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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

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 the 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]

#6: 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 8:14.

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. 270).

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 this spring.

. . . 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 month.

In a letter to J. O. Orr of Toronto, Canada West, on December 13, 1844, Miller wrote:

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.

A Response to the Video

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