Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 13, 1949
NUMBER 23, PAGE 6,8b

Seventh-Day Adventism

Thomas Allen Robertson, Mclean, Texas

Adventism had its beginning in Massachusetts in 1831 under the leadership of a Mr. William Miller. This man made a chart of prophecy, and stated very positively that the year 1843 would be the year of the Lord's return. He preached this doctrine for ten years or more prior to 1843, and published a pamphlet entitled, "Evidences from Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ about the Year 1843, and of His Personal Reign of One Thousand Years."

When 1843 came, and the appointed day arrived, Miller's followers by the thousands were expecting the Lord's return. They sold or gave away their properties; many of them bought long white "ascension robes," and climbed into the trees, on top of barns and haystacks, and on the summit of some hill or mountain to await the event. When the Lord did not return as announced, Miller stated that he had erred slightly in his calculations, and that the time would be one year hence, in 1844. The people again ran a high excitement at the appointed time, but Christ did not descend. Once again Miller stated there had been a miscalculation, and that Christ would return in 1845 without fail. But for the third time Miller and his deceived followers were disappointed. The year and the day arrived, but Christ didn't. Miller gave up after that, and died a bewildered and broken man.

Among Miller's followers was a certain sickly, neurotic woman, Mrs. Ellen G. White. Mrs. White was given to fits of hysteria and seizures similar to epilepsy. During one of these spells she claimed that she had been transported into heaven, and had seen "heavenly visions" of the world of paradise. She took up the strange and bizarre doctrine where Miller had dropped it, and tried to repair his mistakes. Adding the sabbath day idea to her doctrine (up to this time Miller's followers had observed Sunday), Mrs. White named her party "Seventh Day Adventists." Thus in the year 1846 Elder James White and his neurotic wife, Mrs. Ellen G. White, became the true founders of the Seventh-Day branch of adventism.

When Miller's prophecies failed, he was honest enough to give up and quit. Not so with Mrs. White. She said that God's hand was in it all, and that he had purposely caused Miller to prophesy falsely. She declared, "His hand covered a mistake in the reckoning of the prophetic periods. Those who were looking for their Lord did not discover this mistake, and the most learned men who opposed the time also failed to see it. God designed that his people should meet with disappointment."

By Mrs. White's own admission, Miller was a false prophet. And Moses has stated clearly what is the God- given test for any prophet. "When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him." (Deut. 18:22). When the text is applied to Miller, it is very evident that the "thing did not come to pass" which he had predicted. Being a false prophet, his teachings and his statements (which form the real foundation of Adventism) are all to be rejected.

As a result of various divisions, there are now six distinct groups of Adventists. As a rule all of these groups are content to drop Miller's mania for date-setting, and to simply wait for the second coming of the Lord. In view of Miller's dismal failures, and the like mistakes of Rutherford and Russell and others, it is little wonder that this "date-setting" practice has fallen into disfavor.

The three cardinal doctrines of all Adventists are (1) sabbath keeping, (2) soul sleeping, and (3) prophecies concerning the supposed thousand years reign of Christ on the earth.

The Law and the Sabbath 1. Adventists say that the Ten Commandments are God's "moral law." It is on this assumption that they base their argument that the sabbath day (as a part of God's "moral law") is binding through all ages. But the Bible does not speak of the Ten Commandments as being God's moral law. Indeed, there is much "moral law" which is not in the Ten Commandments at all For example, "Thou shalt not vex a stranger (Ex. 22:12); "Ye shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child" (Ex. 22:22); "Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil" (Ex. 23:2). All of these are moral laws which are not in the Ten Commandments.

2. Adventists say that all people must keep the sabbath law, and that it has been binding on mankind from the very day of creation. But contrary to this is the express statement of Moses, "The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day." (Deut. 5:3).

The sabbath belonged to the Mosaic dispensation, and to it alone. For consider this great fact: under the Patriarchal age there was (1) no command to observe the sabbath, (2) no example of its being observed, and (3) no penalty for breaking it. Under the Mosaic or Jewish age there was (1) a command to observe the sabbath, (2) examples of its observance, and (3) severe penalties for its violation. Under the Christian or gospel age there is (1) no command for sabbath observance, (2) no example of it, and (3) no penalty for breaking it. Paul expressly stated that the sabbath was ended. (Col 2:14-16). The sabbath is mentioned some half a dozen times historically in the Book of Acts, but never with any reference to Christian observance of it. In the Gospels there are repeated references to it, but always with reference to Jewish observance of it. Not one time is it even hinted that this shall be a part of the gospel of Christ, or shall have any place in the church which he came to build.

3. Adventists claim there is a difference between the law of God (the Ten Commandments) and the law of Moses (which they call the "ceremonial law"). They argue that the "ceremonial law" was abolished at the cross, but that the Ten Commandment law (God's law) was not done away with, and should be kept today—especially the sabbath.

But consider the words of John, "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." (John 1:17) And Jesus said, "Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?" (John 7:19). The law they were about to violate was one of the Ten Commandments (Thou shalt not kill), yet this is the very law that Christ said, "Moses gave"! So Christ says that Moses gave the law which Adventists call "God's law."

Christ again spoke, "Moses saith, Honor thy father and thy mother; and whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death." (Mark 7:10). But the honoring of father and mother are in the Ten Commandments. And Christ said that Moses gave that law.

When Christ was asked, "which is the great commandment in the law?", he answered, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." (Matt. 22:36-39). Now neither of these two greatest commandments is in the Decalogue. Does that make Moses a greater law. giver than God? And if these (in the "ceremonial law") are done away at the cross, (as Adventists claim), then on what do the Ten Commandments "hang"; for Christ said that on these two "hang all the law and the prophets"?

The truth is that Moses delivered to Israel the complete law, the whole "law" and the "statutes" and the "ordinances." Notice this comprehensive statement, "This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given." (Ezra 7:6, see also Ezra 7:12-14) "And when they brought out the money that was brought into the house of the Lord, Hilkian the priest found a book of the law of the Lord given by Moses." (II Chron. 34:14).

Compare the two quotations: "law of Moses which God gave" and the "law of the Lord... given by Moses." This shows clearly that the law of the Lord and the law of Moses are one and the same law. There is no difference between them. And Adventists labor in vain to try to establish such a distinction.