Seventh-day Adventism originated around the 1830's in the work of William Miller, who set the time for the end of the world as 1843-1844. Adding some doctrines to the original faith, Elder James White and his wife became the leaders of the Seventh-day branch of Adventism in 1846.
In doctrine they differ radically from evangelical churches. Their main teachings were:
Belief that only they have a correct understanding of the prophecies to which they give most of their attention.
- The end of the world would occur in their generation.
- The time of judgment began in 1844.
- The seventh day, Saturday, must be observed.
- Keeping Sunday is the mark of the beast.
- Mrs. White is inspired as were the writers of the Bible which must be interpreted to harmonize with her writings.
- The dead are unconscious (soul sleep).
- The wicked and the devil will be annihilated.
- All churches but their own are Babylon and rejected of God.
They have no fellowship with other Christians or work with them in any way, but zealously proselyte from all denominations. They use the Bible to teach their doctrines by taking out of context and twisting the Scriptures.
The Extent of Their Work
Their main mission is in the distribution of their literature. Every member, old and young, down to little children, distributes SDA tracts, papers and books. The result is their literature is widely scattered the world over. There is very little real spiritual power in it like the mighty power, which attended the work of the Apostles, Luther, Wesley, Moody and many others. Their work now extends to all parts of the civilized world and into many heathen lands. The number of their actual converts does not tell the harm they do. Where they convert one they confuse a score, who after that, have no settled faith in any church, and are useless for any Christian work.
Their Hostility to All Other Churches
One of the highly objectionable features of the SDA's is their bitter hostility towards all other churches. Their theory is that all churches but their own were utterly rejected of God in 1844 for not embracing Miller's doctrine. White says it is the devil who answers their prayers: "I saw them look up to the throne and pray, Father give us thy spirit; Satan would then breathe upon them an unholy influence." (Early Writings, p.47). All intelligent people know that such statements are a misrepresentation of the evangelical churches today. Elder White says: Other churches are "now the synagogue of Satan." (Present Truth, April, 1850).
They say that the revivals and conversions in the churches are largely a deception, the work of the devil, not of God. Mrs. White says of them: "The converts are not renewed in heart or changed in character. They will exult that God is working marvelously for them, when the work is that of another spirit. Under a religious guise, Satan will spread his influence over the land. HE HOPES TO DECEIVE MANY BY LEADING THEM TO THINK THAT GOD IS STILL WITH THE CHURCHES." (Great Controversy, p.294,296).
On this the Review and Herald, May 3, 1887 , says: "We are aware that to assume that this revival work, so unquestionably accepted by all the churches, is not genuine, will cause the hands of Christendom to be raised in holy horror.." It is interesting to note that during this same time literally thousands of people were coming to Christ through the preaching of men like; Billy Sunday (one million people saved); Bob Jones Sr. (one million saved); D. L. Moody (close to a million saved); R. A. Torrey; Sam Jones; Wilbur Chapman; Mordecai Ham, Gipsy Smith; Peter Cartright; Charles Finney; Scofield (author of the Scofield reference Bible); Mel Trotter (started 67 rescue missions); Harry Ironside and numerous others who preached the gospel to the lost.
Their Methods of Work
Tent Meetings : Largely they use tents to enter new fields. Being a novelty, they attract attention. At first they present subjects which will offend no one till they gain the confidence of the people. Gradually they introduce their peculiar dogmas, then come out more boldly, till at length they denounce all other churches as Babylon , and their pastors as hirelings and deceivers. They say these pastors cannot defend their doctrines; dare not try. They offer rewards to any who will prove so and so; boast how they have scared this one, defeated that one, and silenced another. When the resident pastors are compelled to defend themselves, the Adventists claim to be greatly abused.
Camp meeting : Adventists hold many yearly camp-meetings. Here their ablest speakers preach their doctrines to thousands, and distribute their literature widely. They hire the papers to print lengthy flattering reports of their meetings, which they write themselves. Their reporters are trained for this special work. They gain wide attention, and impress many in this way.
Bible Readings : They are trained with printed lessons which they learn by heart, to go from house to house and give Bible readings. At first they conceal their real objective and name, till they get a foothold. Then they cautiously introduce their tenets, work against pastors and churches, and lead many away.
Missions : They have missions in many of the large cities and in foreign lands; but they are largely proselytizing agencies. They do little among the heathen, or for the destitute and fallen, but go into the best families to which they can gain access, and gather the converts whom other missionaries have made. Thus Mrs. White instructs them: "Mistakes have been made in not seeking to reach ministers and the higher classes with the truth....Educate men and women to labor for these higher classes both here and there and in other countries." (Testimony No. 33, pages 108, 109).
Where They Work: Adventists have the best success in new fields, where they are least known. In New England , where they started, they have had to struggle hard to hold their own. In some of the older fields they have lost in numbers, in others the gain is very small. In hundreds of places where they were fair-sized, active churches in the past, now no church at all, or a straggling, discouraged handful.
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