A Response to the Video:
Seventh-day Adventism, the Spirit Behind the Church
by Bob Pickle
Answers to Questions Raised by:
Mark Martin, Sydney Cleveland
Dale Ratzlaff, The White Lie
. . . and Others
Discern Fact from Fiction
The Millerite Movement
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|#12 & #13: "Ellen White just could not accept the fact that Christ did not return
in 1843 or 1844. She
could not admit her mistake. Interestingly enough, William Miller
#12: She didn't admit her mistake.
In actuality, both she and William Miller freely admitted that they were
mistaken in thinking that
Christ would return in 1843 or 1844. Yet they explained their mistake quite
Mrs. White first admitted what she thought was a mistake, and then she admitted quite
a different mistake. In 1847 her husband wrote,
When she received her first vision, December, 1844, she and all the band [the group
of Advent believers] in Portland, Maine (where her parents
then resided) had given up the midnight cry, and shut door, as being in the past.—Arthur
White, vol. 1, p. 61.
And Mrs. White wrote the same year, "At the time I had the vision of the midnight
cry [December, 1844], I had given it up in the past and
thought it future, as also most of the band had."—Ibid.
To comprehend these two statements we must first understand the terminology being
used. During the seventh-month movement, the
prophecies of Daniel 8 and 9 were connected to a number of other Scriptures, particularly
the parable of the ten virgins of Matthew 25.
And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the
bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their
lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not
enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while
they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that
were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was
shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, [p. 22] Lord, open to us. But
he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. (Mat. 25:6-12)
At the conclusion of the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14 (October 22), it was expected that
the bridegroom would come, the wedding between Christ
and his people would begin, and the "door" would be "shut." This all would occur after the
"midnight cry," a term referring to the message being
given during the seventh-month movement.
By Mrs. White initially giving up the idea that the midnight cry and shut door were
past, she was repudiating the teaching that the 2300 days
had already ended on October 22. This was a common conclusion among Millerites at that
After her first vision she realized that she had erred in calling the October 22 date a
mistake. The real error she and fifty thousand other
Millerites had made was in thinking that the beginning of the judgment and the ending of the
2300 days were synonymous with the second
coming of Christ.
Daniel 8:14 had declared that the 2300 days ended with the cleansing of the
"sanctuary." The popular belief among both Millerites and non-Millerites at that time was
that this "sanctuary" was the earth or some part of it. Millerites therefore felt that the
predicted cleansing of the
sanctuary was Christ's cleansing of the earth by fire at His second coming.
They were mistaken that this was the predicted event of the prophecy, and this mistake
Mrs. White was always willing to freely admit:
As the disciples were mistaken in regard to the kingdom to be set up at the end of the
seventy weeks, so Adventists were mistaken in regard to
the event to take place at the expiration of the 2300 days. In both cases there was an
acceptance of, or rather an adherence to, popular errors that
blinded the mind to the truth.—Great Controversy, p. 353.
Christ's disciples thought He would set up the kingdom of glory at His first coming, in
which kingdom the Jews would rule the world and
the Romans. When Christ died, they had a choice to make. Were they mistaken that Jesus
was the true Messiah? Or were they mistaken about
the kind of kingdom the Messiah was supposed to set up?
This observation prompts the question, Shall we reject the teachings of the apostles
simply because they had erroneous views about prophecy,
even as late as the time of Christ's ascension (Acts 1:6)? Of course not.
So Mrs. White made a mistake and freely admitted it. Are the contributors to this
video willing to do the same regarding the mistakes it
contains? To illustrate, under #103 and #104 is an allegation that a certain book was plagiarized in its
entirety, resulting in a lawsuit. Since
this allegation was proven to be fictitious more than half a century ago, would it not be well
to freely admit this error to the Christian community?
After all, Paul wrote, "Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that
judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou
condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things" (Rom. 2:21).
#13: Miller admitted his mistake.
This is a gross oversimplification. To explain what Miller really admitted to
would make the
inclusion of this point in the video appear rather silly.
In a statement dated August 1, 1845, Miller identified his mistake:
But while I frankly acknowledge my disappointment in the exact time, I wish to
inquire whether my teachings have been thereby materially
affected. My view of exact time depended entirely upon the accuracy of chronology; of this I
had no absolute demonstration; but as no evidence
was presented to invalidate it, I deemed it my duty to rely on it as certain, until it should be
disproved. Besides, I not only rested on received
chronology, but I selected the earliest dates in the circle of a few years on which
chronologers have relied for the date of the events from which to
reckon, because I believed them to be best sustained, and because I wished to have my eye
on the earliest time at which the Lord might be expected.
Other chronologers had assigned later dates for the events from which I reckoned; and if they
are correct we are only brought into the circle of a
few years, during which we may rationally look for the Lord's appearing. As the prophetic
periods, counting from the dates from which I have
reckoned, have not brought us to the end, and as I cannot tell the exact time that chronology
may vary from my calculations, I can only live in
continual expectation of the event. I am persuaded that I cannot be far out of the way, and I
believe that God will still justify my preaching to the
world.—Wm. Miller's Apology and Defense, p. 34.
Thus the mistake that he admitted to was not the way he had interpreted and calculated
the time prophecies of Scripture, but the dates of the
human chronologers he had used to begin those time prophecies with.
The book shown in the video to illustrate this point is Sketches of the
Christian Life and Public Labors of William Miller, written
by James White and published in 1875. We already noticed how James's wife Ellen admitted
her mistake. James did as well in this very book
on page 7, the third page of text: "But Mr. Miller was
mistaken in the event to occur at the close of the prophetic periods, hence his
disappointment." This is just one of many examples where the video displays [p. 23] or quotes from
books that disprove its claims.
The documentation package lists this point in its index as "Point 7."
Turning to "Point 7," we find a page of a research paper dealing with
the Albany Conference of April 1845, a meeting conducted by the principal Millerite leaders.
This page allegedly describes what was voted at
that Conference, but says nothing about whether Miller was in harmony with the vote or not.
It also says nothing about what mistakes Miller
allegedly admitted to making.
If one compares what was actually voted at the Albany Conference with this page from
the research paper, one finds that they do not agree
(Bliss, pp. 301-313). No, that conference did not endorse "the following positions":
- "The movement had been mistaken in all attempts to set the date
for Christ's coming."
- "The use of parables as prophetic allegories was a mistake."
- "Rejection of . . . the 'investigative judgement'
Why, the investigative judgment theory wasn't really around yet (see #59; cf. #56). The paper also claims
that the conference issued "a stern
warning . . . primarily directed at a young, rising charismatic star among
sabbatarian Adventists: Ellen Harmon-White." But it's a simple fact
that she was not yet a Sabbatarian (see #163), and that her
name did not appear in the voted statements. There was mention of those "making
great pretensions to special illumination," but from the description given regarding the
activities and teachings of that party, it is quite apparent
that the statement wasn't talking about Ellen Harmon.
Far better would it have been if the compiler of the documentation
package had provided the original source rather than an interpretation
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