Adventism

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"Adventist" redirects here. It is also commonly used as shorthand for Seventh-day Adventist.

Adventism is a Christian movement which began in the 19th century, in the context of the Second Great Awakening revival in the United States. The name refers to belief in the imminent Second Coming (or "Second Advent") of Jesus Christ. It was started by William Miller, whose followers became known as Millerites. Today, the largest church within the movement is the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The Adventist family of churches are regarded today as conservative Protestants.[1] Although they hold much in common, their theology differs on whether the intermediate state is unconscious sleep or consciousness, whether the ultimate punishment of the wicked is annihilation or eternal torment, the nature of immortality, whether or not the wicked are resurrected after the millennium, and whether the sanctuary of Daniel 8 refers to the one in heaven or one on earth.[1] The movement has encouraged the examination of the whole Bible, leading Seventh-day Adventists and some smaller Adventist groups to observe the Sabbath. Their core beliefs are complied in The 28 Fundamental Beliefs in which Biblical references are used as justification.

History[edit]

Adventism began as an inter-denominational movement. Its most vocal leader was William Miller. Between 50,000 and 100,000 people in the United States supported Miller's predictions of Christ's return. After the "Great Disappointment" of October 22, 1844 many people in the movement gave up on Adventism. Of those remaining Adventist, the majority gave up believing in any prophetic (biblical) significance for the October 22 date, yet they remained expectant of the near Advent (second coming of Jesus).[1][2]

Of those who retained the October 22 date, many maintained that Jesus had come not literally but "spiritually", and consequently were known as "spiritualizers". A small minority held that something concrete had indeed happened on October 22, but this event had been misinterpreted. This viewpoint later emerged and crystallized with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the largest remaining body today.[1][3]


The development of branches of Adventism in the 19th century.

Albany Conference (1845)[edit]

The Albany Conference in 1845, attended by 61 delegates, was called to attempt to determine the future course and meaning of the Millerite movement. Following this meeting, the "Millerites" then became known as "Adventists" or "Second Adventists". However, the delegates disagreed on several theological points. Four groups emerged from the conference: The Evangelical Adventists, The Life and Advent Union, the Advent Christian Church, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The largest group was organized as the American Millennial Association, a portion of which was later known as the Evangelical Adventist Church.[1] Unique among the Adventists, they believed in an eternal hell and consciousness in death. They declined in numbers, and by 1916 their name did not appear in the United States Census of Religious Bodies. It has diminished to almost non-existence today. Their main publication was the Advent Herald,[4] of which Sylvester Bliss was the editor until his death in 1863. It was later called the Messiah’s Herald.

The Life and Advent Union was founded by George Storrs in 1863. He had established The Bible Examiner in 1842. It merged with the Adventist Christian Church in 1964.

The Advent Christian Church officially formed in 1861, and grew rapidly at first. It declined a little during the 20th century. The Advent Christians publish the four magazines The Advent Christian Witness, Advent Christian News, Advent Christian Missions and Maranatha. They also operate a liberal arts college at Aurora, Illinois; and a one year Bible College in Lenox, Massachusetts called Berkshire Institute for Christian Studies.[5] The Primitive Advent Christian Church later separated from a few congregations in West Virginia.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church officially formed in 1863. It believes in the sanctity of the seventh-day Sabbath as a holy day for worship. It published the Adventist Review, Kids Review, and Sabbath Herald. It has grown to a large worldwide denomination and has a significant network of medical and educational institutions.

Miller did not join any of the movements, and he spent the last few years of his life working for unity, before dying in 1849.

Denominations[edit]

The Handbook of Denominations in the United States, 12th edn., describes the following churches as "Adventist and Sabbatarian (Hebraic) Churches":

Christadelphians[edit]

Main article: Christadelphians

The Christadelphians were founded in 1844 by John Thomas and had an estimated 25,000 members in 170 ecclesias, or churches, in 2000 in America.

Advent Christian Church[edit]

The Advent Christian Church was founded in 1860 and had 25,277 members in 302 churches in 2002 in America. It is a "first-day" body of Adventist Christians founded on the teachings of William Miller. It adopted the "conditional immortality" views of Charles F. Hudson and George Storrs who formed the "Advent Christian Association" in Salem, Massachusetts in 1860.

Primitive Advent Christian Church[edit]

The Primitive Advent Christian Church is a small group which separated from the Advent Christian Church. It differs from the parent body mainly on two points. Its members observe foot washing as a rite of the church, and they teach that reclaimed backsliders should be baptized (even though they had formerly been baptized). This is sometimes referred to as rebaptism.

Seventh-day Adventist[edit]

The Seventh-day Adventist Church, founded in 1863, had over 17,210,000 baptized members (not counting children of members) worldwide as of 2011.[6] It is best known for its teaching that Saturday, the seventh day of the week, is the Sabbath and is the appropriate day for worship. However, it is the second coming of Jesus Christ along with the Judgement day, based on the three angels message in Revelation 14: 6-13, that is the main doctrine of SDA.

Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement[edit]

The Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement is a small offshoot with an unknown number of members from the Seventh-day Adventist Church caused by disagreement over military service on the Sabbath day during World War I.

Davidian Seventh-day Adventist Association[edit]

Main article: Shepherd's Rod

The Davidians (originally named Shepherd's Rod) is a small offshoot with an unknown number of members made up primarily of voluntarily disfellowshipped members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. They were originally known as the Shepherd's Rod and are still sometimes referred to as such. The group derives its name from two books on Bible doctrine written by its founder, Victor Houteff, in 1929.

Branch Davidians[edit]

The Branch Davidians were a split ("branch") from the Davidians. Many of them perished in the infamous Waco Siege of 1993.

Church of God (Seventh Day)[edit]

The Church of God (Seventh-Day) was founded in 1863 and it had an estimated 11,000 members in 185 churches in 1999 in America. Its founding members separated in 1858 from those Adventists associated with Ellen G. White who later organized themselves as Seventh-day Adventists in 1863. The Church of God (Seventh Day) split in 1933, creating two bodies: one headquartered in Salem, West Virginia, and known as the Church of God (7th day) - Salem Conference and the other one headquartered in Denver, Colorado and known as the General Conference of the Church of God (Seventh-Day). The Worldwide Church of God splintered from this. [7]

Church of God and Saints of Christ[edit]

The Church of God and Saints of Christ was founded in 1896 and had an estimated 40,000 members in approximately 200 congregations in 1999 in America.

Church of God General Conference[edit]

Many denominations known as "Church of God" have Adventist origins.

The Church of God General Conference was founded in 1921 and had 7,634 members in 162 churches in 2004 in America. It is an Adventist Christian body which is also known as the Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith and the Church of God General Conference (Morrow, GA).

United Seventh-Day Brethren[edit]

The United Seventh-Day Brethren is a small Sabbatarian Adventist body. In 1947, several individuals and two independent congregations within the Church of God Adventist movement formed the United Seventh-Day Brethren, seeking to increase fellowship and to combine their efforts in evangelism, publications, and other .

Other minor Adventist groups[edit]

  • At least two denominations and numerous individual churches with a charismatic or Pentecostal-type bent have been influenced by or were offshoots from Seventh-day Adventists – see charismatic Adventism generally

Other relationships[edit]

The Bible Students movement founded by Charles Taze Russell had in its early development close connections with the Millerite movement and stalwarts of the Adventist faith, including George Storrs and Joseph Seiss. The various groupings of Bible Students currently have a cumulative membership of less than 20,000 worldwide. Although Jehovah's Witnesses and Bible Students do not categorize themselves as part of the Millerite Adventist movement (or other denominations, in general), some theologians do categorize the group and schisms as Millerite Adventist because of its teachings regarding an imminent Second Coming and use of specific dates. As of January 2014 there are approximately 8 million Jehovah's Witnesses worldwide.

An adventist church in Jyväskylä, Finland.

See also[edit]

General:

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Adventist and Sabbatarian (Hebraic) Churches" section (p. 256–276) in Frank S. Mead, Samuel S. Hill and Craig D. Atwood, Handbook of Denominations in the United States, 12th edn. Nashville: Abingdon Press
  2. ^ George Knight, A Brief History of Seventh-day Adventists
  3. ^ George Knight, A Brief History of Seventh-day Adventists
  4. ^ "partial archives". Adventistarchives.org. Retrieved 2013-06-26. 
  5. ^ berkshireinstitute.org
  6. ^ Seventh-day Adventist World Church Statistics. "The Official Site of the Seventh-day Adventist world church". Adventist.org. Retrieved 2013-06-26. 
  7. ^ Tarling, Lowell R. (1981). "The Churches of God". The Edges of Seventh-day Adventism: A Study of Separatist Groups Emerging from the Seventh-day Adventist Church (1844–1980). Barragga Bay, Bermagui South, NSW: Galilee Publications. pp. 24–41. ISBN 0-9593457-0-1. 
  8. ^ "Celestia" blog by Jeff Crocombe, October 13, 2006

Bibliography[edit]

  • Butler, Jonathan. "From Millerism to Seventh-Day Adventism: Boundlessness to Consolidation", Church History, Vol. 55, 1986
  • Jordan, Anne Devereaux. The Seventh-Day Adventists: A History (1988)
  • Land, Gary. Adventism in America: A History (1998)
  • Land, Gary. Historical Dictionary of the Seventh-Day Adventists (2005)
  • Morgan, Douglas. Adventism and the American Republic: The Public Involvement of a Major Apocalyptic Movement (University of Tennessee Press, 2001) ISBN 1-57233-111-9
  • Tarling, Lowell R. (1981). The Edges of Seventh-day Adventism: A Study of Separatist Groups Emerging from the Seventh-day Adventist Church (1844–1980). Barragga Bay, New South Wales: Galilee Publications. p. 81. ISBN 0-9593457-0-1. 

External links[edit]