An Exclusive Preview for You!
I am just about to go into the studio to record a 5-part series for CD on Seventh-day Adventism. I will guarantee you that every single person who hears this series will learn a lot about the SDA denomination and movement. I am giving you an exclusive preview by way of sending you the script for session #1
Sorry again that we have not been able to get more of our videos to you. We have 12 of them done, but we are just now trying to get all the bugs out so you will get good quality stuff when we send them to you.
At any rate, I know this is kind of long at 12 pages, but check it out:
Session #1: William Miller, Ellen White, and the Foundation of Seventh-day Adventism
Founded by Ellen Gould White, about whom we will have much to say, folks, the Seventh-day Adventist ecclesial community is a Christian denomination in that they believe in the essentials of the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, his full humanity, Incarnation, his atoning sacrifice and his resurrection. (Although, and as we will see, they are teetering here when it comes to God’s nature. But, they are still considered Christian… now. More to come on this one!) But they also have peculiar and errant beliefs that really separate them from most Christian denominations. These are the ones we answer all the time at Catholic Answers, and they are crucial for all of us to be able to respond to. In this series of talks, we are going to respond to five of the most important of these errant teachings, and in this order:
1. This first teaching is perhaps the SDA’s most foundational teaching that makes the SDA unique: it is the SDA claim to uniquely understand the biblical teaching concerning the “Advent” or “coming” of the Lord. That is why they are called Seventh-day Adventists, folks. And we will deal with this in this first session. But just to give you a sense of things here, in its 1988 exposition of fundamental doctrine, “Seventh-day Adventists Believe: A Biblical Exposition of 27 Fundamental Doctrines,” which was updated to “28 Fundamental Doctrines in 2005” (They added “Growing in Christ” as #11 in the new list), a total of five of the 27—now 28—Fundamentals involve teachings involving what we would call “the Last Things.” They would refer to these as the teachings concerning “the last days.” Unfortunately, I find Catholics to be generally ignorant of SDA belief in this area. We will take it apart, clarify things, and help you to be able to respond to the fundamental errors involved.
2. The second teaching we will examine is perhaps their most attractive teaching and is found represented as Fundamental Doctrine #20 in Fundamental Doctrines and is usually presented like this: “Don’t listen to those who tell you you don’t have to follow the Ten Commandments! We have to keep all of them! And that includes the fourth commandment that says to ‘keep holy the Sabbath’ (By the way, that would be the Catholic “third commandment.” Adventists number their Ten Commandments as the Protestants generally do).” And they would go on to say all of us gravely mistaken Catholics and Protestants who are in league with the Catholics on this, are, indeed, gravely mistaken! And yes, folks, the SDA definitely see the Catholic Church as the ultimate culprit in this heresy of “Sunday worship.” The poor Protestants have just been duped by the evil Catholics! More on this to follow! So the second false doctrine we will examine is the reason why they are called Seventh-day Adventists. They believe all Christians ought to worship on Saturday, or, the seventh day. We will take that idea apart.
3. For our third errant teaching of the SDA, we will examine what Ellen White referred to as “the great lie,” also-known-as, the Catholic dogma concerning the natural immortality of the human soul. The SDA emphatically reject this idea. And mind you, like the teaching they would call the “heresy of Sunday worship,” the Catholics are ultimately to blame here as well. Ellen White claimed this “great lie” begun by the Catholic Church has infected not only Catholics, but often unwittingly, Protestants who don’t know any better. Ellen White’s teaching on this matter led to the SDA notion of soul sleep. Found in Fundamental Doctrine #7: “The Nature of Man,” the doctrine of soul sleep teaches there is no consciousness whatsoever for human beings after death and before the final resurrections of the just and the unjust. Now, notice, I said “resurrection[s]”—in the plural. This is because the SDA have a very peculiar notion of the resurrections. More on that later as well! But for now, yes, they say there are “two” of them, and that they are ca. 1,000 years apart! But the key for us in examining this third errant teaching of the SDA, we will examine is the SDA rejection of the concept of the natural immortality of the soul. Again, they teach a kind of “soul sleep,” meaning, the soul is not annihilated and then re-created at the resurrection at the end of time a la the Jehovah’s Witnesses; rather, the soul effectively falls asleep, but really more than just asleep as it has no consciousness whatsoever. There is no “dreaming” in this kind of soul sleep! That will again be in part 3 of this series.
4. The denial of the natural immortality of the soul of #3 goes hand-in-hand with their 4th grave error we will consider, which is really two errors that I’ll place in this same category. First, they miss it badly on the nature of heaven, that is, that there are saints in heaven right now, and second, the SDA’s deny the existence of hell. Now, when it comes to their denial of hell, they are very similar to the JW’s. And this teaching found in Fundamental Doctrine #26, “The Millenium and the End of Sin,” in particular has become more popular in the modern world today for obvious reasons. Hell is not popular. But fear not for we shall save our Lord’s clear teaching concerning Hell as well as heaven in this our fourth session.
5. And finally, we will examine what really this is more of a category of errors under the genus of dietary restrictions found in Fundamental Doctrine #21, “Christian Behavior”. Very famously, the SDA encourage vegetarianism, while not requiring it, but they are strict when it comes to their prohibitions concerning alcohol, tobacco, and most especially, the “unclean flesh foods” of the Old Testament. No pork chops, you ask? That’s right! And no shrimp salads! But fear not once again, folks, for we shall certainly save your Christmas hams as well as your summer beer and crab feasts! All will be well by the end of this series!
So with that in mind, let us begin with #1, the Advent part of the name SDA:
I felt it most important to begin here because I believe in order to really understand the SDA at their core we really have to understand the Adventist movement of the early 19th century during which the SDA community was born. And, in particular, we have to understand what happened just a couple of years after what has come to be known as “the Great Disappointment” of 1844, where in the context of a rising movement of “Adventist” preachers who were predicting the coming of the Lord, and in the midst of the understandable ensuing confusion this caused, coupled with the already great confusion of 100’s of Protestant sects teaching hundreds of different doctrines by this time in the United States, a little girl—a teenager at the time, named Ellen Gould White—would stand up and declare, in essence, “Thus saith God!” “I’ve got the truth here folks—I know precisely when the Lord is coming, and this comes straight from the mouth of God!” She claimed to be a prophetess, folks. And I must say in studying to prepare this series, I have found Ellen White to be nothing less than fascinating! As we will see here, though she was gravely mistaken to be sure, all have to acknowledge she was extraordinary in what she accomplished from a purely human perspective.
At any rate, this is why I chose the title of my first session in this series to be:
The Adventist Movement and the Great Disappointment of 1844:
The History of and success of the Adventist movement, I believe to be multi-faceted, but it really focuses on this incredible woman, Ellen White. Most people I talk to do not know just how successful the SDA movement has become. Most are surprised when I tell them that there are actually more SDA’s in our world today than there are Mormons. And by about five million, even though Mormons seem to be better-known. You have well over 20 million SDA’s (http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Statistics/ASR/ASR2017.pdf) to ca. 15.8 million Mormons (https://www.mormonnewsroom.org/facts-and-statistics )! Well, I believe two of the crucial reasons for this are:
1. The obvious emphasis on the ADVENT or coming of the Lord and that they’ve got the scoop that everybody else misses when it comes to the coming of Christ.
2. The emphasis upon a living prophet or “the spirit of prophecy” as Ellen White called it, that gives clarity to Scripture, not only concerning the coming of the Lord, and to future events, but also in clarifying SDA beliefs in general. That is the “prophetic” word. Ellen Gould White, the Founder of the Seventh-day Adventist community, the only surviving major denomination (there are some smaller ones) from the Adventist movement, is to this day considered to be that prophet by the SDA. She is not a “prophet” in the sense of the Mormon “prophet” who receives “new revelation” from God; rather, she received words from God to clarify the true meaning of the Revelation already given in Scripture. Much like the Catholic Magisterium except for the fact that it died with Ellen White. I would say that is actually an advantage over the Mormons. Why, you ask? Well, having a living and on-going authoritative voice is an advantage such as is the case with the Catholic Church to be sure. But that is so because that Catholic authority is infallible in reality. There are no contradictions. With the Mormons, it is too easy to show the inconsistencies between Mormon prophets because of the fact that they are false prophets. But because Ellen White was a one-time event, it is not quite so easy. Even today SDA’s will debate Ellen White’s true meaning. Because they don’t have an infallible interpreter of White, there is often “wiggle room,” so to speak. Because the prophet has died it is not quite as easy to show the inconsistencies. They are just “differences of interpretation” of what she said. The inconsistencies are there, don’t get me wrong! And we will examine many of them. My point simply is they are not quite as easy to demonstrate as in the case the Mormons where you can show the inconsistencies and absurdities decade by decade in their very brief history.
But at any rate, in the SDA’s 28 Fundamentals of faith called “Adventists Believe,” they declare Ellen White to be a prophet. That would be found in Fundamental belief #18. And by the way, Ellen White explicitly claimed to be a prophet as well. And this is extremely important to remember: It is precisely because of her claim to be a prophet that she would say of her visions, prophecies, and teachings, that they are either all true or they are of the devil. There is no middle ground, according to Ellen White herself! For those who would like to take a look that claim can be found in Ellen White’s massive work—a nine volume set published in 1909 that chronicles over 2,000 of Ellen White’s alleged “visions” and “revelations” from God—called “Testimonies for the Church,” in both Vol. 4, pg. 230, and Vol. 5, pg. 98. In the words of Yoda, “a true prophet she was—he he he he!” At least, a true prophet she claimed to be!
Well, notwithstanding what I said before, that does make things easy for we apologists. Here, the SDA’s strength becomes its weakness. If what Ellen White “prophesied” must be 100% true, and there is as she said “no middle ground,” we would only need to find one bogus prophetic word from her to check her off the list of possible prophets, right? Well, here are two for you right off the bat. First, we’ll consider a “prophetic utterance” dealing with a past event from White’s vantage point back in the 19th century. Now remember, the “spirit of prophecy” that Ellen White and the SDA speak about does not only speak to matters in the future, but “prophecy” to Ellen White and the SDA simply means to “speak forth the mind of God.” In other words, her teachings are just as prophetic as her predictions of events to come. Each are just as much prophecy as the other.
So anyway, in her book, “the Great Controversy between Jesus Christ and the Devil,” published in 1858, Ellen White speaks of one of the great Adventist preachers of her youth, Josiah Litch, who in 1838 prophesied, or predicted, says Ellen White, two years “before it happened,” the demise of the Ottoman Empire! I kid you not, folks! Let me say it again, the demise of the Ottoman Empire, folks! And she goes into glorious detail of just how prophetic Josiah Litch really was! Folks, tell the 1.5 million Armenians and the ca. 100 thousand Greeks who were slaughtered by that same monstrous empire during and after WWI that they actually no longer existed after 1840! Folks, the Ottoman Empire began in the 13th century and ended in 1922! In fact, they outlasted Ellen White who died in 1915! Folks, she couldn’t even get the prophetic word right when she was speaking of events in the past! In this case, she was speaking of an event that occurred, but really didn’t occur, 20 years earlier!
Uh, scratch Ellen White off the list of possible prophets, folks!
But let’s not stop here. How about Ellen White’s prophecies concerning future events? Can we find any errors? Actually, MANY! But for now, one will do. In “Testimonies for the Church,” Vol. 1, 131-132, White speaks of a conference she spoke at in the 1850’s where she had a vision during the conference and an angel appeared to her and said of the throngs of people that were there: “Some [of these will be] food for worms, some subjects of the seven last plagues [from Rev. 8 and 9], some will be alive and remain upon the earth to be translated at the coming of Jesus.”
Really? Some of these at a conference she spoke at in the 1850’s would never die, but would be “translated” at the coming of Jesus? Can we all say together, “False prophetess!”
These two examples alone put to rest any thought of Ellen White being a true prophet. But in order to put Ellen White and the SDA’s into a context for us to explore, let’s go back to the beginning to understand the Adventist movement. Let’s answer the question: “What about the ‘Advent’ part of the ‘Adventist movement’?”
Now, we have to understand that this movement grew out of more than just the normal confusion that is inherent to Protestantism and has been for 500 years now. This was a particularly frenzied climate of movement after movement in Protestantism in the late 18th and early 19th centuries with an apocalyptic fervor in America that led to a number of preachers passionately preaching the end of the world to be imminent (it’s not as though we’ve never see this phenomenon before, we have, but this case would become particularly, let us say, interesting). This movement consisted of Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians and Episcopalians with a Baptist Minister named WILLIAM MILLER eventually taking a quasi-leadership role. Miller was heavily influenced by the commentary of an Anglican Clergyman, James Ussher, who was an Anglican during its heavy-Calvinist period in the early 1600’s and he himself was an avowed Calvinist. Ussher became well-known for creating a timeline from the Bible that determined creation to have OCCURRED in 4,036 B.C. NOT 4,035 B.C. MIND YOU, FOLKS: 4,036 B.C.! And he would also (wrongly) date the decree of King Artaxerxes in Ezra 7:11-25 to the reign of Artaxerxes I and to have been decreed in 457 B.C. rather than what it truly was: a decree of Artaxerxes II in ca. 400 B.C. And this decree, he said, is the key to understanding Daniel 9:24-27, which, he said, claimed it would be 69 weeks of years from the time of that declaration that Christ would come! This is wrong, folks, as we will see in detail in a moment, but for now just know that this would later become one of two key dates foundational to the Adventist movement and later to the SDA denomination that is foundational to their belief system concerning the “Advent” of the Lord. As I said, more on that in a moment. But first… a little more background.
We must understand that, as Laura Vance points out in her book, Seventh-day Adventism in Crisis, William Miller adopted both the Protestant principle of interpretation “sola scriptura,” that is, that the Bible is “self-authenticating (at least, as John Calvin taught) and solely sufficient,” but he also accepted a “biblicism” that most Protestants today would not even agree with, namely, “the principle that the Bible is wholly homogenous, meaning that any passage can be used to clarify the significance of any other passage regardless of context (page 15).” For Miller, all you really need is a Bible, a concordance to find Scriptures, and the most important thing… FAITH! This will be important to remember to make sense out of some of Miller’s exegesis that makes no sense! The Reason? Well, IT DIDN’T HAVE TO MAKE SENSE, FOLKS!
Now, William Miller claimed to have discovered four key principles to understanding the Book of Daniel that unlocked the door to understanding everything concerning the coming of the Lord in Scripture, whether in Daniel or elsewhere. And these would be adopted by both Ellen White and the SDA denomination. And here they are for you, folks!
First Principle: IN PROPHECY IN SCRIPTURE A DAY ALWAYS MEANS A YEAR. And not just when the Scriptures speak of “seventy weeks of years” like we see in Daniel 9:24, but ALWAYS!
Now, if you asked him why we should accept this as true, of course, he would probably have said in good W.C. Fields fashion, “Get away from me kid, you bother me!” He didn’t really have a biblical reason! And he was wrong as we’ll see in a moment… I would have loved to toss out II Peter 3:8 to William Miller where St. Peter says, “But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” Shouldn’t we say a day represents a thousand years rather than one given this text?
But at any rate, that was the first key. And why? Well, this leads to his SECOND KEY, which is that the seventy weeks of years of Daniel 9:24 (or 490 years, seven of which, or “one week of years” apply only to the final destruction of the temple in AD 70 because Jesus employs the language of Daniel in Matt. 24:15 when he says the destruction of the Temple would be the fulfillment of “the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet” AND THIS IS TRUE, by the way. At least, Jesus did employ this language from Daniel, more on that later). But for now, understand then that for Miller and the SDA the 69 weeks of years (483 YEARS) in Daniel 9:24-26 begins with the declaration that King Artaxerxes I decreed commanding that the Jews be allowed and funded to rebuild the Temple and city of Jerusalem, in Ezra 7:11-26, AND ENDS WITH THE COMING OF THE LORD 2,000 YEARS AGO. And that decree, Miller says, occurred in 457 BC. If you do the math: 483-457= 26 or 27 AD.
And if you asked Miller why 457 B.C., this time he would probably say, “Because James Ussher, the Anglican clergyman said so!” Remember, the same guy who said the creation occurred in 4,036 B.C.? That’s the guy!
And if you asked him why we should accept James Ussher’s opinion here? What would he say? GET AWAY FROM ME KID YOU BOTHER ME!
Now Miller’s presupposition is demonstrably incorrect because the Book of Ezra gives us a definite timeline that excludes this as a possibility. But please get out your Bibles and let’s first read together Daniel 9:24-26:
“Seventy weeks of years are decreed concerning your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.
Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time.
And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off, and shall have nothing; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war; desolations are decreed.
It is commonly understood among the Fathers of the Church that this prophecy does refer to the coming of Christ. However, early Christian writers like Julianus Africanus, in his Chronicles, Bk. 5, written in the late second or early third century, and Sulpitius Severus, writing ca. AD 400, understood first that it was Artaxerxes II that gave the order to rebuild the Temple AND CITY in Ezra 7:11-26 in ca. 400 B.C. that Miller refers to as being Artaxerxes I and in 457 B.C. All one has to do is go through Ezra and you see a clear timeline.
In order to demonstrate this, first of all, we have to know what historians generally agree upon, from the study of Scripture itself, to various histories of the Persian Kings, for example, from The Journal of Jewish Lore and Philosophy article by Henry Englander, Vol. 1, No. 1 (January 1919), pp. 83-103, published by Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, to the Catholic Encyclopedia you get very close to the same dates, at least, for the kings mentioned in Scripture. There is a lot of disagreement over the Persian kings, but for the Persian Kings mentioned in Scripture the article from the Journal of Jewish Lore and Philosophy and the Catholic Encyclopedia are almost the same, just disagreeing by a year here or there. I will go strictly by the Catholic Encyclopedia here: (Note to self! You bolded the rulers mentioned in Scripture!)
550-529 BC – Cyrus II (the Great) He issued the famous “decree” of Ezra 1 (see Isaiah 45:1, we will come back to this)
529-522 – Cambyses
521-486 – Darius I
485-465 – Xerxes I
465-424 – Artaxerxes I
424 – Xerxes II who was murdered by:
424 – Sogdianius: who was murdered by:
423-404 – Darius II
404-359 – Artaxerxes II
359-338 – Artaxerxes III
336-330 – Darius III
Now, to establish the biblical timeline here: In Ezra 1 God stirred the heart of Cyrus the Great, after having conquered Babylon and the whole known world at the time, to empty the treasures of Nebuchadnezzar which he carried away from Jerusalem so that the Jewish people could rebuild the temple (and the city is implied) that the Babylonians had destroyed. This is why Cyrus is referred to by God himself as “my anointed” in Isaiah 45:1. Ezra 1 says “in the first year,” but this probably refers to “the first year” after he had conquered Babylon. We know From Josephus that this occurred in 539 BC, the eleventh year of his reign. Ezra chapters 2-3 talk about the building that begins and continues for years. It was an enormous task. First, you had to re-establish the priesthood, ensure the genealogies were right, etc.
But after years of endeavor, problems arose and the people already living there including some from the Northern tribes (that is, not members of the tribe of Judah or Benjamin, the Southern Kingdom, but from the other ten tribes) began to cause trouble and impede Judah from building from the time of Cyrus until Darius I, according to Ezra 4:4. Then, in verses 5-6, it says this continues during the reigns of “Ahasuerus” or “Xerxes” (Greek name), and then during the reign of “Artaxerxes I,” according to Ezra 4:7. Then, during the reign of “Artaxerxes I” (had to be the first, as we will see), the people who were against Judah wrote letters to the king telling him he should halt the Jews from completing the task. They tell him to search the archives and know that this people will be nothing but trouble if you let them finish the work and re-establish themselves. Artaxerxes (very important!) then orders a halt to building that would last, Ezra 4:24 says, “Until the second year of the reign of Darius. Now, this had to be Darius II because Daniel 9:1 refers to his same “Darius” as “the son of Xerxes.” There is no “Xerxes” or “Artaxerxes” before Darius I, but there is one before Darius II, folks. And by the way, folks, in order for Miller’s prophecy to be true, the temple would have had to have been finished during the reign of Darius I, which is impossible because the building was clearly halted until the reign of Darius II. Are you getting this, guys? This is good stuff!
Now moving forward to Ezra 5 we see the prophets Haggai and Zechariah stirring up the people to begin building again. “We must obey God, rather than men” was the essence of their message.
Well, as you might imagine word gets back to government officials who come to them and ask them who gave them authority to build. They respond, “Cyrus…” and then a letter is sent to Darius II who checks the archives and discovers Cyrus the Great did, in fact, order this and so he issues a decree (in Ezra chapter six) declaring it to be the death penalty for anyone who would attempt to “altar this edict” (Ezra 6:11). He even opened up the royal treasuries of Persia so that the work could be assured to be finished. And Ezra 6:15 says they finished the building of the temple “during the reign of King Darius” [II].
Then, in Ezra 7, which begins with “After this…” After what? After the building of the temple during the reign of Darius II, we see another Artaxerxes [II] issuing another decree in support of the Jews. In short this would be the Artaxerxes who would aid in rebuilding the wall with Nehemiah, would marry Esther and would see to it that the decree of Cyrus would come to complete fruition.
So what does this mean for William Miller’s second essential principle? It’s bogus. To say Artaxerxes I issued the edict, mentioned in Daniel 9:25: “From the going forth of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one…” is unbiblical. The only edict we have from Artaxerxes I was to “halt” the building of the temple, folks!
Huge error! It begins with William Miller, then to Ellen White who “prophesied it” and then to the SDA who have enshrined it as one of their core beliefs. Actually, it was not even Artaxerxes II’s decree of ca. 400 B.C. that was being referred to in Daniel 9 at all! The initial decree was issued under divine impetus by Cyrus II, or “Cyrus the Great” as he is known today, in ca. 539 B.C. Thus, 539 B.C. is the actual date that was being referred to in Dan. 9! Oy vey!
Now, it’s nice and seems to fit better to say it’s 483 years from 457 B.C. because that gets you right to 26 or 27 AD. But actually, folks, trying to fit prophecy into a pre-programmed time-frame is never the way to go. As Sergeant Friday used to say, “Just the facts, ma’am… just the facts.” And actually this kind of specificity and exactness really doesn’t fit the m.o. of biblical prophecy anyway. Usually, prophecies are approximations. God does not normally give us exact dates of things. He does not overwhelm us, or overpower our free will in these matters. Plus, as Cardinal Ratzinger says in his book “God and the World” prophecies often have wiggle room to allow for the free responses of men to change things a bit here and there (think of Ezekiel 3:18ff and 33:14ff, “If I declare that a man is to die…”).
But some will say here. “Okay, but you substract the 483 years from 539 you have about 56 B.C. being the year of fulfillment. That doesn’t fit either!” Actually, I argue it does. Again, most likely, the “490 years” was not intended to be strictly literal (and that is a whole ‘nuther matter! But folks, years have symbolic meaning in Scripture, and not just in apocalyptic literature. It’s everywhere in Scripture. Remember “seven times 70” from our Lord? Or, think of the symbolic use of “1,000” in Rev. 20, or the use of “144,000” in Rev. 7 and 14, etc.). But at any rate, this is an approximation that leads to the general time of the coming of the Lord. This would have most likely been one of the reasons why there was a lot of fervor at and before the time of Christ for the coming of the Messiah. Daniel 9:26-28 says:
And after the sixty-two weeks (plus the seven weeks already mentioned=69 weeks, or 483 years), an anointed one shall be cut off… until the decreed end…” (which would be the destruction of the temple in AD 70).
And by the way, Miller interpreted “the end” here as referring to the Second Coming of Christ. We know “the end” refers to the destruction of the temple, at least in one sense, because Jesus specifically tells us, in Matt. 24:15 that this is the prophetic destruction of the temple that would happen in AD 70. He uses the very same language Daniel uses in describing this destruction in Daniel chapters 9, 11, and 12: “The abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet.”
Anyway, another key to remember here is that the term “after” the sixty two weeks (plus seven) is crucial. “After” does not necessarily mean “immediately,” but some unspecified time “after” about 57 B.C.
But at any rate, there is more we could say here about this, but most important is to note Miller’s error concerning the year “457 B.C.,” because this leads us to William Miller’s THIRD KEY PRINCIPLE to understanding Daniel, and the end times and THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT of all and the foundation for the entire Adventist movement! Red flags should be waving right now, sirens sounding, whoop, whoop! This is important! Whoop whoop! Are you ready?!
In Daniel 8, we have the famous vision of the “Ram and a Goat” that ironically there is virtually no disagreement about as to its meaning among scholars both Catholic and Protestant because beginning in Daniel 8:15, the Angel Gabriel gives us the answers at the back of the book AS TO WHO THEY ARE! In Daniel 8:5 we see the large “he-goat” who comes across the land “from the west… without touching the ground” representative of the incredible rapidity by which Alexander and the Greeks would conquer the known world by 332 B.C. And with “a conspicuous horn between his eyes” which represents Alexander himself. Daniel 8:21 then tells us in remarkably plain language: “The he-goat is the King of Greece, and the great horn is its first king.” Any questions? And it goes on in equally plain terms. And then, this goat crushes a “ram with two horns” (in verse 7) which represents the Persians (the Medes and the Persians who became one empire, which verse twenty once again tells us in plain terms). And then, when the goat is at its strongest, and began to “magnify himself exceedingly,” (verse 8 says) “the great horn was broken.” Alexander dies. And then “instead of it, four horns arose toward the four winds of heaven,” or covering the known earth (again, Dan. 8:8). This represents the four kingdoms that developed after Alexander’s death, with four rulers. You had the “Ptolemic” Empire in the South in Egypt, the “Seleucid Empire” in the East, “Antigonid Empire” in the North, and the “Macedonian Empire” in the West.
Here’s a key for us: in verses 9-12 (chapter 8 still) we find “the little horn,” which would be Antiochus IV, an absolute monster, that arises from one of the four horns (that would be the Seleucid Empire, where the Maccabean revolt would occur in 165 B.C.), and Antiochus IV then is prophesied to commit what Daniel would refer to here in 8:13 and later in Daniel 12:11 again as “the abomination of desolation.” And again, Jesus would use that same phrase to refer prophetically to the final destruction of the temple in Matt. 24:15 to which the old temple was a precursor. This text prophesies that Antiochus IV would “overthrow the sanctuary” (8:11 says) and “cause the perpetual sacrifice to cease” (both here in Dan. 8 and Dan. 12:11). This vision causes Daniel to “lay sick for some days” after seeing it, according to 8:27. But Daniel then overhears in his vision, a conversation between two angels that becomes KEY FOR US HERE in verses 13-14. Let me quote it here for you:
Then I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said to the one that spoke, “For how long is the vision concerning the continual burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled under foot?”  And he said to him, “For two thousand and three hundred evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.”
In context, this text clearly refers to the length of time that the “continual sacrifice” would cease. It would cease for a little over three years. And by the way, Miller did not even get the number of “days” right here. Daniel 8 did not use the term “days” (Hebrew “yom”). It says 2300 “evenings and mornings” which actually refers to the “evening and morning” sacrifices so actually we are talking about 1150 actual days, or just over three years. Later, in Daniel 12, this is confirmed because Daniel will refer to this same period of time only this time actually using the term “days” (yom) and he says “1290 days.” The discrepancy between the 1150 “days” and “1290 days” may be because of a copyist’s error, or it may be to indicate that the number is not to be taken too strictly literally.
Now, having said this, you are not going to believe this, folks, but William Miller’s third key to understanding Daniel and to understanding the end times is to say these 2,300 “evenings and mornings” refers to 2,300 years because remember? “A day = one year.”
Oy vey! This is wrong on multiple counts!
Ellen White herself would declare, in “the Great Controversy” (chapter 23, page 409): “The Scripture which above all others had been both the foundation and central pillar of the advent faith was the declaration: ‘Unto two thousand three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed’ (Daniel 8:14).”
Crazy! And get this: Miller’s fourth key to understanding is he also arbitrarily connects this prophecy of 2,300 “days” which become 2,300 “years”with the prophecy of the proclamation of the rebuilding of the temple and city of Jerusalem in 457 BC, a date he got wrong as well and even though there is absolutely no biblical foundation for doing this. But remember, with his Biblicism, you don’t have to make sense of this stuff, folks!
But this would mean, for William Miller, that Jesus Christ would come again in 1843. In fact, he first calculated it to be in October (October because that is the month of the Day of Atonement, the month of Tishri, on the Jewish calendar, It can be in September or October depending upon their lunar calendar) October of 1843, of course, because you take 2300 and subtract 457 and you get? 1843! When this didn’t happen, some quick calculating was done and Miller and his followers said it would be Oct. 22, 1844, again the Day of Atonement, on the Jewish calendar.
Obviously, this did not happen either, and this was, indeed, the origin of what became known as “The Great Disappointment.” Remarkably there were many offshoots that attempted to remain faithful to the principles Miller established even after this disaster: The American Millenial Association, Advent Christian Church, Church of God – General Conference, Church of God – Seventh Day, Seventh-day Baptists, and of course, the Seventh-day Adventists (and their modern offshoot some of you may have heard of, “the Branch Davidians,” who started in 1930, but after the David Koresh affair they changed their name to “Students of the Seven Seals.”) Some of these would reject Ellen White as a prophet, but would continue with the basic principles of Miller (like the Seventh-day Baptists and Church of God Seventh Day).
Only the SDA would indeed remain entirely faithful to Miller, but not only Miller, but to the one who would save Miller’s teachings for the whole world: ELLEN GOULD WHITE. Again, as I said before, a fascinating woman, folks!
Now, in the last few moments we have in our first session, let me introduce you to Ellen Gould Harmon, before she became Ellen Gould White. Ellen Harmon married James White when she was 18, in 1846. Ellen White was born Ellen Harmon in November of 1827. White herself writes of how she remembered seeing William Miller preach when she was just 12 years-old, in 1840, at the height of the Adventist frenzy, and she was enraptured. She had a tremendous conversion experience pouring tears and weeping, and she then began to have visions at the age of 17, in 1844. She would have allegedly over 2,000 such visions that became the foundation of everything she believed. And they are all recorded in the nine volume set I mentioned before called “Testimonies for the Church.”
She was immediately taken with the prophecies of Miller and never gave up on him, even in the face of the Great Disappointment. And by the way, neither does the SDA denomination. They still hold to everything Miller and White would teach, well, sort a’. They did have to really modify some things as we will see!
But you know, you’ve got to wonder? “Oct. 22, 1844?” Really? Didn’t anybody ever toss out verses of Scripture like Mark 13:32? “No man knows the day, nor the hour?” You’d think? Right?
Anyway, after the devastation of the Great Disappointment, you could imagine that the movement lost an enormous amount of its followers. There was a mass exodus. However, a man that was part of the movement named Hiram Edson came up with a rather clever way to attempt to reconcile what had happened. This is where the “modifying” of things comes in, folks. Edson came up with the idea that SDA teach to this day, that in 1844, Jesus’ coming was not visible and on earth. And, by the way, the JW’s would latch onto a similar idea decades later, but that’s another talk! He actually “cleansed the sanctuary” in heaven, according to Ellen White and the SDA, entering into the very holy of holies as a precursor to his visible coming that would happen very soon thereafter. At least, at the outset of this new-fangled interpretation of things! That would have to be modified too!
And wouldn’t you know it? Edson came up with this just days after the great disappointment, and then Ellen White actually had a vision within months that gave heavenly confirmation that it was true! How convenient, folks!
So, here’s the rub: Ellen White and the SDA says, “Christ had left the holy place or sanctuary in order to enter in the Holy of Holies, or the inner sanctuary and there he performed the closing work of the atonement.”
Here are the problems, real simple:
1. The 2300 “mornings and evenings” of Daniel 8:14 don’t refer to 2300 “days.” And actually Daniel 8:14 doesn’t even use the term “day” (Heb. “yom”). The “mornings and evenings” refer to the morning and evening sacrifices. Thus, it is actually talking about roughly 1150 days, which is a couple months over 3 years. Sound familiar? This is the amount of time that Antiochus IV would cause the continual sacrifice to cease. In fact, according to I Macc. 1:54 and 4:52-53, “On the fifteenth day of the month of Chislev, in the year [168-7 BC] 145 (using Seleucid era dating, from the time of the founding of the “Seleucid Empire”), the king erected the horrible abomination upon the altar of holocausts, and in the surrounding cities of Judah they built pagan altars.
Then, in I Macc. 4:52-53, the sacrifice would be restored, just over 3 years later.
Daniel 12:11 will refer to the duration of the “abomination of desolation” as 1290 “days,” and actually used the term “days,” or again, just over 3 years. The New Testament also refers back to this as 3.5 years, for example, in Rev. 13:5. Sorry SDA!
2. The problem with saying Jesus “entered into the holy of holies” first in 1844 is the Book of Hebrews does not agree with you.
Heb. 6:19-20 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner shrine behind the curtain,  where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest for ever after the order of Melchiz’edek.
Heb. 9:3-12: Behind the second curtain stood a tent called the Holy of Holies,  having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, which contained a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;  above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.
 These preparations having thus been made, the priests go continually into the outer tent, performing their ritual duties;  but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood which he offers for himself and for the errors of the people.  By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the sanctuary is not yet opened as long as the outer tent is still standing  (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper,  but deal only with food and drink and various ablutions, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.  But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation)  he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.
It is hard to imagine that people fall for this interpretation of Jesus entering into the Holy of Holies in 1844, but it is real. The fact is, Jesus entered into the Holy of Holies 2,000 years ago!
A little word of advice, folks: If you are looking for the true church established by Jesus Christ, William Miller, Ellen White and the SDA ain’t it!
God Bless You!