Pickle Publishing "Couldn't Admit Mistake" Research Papers

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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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#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 did."—David Snyder.

#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 differently.

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 time.

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":

  1. "The movement had been mistaken in all attempts to set the date for Christ's coming."
  2. "The use of parables as prophetic allegories was a mistake."
  3. "Rejection of . . . the 'investigative judgement' theory."

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 of it.

A Response to the Video

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