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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|#5 & #6:
"He taught that Christ would return first in 1843, and then on October 22, 1844, supposedly
Jewish Day of Atonement for that year."—David Snyder.|
#5: Miller taught Christ would return in
1843. This too is an oversimplification. The major thrust of Miller's
preaching, and that
which aroused so much opposition, was not that the judgment would begin and Christ would
come about the year 1843. Rather, what aroused
opposition was his teaching that Christ would come soon.
It sounds strange today, but at that time most churches were teaching that Christ would
not come until after a thousand years of peace on
earth, during which the whole world would be converted. Bible prophecies about the second
coming and the resurrection they believed would
not be literally fulfilled. These doctrines were popularized by Daniel Whitby, an Englishman
who died in 1726 (Ibid., vol. 2, pp. 651-655).
Miller and his associates taught most definitely that the whole world would not be
converted, and that Christ would come personally and
visibly before, not after, the thousand years. The date of 1843 only brought to a head these
major points of theological difference (Ibid., vol.
4, pp. 765-766).
Most churches, it seems, now believe what William Miller taught about Christ's
second coming. They can thank him, in part, for this
correction in their theology. Regarding this very theological correction, one British writer put
it this way in an 1843 issue of Christian
Messenger and Reformer: "We shall all, under Christ, be indebted to Mr. Miller,
even if the Lord shall not come in 1843."—Froom, vol.
4, p. 716.
The documentation package offered at the end of the video is
supposed to substantiate the video's accusations. It consists of a compilation
of photocopies covering a hundred different points. "Point 4" is listed in its index as
"William Miller's dates of 1843 and 1844." However, when
one turns to the photocopy provided under "Point 4," the date 1843 cannot be found. Neither
can Miller's views regarding either 1843 or 1844.
It is true, though, that in December 1842 Miller began to teach that Christ
would come in 1843. This was more than eleven years after he
gave his first sermon on Christ's soon return. Previous to December 1842, he had
consistently said Christ would come "about the year 1843"
"if there were no mistakes in my calculation" (Bliss, p. 329).
In 1842 Miller found himself falsely accused by the public press of having set the date
of April 23 for Christ's return. Additionally, he was
censured by some of his associates that year for constantly saying "about" and "if."
Therefore, not finding any error in his calculations, Miller
decided to remove the "about" and the "if" that December. From then until March 21, 1844,
he taught that Christ would come in the Jewish
year of 1843 at the end of the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14.
"And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the
sanctuary be cleansed" (Dan. 8:14). Miller took these 2300
days to be 2300 years (Num. 14:34; Ezek. 4:6). He began them at the same time as the 70
weeks of Daniel 9 in 457 BC, and thus ended them
in 1843. The cleansing of the sanctuary he identified with the day of judgment.
In many of his conclusions, Miller was in harmony with multitudes of scholars
spanning centuries. For example, Reformed pastor Johann
Petri in 1768 said that the 2300 days begin at the same time as the 70 weeks, and end with
the second coming in 1847 (Froom, vol. 2, p. 715).
His date of 1847 and Miller's of 1843 were essentially the same (see #64). [p. 17]
Miller taught Christ would return on October 22, 1844. He never did. By
claiming that the date of October 22 is based on
Miller, the video can more easily attack Millerite Adventists, since views proposed by single
individuals appear to have less credibility. But
Miller never taught this.
He and Joshua V. Himes were preaching in the west the summer of 1844. When they
returned east, they found everyone afire with the idea
that Christ would come on October 22, the tenth day of the seventh Jewish month by Karaite
reckoning. This fast-spreading message became
known as the "seventh-month movement."
Why the tenth day of the seventh month? Because that was the Day of Atonement,
called Yom Kippur in Hebrew, an annual feast day of
ancient Israel when their sanctuary was cleansed (Lev. 16). It seemed quite natural to
connect this with the cleansing of the sanctuary of Daniel
Samuel S. Snow was the originator of the date of October 22, presenting the topic in
the Boston Tabernacle on July 21, 1844. Then in August
he presented his material at a camp meeting in Exeter, New Hampshire. After that the idea
spread like wild fire. By October 22, fifty thousand
Millerites believed Christ was coming on that day (Froom, vol. 4, pp. 799-826).
Miller, as well as the other principal Millerite leaders, resisted for awhile this
pinpointing of a particular day, something they had always
shunned. Miller's opposition can still be seen in his letter dated September 30 (Bliss, p.
Unable to explain what was so evidently the work of the Holy Spirit reforming and
converting people's lives, Miller began to capitulate on
October 6. In his letter of that date, published in the October 12, 1844, issue of
Midnight Cry, Miller said he would be disappointed if Christ
did not return "within twenty or twenty-five days," which indicates he was looking toward
October 26 or 31 as being the limit, not October 22.
The data from the letter follows, in the order that it appears:
When did the 2300 days end? Last spring.
. . . Christ will come in the seventh month
. . . .
If he does not come within 20 or 25 days, I shall feel twice the disappointment I did
. . . it must and will come this fall. . . . I see no
reason why we may not expect him within twenty days. . . . just so true
will redemption be
completed by the fifteenth day of the seventh month . . . .
I am strong in my opinion that the next [Sunday, Oct. 13,] will be the last Lord's day
sinners will ever have in probation; and within ten or fifteen
days from thence, they will see Him . . . .
. . . in twenty days or less I shall see all that love Jesus.
So on October 6, Miller thought Christ would come that month, but not necessarily on
the 22nd. His words most often suggest that Christ
could come by the 26th, but they also suggest that Christ could return by the 23rd, 27th,
28th, and 31st, all in the same letter. And at the same
time, he still maintained that the 2300 days had already ended the previous spring.
Miller's first letter to Himes after October 22 is dated November 10, and expresses his
disappointment (Bliss, p. 277). This was the date of
the astronomical new moon, which in Miller's mind could have marked the end of the
seventh Jewish month according to the Karaite lunar
calendar. The fact that Miller waited until the new moon before expressing his
disappointment is further confirmation that he felt Christ would
come in the seventh Jewish month, but not necessarily on the tenth day of that seventh
In a letter to J. O. Orr of Toronto, Canada West, on December 13, 1844, Miller
The ninth day [of the seventh month (October 21)] was very
remarkable. . . . In the evening I told some of my [brethren] Christ
would not come
on the morrow. Why not? said they. Because he cannot come in an hour they think not, nor
as a snare.
Clearly, even on October 21, Miller had not yet accepted the date of October 22, much
less taught it.
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