Despite my title, this will be my last post exploring various denominations within the Christian Church. By no means have I explored them all, let along the various sub groups that exist within each denomination and the sub-sub groups and the sub-sub-sub groups…. you get the idea…
So it’s quite possible that someone who reads a post about a particular denomination that they are a part of, could feel completely misrepresented. I acknowledge that completely. There’s just too many sub groups and theological positions out there…
I’m finishing with the Adventist Church, which is fitting as they are rather focused on the end of times. The best known sub group within the Adventist Church would be the SDAs: Seventh Day Adventists (which many people consider a cult).
The Adventist Church began with a guy from Massachusetts called William Miller. He had roots in the Baptist Church but gave it up for a while, until the time of the Second Great Awakening (1816) which was a time of Protestant Revival. At this point he converted and became rather obsessed with the apocalyptic writings of the Bible. His favourite being a verse in the Old Testament book of Daniel:
He said to me, “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated.”
There are people out there far more interested in Maths than I am and they calculate a whole range of things: the supposed date of Noah’s flood, the actual creation of the world… and the second coming of Christ aka the end of the world.
Never you mind the fact that Jesus himself said that he doesn’t even know when he will be coming to do the wrapping up. William Miller apparently knew otherwise and said, based on his calculations from Daniel, the world would end no later than 1844 in the Spring.
Clearly he was wrong and everyone who had started following him was disappointed. But then people realised he’d calculated to the date of March 21st which is the Jewish New Year. Rather, others suggested, he should have gone for October 22nd: The Day of Atonement.
Obviously they knew their Old Testament times and dates well. They probably should have read this sentence in the New Testament though:
Now brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.
However, Miller’s follows endured “the great disappointment” when October 1844 passed and the world continued. Many deserted him. Others threw away his prophetic schedules but held on to the key theological points of the imminent return of Christ, a millennial reign, and the earth’s destruction then renewal.
If you’re interested in exploring some of the places the whole obsession with the apocalypse has taken Christian pop culture you can watch or read the Left Behind series. I’ve never watched it, but if I did it’d be because of Kirk Cameron and not some theological reason.
After Miller died, the movement was taken over by the “prophetess” Ellen G. White, who went even further than Miller and produced prophetic writings. These were rejected by the Advent Christian Church but followed by the SDAs which she founded. Their name comes again from the Old Testament, in which the Sabbath Day is a Saturday.
Among other teachings, the SDAs believe in annihilation (not eternal suffering in hell) and this is another reason for their split from the original Adventist Church.
Suffice to say, regardless of what you think of the Adventist denomination, their consideration of the end times is worthwhile.
The image below is a sign from my noticeboard. I probably made it 20 years ago and it used to be on the back of my bedroom door, right near the handle. Personally, I don’t worry about times and dates; but thinking about when Jesus is coming back and making sure you’re ready is part of being a Christian, no matter what denomination you’re from.
So are you ready?
Yours in asking the question,
NB: once more I offer my thanks to Ron Rhodes and his The Complete Guide to Christian Denominations book. It has been my starting point for most of the recent posts. Here’s to you.