Seventh-Day Adventists

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS

The Seventh-Day Adventists is the largest of the ad ventist groups stemming from the preaching of William miller (17821849).

Origin. When Miller's predictions of the Second Coming of Christ in 1843 and 1844 failed to materialize, most of his followers returned to their former churches or abandoned religion. A few continued to believe that the end of the world was near. One group restudied the Biblical prophecies regarding time and concluded that they indicated mother eventthe beginning of the final judgmentand that the Second Coming was still imminent, but the day and hour unpredictable. Through the persuasion of a Seventh Day Baptist, a group of Adventists in Washington, N.H., became convinced that Saturday, not Sunday, was still the Sabbath commanded by God. This belief was accepted by Joseph Bates, Joshua Himes, Hiram Edson, and James and Ellen White, who formed the nucleus of what is now known as the Seventhday Adventist Church. James White later served as president of the general conference of Seventhday Adventists after the denomination was organized at Battle Creek, Mich., in 1863, although the first president was John Byington, a former Methodist minister. Mrs. Ellen G. White (18271915) exercized a dominant influence on the sect for many years. Much of the instruction Mrs. White gave the church derived from visions that she experienced while in a state of trance. Such instruction is considered by this church as inspired. She related one such vision in which the commandment to keep holy the Sabbath was surrounded by a halo to indicate its paramount importance; according to her, the change to Sunday was introduced by the anti-Christ or papacy. Under her guidance the tiny band of dispirited Adventists grew into a strong, organized body.

A unique practice that sets Seventh-day Adventists apart from other Christian churches is the observance of the Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. All unnecessary work, including cooking, is avoided as in Jewish households during these hours. Members attend church and Sabbath school on Friday evening and Saturday morning.

Bibliography: l. e. froom, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, 4 v. (Washington 194654). f. d. nichol, The Midnight Cry (Washington 1944). a. e. lickey, Highways to Truth (Washington 1952). b. herndon, The Seventh Day (New York 1960). SeventhDay Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine (Washington 1957). a. w. spalding, Captains of the Host, 2 v. (Washington 1949).

[w. j. whalen/eds.]