Q&A: What is Millerism?

What is Millerism?

Question

What is Millerism?

Answer

William Miller (1782-1849), a self-taught New England farmer, was a Baptist adventist preacher. That is, he believed, preached and emphasized the second advent of Jesus Christ. His followers were called Millerites and his movement was called Millerism.

Rejecting his Baptist upbringing, Miller later became a deist and followed the works of others such as François-Marie Arouet (aka: Voltaire), David Hume, Thomas Paine, Ethan Allen, etc. (Please see “What is deism?” below.) In time, based on a misinterpretation of Daniel 8:14 and some other passages, he predicted the return of Jesus Christ was going to be somewhere between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844. When his prediction didn’t happen as he predicted he chose another date, October 22, 1844. A great number of people were deceived. Many quit their jobs and awaited Christ’s very imminent return (cf. 2 Thess. 3:10). But, again, Christ didn’t return. This all came to be known the Millerites' "Great Disappointment” (cf. Deut. 18:20-22; Jer. 28:9).

The Millerites essentially disbanded and some splinter groups developed, among them the Advent Christian Church and the better-known Seventh-day Adventists. Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, was also influenced by William Miller. [1]

Biblically, in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 Paul reminds us that the day of the Lord’s return will come upon us suddenly (cf. Luke 21:34; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 3:3; 16:15). No man, not even Jesus, knows when he will be returning! Jesus himself said, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matt. 24:36). So, any group that says they know when the second coming is, offers a false gospel, which is no gospel at all (cf. Gal. 1:7-9).

Footnote

[1] Miller’s farm and home were purchased by Adventist Heritage Ministry as a historic property and are housed in the Ellen G. White Estate vault. White was instrumental in forming what became known as the Seventh-day Adventist Church. William Miller Farm (https://www.adventistheritage.org/ahm-sites/william-miller-farm). Last Accessed 7 February 2020.

Reference

Knight, George R. (1993). Millennial Fever and the End of the World. (Boise, Idaho: Pacific Press).

Related Topics

What is deism?
What is the meaning of the word cult?
Overview of the Book of 2 Thessalonians
Is Jesus the ONLY WAY to Heaven?
What is the Oldest Religion in the World?
What is apostasy?
What is heresy?
Christological Heresies?
List of False Religions?

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).