From its very inception in the wake of the defunct Millerite Movement, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has been a center of controversy. Even today, over a century later, it is virtually impossible for evangelical Christians to maintain neutrality in the debate stirred by the movement.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

William Miller, a Baptist minister, of Low Hampton, New York, popularized the preaching of the second advent of Christ in the early part of the nineteenth century and predicted it would take place in 1843. When Miller’s calculation was proved false, after a second guess, October 22, 1844, he manfully admitted his error and dissociated himself from the movement. Others, however, were not of Miller’s persuasion and taught instead that Christ did return in 1844, not to the earthly sanctuary but to the “heavenly sanctuary.” This concept grew among those desirous of salvaging not only their reputations as Bible students but their very allegiance to “Adventism” as a special “Latter Day message” prior to the glorious appearing of Christ.

This group soon joined with two other disillusioned segments of the now rapidly disintegrating Millerite Movement. One emphasized the Seventh day sabbath and the other endorsed the so-called “Spirit of Prophecy” as allegedly revealed in the life and ministry of Ellen G. White.

Under the leadership of Mrs. White, almost a supernatural figure by Adventist standards, her husband James, Joseph Bates, a retired sea captain, and Hiram Edson whose revelation of the “heavenly sanctuary truth” appropriately occurred in a cornfield, Seventh-day Adventism as a denomination was born.

The Adventists succeeded almost immediately in isolating themselves from fellowship with other Christian groups by enunciating ...

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