctrines similar to those of the Seventh Day Adventists, but his followers observed Sunday instead of Saturday. jehovah's witnesses is an adventist body that denies the Trinity and the deity of Jesus Christ. The founder of this sect, Charles Taze russell, was influenced by adventist preachers early in his career. The Church of Jesus Christ of latterday saints originally stressed adventism, but this emphasis in Mormonism gradually diminished. Many of the pentecostal churches include a strong adventist position among their beliefs, as do the catholic apostolic church and the new apostolic church. Other small adventist bodies include the Life and Advent Union, the Church of God (Abrahamic Faith), the Primitive Advent Christian Church, and the United Seventh Day Brethren.
[w. j. whalen/eds.]