According to a recent article, Seventh-day Adventism is the fastest growing Christian denomination in North America. Yet in 1986, a Gallup poll taken in the United States showed that 30% of Americans had never heard of Seventh-day Adventism. Of those who had, none could provide any further descriptions of Seventh-day Adventists other than that they worshipped on Saturdays. Even earlier, in 1970, a similar poll had respondents confusing Mormon history with Adventist history. Although these polls are 25 years or more outdated, they do address the general populations ignorance of Adventists. Although a relatively recent religious movement, originating in the mid 19th century alongside Mormonism, it has nowhere near garnered the same amount of attention or publicity that Mormonism has attracted. It was only recently that Seventh-day Adventism was placed under the spotlight of popular culture.
On April 19, 1993, a 51-day standoff between the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) and the Branch Davidians, culminated in a raging inferno that took the lives of over 75 Branch Davidians trapped inside their compound, named Mt. Carmel. The Branch Davidians were a sect that broke off of the Davidians, who originally came out of the Adventist church. This connection launched Seventh-day Adventists into the spotlight and earned them much attention, albeit extremely negative. Although the Adventists tried to distance themselves from the Branch Davidians, it was, and is, impossible. The Branch Davidians, responsible for the disaster at Waco, Texas are rooted in Seventh-day Adventism and their commitment to prophecy, apocalyptic literature, typology, and millennial expectations.
Seventh-day Adventism wasn’t created or discovered in a vacuum - it was a direct result from the Millerite movement, led primarily by William Miller. William Miller was born in 1782 in Low Hampton, New York and grew up working on his family farm. Alongside of working, William had a fondness for reading, even chopping wood so that he could read by the fire light late into the night, since candles were not to be wasted. This intense desire for knowledge and discipline in study would become a factor later on in his life, his studying leading him to apocalyptic expectations. When Miller absorbed the writings of Voltaire, Hume, and Jefferson, he followed their thinking into deism, although a decisive victory in the War of 1812 caused Miller to reconsider his deistic beliefs. When he returned home, he began to study his Bible and became enamored with Daniel 8:13-14 in the Old Testament. The verse in Daniel “stated that after 2,300 days the ‘sanctuary’ would be cleansed.” Through his own personal study and calculations, he concluded that Daniel’s prophecy would be fulfilled in 1843 or 1844. Miller came to this conclusion in 1818, but did not begin to spread his message, reluctantly at first, until 1831.
It must be noted that Miller was not the only one who...