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The Seventh-day Adventist Church had its roots in the Millerite movement of the 1830s to the 1840s, during the period of the Second Great Awakening, and was officially founded in 1863. Prominent figures in the early church included Hiram Edson, Ellen G. White, her husband James Springer White, Joseph Bates, and J. N. Andrews. Over the ensuing decades the church expanded from its original base in New England to become an international organization. Significant developments such the reviews initiated by evangelicals Donald Barnhouse and Walter Martin, in the 20th century led to its recognition as a Christian denomination.
The Second Great Awakening, a revival movement in the United States, took place in the early 19th century. The Second Great Awakening was stimulated by the foundation of the many Bible Societies which sought to address the problem of a lack of affordable Bibles. The spread of Bibles allowed many who had not had one to be able to purchase and study it themselves rather than just hear it preached, and led to the establishment of many reform movements designed to remedy the evils of society before the anticipated Second Coming of Jesus Christ.Many religious minority movements formed out of the Congregational, Presbyterian, and the Baptist and Methodist churches. Some of these movements held beliefs that would later be adopted by the Seventh-day Adventists.
An interest in prophecy was kindled among some Protestants groups following the arrest of Pope Pius VI in 1798 by the French General Louis Alexandre Berthier. Forerunners of the Adventist movement believed that this event marked the end of the 1260-day prophecy from the Book of Daniel.Certain individuals began to look at the 2300 day prophecy found in Daniel 8:14. Interest in prophecy also found its way into the Roman Catholic church when an exiled Jesuit priest by the name of Manuel de Lacunza published a manuscript calling for renewed interest in the Second Coming of Christ. His publication created a stirring but was later condemned by Pope Leo XII in 1824.
As a result of a pursuit for religious freedom, many revivalists had set foot in the United States, aiming to avoid persecution.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church formed out of the movement known today as the Millerites. In 1831, a Baptist convert, William Miller, was asked by a Baptist to preach in their church and he began to preach that the Second Advent of Jesus would occur somewhere between March 1843 and March 1844, based on his interpretation of Daniel 8:14. A following gathered around Miller that included many from the Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian and Christian Connection churches. In the summer of 1844, some of Miller's followers promoted the date of October 22. They linked the cleansing of the sanctuary of Daniel 8:14 with the Jewish Day of Atonement, believed to be October 22 that year. By 1844, over 100,000 people were anticipating what Miller had called the "Blessed Hope". On October 22 many of the believers were up late into the night watching, waiting for Christ to return and found themselves bitterly disappointed when both sunset and midnight passed with their expectations unfulfilled. This event later became known as the Great Disappointment.
After the disappointment of October 22 many of Miller's followers were left upset and disillusioned. Most ceased to believe in the imminent return of Jesus. Some believed the date was incorrect. A few believed that the date was right but the event expected was wrong. This latter group developed into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. One of the Adventists, Hiram Edson (1806–1882) wrote "Our fondest hopes and expectations were blasted, and such a spirit of weeping came over us as I never experienced before. It seemed that the loss of all earthly friends could have been no comparison. We wept, and wept, till the day dawn."On the morning of October 23, Edson, who lived in Port Gibson, New York was passing through his grain field with a friend. He later recounted his experience:
Edson shared his experience with many of the local Adventists who were greatly encouraged by his account. As a result, he began studying the bible with two of the other believers in the area, O.R.L. Crosier and Franklin B. Hahn, who published their findings in a paper called Day-Dawn. This paper explored the biblical parable of the Ten Virgins and attempted to explain why the bridegroom had tarried. The article also explored the concept of the day of atonement and what the authors called "our chronology of events".
The findings published by Crosier, Hahn and Edson led to a new understanding about the sanctuary in heaven. Their paper explained how there was a sanctuary in heaven, that Christ, the High Priest, was to cleanse. The believers understood this cleansing to be what the 2300 days in Daniel was referring to.
George Knight wrote, "Although originally the smallest of the post-Millerite groups, it came to see itself as the true successor of the once-powerful Millerite movement."This view was endorsed by Ellen White. However, Seeking a Sanctuary sees it more as an offshoot of the Millerite movement.
The "Sabbath and Shut Door" Adventists were disparate, but slowly emerged. Only Joseph Bates had had any prominence in the Millerite movement.
Adventists are heirs of earlier outcast believers; Waldenses, Protestant Reformers including the Anabaptists, English and Scottish Puritans, evangelicals of the 18th century including Methodists, Seventh Day Baptists, and others who rejected established church traditions.
A young Seventh Day Baptist layperson named Rachel Oakes Preston living in New Hampshire was responsible for introducing Sabbath to the Millerite Adventists. Due to her influence, Frederick Wheeler, a local Methodist-Adventist preacher, began keeping the seventh day as Sabbath, probably in the early spring of 1844. Several members of the Washington, New Hampshire church he occasionally ministered to also followed his decision. These included William and Cyrus Farnsworth. T. M. Preble soon accepted it either from Wheeler or directly from Oakes. These events were shortly followed by the Great Disappointment.
Preble promoted Sabbath through the February 28, 1845 issue of the Hope of Israel. In March he published his Sabbath views in tract form. Although he returned to observing Sunday in the next few years, his writing convinced Joseph Bates and J. N. Andrews. These men in turn convinced James and Ellen White, as well as Hiram Edson and hundreds of others.
Bates proposed that a meeting should be organised between the believers in New Hampshire and Port Gibson. At this meeting, which occurred sometime in 1846 at Edson's farm, Edson and other Port Gibson believers readily accepted Sabbath and at the same time forged an alliance with Bates and two other folk from New Hampshire who later became very influential in the Adventist church, James and Ellen G. White. Between April 1848, and December 1850 twenty-two "Sabbath conferences" were held in New York and New England. These meetings were often seen as opportunities for leaders such as James White, Joseph Bates, Stephen Pierce and Hiram Edson to discuss and reach conclusions about doctrinal issues.
While initially it was believed that Sabbath started at 6 pm, by 1855 it was generally accepted that Sabbath begins at Friday sunset.
The Present Truth (see below) was largely devoted to Sabbath at first. J. N. Andrews was the first Adventist to write a book-length defense of Sabbath, first published in 1861.
At the formation of the church in the 19th century, many of the Adventist leaders held to an antitrinitarian view, thanks to many antitrinitarian Christian Connexion ministers entering the former Millerite fold. Ellen G. White never entered into debate on this issue, but made some very trinitarian statements in her book the Desire of Ages and transcripts of her sermons in the early 1900s showed her identifying the Holy Spirit as a "Person" and one of the "three holiest beings". Modern Seventh-day Adventists that hold to an antitrinitarian view are in the minority, but they argue that these transcripts are inaccurate stenographer reports that do not reflect her true teaching. Pro-trinitarian scholars in the Church point out that these transcripts were in her possession and she could have modified them at any time had they reflected an inaccurate version of what she said, given the perceived doctrinal importance of the topic.
In 1855, James White stated in a clear way his view on the subject: "Here we might mention the Trinity which does away the personality of God, and his Son Jesus Christ..."In 1856, he again makes his stance clear by saying: "The greatest fault we can find in the Reformation is, the Reformers stopped reforming. Had they gone on, and onward, till they had left the last vestige of Papacy behind, such as natural immortality, sprinkling, the trinity, and Sunday-keeping, the church would now be free from her scriptural errors."
Lemuel Sapian writes "...by the dawn of the 20th century it was evident to many that the former position [the Adventists] took [against] the Trinity was erroneous. This came about not by any internal conspiracy or meddling of third parties intent on diluting [the] distinctive [Adventist] message, but because the pen of Inspiration [of Ellen G. White] took action—and men...took heed."
Beginning with William Miller's teachings, Adventists have played a key role in introducing the Bible doctrine of premillennialism in the United States. They believe the saints will be received or gathered by Christ into the Kingdom of God in heaven at the end of the Tribulation at the Second Coming before the millennium. In the appendix to his book "Kingdom of the Cults" where Walter Martin explains why Seventh-day Adventists are accepted as orthodox Christians (see pg 423) Martin also summarizes the key role that Adventists played in the advancement of premillennialism in the 19th century.
"From the beginning, the Adventists were regarded with grave suspicion by the great majority of evangelical Christians, principally because Seventh-day Adventists were premillennial in their teaching. That is they believed that Christ would come before the millennium...Certain authors of the time considered premillennarians to be peculiar... and dubbed as 'Adventist' all who held that view of eschatology"— "Kingdom of the Cults" p419-420
However the unique contribution of Seventh-day Adventists to this doctrine does not stop there. Seventh-day Adventists are post-tribulation premillennialists who accept the Bible teaching on a literal 1000 years in Revelation 20 that immediately follows the literal second coming of Christ described in Revelation 19. In contrast to almost all premillennialist groups they do not believe in a 1000-year kingdom on earth during the millennium. In Adventist eschatology Christ's promise to take the saints to His Father's house in John 14:1–3 is fulfilled at the 2nd coming where both the living and the dead saints are taken up in the air to meet the Lord (see 1Thess 4:13–18 ). John, the author of Revelation, calls this moment the "first resurrection" in Revelation 20:5–6. Instead of a Millennial Kingdom on earth, Adventists teach that there is only a desolated earth for 1000 years and during that time the saints are in heaven with Christ (See Jeremiah 4:23–29).
On November 18, 1848, Ellen White had a vision in which God told her that her husband should start a paper. In 1849, James, determined to publish this paper, went to find work as a farm-hand to raise sufficient funds. After another vision, she told James that he was to not worry about funds but to set to work on producing the paper to be printed. James readily obeyed, writing from the aid "of a pocket Bible, Cruden's Condensed Concordance, and an abridged dictionary with one of its covers off." Thanks to a generous offer by the printer to delay charges, the group of Advent believers had 1000 copies of the first publication printed. They sent the publication, which was on the topic of Sabbath, to friends and colleagues they believe would find it of interest.Eleven issues were published in 1849 and 1850.
In 1860, the fledgling movement finally settled on the name, Seventh-day Adventist, representative of the church's distinguishing beliefs. Three years later, on May 21, 1863, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists was formed and the movement became an official organization.
The first annual regional camp meeting took place September 1868.Since then, the annual regional camp meeting has become a pattern among Seventh-day Adventists and is still practiced today.
Ellen G. White (1827–1915), while holding no official role, was a dominant personality. She, along with her husband, James White, and Joseph Bates, moved the denomination to a concentration on missionary and medical work. Mission and medical work continues to play a central role in the 21st century.
Under White's guidance the denomination in the 1870s turned to missionary work and revivals, tripling its membership to 16,000 by 1880; rapid growth continued, with 75,000 members in 1901. By this time operated two colleges, a medical school, a dozen academies, 27 hospitals, and 13 publishing houses.
By 1945, the church reported 226,000 members in the US and Canada, and 380,000 elsewhere; the budget was $29 million and enrollment in church schools was 40,000.In 1960 there were 1,245,125 members worldwide with an annual budget of over $99,900,000. Enrollment in church schools from elementary to college was 290,000 students. As of the year 2000 there were 11,687,229 members worldwide. The global budget was $28,610,881,313. And the enrollment in schools was 1,065,092 students. In 2008 the global membership was 15,921,408 with a budget of $45,789,067,340. The number of students in SDA run universities, secondary and primary schools was 1,538,607.
Seventh-day Adventists participated in the Temperance Movement of the late 1800s and early 1900s. During this same time, they became actively involved in promoting religious liberty. They had closely followed American politics, matching current events to the predictions in the Bible.
"Seventh-day" means the observance of the original Sabbath, Saturday, is still a sacred obligation. Adventists argued that just as the rest of the Ten Commandments had not been revised, so also the injunction to "remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy" remained in full force. This theological point turned the young group into a powerful force for religious liberty. Growing into its full stature in the late 19th century and early 20th century, these Adventists opposed Sunday laws on every side. Many were arrested for working on Sunday. In fighting against the real threat of a legally established National Day of worship, these Sabbatarians had to fight for their liberty on a daily basis. Soon, they were fighting for religious liberty on a broader, less parochial basis.
Adventist effort for a world-wide proclamation of their message began with the mailing of publications. In 1874 J. N. Andrews became the first official Adventist missionary to travel overseas. Working in Switzerland, he sought to organize the Sabbath-keeping companies under one umbrella.During the 1890s Adventists began to enthusiastically promote a world-wide mission effort.
In 1888, a General Conference Session occurred in Minneapolis. This session involved a discussion between the then General Conference president, G. I. Butler; editor of the review, Uriah Smith; and a group led by E. J. Waggoner and A. T. Jones about the meaning of "Righteousness by Faith" and the meaning of the law in Romans and Galatians. Ellen G. White also addressed the conference.
From the early 1860s the church had three levels of government: the local church, the conference, and the General Conference. As ideas developed, organizations came into existence to move forward the ideas; i.e. Sabbath Schools, health reform and medical work, printing, distribution of literature, religious liberty, missions, etc. All moved forward under the societies formed to do so.As the work progressed, the managing of all these societies became quite cumbersome.
As conferences developed in far off lands, it became obvious that the General Conference could not oversee the day-to-day needs of the conferences. This led to the development of Union conferences in Australia and Europe in the late 1890s and to the development of districts in the United States.
The 1901 and 1903 General Conference sessions reorganized the church's structure to include union conferences which managed a group of local conferences in their domain. By the end of 1904, the various societal interests became incorporated as departments in each conference's structure.
Ellen White relates how her book Christ's Object Lessons came to be linked to the financial support of Adventist schools,
I am so thankful for the work that Christ’s Object Lessons has accomplished and is still accomplishing. When this book was in preparation, I expected to use the means coming from the sale of this book in preparing and publishing several other books. But the Lord put it into my mind to give this book to our schools, to be used in freeing them from debt. I asked our publishing houses to unite with me in this gift by donating the expense of the publication. This they willingly agreed to do. A fund was raised to pay for the materials used in printing the book, and canvassers and people have sold the book without commission.
Thus the book has been circulated in all parts of the world. It has been received with great favor everywhere. Ministers of all denominations have written testimonials recommending it. The Lord has prepared the way for its reception so that no fewer than 200,000 have already been sold. The means thus raised has gone far toward freeing our schools from the debts that have been accumulating for many years.
Our publishing houses have printed 300,000 copies, free of cost, and these have been distributed to the different tract societies, to be sold by our people.
The Lord has made the sale of this book a means of teaching our people how to come in touch with those not of their faith, and how to impart to them a knowledge of the truth for this time. Many have been converted by reading this book."
In 1902, those affiliated with Healdsburg College, now Pacific Union College, dedicated a week to sell Christ's Object Lessons. They first read the book together. Then each student was given six books to sell. Territories were assigned and for a week the school suspended classes in order to sell the books. The College Church took the territory immediately surrounding the church while the students were given territory further away from the school.
After John Andrews venture into Europe, others also went out. Some [ who? ] to Africa, others to Asia and others to Australasia.[ citation needed ]
Ellen G. White died in 1915, and Adventist leaders participated in a number of prophetic conferences during and soon after World War I. The 1919 Bible Conference looked at how Adventists interpreted Bible prophecy and the legacy of Ellen White's writings. It also had a polarizing influence on Adventist theology with leaders such as A. G. Daniells and W. W. Prescott questioning some of the traditional views held by others like Benjamin G. Wilkinson, J. S. Washburn, and Claude Holmes.
Fundamentalism was dominant in the church in the early 20th century.George Knight dates it from 1919 to 1950. The edited transcripts of the 1952 Bible Conference were published as Our Firm Foundation.
World War II
In Southern Europe, as soon as the war broke out, most of the church's workers of military age were drafted. The church lost union and local conference presidents, pastors, evangelists, and institutional workers.
When the Nazis occupied France they dissolved the conference and all the churches, confiscated church buildings, and prohibited church work. In Croatia, all Adventist churches were closed, and the conference was dissolved. All church and evangelistic work were strictly forbidden. Over in Romania, where there were more than 25,000 Adventists, the union conference, the six local conferences, and all the churches were likewise dissolved. Over three hundred Adventist chapels, the publishing house in Bucharest, and the school at Brasov were all taken from the church. All church funds were taken. Three thousand Adventists were put in prison. They were tortured and abused.
The work of the church went forward under creative cover. People baptized were reported as students graduating and receiving their diplomas. One minister reported on life insurance policies sold. Another reported on the harvest of 253 baskets of fruit.
In the mid-1970s, two distinct factions were manifest within Seventh day Adventism. Defending many pre-1950 Adventist positions was conservative wing, while the more liberal Adventism emphasized beliefs of Evangelical Christianity.
During the 1970s the Review and Herald carried articles by editor Kenneth Wood and associate editor Herbert Douglass related to the Questions on Doctrine issue, and articles arguing for a final perfect generation.The editors began to emphasize views which had been the traditional views in the church before Questions on Doctrine such as sinless perfection of a final generation, which was opposed by many Progressive Adventists
The General Conference addressed this controversy over "righteousness by faith" by holding a conference in Palmdale, California in 1976.Ford was the "center of attention", and the resulting document known as the "Palmdale statement".
The 1980 General Conference session, held in Dallas, produced the church's first official declaration of beliefs voted by the world body, called the 27 Fundamental Beliefs. (This list of beliefs has since been expanded to the present 28 Fundamentals).
The year 1980 also saw a minor crisis over the investigative judgment teaching, known as the Glacier View controversy. This precipitated a controversy within the church, but the mainstream believe in the doctrine and the church reaffirmed its basic position on the doctrine,although some in the church's more liberal wing continued the controversy into the 21st century. Ford expressed questions on the Judgment and later requested that his membership with the Seventh-day Adventist Church be discontinued for other than doctrinal differences.
The year 1990 saw ordination of women reviewed at the General Conference Session in Indianapolis and 1995 at General Conference Session in Utrecht, but turned down. In 2012, 16 women pastors were approved for ordination in the Columbia Union Conference. Also in that year, a Theology of Ordination Study Committee was created by the General Conference to study the issue of women's ordination. In 2015, at the General Conference Business Session in San Antonio, Texas, a majority of delegates voted down a proposal to allow divisions to ordain women.
In the new century, Adventists membership continued to increase, and worldwide, members began to use YouTube and other Internet media to communicate. These communications included video addresses from the then-president of the United States George W. Bush, and Hillary Clinton to Adventists.
A review of membership revealed an average of about 2,900 people were joining the Seventh-day Adventist Church every day, which show the denomination now has 16.6 million adult baptized members according to church statistics. Denominational membership showed strong growth and membership audits showed for 2009 as the seventh consecutive year the church had a net gain of more than one million members.However, David Trim, director of the Archives, Statistics and Research department, who felt the numbers were "not entirely accurate," said the record keeping system was not perfect and audits, would most likely result in a lower overall membership number than the 16.5 million.
In the second decade of the 21st century, retired pastor Rick Howard brought what he considered the dangers of Spiritual Formation to the attention of the Adventist church. Other Adventists such as Pastor Hal Mayer, and Derek Morris raised concerns as well. The official church paper, the Adventist Review, published articlesoutlining the effects of spiritualism coming into the Christian Church through the teachings of Spiritual Formation. Howard wrote The Omega Rebellion in which he warned of the dangers associated with the “emerging church” movement. He identified the teachings of Spiritual formation, contemplative prayer, postmodern spirituality, the meditation steeped in Eastern mysticism as dangerous. In his July 2010 keynote sermon, Ted N.C. Wilson, newly elected President of the Seventh-Day Adventist church counseled, “Stay away from non-biblical spiritual disciplines or methods of spiritual formation that are rooted in mysticism such as contemplative prayer, centering prayer, and the emerging church movement in which they are promoted.” Instead, he said, believers should "look within the Seventh-day Adventist Church, to humble pastors, evangelists, Biblical scholars, leaders, and departmental directors who can provide evangelistic methods and programs that are based on solid Biblical principles and The Great Controversy theme."
Church members were also cautioned to use discernment in worship styles: "Use Christ-centered, Bible-based worship and music practices in church services," Wilson said. "While we understand that worship services and cultures vary throughout the world, don't go backwards into confusing pagan settings where music and worship become so focused on emotion and experience that you lose the central focus on the Word of God. All worship, however simple or complex should do one thing and one thing only: lift up Christ and put down self."
The 2014 documentary film War in Heaven, War on Earth: The Birth of the Seventh-day Adventist Church During the American Civil War by Chris Small and Loren Small looks at the history of Adventism from the Millerite movement through 1865.Tell the World, made in 2016 and directed by Kyle Portbury also looks at the history of the Adventist faith.
Adventism is a branch of Protestant Christianity that believes in the imminent Second Coming of Jesus Christ. It originated in the 1830s in the United States during the Second Great Awakening when Baptist preacher William Miller first publicly shared his belief that the Second Coming would occur at some point between 1843 and 1844. His followers became known as Millerites. After Miller's prophecies failed, the Millerite movement split up and was continued by a number of groups that held different doctrines from one another. These groups, stemming from a common Millerite ancestor, became known collectively as the Adventist movement.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is an Adventist Protestant Christian denomination which is distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the seventh day of the week in the Christian (Gregorian) and the Hebrew calendar, as the Sabbath, and its emphasis on the imminent Second Coming (advent) of Jesus Christ. The denomination grew out of the Millerite movement in the United States during the mid-19th century and it was formally established in 1863. Among its co-founders was Ellen G. White, whose extensive writings are still held in high regard by the church. Much of the theology of the Seventh-day Adventist Church corresponds to common evangelical Christian teachings, such as the Trinity and the infallibility of Scripture. Distinctive post-tribulation teachings include the unconscious state of the dead and the doctrine of an investigative judgment. The church places an emphasis on diet and health, including adhering to Kosher food laws, advocating vegetarianism, and its holistic view of human nature—i.e. that the body, soul, and spirit form one inseparable entity. The Church holds the belief that "God created the universe, and in a recent six-day creation made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day". Marriage is defined as a lifelong union between a man and a woman. The second coming of Christ, and resurrection of the dead, are among official beliefs.
The Millerites were the followers of the teachings of William Miller, who in 1831 first shared publicly his belief that the Second Advent of Jesus Christ would occur in roughly the year 1843–1844. Coming during the Second Great Awakening, his teachings were spread widely and grew in popularity, which led to the event known as the Great Disappointment.
The Great Disappointment in the Millerite movement was the reaction that followed Baptist preacher William Miller's proclamations that Jesus Christ would return to the Earth by 1844, which he called the Second Advent. His study of the Daniel 8 prophecy during the Second Great Awakening led him to conclude that Daniel's "cleansing of the sanctuary" was cleansing the world from sin when Christ would come, and he and many others prepared. When Jesus did not appear by October 22, 1844, Miller and his followers were disappointed.
Ellen Gould White was an American author and co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Along with other Adventist leaders such as Joseph Bates and her husband James White, she was instrumental within a small group of early Adventists who formed what became known as the Seventh-day Adventist Church. White is considered a leading figure in American vegetarian history. The Smithsonian magazine named Ellen G. White among the "100 Most Significant Americans of All Time."
James Springer White, also known as Elder White, was a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and husband of Ellen G. White. In 1849 he started the first Sabbatarian Adventist periodical entitled The Present Truth, in 1855 he relocated the fledgling center of the movement to Battle Creek, Michigan, and in 1863 played a pivotal role in the formal organization of the denomination. He later played a major role in the development of the Adventist educational structure beginning in 1874 with the formation of Battle Creek College.
John Nevins Andrews was a Seventh-day Adventist minister, the first official Seventh-day Adventist missionary, writer, editor, and scholar. Andrews University, a university owned and operated by the Seventh-day Adventist church, is named after him.
Uriah Smith was a Seventh-day Adventist author, minister, educator, and theologian who is best known as the longest serving editor of the Review and Herald for over 50 years.
The investigative judgment, the pre-Advent Judgment, is a unique Seventh-day Adventist doctrine, which asserts that the divine judgment of professed Christians has been in progress since 1844. It is intimately related to the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and was described by one of the church's pioneers Ellen G. White as one of the pillars of Adventist belief. It is a major component of the broader Adventist understanding of the "heavenly sanctuary", and the two are sometimes spoken of interchangeably.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church holds a unique system of eschatological beliefs. Adventist eschatology, which is based on a historicist interpretation of prophecy, is characterised principally by the premillennial Second Coming of Christ. Traditionally, the church has taught that the Second Coming will be preceded by a global crisis with the Sabbath as a central issue. At Jesus' return, the righteous will be taken to heaven for one thousand years. After the millennium the unsaved cease to exist as they will be punished by annihilation while the saved will live on a recreated Earth for eternity.
The theology of the Seventh-day Adventist Church resembles that of Protestant Christianity, combining elements from Lutheran, Wesleyan-Arminian, and Anabaptist branches of Protestantism. Adventists believe in the infallibility of Scripture and teach that salvation comes from grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The 28 fundamental beliefs constitute the church's official doctrinal position.
The 1888 Minneapolis General Conference Session was a meeting of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in October 1888. It is regarded as a landmark event in the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Key participants were Alonzo T. Jones and Ellet J. Waggoner, who presented a message on justification supported by Ellen G. White, but resisted by leaders such as G. I. Butler, Uriah Smith and others. The session discussed crucial theological issues such as the meaning of "righteousness by faith", the nature of the Godhead, the relationship between law and grace, and Justification and its relationship to Sanctification.
The "three angels' messages" is an interpretation of the messages given by three angels in Revelation 14:6–12. The Seventh-day Adventist church teaches that these messages are given to prepare the world for the second coming of Jesus Christ, and sees them as a central part of its own mission.
Hiram Edson (1806–1882) was a pioneer of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, known for introducing the sanctuary doctrine to the church. Hiram Edson was a Millerite adventist, and became a Sabbath-keeping Adventist. Like all Millerites, Edson expected that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ would occur on October 22, 1844. This belief was based on an interpretation of the 2300 day prophecy which predicted that "the sanctuary would be cleansed" which Millerites took to mean that Christ would return on that day.
William Warren Prescott (1855–1944) was an administrator, educator, and scholar in the early Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Shut-door theology was a belief held by the Millerite group from 1844 to approximately 1854, some of whom later formed into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It held that as William Miller had given the final call for salvation, all who did not accept his message were lost. The door of salvation was shut, hence the term "shut door". They later understood it was concerning the sanctuary and not the events on earth so abandoned their earlier understanding. As an interpretation of the year "1844", it was connected to the investigative judgment belief, which forms one of the official 28 Fundamentals beliefs today.
Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen G. White, one of the church's co-founders, was a prophetess, understood today as an expression of the New Testament spiritual gift of prophecy.
George Washington Morse was a Seventh-day Adventist pioneer. As a Millerite Adventist, he experienced the Great Advent Awakening including the Great Disappointment of October 22, 1844. He joined the Sabbath-keeping Adventists in the late 1840s and remained a member until he died 60 years later. He witnessed the SDA Church's development for over a half of a century.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church pioneers were members of Seventh-day Adventist Church, part of the group of Millerites, who came together after the Great Disappointment across the United States and formed the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In 1860, the pioneers of the fledgling movement settled on the name, Seventh-day Adventist, representative of the church's distinguishing beliefs. Three years later, on May 21, 1863, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists was formed and the movement became an official organization.
The Pillars of Adventism are landmark doctrines for Seventh-day Adventists. They are Bible doctrines that define who they are as a people of faith; doctrines that are "non-negotiables" in Adventist theology. The Seventh-day Adventist church teaches that these Pillars are needed to prepare the world for the second coming of Jesus Christ, and sees them as a central part of its own mission. Adventists teach that the Seventh-day Adventist Church doctrines were both a continuation of the reformation started in the 16th century and a movement of the end time rising from the Millerites, bringing God's final messages and warnings to the world.