Apologetics Index
About the Millerites

Aberrational, Heretical, Heterodox, Suborthodox or Unorthodox Millerites


The parade of end-time prophets and messiahs has marched down through the ages to the present day. The most famous and certainly the most influential of these was Williams Miller. He was converted to Christianity in 1816 and began an intensive two year study of the Bible. At the end of his study he had formed this opinion: ''I was thus brought, in 1818, at the close of my two year study of the Scriptures, to the solemn conclusion, that in about twenty five years from that time (1818) all the affairs of our present state would be wound up'' (The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Froom, Vol. IV, p. 463).

Miller began to present his findings publicly in 1831. Based on Daniel 8-9, Miller counted 2300 years from the time Ezra was told he could return to Jerusalem to reestablish the Temple. The date of this event was calculated to be 457 B.C. Thus, 1843 became the date of Christ's return. As the appointed year grew closer, Miller specified 21 March 1843 to 21 March 1844 as his predicted climax of the age. The date was revised and set as 22 October 1844.

Failure of this event has come to be know as the ''great disappointment.'' It is estimated that the Millerites, as they came to be known, numbered nearly 50,000. Miller recorded his personal disappointment in his memoirs: ''Were I to live my life over again, with the same evidence that I then had, to be honest with God and man, I should have to do as I have done I confess my error, and acknowledge my disappointment (Memoirs of William Miller, Sylvester Bliss, p. 256).

Many Adventists, as they called themselves, left the movement. But many sought answers to the failure. Hiram Edson, one of Miller's followers, reported that he had a vision shortly after a prayer vigil. In his vision he saw Christ enter the heavenly Holy of Holies to begin purifying the heavenly sanctuary. His conclusion was that Miller was correct in his date setting but wrong about where Christ would appear. Christ was to cleanse the sanctuary in heaven, not on earth.

Another Millerite named Ellen G. White also had visions while in prayer. Her visions convinced the remaining Adventists that their movement was God's end-time remnant. She also confirmed Edson's interpretation because of a vision she had in February 1845. In time, White was proclaimed a prophetess whose revelations were held to be equal with scripture.

The question of the proper day of worship was raised by Fredrick Wheeler and Joseph Bates. Wheeler was challenged by a Seventh day Baptist to keep Saturday as the Lord's day. Bates, a retired sea captain, came to the same conclusion after a study of Sabbaterian material. Ellen G. White confirmed the seventh-day sabbath in another vision. The Seventh Day Adventist Church was a direct product of the apocalyptic teachings of William Miller. An emphasis on last days events and the belief in the soon return of Christ are cornerstones of Adventist theology. [...more...]

The Branch Davidian Seventh-Day Adventists are basically Millerites. They are historical and doctrinal descendents of the Seventh-Day Adventist and a break-off group of reformers, the Davidian Seventh-Day Adventists.